Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New York City Apartment: Bedroom Inspiration

Since I'm moving to New York City to pursue a career in magazine journalism, my mom and I have been obsessed with planning and decorating my future apartment. She's an interior design whiz who sees the potential in every space. I'm an organizing freak who taught myself about home decor through my favorite blogs and HGTV shows. Together we're trying to convert a tiny NYC apartment into a cozy and functional living space.

Of course I'll share updates once we start the actual decorating process, but today I thought I'd talk about my interior design inspiration for my future bedroom.

A cozy feminine bedspread
Picking out the perfect bedspread is always the hardest part of the bedroom decorating process for me. I have some strict requirements: it has to be plush and cozy with a not-too-busy pattern in relaxing neutral shades. My search led me to this Martha Stewart Collection Regal Filigree 22-Pc. Comforter Set, which I found at Macy's for $85 (it's originally $400!). The set comes with a comforter, bedskirt, curtains, valences, throw pillows, and more. As soon as I saw it, I knew it suited my tastes perfectly. We nabbed it for less than 25% of the original price, and now I can't wait to decorate my bedroom around the beautiful gray-and-green pattern.

Soft paint colors
When it comes to paint, I'm drawn to soft colors on the cool end of the spectrum. I find that these calming shades help me relax, and they look pleasing in most rooms. My two favorite paint colors at the moment are Sea Salt and Comfort Gray by Sherwin-Williams. How cute would they look on my bedroom walls when paired with the above comforter?

Complementary furniture
Given my cool-toned bedspread and paint colors, I decided that my furniture should be some shade of grayish-brown. My mom recently painted her bathroom cabinets in Urban Bronze by Sherwin-Williams, and we both fell in love with the results. I want to paint my headboard and bedroom furniture in the same hue. Urban Bronze would look great with Sea Salt and Comfort Gray, and it's incredibly similar to the shade of my throw pillows and curtains.

Unique decor 
I'm a sucker for whimsical artwork, vintage clocks, and one-of-a-kind trinkets. I haven't picked out any decor items yet, but I've been eyeing the city prints by Ork Posters because they add a bit of personality and charm to your living space. I might buy this Berlin poster (since I studied abroad in the city for four months) or this Queens poster (since my apartment will probably be in Queens). 

I also like the idea of New York City-inspired wall art; I just have to ensure I pick one that's not too tacky or tourist-y. My favorites so far are this three-piece painting from Wayfair, this digital watercolor print from ArtPrintsVicky on Etsy, and all of the NYC artwork from ClareCaulfield on Etsy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

3 Easy Date Night Meals

My boyfriend and I love going out to dinner, but our budgets don't always allow it. To save money, we've been experimenting with different recipes – many of which come straight from Pinterest

Cooking food from scratch isn't the easiest thing for us, though. For starters, his college apartment doesn't have a full kitchen, so we have to use a toaster oven and a hot plate. We also have completely different taste buds... I adore melted cheese; he hates it. I love spicy food; he's not a fan. He could eat red meat for every meal; I prefer chicken. As you can imagine, compromise is key. 

Today I'm sharing three simple recipes that you can make anywhere (even a college apartment without a real kitchen!) Each meal features a different protein – fish, red meat, and chicken – so there's hopefully a recipe for everyone. 

1. Baked Salmon

Salmon can be expensive, but I think the health benefits and easy preparation justify the splurge. To make this dish, you will need salmon fillets, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Garlic and lemon juice are optional. 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Place the salmon on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
3. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on each fillet. You can also rub minced garlic and/or lemon juice on the salmon, if you want.
4. Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10-15 minutes. 

You can find a similar recipe here.

Jake and I also made a side of broccoli, which we cooked with the salmon and coated with olive oil, garlic, and salt. I imagine that most other garlic-coated vegetables, like green beans or asparagus, would work well with baked salmon, too.  

