Well, to be fair, this isn’t the famed Highclare Castle, where Downton Abbey was actually filmed, but doesn’t it look pretty close? I mean, that grand staircase alone made me clutch my proverbial 1920s pearls, half expecting to hear Mr. Carson ring the dinner bell as I walked into the Great Room. We visited Darlington Mansion, the property you see here in these photos, last week — a sprawling 12-acre estate in Mahwah, New Jersey, totaling close to 50,000 square feet and it could be all yours for a cool $48 million. (Sigh — someday!) Built in 1902, fashioned after an English castle (ah, Lady Mary would be proud), it’s a breathtaking property — a true historic gem — and I was so happy to join the Christies Real Estate teams for a day of pampering (thanks to the Natura Bissé team!) and admiring this architectural marvel.
Perhaps you’re like me and you’ve grown up devouring shows both on the History Channel as well as anything remotely related to a British historical drama — and you’ve been sorely amiss since Downton Abbey aired their last episode back in 2015. So until the Downton Abbey movie comes out later this year in September, our visit to Darlington will surely hold me over. I absolutely love how Allie captured the property and these outfits I pulled together for the occasion — I hope you enjoy them too!
As for this week’s installment of Friday Favorites, let’s get right to it…
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out Beauty Pie, a beauty membership that allows members to purchase luxury products essentially at cost. Since taking a break from testing out beauty products earlier this year at the recommendation of my dermatologist (you can read that saga here), I’ve been extremely careful about selecting what products I felt comfortable incorporating into my routine. On principle, I love the premise of Beauty Pie since it makes so many of the amazing yet extremely expensive products on the market far more accessible and I’ve been impressed with the individual product reviews thus far (including Grace’s here that I’ve linked!). I’m currently testing a collection of skincare and cosmetics and I hope to share my full thoughts next week!
Looking for an adventure the next time you head out of town? AirBnB just launched a collection of adrenaline-inducing activities — and I’m tempted to try a few out! The list includes: lion tracking in Kenya, an overnight stay in a snow cave, a farmstay in Indiana Amish country and a paranormal tour of the US Southwest.
That does it for me — hope you all have a wonderful weekend planned ahead!
It’s been a crazy mix of long days in and out of the office lately, so I wanted to show a little range of business, pleasure, casual and everything in between. Keep scrolling down below for the full IGTV video to see every outfit in action. And yes, for enquiring minds, I was singing along to music while filming most of this video — 90% of it being Motown classics, because it’s June and I’m just so happy to have all this sunshine lately!
While growing up in a relatively small town, driving music was key.
In fact, there are certain songs that still come on the radio (the rare occasions I listen to the radio these days) that will remind me of a specific mixed CD that a certain high school boyfriend made for me. I can recall what song might have come before it. What song came afterward. And the places I drove to that summer while listening to it on repeat, whether that was long drives to Lake Tahoe for hikes and tacos in Incline Village or perhaps the to the drive-in to catch a double feature of two summer blockbuster movies, likely featuring Will Smith. There was something about the repetition in those days that never seemed stale — it was familiar, the songs felt almost like friends joining you for the ride.
On Saturday, Ty and I were riding bikes up to the American Natural History Museum, one Airpod in my ear, the other in his, so we could listen to an oldies playlist I had really been digging on Spotify. A certain Van Morrison song came on (‘Astral Weeks’) that instantly took me back to my summer between junior and senior years of high school and it made me miss the feeling of newfound teenage freedom: a drivers license in hand, a half tank of gas and an unplanned summer afternoon, with nothing to do but sing along to lyrics you had yelled out the windows many times before.
In effort to cement this summer in my memory somehow, I wanted to create a playlist that hopefully evolves over the coming months of New York and travels alike — a musical scrapbook that’ll trigger a happy snapshot years from now. Hope you enjoy! And, if you feel like sharing, what’s on your summer magic playlist?
“Summer romances end for all kinds of reasons. But when all is said and done, they have one thing in common: They are shooting stars — a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity. And in a flash, they’re gone.” ~ Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Ah, yes. I did indeed just quote The Notebook. Regardless of how you feel about it as a piece of literature (confession time: I’ve never read the book) or a movie (to be clear, if you talk sh*t about Ryan Gosling, we’re no longer friends), I think we can all agree, it’s surely cemented its place as a true pop culture fixture — a romance drama that has likely been the stuff of many a millennial girl’s dreams (yours truly included), or at the very least, the inspiration for attempting similar steamy make out sessions in the pouring rain. But I digress.
