August 3, 2020

Life Lately | A Pandemic Staycation

Taking a week-long staycation was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made for myself this summer. I've been so burnt out from work and the near-constant stress of worrying about the current situation that I couldn't think of anything I needed more right now. 

There were three things I knew I wanted from last week: to relax, to leave my apartment and go out at least once a day, and to see my family and friends. 

Happy birthday, dear cousins!

I kicked off my staycation with a backyard get together to celebrate two of my cousins' birthdays! My youngest cousin and I did all the "party" planning. I bought decorations and ordered the food, he got balloons and cake, and then we set up everything together. I was so happy with how festive it looked and please note our tables are well over six feet apart! It felt really good to actually have something to plan and to safely hang out with my cousins outdoors. Unfortunately because the backyard isn't that big and social distancing concerns, we couldn't include the whole family (aka all 19 of us) but I'm so grateful that at least my cousins and I are still able to celebrate our birthdays together this summer.

Jul 27-31 // the actual staycation week

I will say two things about the pandemic, it's given me a deeper appreciation for the little joys in life and for exploring the local outdoor parks. I've said it before but I've never been so happy to live in a suburb so I can leave my apartment freely, easily maintain distance and use my car. I'm also thankful that for the most part, everywhere I went almost everyone was wearing a mask. But it was also really weird? It always gives me pause as it sinks in that this is our normal now. 

But here's what I was up to during the five days I didn't have work in case you need some staycation inspiration!
  • My internal alarm clock wouldn't let me sleep in much so I took advantage of that by going on early morning walks.
  • I had time to make pancakes for breakfast. 
  • I grabbed my camera and found a new-to-me local park to visit. Kingsland Park was under 10 minutes from my apartment and absolutely beautiful.
  • I went to Trader Joe's for the first time since March and Ulta! It's funny how that to me is "going out" at this point. 
  • I went to the mall but it's not an outing I would recommend. I only went because I had stuff that had to be returned in store (so annoying!). In spite of the safety precautions, I couldn't relax. My advice: stick to individual stores with outdoor entrances (I prefer these because they strictly monitor capacity) and shop online at places that put a return label in your package.
  • I got a much-needed haircut! I cut off 4 inches and it's still to the middle of my back so you can just imagine how badly I needed it. But if you're local, go to Vanity Salon in Montclair and ask for Alyssa. Their safety guidelines are top-notch and I was done in 20 minutes.
  • Stopped by my best friend's house to see her and my goddaughter. We just sat outside, with masks, chatting. And right before that, I had Wendy's in the backyard with my cousins during their lunch breaks. 
  • Quietly celebrated my mom's birthday which was a tough day for me. I bought flowers and picked up my dad, aunt, and uncle so we could go to the cemetery together.
  • I binged a whole lot of Orphan Black. (This is probably my third rewatch!)
  • I finished a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle.
  • I went to a local ice cream shop and ate in my car. It's not summer without ice cream! 
  • I worked on some creative side projects since I was feeling inspired.
  • And of course, organizing and cleaning around the apartment and trying to find new little projects to take on. I was supposed to redo my entryway but my furniture was delayed so hopefully I'll get to that this week!

Needless to say, I kept really busy! It was a balance of venturing out a little bit each day and keeping myself entertained and/or relaxed within the comfort of my apartment. 

Happy early birthday Alexa!
This past Saturday, I went to New York for the first time since March to hang out with Alexa and celebrate her birthday a bit early! It was the perfect ending to my staycation week and a great way to kick off August. We met at Gantry Park in Long Island City. I'd never been before but wow, I am so in love with that park. It wasn't crowded and there were so many places to sit or set up a blanket, like we did. We picked up breakfast, walked to the park, and pretty much stayed there for five hours. It did get pretty warm by the afternoon but the whole day was beautiful. I'd missed having this gorgeous view of the city. And most of all, I missed seeing Alexa in real life! But I'm really thankful that we were able to hang out on my birthday and then again for hers. The plan is to get together once a month until it gets cold again so fingers crossed we can make that happen. Seeing friends (and family) definitely makes this new normal a lot easier to bear. 

