A Weekend in Atlanta

atlanta pictures

For Andrew’s and my combined birthday gift, my parents paid for me to fly down to Georgia so I could spend a long weekend with him. After a few gloomy and rainy weeks and lots of working, a trip down south to see my best friend was just what I needed.

After I arrived (and napped) on Friday, I asked Andrew to take a walk to Piedmont park, because I wanted to go to the dog park and see the dogs (That’s normal, right?)  Unfortunately, since this weekend was Music Midtown, most of the park was blocked off and there weren’t any dogs out. It was a gorgeous day, though, so we walked around a bit until the heat was unbearable and we needed to go back to the AC.

Andrew had a list of a few of his favorite places to eat and drink planned out, and we spent three days just hanging out, eating good food and laughing. Saturday morning we drove to the Chattahoochee Coffee Company on the river, and even though it was a small challenge to get to (read: inside a gated community…?) it was perfect. The coffee was okay but the river was beautiful and the weather was warm and breezy. I could have sat there all day if it didn’t get so hot…

Andrew also took me to Vortex in Little Five Points for dinner. Little Five Points was a super hip neighborhood that made me think immediately of Erin and Kara. Lots of bearded men with man buns and lots of denim, two things they both love. Andrew had been raving about Vortex for months, claiming it was the best burger he’s ever had and that we jut had to go. It was busy, since it was dinner time on a Saturday night, but we sat outside and had some local beers and talked and talked.

For a while, I kept saying I was just going to order a chicken sandwich, since I’m not a huge fan or burgers, or red meat in general. But Andrew guilted me into it and I ordered a Tex Melt, or a cheeseburger with onion rings on Texas toast, and it was so good. Definitely one of the best burgers I’ve ever had (not counting my trusty Bill Grays hangover burger in Rochester).

Saturday night I (finally!) met my friend Kate for drinks at Ormsby’s. It was packed but it was so amazing to finally meet her in person, since we’ve been texting and tweeting forever now. She was super sweet, and hopefully she’ll be able to come visit me in NYC someday.

I had such a happy time in Atlanta this weekend. Every time I’m with Andrew I’m reminded of what a perfect fit for me he is, and how happy he makes me. I miss him already but I’m so lucky to have been able to spend this weekend with him. Totally worth giving up birthday presents for.

I Stalled Out This Summer…

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When I was very young, I remember having a variety of aspirations for my career: a teacher, a scientist, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur. In my third grade yearbook I claimed that in 25 years I would be an artist. But nothing really stuck. In eighth grade I specifically remember one day the guidance counselor came in to talk about high school and careers and we were supposed to write down what we wanted to do after college (which was eight years away and honestly pretty unreasonable to ask a thirteen year old) and I could not think of what to write. I stared blankly at the page and I just could not wrap my head around what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Then, in high school I fell in love with art and writing and decided that I wanted to write for a fashion magazine. I would go to New York City and get internships and write and design and that would be that. Without having even visited the city, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I set my mind to it and wouldn’t let anyone tell me otherwise. I found the perfect college, worked hard in school and applied early action, eventually getting myself into Fordham and moved down to the Bronx. I worked my way through internships and made my way to the Mecca of fashion magazines: Hearst.

But I ended up not loving it the way I had thought. I did not like hiding at my desk and doing tedious editing and formatting and I didn’t feel like I was being creative or challenged. And my plans for my career path dissolved right before my eyes.

That was junior year, and so with a year left of school, I found myself, somehow, at Paramount. And I loved every second of it. I loved researching and preparing for events and actually working them. I loved the challenge of a busy event and the stress that challenged me to focus and succeed. But even then, I couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted to do or what kinds of jobs to apply to. I didn’t even know where I wanted to be anymore.

So after graduation, I went home. I applied and applied to jobs. I even scored a few interviews that really excited me, but I still felt directionless. It showed, too. When potential employers asked me about my five-year plans and dream job I would fumble and stall out. I didn’t know. How could someone give me a job if I didn’t even know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be?

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After about a month at home and a series of rejections and just general frustration, I sat down with my dad and he talked to me about his unconventional path to where he ended up. He told me that it would be hard and I would have to do my best to get where I wanted to be and offered me the advice to do something each day to get to my dream job.

And again, I fumbled. I couldn’t tell him what my dream job was. I could say what jobs I liked and which ones I didn’t but I couldn’t pin down my dream job.

