Annapolis Travel Guide

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Annapolis, Maryland has always been one of our favorite cities to visit. Nestled on the Chesapeake Bay, it offers gorgeous waterfront views and plenty of fresh seafood. First settled in 1649, it also has a lot of history and charm with its beautiful 18th-century brick houses and roads. Now it’s home to preppy boutiques, inventive restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, and amazing boat (or yacht) watching. Here are a few of my favorite places to visit while I’m there. Continue reading “Annapolis Travel Guide”

Beach Capsule Wardrobe

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Every summer, I look forward to heading down south with my fiance and his family for a beach vacation. We’ve been going to the Isle of Palms right outside of Charleston for over 10 years, so I’ve sort of got my packing list down to a science. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create a mini capsule wardrobe with all of the essential outfits. We spend most of our time on the beach and at the beach house. We go out a few times throughout the trip, but most of our days and nights are spent in casual clothes at the house. With a washing and dry machine, these capsule items should easily last you for a 7-day beach trip, plus 2 travel days. The best part is that all of these pieces are interchangeable, so you can create a number of different outfits if you mix and match the pieces.

What I pack:

3 tops

2 layering pieces

3 bottoms

After we’ve squeezed as much beach fun out of the day as possible, we all reconvene at the house for a delicious homemade dinner and a card game. Most of my outfits are pretty casual, but I like to have a few nicer options just in case we go out for dinner one night or run into the city for lunch. I also bring layers to stay warm in the air conditioned house.

3 dresses

For my days spent flying to and from the beach, I usually wear a comfortable jersey dress and a jacket or cardigan. We usually go out for one really nice dinner, so I make sure to pack a formal dress and a day dress just in case my fiance and I decide to run downtown for a nice dinner or lunch.

3 cover ups

5 to 6 bathing suits (not pictured here)

I like to have a few different cover ups to get me through the week since I have a variety of bathing suits in different patterns and bright colors. Also, after a few days down at the beach, they start to look not fresh. Haha!

4 pairs of shoes

Not all shoes are pictured because my Jack Rogers go with every outfit, but I like to have sneakers just in case we go for a walk. And I live in my flip flops at the beach.

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Jean Jacket / Striped Shirt / White Skirt / Dressy Sandals

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Tank Top / Shorts / Dressy Sandals

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Dressy Top / White Jeans / Dressy Sandals

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Jean Jacket / Jersey Dress / Dressy Sandals

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Navy Blue Cardigan / Day Dress / Dressy Sandals

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Formal Dress / Dressy Shoes

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White Cover Up / Dressy Sandals

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Patterned Cover Up / Dressy Sandals

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Chambray Cover Up / Dressy Sandals

Checking in on My Yearly Goals

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The start of summer is one of my favorite times of year. It’s lighter out longer, which makes me feel more motivated to finish projects around the house or just stay up a little later reading. Everything is blooming, so my front porch is decorated with flowers and I’ve started my vegetable herb garden. And everyone is ready to celebrate the warmer weather, so outdoor patios and open windows line every shopping and restaurant district.

It’s also about half way through the year and a good time to reflect on successes and opportunities. Here’s a little life update on some of things I’ve been working on lately.

Capsule Wardrobe

As you know, I plunged full swing into a capsule wardrobe at the beginning of the year. It’s definitely been beneficial in a number of ways. I’m more aware of all of the stuff I have, and I’m more focused than ever on buying less. In the beginning of the year though, I focused too heavily on perfecting my capsule wardrobe and spent more money on that than I intended. I think I need to come to terms with the fact that the ideal capsule wardrobe doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something you have to build over time.

Becoming More Sustainable

One of the reasons I started my capsule wardrobe is to become more sustainable. It’s a topic that’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately. Every day brings a new report of how climate change is affecting our world, and I think some of the onus is on us to change our behaviors as consumers. I’ve been trying very hard to bring reusable shopping bags with me everywhere. Sometimes I still forget. And I’m trying to be less wasteful by using what I have or buying less to begin with (that includes clothes, but also food and consumables like toiletries). There are so many ways to be more sustainable, but this is what I’ve been trying to focus on lately.

Being Purposeful

Buying less stuff and thereby consuming less dovetails perfectly into one of my other goals, being purposeful. I think it’s easy to get caught in a cycle where you think buying more stuff will make you happy. But in reality, spending more time with the ones you love and filling your time with meaningful experiences are much better ways to seek out happiness. Instead of picking up my phone, I’ve been trying to spend more time reading books. Instead of watching TV, I’ve spent a lot more time on this blog! I’m also very interested in learning and trying new things, so whenever I can make the time for it, I try to learn a new skill. Any way I can, I’m trying to live a more purpose-driven life.

