Exploring Southern California: Part One

Exploring Southern California: Part One

With the school year finished and my internship not starting until the beginning of June, I had some rare free time.  This summer, I am filling this otherwise dead time with a trip to Los Angeles. I am so excited about this trip and to share little snippets of my day both here and on Instagram.  I love to travel and I have always wanted to get to know the West Coast better, so I am loving the opportunity to travel and see all that this area has to offer.

Day One: Travel Day!

Call me weird, but I always get SO excited for long flights because I love getting to disconnect and catch up on movies.  I am a total movie junkie, so six hours on a plane just watching movies is the best to me. This time, I watched Mary, Queen of Scots, I Feel Pretty, and Smallfoot.  Mary, Queen of Scots is one of my favorite historical figures and Saorise Ronan is one of my favorite actresses so I was thrilled to finally get to watch this movie! If you’re a European history lover, I would recommend it, but if not, it might not be your type of movie.

After getting into LAX, we picked up our luggage and rental car and drove a little over an hour to our hotel, Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas.  We checked in, dropped off our luggage, and went out for dinner at Sol Mexican Cocina.  I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant!  We had shrimp taquitos for our appetizer and I got the chicken street tacos as my entree and they were AMAZING.  Our waitress was so kind and even gave us a dessert, which was so tasty I never even had time for a photo. We are making plans to get back to this restaurant asap.  After dinner, we returned to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

Day Two: The Richard Nixon Library & Museum and Exploring the Resort

I am a total history nerd and that is about to show through SO much.  One of my biggest bucket list items is I want to visit every Presidential Library in my lifetime.  Before this trip, I had visited the libraries of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Franklin Roosevelt.  When my dad pointed out that we would be near Richard Nixon’s Presidential Library this trip, I jumped at the chance to go and mark another Presidential Library off my list.

The library was truly fascinating.  I’ve studied Richard Nixon numerous times in classes, but I had never taken such an intensive look at him.  The library also really dives into Watergate, which I appreciated and found so interesting. My favorite part though was exploring the outdoor grounds.  Pat Nixon’s rose gardens are so beautiful, I kept stopping to look at every flower we passed. We also got to tour the house outside that Richard Nixon was born in and spent his early childhood in, which was a really cool and unique experience.  While this library was not my favorite of the libraries I’ve toured so far, I truly did enjoy it and loved the opportunity to learn about Richard Nixon from a perspective I haven’t had before.

After we finished the library, we stopped at Blaze Pizza for a quick lunch and then went back to our hotel.  It was too beautiful a day to stay inside, so we went out to explore the resort grounds a bit more. This place is so gorgeous, with views of the Pacific everywhere (including our room balcony!).  Everywhere on these grounds is stunning and I am truly in love with the resort and with the beauty of California.

Afterwards, we went for a late dinner at Reunion Kitchen + Drink in Laguna Beach.  I’ll be honest– I was mostly excited about this spot because I watched every episode of Laguna Beach and the Hills when I was in high school as a guilty pleasure.  Getting to go to the town where it all started, even if just for a restaurant, was super exciting. The food also was amazing at this restaurant, which was a wonderful end to a great first full day here in California.

Day 3: The San Diego Zoo

It has been about fifteen years since I last went to San Diego, so you could say my memories of the zoo and the city were pretty murky.  I did remember seeing pandas here, so you could say I was slightly disappointed today when I found out that the San Diego Zoo no longer has any giant pandas.  Despite this set back, we had a lovely day at the zoo!

Fun Fact: The San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia.  I was SO excited to get to see the koalas and they were so adorable. They don’t do much, as they sleep approximately 22 hours a day, but they look like teddy bears when they sleep.  I could have spent hours just watching them.


After the zoo, we drove back to Newport Coast and grabbed dinner and called it an earlier night than we have been having.  Tomorrow, we are continuing our adventures and heading to Beverly Hills and yes… I will be singing this song the entire day.

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Spring Style Essentials: The Perfect Spring Dress

Spring Style Essentials: The Perfect Spring Dress

I will be honest with you: my least favorite clothing item is pants.  I find pants so uncomfortable, but unfortunately, they are a winter staple.  But, when the sun comes out and the flowers start to bloom, I am quick to trade in my jeans for a perfect sun dress.  This season, I have loved the dresses I have been finding and I am so excited to share with you my four favorite dresses this spring!  What I love about these dresses is how pretty they are, while still being simple and comfortable.  You can dress them up for a nice lunch or brunch, wear them to work, or just wear them to hang out with friends. Here we go!

 

Dress 1: Calvin Klein Seersucker Eyelet A-Line Dress

Price: $139 at Macy’s, but I found this at Marshall’s for $39.99

This dress has been one of my favorite finds this season.  I am obsessed with it and have worn it to a variety of events and functions.  I’m showing here three different ways you can style the dress– adding the denim jacket makes it more casual, while adding some jewelry, a cardigan, and sandals keeps it a bit more formal. I think this would pair perfectly with a simple strand of pearls or a simple silver necklace (like this).