I knew what kind of work I wanted to do and what type of company I thought I would love to work for, and I tracked down someone in that exact position and spent a good amount of time emailing her. Her help was invaluable. She looked over my resume and my blog and offered suggestions as well as her story and thoughtful answers to each and every question I asked. And then she offered me a plan of action, a path to a job that I considered desirable. She pointed me in the right direction and helped me find a vision for my dream job and outlined the steps I would need to take to get there.

For months, years even, I felt so confused and lost. It was like I was blindfolded and spinning in front of a piñata, just swinging a bat blindly trying to hit something, anything. After that email exchange, I felt like the spinning had stopped and I was back on my track to my dream job. I finally had the answer to questions about my dream job and my five year plan. I finally know what jobs to apply to and where I wanted to end up.

What I’m extremely good at is persistence and having a one-track mind to get myself to where I want to be. When I was in high school and I knew what I wanted I stopped at nothing to get it. And I got it. But since I had been so lost it was harder for me to get what I wanted, since I didn’t even know what I wanted.

Using that drive, I reworked my resume and cover letters and sent out application after application. I applied to jobs, I made informational interview appointments and volunteered for different jobs that wouldn’t hire me. I unerwent a lot of anxiety and frustration, especially while I was watching all of my close friends score jobs while I felt like I was still floundering. One Friday at work, I reached the peak of my anxiety and broke down. I left work and hyperventilated the whole ride home. I sobbed for a few hours, feeling desperate and like a failure. It was extremely overdramatic.

The melodrama was only accentuated when that same afternoon, I got a call for a job with Penguin Books in New York. They wanted me to come down and interview. And so I went. I drove down on Labor Day, interviewed that Tuesday and left that night. I was overwhelmed, but I was excited. The position was perfect and the job just felt right. About a week later, they called back and scheduled a phone interview. The interviews in New York lasted almost two hours, so I was shocked when the phone interview only lasted a few minutes. Regardless, I tried extremely hard to remain positive while not getting my hopes up.

This week, Penguin called to offer me a position as a Publicity Assistant and I accepted. In two weeks, I will drive down to New York City and start my dream job. This summer has been one hell of a whirwind and I struggled. I was miserable, but I stuck to it and finally got exactly what I wanted.

At the start of the summer, after one particularly emotional dinner with my mom, she told me that maybe I’m stalling out this summer because there are lessons that the universe wants me to learn, and that I can’t continue with my life until I learn them. At the time I ignored her and continued throwing myself an unemployed pity party, but now, looking back she was right (isn’t she always?). I needed this summer to grow up and find myself and create a new vision. I wasn’t ready when I graduated. But I am now. I’m ready to get out there and be the fully-formed Kelsey I’ve always known I can be.

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Lessons from #GIRLBOSS

#girlboss by sophia amoruso

I kept seeing the book #GIRLBOSS all over Tumblr and on blogs, and I knew that it was written by the founder of Nasty Gal, a brand that I always admire but could never wear, but that was about it. This summer I read, basically, Marketing and PR textbooks, so a business book not saturated with jargon or business plans geared towards my own demographic made my heart sing.

#GIRLBOSS was a much more enjoyable read than the denser books I was getting used to. Sophia, it turns out, did not enjoy high school and did not go to college, but stuck to her guns and built an empire on something she just loved doing. She hitch-hiked from San Francisco to Washington State and dumpster dove and then came home and started an eBay store, which eventually evolved into Nasty Gal.

Sophis starts off the book addressing the question of feminism, saying that she looks at feminism not as blaming men for struggles, but as encouraging women to go out and work hard and earn ssuccess on their own, which I think is a good stance to take. For many, feminism is a touchy subject because for whatever reason, girls are still afraid of the title “feminist.” Sophia does an excellent job explaining that it’s not negative at all, just simply wishing women the same success that comes from working hard that men have always been able to achieve. Women can be bosses. #GIRLBOSSes, to be precise.

What I liked about this book was that it wasn’t a how-to book. It wasn’t, “hey, if you want to start a cool and edgy business like me, here’s how.” And it also wasn’t her humble-bragging, saying that she was “in the right place at the right time” and that her “success is irreplicatable.” She does mention that her success is rare (which is obviously why she wrote a book about it and why we love reading it) but she doesn’t tell readers not to try to pursue something they love. She emphasizes over and over again how hard she worked, not because she wanted to build a successful business, but because she genuinely loved thrifting and styling and taking pictures and sending the garments out. She just kept doing what she loved and it showed and customers reacted to her passion and excitement.

