Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Outfit of the day: Annie edition

I know I don't have the same fashion sense as Hope, but I made an effort to feel somewhat fashionable and comfortable during my recent trip to LA. As with the planning of the trip, I took cues from Instagram, using Oh Joy! and Design Love Fest as inspiration.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Good Eats: LA, Republique

 One of the worst things about my trip to LA is that I only had one meal at Republique! Ben and I ate breakfast on our final day there, but I would have loved to eat lunch and dinner there, too! 

I actually chose to try out Republique because of Instagram. I follow a few California-based Instagrammers and I kept seeing this beautiful space on my feed over and over. I knew I had to try it out! And it lived up to the photos! 

The space was just gorgeous, with so much natural light. From what I understand the main dining space used to be the courtyard. The building has a rich history. It was built in 1929 and Charlie Chaplin had offices there! I just loved everything about the style. I loved the rustic touches, the tiled floor and most of all the fact that it let so much California sun in.

And then there was the food! OMG. What a breakfast! Ben and I each chose eggs, the Regular Breakfast (eggs, bacon steak, fingerling potatoes and warm baguette) with a fresh squeezed orange juice for me and Ben had the BLT Toast (fried egg, bacon, arugula, tomato and gryure), It was so much food, and well worth the $12/each price. If I wasn't so full I would have tried one of the amazing pastries that greeted me at the door. Again, I'll just have to come back one day and eat so much more! 

624 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, California
(310) 362-6115

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Exploring: Los Angeles

I am so excited that Hope is letting me share my recent trips with you! It's been a good Summer and Fall for travel in my family. First the Jersey Shore, then Connecticut and most recently, Los Angeles.

My husband Ben and I took our first trip without our new baby, Jack. It was a sort of anniversary trip, because our wedding anniversary was the next week, but most of all it was to see our favorite funny man, Craig Ferguson! We were only gone for two nights, but we packed a lot in!

We arrived in LA from Pittsburgh after one layover quite tired and low on cell phone battery (we later found the usb charger in the glove box of our rental car). So we decided to just head straight for our hotel, The Ace Hotel in Downtown LA. It is one of the coolest hotels I have ever stayed in and probably will ever stay in! It was hip beyond belief, with local artists work on the walls, a photo booth in the lobby and so many fashionable people in every space! Our medium sized room was laid out unlike any hotel room I've known. I loved the use of space and the attention to detail. All of the normal hotel appliances, like the hair dryer, iron, etc. were in matching canvas bags, the mini bar had local and artisanal snacks and drinks, and the TV was interactive. That night we also ate at the hotel's restaurant, LA Chapter. We started our meal with homemade ricotta and figs and that set the tone of the meal...everything delicious. After a filling meal we headed back to our room for some shut eye to prepare for a busy day of exploring LA.

On tap for the day was the Original LA Flower Market, a lovely way to spend $4 and browse isles and isles of flowers, then the Grand Central Market for breakfast, more on that to come! Then we left Downtown LA and headed to museum row on the Miracle Mile. We spent time exploring the outside of the LA County Museum of Art, which has some fabulous modern art outside of the actual building. Then we walked around the famous Tar Pits, followed by a quick lunch of tacos from a food truck!

It was nice to explore a bit of LA before standing in line for hours at the CBS Studios to see Craig Ferguson. But it was well worth it! We were in the front row and got to see not only Craig, but Scary Spice, Ben Schwartz and Sir Ben-freaking Kingsley! We could not have gone for better guests! Our last stop for the day was Santa Monica Pier for a dinner of tacos, yes more tacos. I couldn't get enough! This time we had fish tacos and they were so. so. good.

For our final day in LA I really wanted it to be relaxing. We took our time enjoying the last bit of the hotel and sleeping in our own bed, without a baby. Then we had one of my favorite meals of the trip at Republique! I am dying to go back there for pastries, lunch and dinner! We spend about 30 minutes at the (busy and crowded) Chinese Theater and Walk of Fame so that we could say we saw it, and then since it was Ben's first time in California I wanted to take him for a drive on Highway 1. We drove to Malibu and stopped at the beach so he could dip his toes in the Pacific Ocean! It was nice to not have a destination, but we ended up with more time than we expected, so on our way to the airport we made a last stop at Venice Beach to watch the sun start to set. From there we hopped on a late flight home and were in Pittsburgh by noon the next day.

I can't believe how much we packed into a two day trip, but I honestly didn't feel rushed at all! It was definitely helpful to have planned so much of it beforehand and it was just a matter of plugging the addresses into googlemaps. Speaking of technology, a huge component of my planning for this trip was Instagram, I started following several LA-based Instagrammers/bloggers who geotag a lot of their photos. It was as though I had a local telling me personally where to eat and what to visit! Definitely an invaluable travel resource that I will absolutely use again! I can't wait to return to the Golden State...maybe a drive from Big Sur to San Francisco next time!

Stay tuned for posts about where I ate in LA!  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Caffeine Kick: Espresso A Mano

Like I said in this post a few weeks ago, I have become coffee obsessed! I figured it would happen at some point in growing up but I didn't realize how much I would actually love it. 

To fuel my new found love, I have been trying to go to all the best cafes in Pittsburgh (and cities I travel too)! 

First up, Espresso a Mano! Known for great latte art and located less than a 20 minute bus ride away from campus, I decided to give it a try!

It was seriously delicious! I got a vanilla latte and Annie got a chai latte and I thought both were awesome! I did feel a bit guilty mixing in my sugar after taking a few pics because it meant I had to ruin the cute heart on top :p 

Espresso A Mano 
3623 Butler Street 
Pittsburgh, Pa 15201

Friday, October 17, 2014

High Five For Friday!!