Where am I going with this? There’s something about carnivals and amusement parks that always make me think about The Notebook (this scene in particular) and moreover, the magic of a summer romance. Those breathless whirlwinds, usually of our youth, that burn quick and bright, threatening to scorch us at any moment, but we’re too dizzy to notice or care. We’ve all had one. Or several. Or many. And no matter how they end, and they most certainly inevitably end with a swift exhale that extinguishes the flame, they burn on in our memories. Sweet reminders of innocence. Of holding hands too tight, because letting go might mean something. Of cotton candy kisses. Of the promise of learning what love feels like.
While many New Yorkers might balk at the idea of heading out to Coney Island (and perhaps understandably so — it is a tourist trap after all), I was so excited when Grant and Igee agreed to meet me out at Luna Park for this shoot over Memorial Day Weekend. Summer’s buzzing energy was thick in the air, a perfect setting for a quintessential boy meets girl moment.
I hope you enjoy this editorial series of ours. And in the meantime, let’s get down to this week’s Friday Favorites:
I’ll admit — usually when I find a show on Netflix that I love, I binge. While I’ve been enjoying When They See Us, it’s too hard for me to watch multiple episodes in a row so I can certainly understand how that would be the case for many others. Have you guys started watching it yet?
It’s been a busy past several days or so — lots of brand and networking events (and resort collection previews) have been filling the calendar up, hence lots of day to night dresses to go the extra mile. This is the time of year when I really go overboard when it comes to the dress department (thank goodness for Rent the Runway) and this week was full of perfect opportunities to don them.
If you feel like a good laugh, check out my video below. Dance moves (and lip syncing) thanks to Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” — an instant mood boosting song, if you ask me. Hope you’re all having a great week so far!
Just last weekend, my good friend Heather was in town visiting from London and we talked a lot about the power of manifesting — essentially willing an intention into reality. As someone who has always been somewhat of a pragmatic optimist, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever really get into manifesting — the idea of it seeming more like wishful thinking than actionable steps. But after a few health scares, family drama and professional turning points over the past several years (all of which have passed and resolved beautifully), I’ve come to realize how much a shifted mindset can make a difference for actually achieving something, even if it’s just the catalyst push to get that first foot moving.
So let’s just keep this new age thinking train moving, shall we? I’ve been reading a lot lately about the Law of Attraction — the concept that states all energy begets similar energy. Positive thoughts and beliefs bring about positive experiences. Negative thoughts and beliefs bring about negative experiences. And while I’m not someone who lives in absolutes — I do think there’s a lot of truth to this thinking. The more calm and optimistic I approach a situation, the more likely it is I’ll draw back in a corresponding energy, whether that’s in the form of people, success or opportunities — a magnetic formula that states when you add positives together, you can only find yourself with more positives.
Of course, this is all a matter of mindset, which is the blessing and the curse here. I find the more aware I become of my thoughts, the more in control of them I feel. Case in point, just a few weekends ago, I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon. While I consider myself a pretty avid runner, my training this time around was sub par — a fact I can only blame myself for — but instead of getting down, giving up or making excuses to skip all together, I decided to have fun with the race.
To run when I felt like running. To walk if I needed to (definitely not here today to advocate careless injuries). And to absorb the energy around me every step of the way. I eliminated any and all pressure I might have been placing on myself to perform and decided instead to take each and every mile as it came and relish it. And it was quite possibly the most fun I’ve ever had while running a race! I checked in with myself often, taking inventory of my thoughts, praising the encouraging ones and quickly extinguishing the negative ones, reminding myself that I was in control of my race, not the other way around.
So where am I going with all this? I hope, in some way, this can be a positive note for you today, to remind you that the only magic you need to wait for is the magic YOU control. That’s all.
Earlier this year, you all asked for more every day outfits here on the blog.
While I’m a bit sad to report I’m several months late with this, I’m excited to have found a format that I think makes it super easy to share more of these candid, daily outfits. These are the unsung heroes of my week, they make it to meetings and days around the apartment and office, as well as more casual (and formal) events here in the city. Some get photographed properly but most don’t — so I wanted a way to document them along the way, to give you guys a more regular dose of styling inspiration, hence these less polished IGTV videos.