Today, there are so many bloggers and photographers and entrepreneurs out there trying to make it because they can make money and get sponsors, and that’s the wrong reason to do anything. Yes, getting a job is to make money, but even that should be something you’re passionate about and genuinely enjoy doing. You can’t really be successful in anything if you don’t love it. You won’t see results at the gym until you find a workout you love doing. Your blog will probably suck if you’re not passionate about creating content and interacting with readers and making good graphics. If you don’t love numbers and math, don’t go into accounting because it will pay the bills; it will be miserable and you won’t be able to pour yourself into it.

Sophia also talks a lot about employment, both being an employee and an employer. I read that section a day ago and I’ve already discussed it with my mom and a handful of friends. My generation gets a lot of flack for being entitled and such (read more about my opinion on this here) and I never really understood exactly why people thought we were so difficult to employ until I read that some people my age think they should be promoted every two years regardless of performance. This blew my mind. The point of a promotion is to reward hard work and initiative. I liked Sophia’s take on this as an employer, saying that she likes people who work hard simply because they want the company to succeed. Another thing she mentioned about the people she’s employed is how they’ve said “that’s not my job” to filing or other “menial” tasks. What she said that stuck out was that, especially for entry level positions, if you don’t stuff the envelopes or file the magazines, who else is going to? Certainly not your manager or her manager. I love that Sophia is instilling this work ethic in readers

She also talks about all of the jobs she held in her life and hated and got fired from or left after a few weeks. She said that even though a lot of the jobs sucked and weren’t right for her at all, they helped her appreciate the jobs she genuinely loves. I’ve worked plenty of jobs already that have definitely not been what I wanted to do, but they’ve been helping to lead me to jobs that I do love. It’s been a twisted trail, but somehow I’m getting somewhere I need to be.

The path went as such:

In high school, I worked at a local water park for two summers (hated it) and after the second summer, I didn’t go back. I was forced to find a job through a temp agency and I worked in a call center, despite loathing talking on the phone. The next summer, the call center position wasn’t available anymore, but I ended up working in the meeting planning department of the same company, which is the experience that helped me land my beloved internship at Paramount last year. After that internship, I really started to figure out how much I loved publicity and event planning which has guided me through my job search.

I hated a lot of the jobs I worked, but if I never had them, I wouldn’t have developed skills that led me to all the amazing palces I did get to go. These jobs that I forced myself to do helped me figure out what my talents and passions are, something I would have never guessed years ago.

Another thing Sophia writes about is how, in the early stages of Nasty Gal, when something didn’t sell on eBay, she didn’t consider it a failure, she just re-worked them until they did sell. This is a skill I’m still trying to develop. I’m a perfectionist and I like everything in my life to be perfect after the first try and if it’s not, I am infinitely frustrated. Since reading this, I have been striving to keep myself from considering things failures. If no one is responding to my job applications, I re-write my cover letters and re-format my resume and try again. I know that I can succeed as a professional, I just need to continue to tweak my applications to reflect that. I am not failing, my methods just aren’t right yet.

Despite having followed an extermely unconventional path to success, Sophia Amoruso offers tons of advice that is useful to people who follow more “normal” paths. And while it feels like some of the sections are just full of platitudes about working hard and doing what you love, there’s solid advice about working and finding a job that can apply to girls in any industry, not just fashion.

 

Flawlessly from Page to Screen: The Giver

*I’m going to spoil the book/movie, so if you haven’t read the book (shame on you!) avoid this*

the giver by lois lowry book with glasses

I can’t remember when exactly I read it for the first time, but for years now, The Giver by Lois Lowry has been one of my favorite books of all time. Since about sixth grade, I’ve re-read the novel over and over again, still finding new meanings and trying to wrap my mind around the story. My mom had read it alongside me, and we still discuss it often, so when we heard they were making a film based on the book, we were excited, but nervous.

The Giver takes place in a futuristic dystopian type society, similar to a lot of books that are popular today. But it feels different, like it could be happening right now. The entire book takes place in Jonas’ head, which was one reason I was nervous about them making it into a movie; how could they show all of his thoughts and internal dialogue on screen? You can understand from the start of the novel how sterile and lacking this community is. Their discussion of feelings and regimented lifestyle just feels lonely and boring and sad. They don’t even see color because color creats differences and differences lead to conflict, and they are completely unaware of any kind of pain or suffering.

