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Exploring Soho and Tribeca









Well, Dagne Dover has done it again. Only this time instead of gorgeous leather bags that keep you uber organized for work, it is a line of neoprene bags (called the 365) for weekend fun, travel, and the gym.

I arrived to New York mid-morning Thursday, and my first stop of the day was Dagne’s headquarters in Soho. I love stopping by and seeing what’s new and what they are working on next. They are also some of the sweetest, most creative, and all-around awesome girl bosses you will ever meet.

During my visit, Maria showed me the entire neoprene collection and all of its nifty features. As gorgeous and functional as each design was, I knew I had to try the Dakota backpack the moment I saw it.

I have been searching for a functional and stylish backpack for a while now. I often lament not having one as I schlep my laptop, books, and other necessities across Florence, or on day tours/trips with students. And don’t get me started with my airport tote. It is always way too heavy. While I know it is so much better for your back to use a backpack, I just never found one that I loved. Until now!

Enter Dagne’s neoprene pink backpack. I immediately tested it out for an afternoon of exploring Soho and Tribeca. Inside I carried my camera, tripod, various Soho purchases (sorry, not sorry), water bottle, cell phone, wallet, etc. I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was! Four hours and four miles later, I was still going strong. The neoprene makes it super lightweight and incredibly functional. You can hand wash it (thank goodness because NYC already got mine dirty, sigh), steam out any creases from travel, and it is quick drying.

Inside the backpack you will find a laptop compartment, shoe bag, detachable small accessory bag, and more pockets than you can count. My favorite detail is the hidden side pockets on either side, which allow you to access your cell phone or metro card without having to take off your bag.

In addition to the backpack, I also opted for the large neoprene cosmetic bag. I am super excited about this piece for travel too, because as we all know, keeping your bag under the allotted weight is so important when traveling (more tips on that here). This is especially true if you’re headed to Europe where they are even stricter about bag weight. Charles de Gaulle will actually weight your carryon and personal item as you enter security, and together they cannot exceed ten kilos. Needless to say, anything that cuts down on weight and helps you stay organized is a win-win. I will be doing a spring beauty update soon and I promise to share more of this gorgeous toiletry/make up bag then.

So what do you think of Dagne Dover’s latest neoprene collection?


You can see more of my favorite pieces below.


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Overall of it?









Guess what is back in fashion? Overalls! But these aren't like middle-school overalls; these are cool, skinny overalls. Not nearly as comfortable as your childhood staple, but infinitely more stylish.

I was really hesitant at fist as to whether or not I could pull these off. I am not exactly long and lean. But the high waist, fitted silhouette, and stretchy denim fabric make all the difference. I will say going to the bathroom isn't exactly convenient. This pair is by Madewell, and I was shocked that they didn't need to be hemmed. I will, however, probably cuff them when I wear with with heels. This top is one of my all-time favorites and is currently on major sale here.

As for styling skinny overalls, I like to juxtapose the look with a flowy, floral top. But a striped shirt, off-the-shoulder top, or fitted bodysuit would be equally chic. Finish the look with a trendy pair of sneakers and your eighth-grade self would be super jealous. Shop my favorite picks for this look below!

So, what do you think of skinny overalls? Over it, or loving it?


SKINNY OVERALLS:


TOPS:


SNEAKERS:

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Alone Verses Lonely





As I have mentioned here before, one of the best ways to make the most out of a semester abroad is to travel as much as you can, whenever you can. But, what if your fellow study abroad students and roommates (or travel companions) don't prioritize sightseeing and traveling and, instead, would rather sleep all day and party all night? This situation happens all of the time and I see it every year. Even when put in this situation, however, most students rarely embrace solo travel. I can't even get students to wander around Florence on their own. I think this is because as a society, we often conflate being alone and being lonely.

