NYC Snapshots

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I was lucky enough to have a few visitors for July 4th weekend, one of which is the mega-talent behind Mangolens Photography. You might remember our gorgeous one year anniversary shoot he did for us last September.

He was snapping shot after shot during his entire visit and captured some beautiful shots of the city. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share a couple of the shots of my new hood and the views from my roof deck!

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Pushcart Coffee, on the corner of Second and 21st, is the quintessential neighborhood coffee shop. With superb coffee and even better customer service, I walk in and want to stay around for awhile to let my caffeine buzz be compounded by the shop’s bustling energy. They also sell iced coffee concentrate which is crucial for summer!

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A roof deck ended up being one of the deciding factors in our apartment search which is ironic considering that outdoor space was not something either of us were initially hoping for. I set one foot on top of this roof deck though, and I knew this had to be my home. The views are incredible and since we live right above a park, it almost feels serene to sit up there and watch the world go by!

1002782_10101902860663828_1898644569_nI’ll leave you with this snapshot that I took on July 4th. Yea, America! Happy Friday!

Shoe Review: Rachel Roy

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I’ve done my fair share of shopping since I’ve been in New York which, lets face it, is not abnormal. However, what is noteworthy is my new found obsession with shoes. While in DC, I got into what I’ll lovingly refer to as a “flats rut”. In my defense, walking a mile to and from my office in stilettos seemed like a surefire way to land myself in even less appealing footwear, say a cast to support an inevitable broken ankle. Sure, flats are practical and serve their purpose, but there is something about a fantastic pair of heels that just makes a girl feel like she is on top of the world. I believe it was Miss Marilyn who said, “Give the girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”

In my quest for world domination conquering NYC, I’ve been inspired by the fabulous footwear clacking down the sidewalk, hallways and subway stations and am slowly building up my shoe collection. One of my first weekends here, I hit up the DSW in Union Square. Now, I really only recommend this to anyone who really determined. It is incredibly crowded, requires a solid hour of sifting through shoe boxes and some serious guarding of potential purchases. For me, it is always totally worth it to snag two pairs of designer shoes at a third of their original price. And, since I’ve seen one of the pairs on ShopBop and a few other sites for sale, I thought it would helpful to provide a review. I always see great deals on shoes online but am afraid to purchase them since I have no knowledge of the fit or comfort.

The Rachel Roy Devyn Slingback Sandals immediately caught my eye at DSW. They are neutral enough to wear with anything, but a pop of neon and black snakeskin keeps them from being boring. At full price, these run $275 but on ShopBop they are $165 and at DSW I got them for just over $100. Yes, I’m giving myself a pat on the back right now.

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Photo from ShopBop

I wore these for a rehearsal dinner (for my friend’s wedding) that involved the actual wedding rehearsal, cocktail hour, the dinner and then more cocktails. All in all, I was standing for almost 8 hours in these and was comfortable. They are easy to walk in, too! I went a half size up from my usual size and think that made a big difference in the comfort factor.

My only negative comment about these shoes is that while enjoying cocktails, we got stuck in some pretty intense rain and these shoes seriously suffered from the storm. They aren’t ruined by any means, but some of the black dye rubbed off on my dress, staining it, and the top band is puckering a bit which is somewhat visible below. While I don’t typically judge shoes based on how they perform after a good soaking, I would have been happier if they’d stood up a bit better, especially given the cost.

However, they still look and wear wonderfully and I would highly recommend both these shoes and this brand, Rachel Roy, if you’re looking for some sexy shoes that won’t have you hobbling home by the end of the evening.

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20130801-093713.jpgHappy shopping!

Bridesmaid Dress Bliss

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I’m venturing into new territory with this post, but I felt inspired as I looked through pictures from my dear friend’s wedding. Bridesmaid dresses are always an interesting, sometimes polarizing, topic. The bride (usually) wants her maids to look and feel beautiful, but also has to marry (teehee) that with her own vision for the bridal party.

To make things even more difficult, the process of choosing a bridesmaid dress is no picnic either. It can be overwhelming to search through hundreds of styles, colors and materials just to get to a shortlist of options to try on. Then, on top of that, the lack of sizes and colors available forces you to choose a final dress based on a one inch square color swatch and a sample that could be three sizes too big. Oh, and let’s not even address the fact that these dress designers are playing some kind of sick joke on all of us ladies with their sizing. Whatever your dress size, in bridesmaid land you might as well add two sizes or more.

With all of these variables at play to produce a potentially disastrous experience, I feel its just as important to share when they all work together in perfect harmony! Gotta share the good to balance out the bad, right?