At the age of twelve, children are assigned their career within the Community, and Jonas is assigned to be the Reciever of Memory. The current Receiver, who becomes the Giver, holds all of the memories of society that he uses to assist in decision making, and he must transmit them to Jonas, who has known nothing but this black and white Community his entire life.

In some ways, I could understand why Lowry would imagine a society like this as an answer to all of the problems today, I think a kind of sameness and equality is desirable. It’s understandable that she would want to eliminate pain and suffering from our world. On the flip side, though, the book illustrates the good parts of life we lose when we eliminate everything that is bad.

“Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others,” the Giver explains to Jonas. This is my favorite line in the entire book, and it translated so well into the film.

The film begins completely in black and white, with an occasional flash of color and slowly, like a sunrise, color comes back. Since tbe book is from Jonas’ view, we are literally seeing the world as he had, slowly becoming aware of new good things that previously didn’t exist to him, as well as to new bad things that had previously seemed okay. We see Jonas witness a sunrise for the first time, snow and sledding, dancing and love and we understand the joy and happiness missing from this uber-equal society, each memory is shown in vibrant color, a stark contrast to the dismal black and white of the Community. And then we see Jonas experience war and death and evil and how disturbing it is to him. But the Giver says it perfectly, that in order to have sameness and control we have to give up so many of the things that make life truly beautiful and that give life meaning.

At the end, Jonas decides to cross an imaginary “Border of Memory” into Elsewhere, and all of the memories the Giver has transmitted to him are released back to the Community. It is truly the most stunning and powerful moments in the movie. Jonas crosses the line and a bright and vibrant montage of human life fills the screen, there are people overcoming diversity, people laughing, people loving, people being born and people dying, people accomplishing great feats and stunning shots of nature all over the world. As several characters in the film are seated, prepared to watch the release (euthinization) of Jonas’ lifelong friend, Fiona, the memories return and the emotions just overtake everyone. The release stops in its tracks and everyone is moved to tears, suddenly becoming aware of not only the pain and cruelty in the world, but of the awesomeness of life.

The novel and the movie did an amazing job of highlighting how suffering, although terrible, allows us to truly experience life. It made me think about how truly lucky I am to have everything I do and to have experienced everything I have. I am having a tough summer, but it reminded me that no matter how much everything sucks at this point, someday things will get way better and I will be able to appreciate them so much more.

Not to mention what a stellar cast the movie had–Jeff Bridges as the Giver (who I always think of as Burt Vickerman from Stick It), Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder, Taylor Swift and Katie Holmes– they allowed the novel translate to the exact picture I had in my head. Lesser-known, Brenton Thwaites was a flawless Jonas and played him and his emotions perfectly. The set and the costumes and everything were just as Lowry wrote them and I couldn’t have been happier with it. I will see it again and again, if only to be reminded of how spectacular life is.

Whether or not you actually read it in middle school when it was assigned, I think everyone should read The Giver and then see the movie. Both are worth your time and are works of art.

Hidden in Irondequoit: Atlas Eats

katie at atlas eats

At the start of the summer, Erin told our friend Katie and I about a place her mom had just visited: Atlas Eats. She told us how it was tucked away, a little storefront in a suburban neighborhood and that it had a rotating dinner menu; every two weeks the dinner menu changes to feature the culinary styles of a different region. One week it will be Spanish Cuisine and the next will be French. They do two dinner settings, one at 6 and one at 8:30, only on Friday and Saturday nights. They also feature a small lunch menu and a bakery.

front of atlas eats irondequoit rochester

We were all super interested in Atlas Eats. We added it to our list of places to go and things to do and then carried on with our summer, frequenting our usual bars and sushi restaurants. But last weekend was Erin’s last one at home before moving away for a year (I’m devastated) so we cleared our schedules and made it there for lunch Saturday.

