Spring trip to NYC

18 March 2015

First trip of the month: success!

John’s sisters and their husbands live in New York City, so once we knew I had a work trip scheduled there, we decided to extend my trip and have John come, too! We flew up late Thursday night and stayed with Marget and Seth in Jersey City.

On Friday I worked remotely, then we all headed into the city for a late lunch at Shake Shack (yum).

shake-shack

Next we walked through the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It wasn’t exactly the most “fun” thing to do on vacation, but we both felt it was important to remember and honor that event in our lives and American history when we had the chance.

911 memorial museum

I thought the museum and memorial were very beautiful and thoughtfully designed. There are three main sections: the first is an exploration of the World Trade Center itself. The second is a memorial section for the victims. The third is the historical exhibition, which tells the story of what happened on 9/11 through a huge collection of video, audio recordings, photos, newspapers, artifacts, etc. If you are planning to visit, I would recommend moving through the first section more quickly than we did. The final section was both the most emotionally difficult and the most dense, and I would have liked to spend more time there but was a bit spent by the time we reached it.

9 11 memorial museum

On Friday we had dinner at Buvette in the West Village. It was perfectly French and made me even more excited for our upcoming trip! Three of us split six small plates and two desserts, which was a great amount of food.

buvette-nyc

buvette

On Saturday Marget and I started the day with yoga at a nearby class. After looping back to pick up Seth, John, and Wes, we met up with Joe and Natalie and the six of us plus baby toured a few favorite NYC spots: Brookfield Place (lunch at Little Muenster!), ABC Home, and snacks at LPQ (mint lemonade) and Eataly.

abc-home

abc-home-rugs

For dinner that night we all headed back to M + S’s apartment and tried to recreate one of the dishes we’d had the night before at Buvette – basically mashed potatoes and prosciutto on top of bread. It was as delicious as it sounds. It was so nice just to have a chance to sit and talk with some of my favorite people – we don’t see each other enough!

hill-song-nyc

On Sunday John and I traveled back into the city to worship with Hillsong NYC. We have been fans of Hillsong United for quite awhile, and so jumped at the chance to experience Hillsong in person! (It’s estimated that 30 million churchgoers around the world sing Hillsong worship songs on any given Sunday – pretty cool.) Carl Lentz, their lead pastor, was at the Hillsong conference in Australia, so we got to hear Levi Lusko instead. (We were familiar with Levi from watching this video, so it was a treat to hear him in person.)

hillsong-nyc

The experience was very different from what we’re used to every Sunday, but we are grateful for it!

welcome-home-hillsong

The main song we sang was Broken Vessels, which I wasn’t familiar with but have been loving the last few days.

After brunch at the Tipsy Parson (which Marget described to me as “a place bloggers like to go” – it has great wallpaper) with Natalie and Joe, we headed back to Jersey for a lazy afternoon and takeout Indian before sending John home on a plane. I followed yesterday after speaking on Monday.

nyc-from-jc

Pretty killer apartment view, huh? Up next: Texas!

Marvelous spring playlist

12 March 2015

I have a treat for you today! My spring playlist is light and happy, gentle but with a beat. To me, it sounds the way the silvery light of spring looks. It’s about an hour and a half long. It’s equally good for getting work done, spring cleaning, or an afternoon road trip in the sun you’re happy to be welcoming back. I hope you enjoy :)

spring-in-north-carolina

Click here to listen to my spring playlist.

You do need a Spotify account to listen, but, well, Spotify is wonderful, so go ahead and take the plunge!

Packing for Paris

6 March 2015

Considering that Paris is generally accepted as the style capital of the world, I feel the need to step up my game for our upcoming trip! Plus, my friend Lisa just posted about her packing plans for Rome, so I wanted to get in on the action :) My goal is not to be mistaken for a Parisienne (I am proud to be an American, after all), but I like to dress for my destination and so our trip is a great excuse to dip a toe into the ex-pat life and get a little fancy. I’ve been doing my homework, and here is what I have learned about blending in in the City of Light:

— yes to scarves
— no to denim
— stick to simple palettes (namely BLACK)
— wear cobblestone-friendly flats

Lots of folks also recommend packing light, in just a carry-on if possible, since we will likely be wheeling/carrying our suitcases on and off public transportation, along said cobblestone streets, and up the stairs of our flat.