 

Dress 2: This floral shift dress from Tommy Hilfiger (it is not current collection, but I think this dress is a great alternative)

Price: $39.99 at Marshall’s

I love this dress for how casual and easy it is.  It is the perfect dress for the day when you don’t to take a lot of effort getting ready, but you still want to look cute and put-together.  I also love this dress, because it looks perfect just thrown on by itself, with a jacket, or with a sweater.  It’s a perfect easy piece.

Dress 3: A Perfect Floral Dress– this dress is from Francesca’s and is unfortunately sold out, but I love this alternative

Price: ~$60

This dress was what I wore this Easter and I was so so excited for a chance to wear it.  I love how delicate it is, and it has crinoline actually on the bottom to give it an extra bounce.  I paired it with these sunglasses and a pair of nude wedges.

Dress 4: A polka dot dress (Mine is from T J Maxx last winter): I love this dress from Lulu’s!

I love this dress so much I have it both in black and in pink in my wardrobe. It is per comfortable and a staple of mine, but on the chillier spring days, it can be a bit too cool, so I like it pair it with these Spanx arm tights — I chose to use arm tights rather than a shirt because I think it layers better because it adds no bulk.  I also paired them with a classic pair of sunglasses just to pull the whole look together.

 

These dresses conclude my spring style essentials series: you can read parts one and two here.  Please let me know what you thought of this series in the comments and if you’d like to see a summer one!

Best,

Kate

Behind the Scenes: Getting the Perfect Shot

Behind the Scenes: Getting the Perfect Shot

Ask any photographer and they’ll tell you that for every one good photo, there’s {at least} 100 bad photos.  And the same is true for the Instagram generation!  Have you ever sat there trying to get that perfect selfie and before you know it, you’ve taken fifty photos and still haven’t found the one?  Eventually you get your perfect shot and boom…posted on Instagram.  To the world, all they see is your perfect shot and not the endless series of outtakes and deleted photos.

One of the reasons I started blogging was because I want social media and online media to be more transparent.  I wanted to have a personal platform where I could show reality online, so, today, I’m going to show you behind the scenes of getting my ‘perfect Instagram shot.’

Instagram No.1:

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This photo is my current Facebook profile picture.

For this photo, I decided to spin around and have photos taken continuously as I spun.  Needless to say, there’s some pretty funny ones:

Instagram No. 2:

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This is my most liked Instagram photo ever.

Here’s some of the outtakes:

The Importance of Behind the Scenes Moments

The Importance of Behind the Scenes Moments

I view Instagram and social media as an art form.  There is so much time and creativity put into it that often goes unnoticed.  And just like with any art, we want to get it perfect. Our feeds should be aesthetically beautiful, our captions should be perfectly palpable, and our writing should be eloquent and swift.  And, this work should be appreciated: it does not come without effort and it is desiring of art.

Yet, social media is different than any form of art before.  While you can paint a picture and put it up in a room, it is not thought that that picture encompasses you and your life.  When you post on social media though, your posts become you. They are your public representation world of who you are and what your life looks like.  People assume they know you when they see your profile. And to many, this assumption feels unfair, because it brings with it a new sense of responsibility.  We are responsible for showing reality in this art form, as much as beauty and perfection.

I think this responsibility is what is leading to the rise of behind the scenes posts right now.  Social media is a curation of moments, but when that’s taken to represent all of reality, it can be pretty harmful.  So, all of us, who spend our hours thinking about how we can create the best content possible now have something new to think about: how can we continue to make art we are proud of, while also showing reality for all that is.  Behind the Scenes posts do exactly this: they show the art process. They show what the day to day looks like, including the moments of no creativity and struggles. They bring reality into this curation of moments.

My challenge for you is to think about how can you bring reality into your social media presence?  How can you make your account a positive space, instead of a negative one?

I’ll be sharing a full blog post of behind the scenes moments from my latest Instagram later this week.

 

The Cherry Blossom Festival & My Second Spring Style Essential

The Cherry Blossom Festival & My Second Spring Style Essential

My favorite season in D.C. is cherry blossom season.  It makes this city feel so magical, as there are pink and white flowers everywhere you look.  I was so sad last year that I missed this special time of year while doing my college program, but that just made me so excited to see it this year.  The wait was worth it, because everything fell into place this weekend– my mom was in town for a visit, the kite blossom festival was happening on Saturday (without us even knowing it), and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Everything about yesterday made me fall just a little bit more in love with this beautiful place. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

I’m also so excited for the second installment of my spring essentials with another classic piece, the denim jacket.  I love denim jackets and can almost always be found in the spring and fall to be wearing one. I love the look of denim jackets over summer dresses, as I think it can make a nicer dress look a bit more casual. I also love how you can make a denim jacket fit your personality– you can embroider the back, wear a plain classic jacket, or find one in colored denim, like my spring pink jacket.  

I bought my classic denim jacket from Ann Taylor Loft– it is $89.50 but is currently on sale for 50% off.  My pink denim jacket is also from Ann Taylor Loft, but is currently out of stock.  Land’s End has a great alternative available though for $53.97 right now.