The restaurant itself, at 2185 N. Clinton Ave, is tucked away in a small building complex. It was actually close enough for Katie to walk from her house. You enter through the back door and seat yourself at one of the little tables and someone will come take your order.

atlas eats muffaletta sandwich

 

 

atlas eats menu

table of food at atlas eats

The menu is small but many of the items vary from day to day, so every experience is different. I ordered a muffuletta, which I had never eaten before, but it just sounded so appetizing–chicken cutlets and provolone with tapenade on a ciabatta roll. It was salty and crunchy but not greasy. Heavenly. Erin got a veggie burger (which is made using hazelnuts, so people like me with an allergy should be aware) and Katie got a chef salad. All had generous portions, and mine and Erin’s came with a side of mixed greens which reminded me of the amazing salad I had in Brooklyn last spring.

bake shop atlas eats

I ate my entire meal (woops) and was stuffed, but they also have a bakery section and their bread pudding smelled amazing. Everything is made right there and they feature a variety of different specialties, like brioche and cheesy biscuits.They also sell their own ice cream by the half pint, which was extremely tempting.

flowers at atlas eats

alas eats interior

The whole environment was just so sweet and local-feeling. I liked feeling like a part of the quiet neighborhood. The interior was decorated with maps and clocks showcasing the time in different countries, which was only fitting with their whole theme. We could have stayed there all afternoon.

Katie and I are already talking about going back soon for dinner, right now they’re featuring a Caribbean menu. They also do brunch, which is another meal I’d love to experience there. I’d love to experience brunch anywhere.

Atlas Eats is another little secret spot we’ve discovered and I will be back there soon. Definitely within the next few weeks.

Guide to Building a Post-College Wardrobe

When I unpacked from school, I went through all of my clothes and conducted a major overhaul. There was so much hanging in my closet that I hadn’t worn in years, or that I knew I’d probably never have an opportunity to wear again. Not only has my style changed (and hopefully matured) over the past few years, but moving forward there’s a lot less casual and going out opportunities, and a lot more office settings. Out went all my old high school cheerleading shirts (why are those so hard to let go of??) and  my cheap Forever 12 “going out” skirts and tops. What I’m left with now are pieces that fit into casual weekends, nice nights out downtown or at restaurants, and a pretty sturdy collection of work clothes.

No job I will ever hold (hopefully) will require me to wear a suit everyday. I have one suit for interviews that my mom and I got at JC Penney and I loathe it. I hate the way it feels and I especially hate how frumpy it makes me look. But it’s a necessity. Regardless, my work wardrobe consists of outfits that fit into an office a few notches down from business professional. Dress pants and nice tops, sweaters and dresses are what I’ve collected, but many public relations jobs are even more casual than that.

The key to starting a work wardrobe is finding things you can mix and match and wear a lot without looking like you’re repeating outfits every day (which honestly doesn’t matter unless you work in a fashionable environment because I’m pretty sure no one has really noticed what I’ve worn to work). It’s also important to note that it shouldn’t be expensive. A lot of inepensive stores, like Old Navy and Forever 21, have great items that are super affordable.

professional wardrobe essentials

I started with bottoms. I think if you’re wearing nice pants or a skirt you already look dressier and more professional than if you wore a dressy top with jeans. I’m petite (barely 5 feet tall) so my favorite places are LOFT and Banana Republic, both of which have an amazing selection of professional attire in a petite size range. They also both have outlets and great sales, so my pants and skirts didn’t end up being outrageously expensive, and if you buy pieces that are classic enough, they last for years. I also have a pair of J. Crew Pixie Pants that I bought on Cyber Monday last year, and those come in petite, too. My office right now is a lot more casual than others, so I can get away with them, but in other situations you might need to be careful. A great substitute are the Minnie (or Winnie, at the Factory) pants, which are less like leggings and more like work-pants.

I have a ton of skirts as well. I love the J. Crew City Mini, but they are really expensive for what they are, unless you manage to snag one on sale, which I have. I also have a ton of skirts from Forever 21, one of which looks exactly like the City Mini, but was a fraction of the cost. Skirts are great for summer because they breathe but still look super professional, as long as they’re not too short.

Tops are easier. Old Navy, Forever 21, LOFT, Banana Republic, J. Crew Factory and JC Penney all have great (and affordable) options. I have a decent selection of nice tank tops I really like to wear under a sweater, in addition to way too many button ups that I wear every day in the fall and winter. I love J. Crew Factory’s button ups, but Old Navy has some that I’ve loved a ton, too.

I also have a thing for cardigans, since they’re easy to throw over just about anyoutfit when it gets chilly. The J. Crew ones are nice, but the three-quarter sleeves don’t sit well with me sometimes. I actually really love the ones from JC Penney, and they’re loads cheaper, but give off the same look. LOFT also has great sweaters, which I like wearing over a button up with the collar poking out in the fall and winter time.