Saving Money

I feel like this goal is the undercurrent of all my other goals. If I buy less, waste less, and focus more on the experiences and people that truly make me happy, I will definitely end up spending less money. And at the very least, I’ll waste less money. I’ve been consistently saving every month. But I definitely think I can save even more. Inspired by “The Year of Less” I’ve been really trying to not buy anything new and just live with what I have. So far, it’s going well, and I can already say I’ve seen results, both in terms of my happiness and my savings account.

On top of these goals, I’m planning a wedding! It may seem like I have a lot going on, but to be honest, I feel like these goals are helping me stay on target to save for my wedding, and not burn out on wedding planning. What goals are you focusing on for the rest of the year?

 

May Capsule Wardrobe Recap

Today’s post is the first in a new series where I’ll be sharing the capsule wardrobe items I wore most during the month and how I wore them. First up, May! I can’t believe it’s almost over. The month flew by. We had special celebrations like Mother’s Day and an end-of-year sports banquet. There were brunches and other fun activities and lots of bipolar weather. I’m still getting used to wearing jeans at work. Here are the 12 staples I wore most this month and how I wore them.

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1. White jeans

2. Striped button down

3. Mules

4. Jean jacket

I love to wear white jeans when I want an outfit to look a little more sophisticated, especially at work. Right now I’m wearing them a lot with this striped button down, jean jacket, and mules for that transitional period between spring and summer. I’m linking to the exact Madewell jeans I’m wearing here. So good.

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5. Bright, long cardigan

6. Raw hem jeans

This adorable cardigan from Target is great for early to late spring. It adds an extra layer for warmth as well as a bright pop of color. I’ve been wearing this with every color blouse because this light blue feels like a neutral and my raw hem jeans. I love showing a little ankle especially for spring and summer with these jeans. They really show off my mules!

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7. Floral print maxi dress

I’ve been wearing this for every special event since April. It’s long, which means I can wear leggings underneath on those unusually cold spring days, and the floral print pattern makes you feel warm inside even when it’s cold outside.

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8. Bright skirt

9. White button down

10. Nude flats

Bright skirts are my go-tos during the spring and summer. Once again, this bright pink feels like a neutral to me. It can handle almost any color top and even something patterned like this leopard print sweater. I’ve been wearing it with my white button down and nude flats.

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11. Striped shirt

My striped shirt works for just about any season. I feel put together in it no matter how I wear it, but lately I’ve been wearing it with layers like this army vest.

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12. Chambray shirt

It’s been warm enough to break out the chambray shirt without a sweater, but I’ve been wearing it with a scarf lately my office is already a freezer.

May Book Reviews

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I’ve been on such a good roll with reading more lately. That’s partially because I went on  two trips to Cleveland last month and downloaded audio books to listen to on the drive using OverDrive. It’s also because I’ve been getting books out from the library and it’s honestly been great to have a deadline. That’s what I need apparently. I’m so excited to share these three books with you just in time for the long weekend. I would highly recommend all three. So I hope you can find a good nook or a sturdy lawn chair this weekend and read to your heart’s content.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. It’s very well written, has great characters, and an interesting story. It is an oral history of the creation, rise to fame, and demise of 70s folk band Daisy Jones & the Six. The creative struggles and sexual chemistry between lead singers Daisy Jones and Billy Graham are palpable. The format is really interesting because it’s sort of like reading instead of watching a VH1 Behind the Music documentary. It takes place many years after the band’s heyday and you’re reading each character’s point of view about how the story of their band unfolds. I don’t want to give too much away. Just know that it features the typical sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but also some really poignant moments. It’s apparently loosely based on Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. I heard the audio book is very good because it’s more of a performance. A cast of actors brings to life the different characters. Also, Amazon is turning this into a TV series, so the sooner you read it the better.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

This one is just plain funny. It features a series of essays by Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake. This was the first of her books that I’ve read, and I have to say I like her sardonic and witty style of writing. She’s a self-proclaimed typical New Yorker, which you pick up from one of the first stories about hailing a cab for the airport. Her bemusement at the silly, random, and sometimes mundane aspects of adult life is something I can relate to. The stories range from becoming totally obsessed with and revengeful of a noisy neighbor to climbing a volcano without doing any research first and discovering along the way that she is not at all prepared. Sounds like something I would do! If you need a good laugh or a little snark, this is a good one for you.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

This book really spoke to me. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that I have been trying to spend less and put less emphasis on stuff for the last year or so (see my post on starting a capsule wardrobe). But this takes it to a whole new level. In this book, Cait Flanders details how she got herself out of $30,000 in debt, quits drinking, gives away 70% of her belongings, and challenges herself with a spending ban. In the process, she learns what is truly important to her. I know the examples might seem extreme, but I feel like this book helped me look at spending in a completely different light. One of the most interesting questions she asks herself before buying something is, “Am I buying this for who I am now or some ideal version of myself that doesn’t exist?” I thought that was an excellent question to ask before buying something. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought things that were not ideal for my life right now and then regretted the purchase. For hundreds of little helpful anecdotes like that, this book is worth the read.