I first met Emily a couple years ago in Florence. She was studying abroad with NYU and was so frustrated with her roommates and program cohort. No one else was interested in getting up early to explore, splurging a bit on food, or prioritizing cultural experiences over drinking and partying. At first she tried traveling with her suite-mates, who seemed like the natural group to travel with. Most students attempt to travel with their roommate or housemates, but just because you live with them, does not mean you will travel well together. Emily cycled through several failed weekend trips (and one really disappointing spring break trip) with roommates and others in her program before she reached her breaking point. That's when she booked her first solo trip to Vienna. I love hearing Emily recount this experience:

"My first big solo trip was to Vienna, one of the places I’d been wanting to go so badly, but no one else was interested. I stayed outside of town and my room was in an attic of this cheesy tourist hotel, with slanted ceilings and all. I arrived late at night and took a cab in, then woke up super early so I could see as many of the sites as possible. I must have walked most of Vienna… I had this app on my phone that would let you plan the sites you want to see and help route you to them and according to that app I saw 21 of the top sites in the city. I ate Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher, I got yelled at in the Belvedere for trying to take photos of the Klimpt artwork, I wandered through the Schonbruun Palace and Gardens, I walked past St Stephens Cathedral, the opera house, the oldest ferris wheel in Europe, and more. The highlight of the trip was the VIP seats that I’d treated myself to at the Spanish Riding School show — I have been obsessed with the lipizzaners since I can remember and I actually teared up during the show from sheer awe and excitement. It is still one of my all time favorite experiences in my entire life."
Of all the memories Emily made on that Vienna trip, feeling lonely wasn't one of them. Like the majority of people, Emily was most afraid about dining alone. But as she quickly realized, eating by yourself is "no big deal," especially in Europe. Simply select a restaurant with outdoor seating and great people watching! After her first solo trip, Emily, like so many others (including myself), felt empowered. And she started traveling on weekends and exploring Florence alone.

Honestly, traveling alone is not only empowering, but it is also a ton of fun. You get to do and see what you want, when you want, how you want. I have traveled to Santorini, Istanbul, Cappadocia, London, Paris, Berlin, and, of course, all over Italy by myself! And I loved every moment of it. You can read more about how to travel alone here.

The moral of this long story? Don't conflate being alone with being lonely. If you find yourself without a travel buddy because of differing interests, timing, money, etc., don't be afraid to go it alone. You might be surprised at just how enjoyable solo travel can be.


Would you travel alone?
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Two Ways to Style a Lady Jacket










One of my favorite trends this spring is the lady jacket, and no one does the lady jacket better than J.Crew (you can see all of the trends I am loving for spring here). I fell for this Liberty of London version the moment I saw it in store. The best part about this trend is that it will easily transition into spring. Pair it with a striped long sleeve tee or turtleneck and jeans on chilly days, and a vibrant sun dress on warmer days.

Speaking of spring/summer dresses, I am on my usual spring-time hunt for short-sleeve, light-weight dresses for my summer abroad. This tends to be my uniform when working and traveling in Italy/Europe in the summer. This is the Bardot dress by Caroline Constas. I love her voluminous shirts and retro dresses. So, when this vibrant red number went on sale, I pounced. I love the shirting fabric, which will breathe well in the heat of the Italian summer, and the puff sleeves that can be worn on the shoulder when visiting churches and museums and off the shoulder when soaking up the sun in the Amalfi Coast. This dress comes in several patterns and colors, which you can peruse here.

Are you loving the lady jacket trend?


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Le Diplomate









Am I in DC or Paris? This is actually the famed Le Diplomate in DC. The best of both worlds. Le Diplomate is a fabulous french restaurant near Logan Circle. It is the perfect spot for leisurely sipping a cappuccino or enjoying a full brunch of traditional French cuisine.

Trying new restaurants in DC is one of my favorite pastimes. And with my brother living there, he always has some where new to take me. This trip we had drinks and dinner at The Hamilton -- a trendy restaurant and live music venue that caters to millennials who like upscale yet casual dining and contemporary takes on traditional American dishes. We also tried brunch at the new Farmers and Distillers, an offshoot of our other Brunch favorite, Farmers Fishers Bakers.