Have any of you taken a staycation recently? 
If you haven't, you should seriously consider it!

July 31, 2020

July Recap

Life lately
It's the end of July already! I was counting down to this past week all month long because I was going to be on staycation and now, it's practically over. I could totally use another week. Heck, I could use a month away from work. It's funny, even with my limited outings, I really felt like I did so much. I'm going to share a whole post next week about it but I got to relax at home, see friends and family, and go somewhere almost every day (it is sad that even a trip to Trader Joe's felt momentous?). I think I've become accustomed to this slower-paced lifestyle and I can't say it's a bad thing. Although being able to hang out with friends and family without worrying (for them or myself) and hopefully one day without masks is still the thing I wish for the most. Well that and a month-long sabbatical from work. 

This month's ...
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Read but not reviewed
  • Archangel's Consort + Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunters, Books 3-4) by Nalini Singh - 4 stars
    I'll be doing a full review of this series at a later date for something Alexa and I are working on but I'm enjoying this a lot! 
  • The Hidden Horses of New York by Natalie Keller Reinert - 3 stars
    Even though I didn't fall in love with this book the way I had hoped, I still liked it. It made me realize that there are lots of places to find horses in NYC, if you just know where to look. 
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor - 5 stars
    I re-read this for Paranormal Book Club and unsurprisingly, I still love it just as much as I did the first time around. Laini Taylor truly is a gifted writer. 
  • When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk - 5 stars
    If you want to read a book on friendship break-ups, this is the one to read. It was so honest and real and brought me to tears. 
  • Grabbing Mane by Natalie Keller Reinert - 2 stars
    Can you tell I'm still on the lookout for equestrian fiction? Unfortunately I still haven't found anything I love as much as Mara Dabrishus' books. This one totally fell flat for me. 
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares - 3.5 stars
    It is interesting to reread these books as an adult! I enjoyed the second book more than the first and it certainly has me wondering which book will end up becoming my favorite. But as to which girl is my fave as an adult? No question, it's Bee! I called it in the first book and it continues to be true. 

How's your month been?

July 27, 2020

Every concert I've ever been to

I think many of you will relate when I say: I miss concerts! (Granted, I miss a lot of things.) After watching James Bay's YouTube show a couple weeks ago and then realizing I was supposed to see Incubus next month before everything happened, it just got me thinking about concerts in general. Going to a show and experiencing the live music with someone who loves the artist just as much is one of my absolute favorite things to do. 

So, I wanted to take a look back on all the concerts I've ever been to:
1999 Backstreet Boys
2005 Sugar Ray, Less Than Jake, MxPx, A Simple Plan (one tour)
2007 x2
2006 Plus 44
2007 The Fray
2007 Justin Timberlake
2007 Christina Aguilera
2009 No Doubt
2010 Lilith Fair (Sara Bareilles, Sarah McLachlan, Marie Digby)
Sara Bareilles
2011 Harper Blynn w/ Schuyler Fisk
2011 Weezer
2013 Cake
2013 Vampire Weekend
2014 Young the Giant
2014 Sam Smith
2015 The Ting Tings
Jana Kramer
2016 Tori Kelly
2016Florence & the Machine
James Bay
2018 Hozier
2019 Maren Morris
2019 Maggie Rogers
2020 Yuna
Misc Honorable mentions aka amazing opening acts I've seen: Daphne Loves Derby (2006), Sky Ferreria (2013), Broods (2014), Hailey Whitters (2019)

That's 35 concerts total! Seeing them all listed out like this honestly blows my mind. I've been lucky because every show has been so memorable and I've gotten to see the majority of my favorite artists live. The few left on my list include: The Black Keys, The Strokes, Adele, Phoenix, and Lauryn Hill. I'm pretty sure Lauryn Hill has stopped playing live but I'm keeping my fingers that one day I can see the rest and just go to a concert again in general. 

What are some of your favorite concerts?

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