Last week’s assortment (with a heavy dose of weekend attire thanks to Memorial Day) was chock full of outfits for get togethers. We’re finally experiencing a true late spring, early summer here in New York and I’m busting out all the floral pieces to celebrate! Scroll down for the full video — what look is your favorite?
For years now, the idea of Marrakech has seemed like a dream to me, something from an old, old fairytale perhaps — the mere uttering of it’s name sounding more like an enchantment or a spell, than a place on an atlas. So when the prospect of visiting became an all too real reality, I was quite literally in shock, not quite sure how to come to terms with the idea of exploring a part of the world that until recently, didn’t feel within grasp.
And fortunately enough for my daydream, from the moment we set foot in in Morocco, I couldn’t help but feel as if we were walking around in an actual dream. The heat of the afternoon desert sun wrapping itself around us, as the energy of the marketplace consumed all our other senses — the sound of vendors speaking a smooth cocktail of French and Arabic, the smell of mint tea brewing just inside a riad courtyard around the next corner, the brisk breeze as a daredevil motorist whisks past you on their motorbike, the call to prayer humming in the distance — to simply walk around within the medina walls of Marrakech is an intoxicating dance that truly keeps you on your toes at every intricate narrow alleyway turn and it was one that I desperately didn’t want to end.
If you happen to be planning your own trip to this part of the world, I’m happy to report: the spell is in fact, quite real, and for weeks afterward, you’ll feel its effects — more like a daze, really. For this particular trip, we only spent time in Marrakech, but something tells me I’ll be returning to Morocco again and again throughout my life — perhaps you’ll feel the same? Here’s a run down of everything we did, including some helpful planning and packing information.
ALL OUTFIT DETAILS WILL BE LINKED BELOW AT END OF POST.
Housekeeping: What to know before you go
Packing and what to wear: This was probably one of the most asked questions from you guys regarding Marrakech, a close second being safety, which we will get to next. In terms of outfits though, I didn’t really modify or change my approach from my usual outfit routine. You all know me, I love a good midi or maxi dress/skirt and I rarely wear anything too fitted or revealing, which I think really worked in my favor for this trip. I did make a point to bring a lot of silk wrap scarves and shawls, which I brought with me during the day to cover my shoulders when I felt it was needed — highly recommend doing this. Please note, this isn’t to say you can’t wear anything short or fitted — I saw plenty of tourists wearing the usual summer attire (shorts, tank tops, mini skirts etc.) — and I feel like a lot of the locals are very used to it at this point. But I will underscore I personally felt the most comfortable and the most respectful when I dressed with local culture in mind — while it is a major metropolitan tourist destination, it’s still a relatively conservative Muslim city — most women are fully covered, either with a hijab or a full burqa (the veil that covers their face as well, except for the eyes).
Safety: Moving on to safety, I just want to start with my short answer first: we felt extremely safe in Marrakech. That said, we did stay in more upscale riads/hotels so I can’t necessarily speak to all of Marrakech. As with any major city you travel to (New York included!) there will always be areas that are likely less safe than others, so I recommend doing a bit of neighborhood research when booking your hotel to make sure you’re in a safe, highly-rated and reviewed area. In general, it’s a very bustling city — especially when you’re in the Medina and the souk alleyways — and lots of people will be trying to sell you something pretty much at every turn. I don’t mean to paint this in a negative light, it’s just something to be mindful of — I recommend avoiding eye contact, saying no thank you firmly and walking away with purpose as this usually deters them from giving you their pitch for too long. Once you tune out the buzzing of it, it does take on an other worldly charm.
Time of year: We had 6 full days in Marrakech at the end of April, beginning of May and I will say, we had some pretty warm days (around high 80s, low 90s) with very dry heat — it is a desert after all. As someone who grew up in the desert, I’m used to this, but I highly encourage you all to make sure you’re hydrated throughout the day as the sun can really zap you quickly if you’re not careful. (That reminds me, I have advice regarding the local water, but we will get to that in a minute). In general, best times of year to visit Marrakech are considered to be March through May and again in September through November as the temperatures are much more mild and temperate. You’ll also want to research as to when Ramadan, a month-long Muslim fasting period, will be occurring that year, as it’s timed with the lunar calendar. While the city is still operating during this time, many shops and restaurants may be closed during Ramadan and it’s not uncommon for eating or drinking in public to be prohibited in a lot of the major cities, Marrakech included.