We snapped these pictures on my last day in DC. After three chilly days of wind and some snow, I was ready for some slightly warmer weather. I opted for knee socks over tights and a oversized wooly sweater instead of a coat with my favorite pink checked skirt (last seen here). While I rarely get to wear this sweater at home, it is one of my favorites. I love the exaggerated sleeves and soft pink color. And, believe it or not, it is from Abercrombie (I only paid $17 for it)! I know you are thinking, "wait, where?" And you can read more about Abercrombie's recent transformation here, but trust me, you can find some unexpected and affordable treasures there.

After a great long weekend of eating and strolling our way through DC, Alexandria, and Annapolis, I headed back to Florida, where I was greeted by 80 degree temperatures. C'est la vie!


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Historic Annapolis










I absolutely loved historic Annapolis! It is such a cute and charming city full of history. Oh, and the dining and shopping aren't bad either. It is just a quick 40 minute drive from DC (including a Dunkin coffee stop), making it the perfect day trip.

Originally settled by Puritans in 1649, the city has quite the colonial history. It was the seat of the Continental Congress and the site where, following the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. In fact, you can see his original letter of resignation displayed in the Maryland State House, which was also the temporary capital of the United States following the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty.

Annapolis/Maryland was also home to four signers of the Declaration of Independence, and since many of its colonial structures remain, you can do a little walking tour to admire the historical architecture and the homes of Chase Lloyd and William Paca (there is a great walking tour here).

But, Annapolis is probably best known for being home to the US Naval Academy. I have always argued that the Navy is the best dressed of all the military branches (they did give us the peacoat after all), and their stylish uniforms are on full display around the city. Hello sailor!

After lots of strolling and exploring we satiated our hunger with the most delicious late brunch at the Iron Rooster. Try the crab hash, it's amazing! We spent the rest of our day window shopping before heading back to DC.


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Blooms and Bubbles


Hyde Park Village, go-to destination for shopping, entertainment, and nightlife in Tampa, Florida

Florist Fire Workshop, Hyde Park Village


Hyde Park Village, go-to destination for shopping, entertainment, and nightlife in Tampa, Florida

Kate Spade Dress, Hyde Park Village, Tampa

Florist Fire Workshop, Hyde Park Village

Florist Fire Workshop, Hyde Park Village

Florist Fire Workshop, Hyde Park Village

Best Photo Spots in Tampa - Hyde Park Village

Charming Hyde Park Village, Tampa FL

I have never been one for Valentine's Day, but I do love Galentine's Day. Like Leslie Knope, I much prefer to celebrate the fabulous ladies in my life (oh, and it is also my birthday!). This year, I teamed up with Hyde Park Village and Florist Fire to host a blooms and bubbles flower arranging event. You guys, it was such a fun and fabulous way to spend a morning with your favorite gals!

Florist Fire in Hyde Park Village offers all sorts of fun floral workshops. You can attend a flower crown making event for you and your closest gal pals to celebrate a birthday, shower, or just a Friday (who cares, it is super fun!). The fabulous ladies at Florist Fire make the most beautiful and modern bouquets, so we opted for the floral arranging lesson. We learned a ton about how to cut, combine, and arrange various flowers, all while sipping bubbly and laughing, a lot. You can find a list of all of their upcoming floral events in the Village here.

I took home some very important lessons from this class. First, floral arranging is not easy lol. Kelly and I needed a lot of help and guidance, but by the end we really please with our arrangements. I also learned that is is important to choose a variety of high quality flowers. I mean look at those gorgeous peonies! And I love that we mixed them with hydrangeas (our base), roses, ranunculuses, and tulips. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I realized that no arrangement is complete without a mini pineapple!

By now, I am sure that you are aware that I spend a lot of time in the Hyde Park Village. It is a quick bike ride from my house (just look at those amazing bikes the Village has and let us borrow), and houses all of my local favorites -- Buddy Brew Coffee, Florist Fire, Sprinkles, Kendra Scott, Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles, On Swann, Bar Taco, Blue Mercury, and lots more. What I love most about the Village is its community spirit. They are always hosting events like outdoor movies, fresh farmer's markets, and various social gatherings, not to mention it is charming and beautiful. If you are ever visiting Tampa, make sure you put it on your must-see list.

So, which do you prefer, Galentine's or Valentine's Day?


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