Where to Eat in Rome

Welcome to the third post in my series about our trip to Rome. I’ve already talked about how to save when traveling to Rome, what to do while there, and now I’m going to share one of my favorite parts, where to eat! Although it is often imitated, Italian food straight from the source is like no other. The pasta melts in your mouth like only homemade pasta (I assume) can do. The restaurants use seasonal ingredients in all of their recipes, making everything taste fresh and unique to that moment in time. Everything we had seemed simply prepared yet offered a feast for the senses. Each ingredient is designed to stand out, whether it is a subtle squeeze of lemon juice and salt or a spicy bite of arugula to complement something sweet.

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We were so jetlagged when we arrived that we tried the first restaurant we spotted near our Airbnb, Ristorante Target. I wish I had taken photos because it was one of the best meals of the whole trip.  I had the maltagliati pasta with tomatoes, shrimp, and arugula. When we finally had a night’s worth of sleep, we were up early most days and needed coffee. To optimize our time and save money, we didn’t focus too much on breakfast. We started most days with “due espresso” and a croissant at the café and bar near our Airbnb. There is a place to get coffee and pastries around every corner, so don’t worry about options.

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We enjoyed a nice lunch one day at Cucina Del Teatro, not far from Piazzo Navona. It’s tucked down a cute little flower- and table-lined alleyway. I still dream about the pumpkin soup. And the pizza with fresh seasonal ingredients is one I’ll never forget.

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For a fancier dinner one night, we tried Da Fortunata. It offers a great view of the Pantheon if you get the chance to sit outside, and has some of the best spaghetti and clams I’ve ever had. I highly recommend starting with the burrata and tomato salad.

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We spent one afternoon in Trastevere where we tried a truly authentic restaurant Tratorria da Lucia. Everything was simply prepared but delicious, especially the cacio e pepe. The restaurant was packed on a Sunday afternoon with what seemed like students and families, a telling sign about its popularity among locals.

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Like I said in one of my earlier posts, we spent a lot of time near and around Pizza Navona. I can’t vouch for the restaurants right on the square, but Rick Steeves recommends many that are off the beaten path but close by. Bar Del Fico is one such place and featured one of my favorite newly discovered delicacies: octopus carpaccio. It’s pressed and thinly sliced octopus served with olive oil, lemon juice, and fennel. Show stopper! I had the linguine and lobster for my main course. Need I say more?

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The very last night, we tried my favorite restaurant of the entire trip. Another one near Piazza Navona: Enoteca Cul de Sac. It’s a tiny restaurant with barely enough space for all of the wine let alone people, but this also felt like a place where the locals might frequent. We started with the escargot. It was served in a mind-blowing parsley butter sauce. I had the lasagna for my main. Each noodle was evenly cooked and every bite was a perfect melt-in-your-mouth mix of sauce, noodle, meat, and cheese. It felt good to end the trip on such a high note!

Rome is an affordable city to visit, so food is definitely one the aspects you can really enjoy. I found the prices at most restaurants comparable to going out to eat in a city like Pittsburgh. There were options at every price point. When in doubt, have the wine. It’s all good!

3 Ways to Wear White Jeans This Spring

It took me a while to get used to wearing white jeans before memorial day, but now they’ve become a spring staple. They instantly make any outfit look a little dressier, which is great now that I can wear jeans to work every day. They also go with just about every color. Paired with the right colors and textures, they’re like a little stepping stone between spring and summer. Here are a few ways I’m wearing my white jeans this spring.

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Old Navy Jean Jacket (Similar) / Tommy Hilfiger Shirt (Similar) / Madewell Jeans / Madewell Mule / J.Crew Factory Necklace (Similar)

1. With a jean jacket. White jeans and a jean jacket are timeless. I dressed them up for work with this striped tunic. White jeans tend to accentuate my hips, so I try to wear them with a longer layer.

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Target Shirt / Madewell Jeans / Madewell Mule / Similar Scarf 

2. With a denim/chambray shirt. You’ll hear me complaining about this a lot now that it’s warmer out, but my office is currently an air conditioned tundra. I still need to wear sweaters and long sleeves to stay warm. Luckily this long sleeve denim shirt looks great with white jeans and is the perfect complement to the bright pop of color from this scarf.

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Similar Navy Blazer / Gap Sweater (Similar) / Madewell Jeans / Everlane Shoes / J.Crew Factory Necklace

3. With a blue blazer. Navy blue and white are always great complements. I elevated the look even more for a day in the office with a dark loafer and a gray sweater. I think white and gray look so classy together.