Blazers have always been a challenge for me. I have a short torso and short arms, so petites are a must. I have had one gray blazer from the Banana Republic outlet since freshman year of college that I wore all the time and it still fits and works. I got it at an after-Christmas sale, too, so I know it was extremely affordable. I have a few other favorites, one being a fleece blazer from Target that I roll the sleeves on, which is essentially a sweatshirt that I can wear in an office, and it’s fantastic.

Dresses are also a challenge. Unless I have my mom hem them, the only dresses I have that I love and fit perfect are from LOFT. They have the cutest petite dresses that are an office-approprite length that look good just about any time of the year.

Finally: shoes. I’m pretty basic in the shoes department, especially for work. I have a pair of plain black flats from Target, and nude ones from J. Crew Factory that are almost at their breaking point, and I mostly rotate between the two, depending on my outfit. Sometimes in the summer I’ll also throw a pair of wedges into the mix, but open toe shoes are sometimes a touchy subject in the workplace. In the winter, I wear riding boots with skirts and sometimes pixie pants, but I still tend to rely on flats. My mom insists now that I need a pair of “sensible heels,” but I’ve yet to settle on a pair, mostly because I don’t see myself wearing heels to work regularly.

I feel like I’ve pretty much summed it up. It took me a few years to get my wardrobe to where it is, but now I have more than enough outfits on rotate for all of my working needs. I also have an (almost) embarassingly huge collection of necklaces, watches and bracelets that I use to liven up a more simple outfit. The key there is to not go overboard and keep it classy.

And if you wonder what I wear when I work at Athleta, it’s basically my pajamas.

Finding the Right Running Sneakers

asiscs-cumulus-runningDisclaimer: I am not a professional. I don’t run races and I’m not trained in podietry or physical therapy or athletic training or anything of that nature. I just like to run when I work out, and I was tired of it hurting and I wanted to share my findings with anyone who has a similar struggle.

Everyone and their brother wears Nike Frees. They’re cute and you can customize them and they aren’t big, clunky old lady shoes that amke you look weird and like an old lady. I have a pair of Nike Free 2.0’s I insisted on getting a few years ago because everyone had them and they were hot pink! But they hurt. Bad. They’re built to allow full flexion of the foot in order to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles in runners, not for running regularly, especially not on the tradmill like I did.

This summer, I decided that while my Frees might not be optimal for running, I should still be able to wear them while running errands or working at Athleta, right? WRONG. After a day of shopping or even a measly four hour shift at the store, my feet would throb. It would start in my arches and radiate all the way through my ankles, knees and hips. I was so confused about why my Rainbow flip-flops gave me more support than these pricey sneakers, so I did what I do best: excessive Google research.

It turns out that Nike Frees are training shoes. Not meant to be run in, really, at all, aside from training. What many runners suggest is easing into them, first by wearing them to run short distances on grass in order to strengthen the foot while still running in regular shoes for long distances on pavement. They’re equated with Vibram’s Five Fingers, if that’s any indication of how little support they are intended to give. What’s more, Nike has different models of the Free, starting at the 5.0, with the intention of starting there, and working your way down the number scale; each model decreases in support and cushioning, which progessivley strengthens running muscles. That solved the mystery of why these shoes were so painful for me: they were essentially nothing and my muscles were NOT ready for such little support for long periods of time.

So I set them aside and picked up a pair of $35 Saucony’s from Marshall’s that did the trick. They were supportive and cushioned me when I ran and didn’t make my whole body ache after wearing them for long periods of time. But man, were they ugly. What they give in comfort and support they lack in any kind of style. And now, after a year of running, sprinting and lifting in them, they’re worn and I needed a new pair. So I embarked on a search for a pair of running sneakers that give me the support I need without making me look like a 1990’s soccer mom. Kind of a stupid quest, I know, since fitness should preside over fashion, but why should I have to choose?

asics-gel-cumulusWith the help of my dad, I did more research. He has had excellent luck with Asics ovr the years, so I focused on that brand. I noticed the other day that when I run, the outsides of my feet hit the pavement first and then roll inward, which was backed up by the fact that the outsides of the heels on my shoes were worn down. This means that I over-pronate. Rolling inner-foot to outer-foot is considered under-pronating and ideally, a runner runs completely balanced in the center of their foot, rolling heel-to-toe. If you’re not sure what your pronation is, I suggest going to a place like Fleet Feet, which has locations all over, where they can evaluate all of your needs and recommend the best type of shoe for you.