2. Steak Sandwiches 

Despite having different tastebuds, Jake and I both appreciate a good steak sandwich. We found this recipe on the Food Network website but modified it a bit to suit our lack-of-a-kitchen situation. Instead of cooking the dish with sliced yellow onions, we bought a mixture of pre-cut green pepper and diced white onions. We also excluded the provolone cheese, but added a bit of mayonnaise to the rolls instead. 

We served the sandwiches with steamed green beans and baked French fries. Both of us absolutely loved the recipe, and we would definitely make the same thing again. 

3. Breaded Pesto Chicken 

For this dish, Jake and I took a simple breaded chicken recipe (like this one from Food Network) and added pre-made pesto to the mix. We put the pesto on the chicken breasts after the egg and before the breadcrumbs. Although the Food Network instructions recommend making your own breadcrumbs, we bought pre-mixed ones at the store to ease the preparation. 

We love this recipe because the pesto adds a flavorful kick to the chicken with no dipping sauces necessary. But, being a Midwesterner, I would never pass up a side of Ranch dressing!

Tell me: What are your favorite date night meals? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

3 Valentine's Day Ideas for Long Distance Couples

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Certainly not on Valentine's Day. For those of us in long distance relationships, spending the most romantic day of the year apart from your significant other blows.

I'm thankfully able to visit my long-distance boyfriend for Valentine's this year, but I want to help out other LDR couples who aren't so lucky. Here are three unique Valentine's Day date ideas for couples separated by distance.
1. Order each other dinner

Here's what to do: Sign into a food delivery/takeout website like Grubhub, Seamless, or Delivery.com. Find a meal that your boyfriend will love and order it, making sure to put his address as the destination. Have him order a surprise dish for you as well. Try to coordinate the delivery so both meals arrive at the same time. Then, if you want, set up Skype and enjoy your food over a nice conversation. Candles and wine are optional, but they will definitely add some romance to the faux dinner date. Bon Appetit!

2. Send a care package 

Don't let the distance prevent you from spoiling your loved one with sweets. Fill a cardboard box with some of his favorite candy, decorate it with romantic decorations, and drop it off at the nearest Post Office. If your significant other doesn't have a sweet tooth, swap out candy for salty snacks like chips and jerky. You can also fill the box with clothes, letters, or other gifts. Be creative! The personalized care package is a simple gesture that shows your man how much he means to you.

3. Plan a synchronized Netflix session

As most LDR couples probably know, trying to simultaneously watch a show on Netflix is nearly impossible. The main challenge is pressing the play button at the same time. Then one video still inevitably lags behind the other, and the sound never syncs up right.

That's where Rabbit comes in. The website allows Netflix uses to completely sync their streaming sessions without having to worry about lags or timing issues. One person "controls" Netflix; when he/she presses pause or play or rewind, both computer screens respond to the command. Users can also turn on their cameras and video chat during the show. Rabbit is the perfect solution for long-distance couples looking for a low-key date night.

Here are a few of my Valentine's Day movie recommendations, which are all currently on Netflix: Silver Linings Playbook, The Switch, Kate and Leopold, Serendipity, Hitch, and 50 First Dates.

I hope you found these LDR date ideas useful.
Tell me: How do you celebrate Valentine's Day in a long distance relationship?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Life Update: A One-Way Ticket to NYC

I'm back! It's been a solid three months since I last blogged because my life has been a complete whirlwind. I graduated from college a semester early, started the job application process, and prepared to move to New York City. Pretty soon I'll be trading my suburban town in Ohio for the Big Apple. I couldn't be more excited to start this incredible new chapter.

To make up for lost time, I decided to post a photo-heavy life update on the blog today. Prepare for more of my typical lifestyle content in the future – especially NYC restaurant reviews, book and TV show recommendations, day-in-the-life posts, DIY project ideas, and healthy recipes. Enjoy!

The beautifully quiet streets of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Typical New York: Modern buildings and yellow cabs in Midtown Manhattan

The bright lights of Times Square on a chilly January night

My second time at Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria – the Romana is amazing!

The ice skating rink at the Rockefeller Center is a winter wonderland in the middle of NYC