Flights: Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from the greater New York area to Marrakech. You can, however, fly direct to Casablanca and connect there or there are a number of major flights between New York and Paris, London and Madrid, all of which have easy connections to Marrakech. We flew British Airways to Heathrow on the way there and via Iberia Airlines through Madrid on the way back (probably won’t fly Iberia again, but that’s another story for another day). I recommend booking flights early — it was hard to find deals.
Vaccinations: Whenever I travel to a new country and especially a new continent, I’ll look up what the CDC recommends as far as vaccinations go. While traveling to Marrakech doesn’t REQUIRE any of the ones we got, it was highly recommended. About a week before we left, we got shots for measles (since there’s currently a huge outbreak in Brooklyn right now), Typhoid and Hepatitis A (mainly for water and food diseases).
Bring Moroccan dirham: Most, if not all, restaurants and a lot of vendors, accept major credit cards, but I always believe in carrying extra local cash just in case. It came in handy for tipping, smaller purchases and cab rides (which most don’t accept cards). A quick and easy way to convert the currency? Simply drop the last digit from Moroccan dirham and you roughly have the amount in US dollars. So 300 Moroccan dirham = $30 US dollars.
Planning: As you might have spied on Instagram while we were there, I was working with the new boutique travel planning site Pause, using a lot of their vetted recommendations to curate our itinerary while there. I’ve already shared a lot of my tips as to how we curate our trip itineraries here in this post, but let it suffice to say, Pause is a new secret weapon in my arsenal — such unique local recommendations, from restaurants to points of interest, with great tips on how to prepare for the trip itself.
Water: We were advised not to drink any of the tap water in Marrakech — and to even go as far as not brushing our teeth with the water either. Always ask for bottled water at restaurants and hotels, unless your hotel offers filtered/purified water (El Fenn and La Sultana both did), in which case, you’re golden. Of course, you’re fine with the tea since the water has been boiled.
Language: As you probably already guessed, the main languages spoken are Arabic and French, but English is very common throughout Marrakech. Of course, I always recommend brushing up on a few key phrases — in this case, in both Arabic and French — to show that you’re at least trying to communicate.
Riad Sweet Riad: Where to stay
La Sultana: We were quite fortunate to partner with La Sultana for at least one night during our stay — would 100% have stayed longer if they had availability! I’ve included quite a few photos of La Sultana here in this post but let’s just state the obvious: it’s an absolutely stunning property. What I loved about it (and what I loved about both of our hotels really) was just how intimate they felt. Neither property had a vast amount of rooms (tip: you need to book your accommodations pretty early, because the good riads fill up quickly!), making them feel like a charming boutique hotel with the bells and whistles of a resort. The interior decor is insane — each wing of the riad representing a different house, with a different theme, no two rooms look the same — expect a lot of beautiful tile work, Berber antiques and the most Instagram-ready pool courtyard you’ve ever seen. We stayed here our first night in town and the staff was SO amazing — such a great note to start the trip on. Our room wasn’t ready for a few hours but they whisked our luggage away and got us straight into the spa for a massage, which was so needed after those flights!
El Fenn: And just when I didn’t think I would find another beautiful hotel like La Sultana, El Fenn came into my life. If we had to assign New York hotel personalities here, I’d compare La Sultana to that of The Plaza and El Fenn to The Ludlow — both beautiful properties for different reasons. La Sultana touts a lot of history and heritage, whereas El Fenn felt like it’s cool, millennial cousin, with more modern art and a Western flair. We spent more nights at El Fenn because of availability and it’ll probably go down as one of my favorite places to stay ever. Owned and designed by Richard Branson’s sister, Vanessa Branson, you can tell the place has been curated with an artful eye — unique color combinations for checkerboard flooring, colorful accent walls and a perfectly placed hammock between two orange trees in one of the courtyards — in other words, a photographer’s dream. Again, the staff really outdid themselves here and we particularly loved the front desk manager Balaid — we relied on him a lot for recommendations, making reservations and just general advice for getting around. He was the sweetest. If you happen to stay here, please tell him hello for me! For reference, we rented one of their medium rooms and it was the perfect size! Found via Pause.