Here’s how I’ve styled denim jackets:

 

Happy spring and I hope you enjoy seeing many more colorful outfits in the future!

 

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Blogging Experience: Part One

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Blogging Experience: Part One

The past few days on my Instagram story, I’ve been running a Q&A all about blogging, photography, and Instagram.  In fifteen seconds, I did not always have as much as time as I wanted to answer questions so, I’m sharing some longer answers here!

Q: How and why did you start blogging?

A: I started my first blog in June 2017 as a summer passion project– it focused on finding the uncovered history stories in my home county, Westchester, NY.  I loved writing this blog for the summer and spent every Friday and Saturday exploring new spots with my mom. However, I knew this type of schedule was unsustainable for when I was at school, so I decided to put that blog away (for the meantime, I may bring it back at some point). Fast forward through a few failed attempts to get back into blogging, I finally committed in summer 2018 that I was going to blog again, but I needed it to be something that was sustainable in my life and I was truly passionate about.  I kept feeling that I wanted to do something to break down the perfection complex of social media, while also helping people to find happiness in everyday– and so, the Self-Care Diaries were born. This was meant to be a place of celebration for successes but also acceptance and understanding for failures. Since launching this blog in October 2018, things have changed a bit: I’ve realized that this first goal I had of wanting to show reality online and find the good in everyday could expand far beyond just self-care.  Still, this idea is what drives everything I do with my social media presence and blog.

Q: How do you find the time to blog while being a college student?

A: I want to be completely honest: sometimes, it’s really hard.  I try to be reasonable with myself at all times and remember that I am a full time college student, not a full time blogger.  So, if I know I have a stressful week of papers and tests, I will set my expectation for the week that I will write one blog post and publish two Instagrams.  If I have a lighter week, I set my plan for the week to involve more content creation– maybe, two blog posts, three Instagram posts, and some interactive Instagram stories.  I also do set time in my schedule that is designated blog time. During those times, I will just focus on my content creation, whether that is blogging, taking and editing photos, or working on my content calendar.

Q: How do you come up for ideas for blogs when you feel stuck?

A: I have a few strategies for this.  First, whenever I get an idea, I immediately write it down on a note I have on my phone where I keep all my blog related content, including post ideas, quotes, and captions.  This way, later on, when I am staring at my blank document with NO idea what to write, I can look to this note and see some ideas that I may have forgotten about or passed on in the past.  Secondly, I really try to crowdsource for ideas when I’m stuck. I ask my Instagram followers in polls what they would like to see and what they wouldn’t like to see. I also see what other bloggers are talking about and think about if I have a response I would like to share, or if I can bounce off their idea somehow.  I also pay attention to the DM conversations I’ve had on Instagram– are people continually bringing up a topic to me? Is this something I would be passionate about writing about? Usually, at the end of this process, I have a topic I am really excited to write and share about.

This post has already gotten very long, so I am going to cut it off at that question but I will try to answer some blog-related questions here every week or so.  

 

My Spring Style Essentials: the perfect sweater

My Spring Style Essentials: the perfect sweater

Spring is my favorite season. The temperature is just perfect for a light jacket or sweater, the sky is blue, and the flowers are blooming.  I find it so hard to be unhappy during spring time, because everything around you practically screams, ‘be happy!’

I also love how much longer the days stay bright.  My days involve being inside from about 10 AM- 6 PM and during winter, I am always so sad to leave work or class to find the sun has gone down and it is pitch black outside.  Seeing the sun at the end of the day gives me so much more energy.

My favorite part of spring though is the style.  People always talk about fall fashion, but I think they are missing out on spring fashion.  I love wearing bright colors, specifically pink and yellow, and love being able to do this during the spring.  I also love wearing navy and that usually doesn’t fall into the autumn color scheme, but is an essential for spring/summer style.

So, today, I am starting off my spring style essentials list with my absolute favorite sweater, the Tippi sweater from J Crew.  The sweater sells for $79.50 and is currently 30% off.

I love this sweater because it is so versatile.  It’s a really light cotton and it works beautifully paired over dresses or collared shirts, but also looks great on its own. I also love how bright and fun it is.  Here is how I am styling it right now for spring:

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I’ve paired it over a sleeveless summer dress I got from Gap two seasons ago and I love how it makes this dress functional in the cooler spring temperatures.

If you are looking for this style of sweater but don’t want to splurge on it, J Crew factory offers a version of this sweater called the Teddie sweater for significantly less money. Currently, a bunch of colors in the Teddie sweater are on sale for between $24.50-$34.99.  I own the Teddie in Navy and I love it, it’s slightly thicker than the Tippi sweater, but otherwise looks the exact same. Here’s how I styled my Teddie sweater this fall:

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To make this look work for spring, I would just get rid of the tights and change the shoes to a cute pair of flats or sandals.  I would also add a bright statement necklace to this look for spring to brighten it up a bit more.