The good comes in the form of Love Lane, a ‘simple chic’ line created by Ivy & Aster. For this wedding, a few of us ladies ventured to Bella Bridesmaid in Bethesda and the bride, being wonderfully low maintenance and lovely, set us free to choose the dresses we so desired. We had eyed the Love Lane line prior to arriving, so we knew they’d be a contender, but once we tried them on, everyone was sold. The line offers seven dress styles and two fabric types in an array of colors, all available to view on their website. In our case, we were wearing dresses, of which there were three options, in one of three colors. I chose the Tori style in Champagne and couldn’t have been happier! Here is the dress picture from Love Lane’s website:

Photo from Lovelane.com

Photo from Lovelane.com

And a full length shot from the wedding:

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So cute, right? It was a bridesmaid-frock trifecta: flattering, comfortable and it had POCKETS! It just doesn’t get better! Oh wait, it does. I forgot to mention it was under $200!

All three styles of dresses were extremely flattering and the colors went together beautifully. I’d highly recommend the line to any bride hoping for a classic but effortless look for her bridal party. I’d venture a guess that the line was designed to be mixed and matched as the dress styles all complement one another and the range of colors offer at least two options of every hue.

A few tips for any ladies considering this dress:

  • The sizing of this line is a bit more forgiving than others, yet another reason why its so wonderful! I purchased the Tori one size up from my usual dress size, despite the saleswoman’s insistence that I go two sizes up, and it fit like a glove. I didn’t have any alterations, other than hemming, done to the dress.
  • Like most bridesmaid dresses, these run long. It will likely require hemming and since there are three layers of fabric, instead of the typical two, it could be a bit more than a typical hemming job.
  • For a small charge, you can order thick straps which can be a fun and functional addition for the reception.
  • Like most bridal shops, all members of the bridal party must submit their dress order before the entire order can be placed. Make sure all bridesmaids are aware of the production time on the dresses so they don’t delay the order.

Now, the only catch is that Love Lane is available exclusively at Bella Bridesmaid stores, but with more than 40 locations it shouldn’t be too hard to find one near you. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

NYC Discoveries

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Last Saturday afternoon, as I was waiting for a bus to Queens, a woman asked me if I was a New Yorker. Out of habit, I responded that I wasn’t. Then my husband reminded me that we’ve been living in Manhattan for a month and a half now. I just about choked on my coffee – has it really been more than six weeks?

To be fair, we’ve traveled for about half of the weekends we’ve been up here which definitely makes it feel like we’ve been in New York for less time than we actually have. However, I have to give myself a pat on the back for the number of neighborhoods and restaurants we’ve explored in the time we’ve been here.

One of my absolute favorite days so far was when the hubs decided to surprised me with a nice little morning of R&R in the East Village. While we had a somewhat early wake-up call, our cab stopped in front of this sign and I knew I was in for a fabulous day. Great Jones Spa is quite literally an oasis in the concrete jungle. As we were being lead to the locker rooms to change for our couples massage (major bonus points), I could hear the faint sound of rushing water as the attendant mentioned, “full use of our water lounge.” Now, I know New York births many oddball trends, but I have never heard the phrase “water lounge.” Lo and behold, as I descended the staircase to the treatment rooms, I was greeted by the water lounge complete with a steam room, sauna room, “cold plunge” pool and thermal hot tub. Oh, and did I mention the fluffy robes, comfy chaise lounges and tropical vegetation all perfectly lit courtesy of the tremendous skylight above? Ah, yes. Perfection. We headed to our rose petal adorned treatment room and emerged an hour later in a state of blissful relaxation, ready to experience all the water lounge had to offer.

The only problem? We did not know there was such a thing as a water lounge, so we did not bring bathing suits. Great Jones Spa has a solution – disposable bathing suits. Well, I wasn’t about to walk out of there without experiencing the water lounge! Bring on the paper bikini! Let me tell ya folks, it ain’t pretty, but it’s functional. I proudly pranced into the thermal hot tub in my glorified adult diaper and paper halter top getup and then promptly hightailed it out once a silicon-enhanced bachelorette party showed up. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a spa experience or a brief retreat from the city. You don’t need to pay for a treatment either – you can have complete access the water lounge for $50 per three hours. I know I can’t wait to go again!

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greatjonesspa3 greatjonesspa4greatjonesspa5*Photos are courtesy of Great Jones Spa and Spa Well Guide

Stripes and Statements

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The weather finally cooled down a bit in New York, allowing me to feel comfortable in something other than a tank top! This weekend, I broke out a 3/4 sleeve striped shirt from J. Crew that had been banished to the back of my drawer due to the aforementioned no-sleeve requirement.

Pairing a casual striped tee with a big, bold statement necklace is one of my favorite looks. With jeans, it’s a casual yet chic look. Switch out the jeans for a miniskirt and heels and you’re ready for a night out. Here are some of my favorite options, most of which are on sale at J. Crew! As if you needed another reason to shop for some stripes!

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1. Two by Vince Camuto $39.90 | 2. J. Crew Stone Mix Necklace$135 (40% with code STYLE40) | 3. J. Crew Butterfly Wing Necklace $99.99 (40% with code STYLE40) | 4. J. Crew Shrunken Tee $59.99 (40% with code STYLE40) | 5. Gap Raglan Stripe $26.95 | 6. Madewell Slub V. Neck $32 | 7. J. Crew Linen Engineered Stripe Tee $29.99 (40% with code STYLE40)