Since I over-pronate, I need something with stability. Asics has a great chart on their website that has the different pronations at the top, and different needs down the side, and then the corrosponding shoes in the center, which helps start the shopping process. This chart can be found here.

From there I looked at different styles recommended for me online, and also tried different ones on in a store. Ultimately, I decided on the Gel Cumulus, which I ordered from Amazon (Prime). Not only are they suited for my running needs, but they’re not huge clomping shoes and they’re cute enough to wear to work at Athleta, as well as to run and work out in. This whole process was pretty extensive and required a lot of time and research, but I think it’s important because good shoes lead to a good workout and a healthy body, and bad shoes just make me miserable.

ETA: I’ve had my shoes for about a week now and I’ve run in them, lifted in them and worn them to work and they are amazing. The heel is cushy and the front of the foot is more sturdy, and most importantly, they feel good when I run and when I’m on my feet for hours. Hallelujah to these Asics!

Starting Fresh with May Designs

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The past few years, I had Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer planners to keep me organized, but after graduating, my needs have changed somewhat. I no longer have three or four classes a day with multiple assignments each, and so I didn’t need something quite so huge and spread out.

Instead, I embarked on an online shopping search for a smaller, thinner planner, with the left-hand page containing days of the week, and the right-hand side free for notes and to-do lists. I searched every site that I knew made quality planners, and so many of them failed me. On a whim, I went to May Designs, a site I had written about when I was working at Lovelyish. I didn’t think they would meet my specifications, but lo and behold, the left hand side had the days of the week, and the right has space for all the notes and lists I could need.

The major draw of May Designs is that you can design them yourself. They offer tons of different patterns in a million different colors, and you can add a monogram or initial on the cover. My mom and I spent hours going through different patterns and color combinations before we decided on the Vintage Bird print in “Spa” with a K in “Melon.” It’s such a sweet color combination that isn’t way too over-the-top, and the K adds a nice little personal touch without being in-your-face monogrammed.

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What’s great about May Designs (besides their meeting my extremely specific requirements) is that the inside is also customizable. Not only the front cover pattern and monogramming, but the pages inside are even up to you, too. You can pick a student agenda type, with the two-page weekly spread, or a meal planning type, or even just lined pages to use as a notebook—which I am strongly considering.

The only downside to this type of agenda is that the dates are un-numbered, so I had to add them in myself, which is fine with me, but there’s also no month at a glance full calendar at the beginning of each month. If they wanted to keep the dates un-filled in, May Designs could still add some un-numbered calendars at the front/back of the booklet that I could fill in, too. Other than that, though, it’s perfection.

The planner itself is also a ton cheaper than the Lilly one I had, and it shipped in a little over a week. My mom was confused about the size, but it’s 100% exactly what I was looking for. I can throw it in my work bag or take it with me in my purse when I run errands. That way, I can keep track of my lists and appointments even when I’m out and about.

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I love this little book, and I would even consider getting them for friends as a gift, since they’re so cute and inexpensive, but still super personal and thoughtful, especially for a friend starting a new job or going off to school. I am definitely going to be a May Designs repeat customer.

Favorite New Spot: Pour Coffee Lounge

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Tuesday night my sister came to me and said she heard of a breakfast place near Park Ave (in Rochester) and wondered if I’d be interested in going there on our day off together. After that exceptional description I agreed, and Wednesday morning we rolled out of bed and made our way to Pour Coffee Lounge.

Oh my God.

I haven’t stopped talking about it since. The Pour Coffee Lounge is located on 23 Somerton Street, off of Park Avenue. We had a little bit of a tough time finding it, since it’s behind the row of street-side buildings, including Abbotts and Boulder Coffee,  and the (small) parking lot can only be accessed by taking a few back and side streets. But we made it. It’s pretty unimpressive from the outside, but I trusted Bridget’s judgement and in we went.

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It’s the kind of rustic-meets-industrial environment that is homey and comforting rather than isolating and disengaging. The floors were concrete and the chairs were all metal, but the tables and bar were all wooden slabs. Coffee was served in glass mugs and mason jars, and meals were served on wood platters that resembled cutting boards (that description courtesy of Bridget). There were vases filled with flowers and it was bright and airy despite the contrast of the cold floors. It was the kind of place that makes me want to settle in with my laptop and a cup of coffee and stay for a few hours. And there were plenty of people doing just that.