Where to eat and drink:
La Sultana and El Fenn: Most of the really nice riads have amazing restaurants, usually on their rooftop terrace, making for a beautiful sunset dinner. Most dinner reservations are prioritized for hotel guests first, with an early seating (7:30) and a late seating (9:30). For both hotels, if you’re not already staying there, I would recommend calling ahead to reserve a table. Some of my favorite meals were at our hotels — absolutely loved my vegetable tagine at La Sultana and the turbot at El Fenn.
Cafe des Epices: Located right above the bustling Spice Market, this is a..
Here’s my ultimate summer hack: wear white. End of story.
It may sound overly simple and that’s because it is! I tend to wear white like it’s going out of style pretty much year round, but especially during the summer months. It looks amazing with a tan. And gold accessories. And pretty much any floral print you can throw at it. Essentially, it’s hard to mess up a good summer white ensemble (unless of course, you lose a battle with a ornery iced latte in which case I take back everything I just said), which is why I’m sharing 5 different outfits, styling key white pieces you likely already have in your wardrobe, in today’s IGTV styling video. (Full video is shared below)
Another summer hack: If you’re missing any of the below pieces I mention, a lot of them are rented via Rent the Runway, another great way to experiment with your summer outfits!
I suppose there’s something about the week before Memorial Day weekend that gets me scheming about the summer ahead. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact everyone is sharing their long weekend plans, their fingers already set on the trigger to let that OOO email reply fly. And yours truly is certainly guilty of it! This coming weekend, my guy and I are heading to Boston for Boston Calling — he’s photographing the festival and I’m just there to enjoy it. Plus, it’s been years (probably 4 years?) since I’ve been to Boston so I’m excited to explore (and eat my way through) Bean Town. If you have any recommendations — please send them my way!
So in the spirit of getting our seasonal engines revved up for the long sunny days ahead, I wanted to share my summer bucket list including a lot of local New York activities and smaller, road trip plans of ours. You may recall, I love sharing these lists each season as they’re a great way to help with weekend planning when you’re itching to try something new but feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Would love to hear your summer bucket lists in the comments below!
Jazz Age Lawn Party: Admittedly, Ty and I have gone to this before but it’s one of my favorite summer activities, so I’m adding it again here! Generally speaking, if there’s a 1920s themed party, you can usually find me there.
Glamping out on Governor’s Island: I just discovered there’s a whole glamping campground out on Governor’s Island — who knew?! After glamping out in the Moroccan desert, I’m kinda hooked so I’m curious how this urban setting campground might compare.
More upstate trips: This year, I have my eye on a few adorable AirBnB’s upstate, but none as cute as this guy.
5. The water slide at Summer Streets: Every year for the first three consecutive Saturdays in August, they shut down nearly 7 miles of worth of NYC streets along Lafayette and Park Avenue to allow folks unrestricted access to games, activities, biking and yes, a water slide. This year, I’m tackling the water slide — reminds me so much of going to our local water amusement park while growing up. Do you guys have one of those near you where you live? Perhaps it’s time to revisit it?!
6. Kayaking on the Hudson River: Speaking of water activities, I run along the Hudson River pretty much every day and with more and more warmer days coming up, I envy all the folks out kayaking on the river! Such a pretty way to watch the sunset! Best part? It’s free!
7. Attend a match at the US Open: I love attending summer sports (already have a few Yankees and Mets games lined up) but this year, I’m excited to catch a few matches of the US Open. Ty is a huge tennis fan (it’s the Aussie in him) so I love watching him get really into a match.
8. Coney Island Mermaid Parade: I don’t think it gets as kitchsy as the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and I, for one, am so excited for it! Plus, who doesn’t love a day out at Coney Island?
9. Road trips to New Orleans and Nashville: After getting back from Marrakech a few weeks ago, my guy and I are pretty exhausted from traveling (in the best way possible, of course), so we’ve been setting our sights on shorter, more domestic trips — by car and train. I’ve personally never been to Nashville before and I’m dying to head back to New Orleans — we’re just trying to find a few long weekends that make sense timing wise for both spots.
10. Trapeze class: Remember the SATC episode where she takes a trapeze class? Yeah, me too. There’s a class held at Chelsea Piers that I also pass pretty much every day during my runs and I’ve always been tempted to sign up. This summer — I’m determined to try it and live to tell the tale. Anyone want to join me?