According to Wikipedia, the average Paris June high is 73, and the low is 57. With that in mind, here are a few pieces I either own and am packing, or hope to purchase in the next few months!

packing-for-paris

Striped shirt | A French classic! I just bought this one and love its heavier weight.
Chambray tunic | Lightweight, chic, and simple. I just bought this, too, and am excited to wear it belted with leggings. Cuter in person :)
Patterned shirt | Love the graphic pattern of this shirt and its silky feel!
White button-down shirt | Crisp and classic! This one from Loft has great reviews.
Black leggings | Perfect for layering.
Red lipstick | I just got the Nars stick in Cruella as my Sephora birthday gift and it’s the perfect bold red! Great for dressing up basic outfits and looking put together.
Navy shift dress | Mine is a few years old, and can be dressed up with jewelry or down with Toms. Comfortable enough for walking around all day.
White jeans | More Paris-appropriate than denim jeans! Mine are from J. Crew Factory last year.
Black ponte pants | A step up from leggings. Mine are here.
Neutral ballet flats | I have these and they are comfortable – about as good as I can get in terms of a comfort/fashion ratio.
Leather booties | This is about as high a heel as I like to go! The reviews say these are very comfortable; I’m hoping that’s so.
Toms | The only type of shoe (aside from sneakers) that I’ve been comfortable walking all day in. Not the MOST stylish, but I’m hoping everything else can carry them! :)

Not pictured: scarves and accessories! I actually don’t own that much jewelry, but I always admire the pieces others wear! My issue is that my wardrobe budget is not really big enough to buy a wide variety of pieces, so I end up buying nothing. To help with this, I just signed up for Rocksbox, a subscription service which gives you unlimited access to rent from a rotating collection of designer jewelry. I have my fingers crossed I’ll have some perfect pieces on loan in June! If you’d like to try Rocksbox for one month free (and why wouldn’t you??), you can sign up with my code – emilythomasxoxo.

Anyone have any other Paris packing tips? What are your most comfortable (and stylish) city walking shoes? I’m all ears!

P.S. Packing inspiration for Provence and the Cote d’Azur are in the pipeline!

March 2015 Goals

2 March 2015

Hello, friends! I am 28! I kept saying to John last week, I need to write something for the blog about my birthday! I’ve done so in the past (here and here, for example), and it seems right to mark the occasion somehow. But this year… I don’t know! There just wasn’t anything I wanted to say. So I didn’t. My really, really wonderful coworker friends wrote this for me, and it made me tear up. John and I started Saturday with brunch at Monuts, ate a “lunch” of gelato at Whole Foods, and finished the day with pimento cheese and macaroni au gratin (and a few leafier things) at Poole’s Diner. (Best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had, hands down.) We ended the evening by re-watching the fourth Harry Potter movie while snuggled on the couch with our two furry friends.

sleepy-cats

Sleeping friends from earlier in the week…

And now it’s on to another year and another month of goals – and a very busy one at that. My March will include: one five-night trip to New York City, one speaking engagement (nervous nervous nervous), one two-night camping trip, one four-night trip to Texas, hosting one baby shower, and one two-day conference at work. Whew!! With all that in mind, I’m trying to keep everything else low key.

Goals for March:
— Touch up paint on our front door (hold-over from February!)
— Add a bench to our foyer
— Frame and hang more art downstairs
— Add cafe curtains in the dining room
— Finish planning and host a really wonderful shower!

Despite wanting to stay low key I feel like these goals are VERY ambitious for this month of travel, so we will see how well I do! If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!

Replacing paper towels

24 February 2015

For several years, I’ve wanted to cut down on our paper towel use and introduce cloth dish towels to our kitchen. I wanted to do this for environmental reasons (my understanding is that cloth is better than paper!) as well as for financial – we were going through a lot of paper towels! We probably used about one roll every week and a half. At about $2 per roll, that’s almost $200 per year.

However, my husband, the chef in our family and the main paper towel consumer, was not on board. Since he does the majority of cooking, I wanted to respect his preference. Earlier this year, however, it occurred to me that even if he wasn’t interested in using cloth towels, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t. (Don’t ask me why it took me so long to figure this out.) I spent $25 at Target for 20 dish cloths and a little plastic bin. The dish cloths got folded and stacked on a cake plate next to our paper towel roll, and the bin went next door for the dirties (so we didn’t have to trek to the laundry room after every use).

cloth-towels-in-the-kitchen

Friends, this system is working better than I ever dreamed! I’m glad that we still have paper towels available, because cloth isn’t perfect for everything (I prefer to clean up cat vomit with something disposable!). But just the presence of the cloth towels has cut down both of our paper towel consumption to almost nothing – in the two months we’ve had cloth available, we’ve probably used about a roll of paper towels.

replacing-paper-towels

A few other items:

— We’re not doing any additional laundry – we just throw the dish towels in with our once a week sheets-and-towels load. We were already doing this with cleaning rags, and they’re so small they don’t make much difference!
— We started with 20 bar cloths/dish towels. As we became more used to having the cloths available, we started to go through them faster, so we just added five more to the collection a few days ago. I think adding five more (to get us to 30) will be the perfect amount to get us through a week.

This situation was a great reminder of the old adage – the only person you can change is yourself. Or my personal favorite, Be the change you wish to see in the house. We spent so long at a standstill, with him stubbornly on the paper towel side and me stubbornly on the cloth side. In the end, we ended up gladly on the same side because no one was being forced to change. I know I’ll be reminding myself of this lesson in the future :)

Have you tried to reduce paper towels in your house?