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The menu isn’t extensive, but it definitely has enough. Everything offered is locally farmed or made from locally sourced ingredients. The coffee section is split into “black” and “white” drinks, black being coffees of different brewing techniques, and the white being drinks made with milk, like lattes and cappuccino. We both ordered iced coffee, only to find out that their cold brewed coffee is actually on tap. I had never heard of such a thing but it was strong and delicious. They had local whole milk and raw sugar to mix in, too.

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Bridget ordered a Lumber Jill, a breakfast sandwich, with eggs and sausage, and even better, they have gluten-free bread for her wheat-free dietary needs. She was so obsessed with the bread that after she inhaled her sandwich, she went back up to the counter and asked where they get it from. Turns out, they get it from Ellie’s in Fairport. So if you’re from the area and are looking for good gluten-free bread, that’s the spot. Pour also has a selection of gluten-free cookies and muffins, if a sandwich isn’t what you’re looking for.

After reading the menu for five minutes straight in indecision, I settled on the Lone Turkey. The sandwich came stacked high and it was absolutely delicious. The greens were fresh and there was at least an inch of fresh sliced turkey, plus spicy jack cheese that gave it a little kick. The cucumbers were a nice touch, too, adding a little bit of crunch. And the sourdough bread was perfect; not hard and crusty, but soft with a tiny bit of flavor. I inhaled the entire thing.

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I’ve been telling literally everyone I know about Pour, because I feel like it’s such a gem of a place and I want to go back already. They have waffles on the menu that look absolutely amazing, and are something I definitely need in my life.

Next time I go back, I’m bringing my laptop and making a day of it. A cup of coffee and a muffin, and after a few hours, a sandwich and a glass of wine. Yes. They also have wine and beer. I want Pour to stay the kind of hidden little Park Ave treasure that it is, but I also think everyone should go there because it definitely deserves recognition and business. A+ FOR POUR.

Sunnies by Zenni

zenni-sunglassesI’ve written about my love for Warby Parker before, and I will explain the entire process and company to anyone and everyone because I am a huge fan of the company and their products. But their prescription sunglasses are a little pricy and that’s what I was looking for this time around.

I’ve read and watched a lot of things about the eyeglasses industry and the more I learn the less I want to buy designer eyewear and the more I research different companies who provide the same quality eyewear at a more fair price.

The eyewear industry basically consists of one monster company, Luxottica, who manufactures basically every eyewear brand you’ve ever tried to buy. Ray Ban, DG, Coach, Tory Burch….and on and on and on. Glasses are decently cheap to produce, but Luxottica will mark up the prices significantly (as we all know). Luxottica also owns several eyeglasses retail chains, including Lenscrafters, so in order to get an in at one of these companies, a designer has to go through Luxottica or their glasses won’t be on the shelves. What companies like Warby Parker and Zenni do is cut out the middle man and manufacture and sell their glasses themselves. That way, they can provide quality eyewear to the consumer (us!) for a much better price. And I’ve found that these companies generally care more about their customers, too.

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SO. I was looking for a good pair of prescription glasses to keep in my car for when it’s really sunny, and I went to Zenni, since that’s where my (frugal) parents have been ordering their glasses for a while now. I found this pair, and then when I was ordering my lenses, I ordered an amber tint to them, so they would be sunnies. I didn’t get them polarized, just glare resistant, because I’m not made of money here.

What’s important when you’re ordering glasses anywhere is to not only have you Rx, but to have your pupillary distance, too. My dad measured mine last summer, since that’s the one thing the optometrist won’t willingly give up to you, but it’s simple, the instructions can be found here, and all you need is a ruler with millimeters. When you make your first order from Zenni, they include a ruler with your glasses for future use.

I ended up paying about $40 total for mine, which is a fraction of what I would pay anywhere else. They came in about a week and a half, and the quality is actually better than I expected. I would equate my frames with my Warby Parker ones, they’re a sturdy plastic, and they’re fashionable. I’m not sure how I feel about the frames themselves, I think I just chose the wrong style, but I would definitely order from Zenni again. They have tons of different styles for both eyeglasses and sunglasses and almost all of the frames are under $30. I am sold and Zenni is definitely worth the money.