1)  Spending time with my nephew and Papap is just so fun! They are so goofy together :) 
2) I have been binge-watching New Girl like it's my job! I love Winston so much...he is hilarious! 
3) Here's a little sneaky peak of my trip to Toronto! Street art and fashion were everywhere. I loved it! 
4) Best cookies for the fall? Eat n' Park Halloween cookies! 
5) Taking portraits of my friends and family has become one of my favorite things to do! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I feel like there are so many articles and stereotypes out there that say millennials (Generation X) are stuck in front of screens and as a result don't know how to have a face-to-face conversation like in the 'old days'. 

But it's called social media for a reason, it can be as social as you want it to be! This summer, I realized just how amazing my favorite mobile app, Instagram, can be! 

I planned a day trip to New York City using only Instagram as a planning was fantastic! I used the geotags to find out locations, user captions and comments for recommendations on what to order at restaurants, and photo inspiration from my favorite accounts. Not only that but I reached out to a few of these accounts and asked to meet up!

When my day in NYC finally arrived, it was just amazing (a few of my favorite photos of the day are above ^^^)!! I got to see all the places I had been scrolling through on my feed and adding to my favorite hashtags! I met up with the lovely Keen (@acupofkeen) who showed me around Brooklyn like my own personal tour guide (who didn't mind stopping for a billion photos!). 

Keen( pictured below) is the creator of #afriendbygram and she strives to meet up with as many Instagrammers a possible! She takes all her photos with her iPhone and has never taken a photography class. She has been one of my favorite accounts for a while and it was awesome to actually meet up with her and see who takes some of my favorite photos! 

Because of Instagram I now have a friend that I would have never met on my own. It has taught me how to better network, be bolder, and be more confident in myself as an aspiring photographer. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Good Eating: in Mt. Lebanon

Recently, I have had the chance to explore the neighborhood of Mt. Lebanon more than I ever have before. Mt. Lebanon is a suburb in the South Hills of Pittsburgh that is known for high-quality shops and cafes. 

It is home to one of my favorite bakeries in Pittsburgh, Potomac Bakery. My standard order includes one (or two :p) of their freshly made iced-doughnuts and a thumbprint cookie to save for later!

Next, I head over to Orbis Caffe for a hot vanilla latte! There is such a relaxing vibe that comes over you as soon as you walk in the door. Postcards from around the world cover the walls and there are huge chalk boards telling you your options for the day. I have yet to try anything besides a latte (my favorite drink!) but am excited to check out their other location in Oakland soon to order something new! 

Potomac Bakery 
689 Washington Rd.
Pittsburgh, Pa 15228

Orbis Caffe 
675 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Exploring: Connecticut

You might remember a couple months ago I was planning a trip to visit college friends in Connecticut. Well, Hope is having me back to share a bit about my weekend trip!

We traveled by car to Hartford, the state capital. From Pittsburgh it took us about eight hours or so. It was a pretty drive, and I imagine it would be even more beautiful in the fall as the leaves start to change colors.

On our first full day there we visited the Connecticut Science Center, located in Downtown Hartford. The building is just beautiful, and LEED-certified. We had a blast there, and I'm not just talking about Jack...we all did! We spent a lot of time exploring each floor, starting with the rooftop garden. The space was lovely, with quite a view of the city! My favorite part was a touch garden, where Jack got to feel the plants. He loved the soft leaves.

Each floor was very interactive, with many games and puzzles. It's good to know that since the next several years of my life will be spent in these types of places that I can still have fun as an adult!

The next part of our day was spent in West Hartford, which is not part of the capital. It became it's own town in 1854. The area has been ranked on many "Best City" lists. And I can see why! There are so many cute shops, hip cafes and high-end restaurants. But my favorite part of the town, by far, is Elizabeth Park.

The park has been open to the public since 1897 and covers over 100 acres. The gardens
throughout the park are just breathtaking. The rose garden is actually the oldest public rose garden in the country. There are over 15,000 rose bushes and arches! We took more pictures than I know what to do with. It was pretty magical...and we weren't even there during the peak season! It's no surprise that it is a major destination for wedding photos! I wish I could redo my wedding pictures there! At some point we lost count of how many bridal parties we saw. It was so special to watch all of the couples smiling on their big day in this beautiful park!

Continuing our tour of West Hartford, we went to dinner in the popular Blue Back Square. We ate at Rizzutos, an Italian restaurant. It was fabulous to sit outside on the patio and enjoy a huge Italian meal. I was thrilled to see on the wine menu a wine from Montepulciano, where Hope and I took a day trip when I visited her a few years ago. The meal was awesome and we had perfect service. I can't recommend it enough! 

The next day we decided to drive to the town of Mystic, CT, about an hour southeast. Our plan was to check out the popular aquarium, but the parking lot was SO pack we figured we'd save it for another trip. And it's a good thing too, because we need as much time as possible to explore the Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea

The museum preserves the nation's maritime history. It's site was the leading area for shipbuilding, started in the 1600s. And believe it or not they are still building ships on-site! In the Henry duPont Preservation Shipyard we got to see the carpenter shops where they are still building wooden ships in the historic way, by hand! It was so incredible to walk through the shipyard...definitely a highlight of the day! 

The seaport also has a recreated 19th century village. We hand-dipped our own wax candles, and even Jack got in on the action! We ate fish sandwiches in the cafeteria, while Jack sucked on ice cubes (it was a very hot day)! I kept thinking about how much fun it will be to take Jack to things like this when he is older and understands it more. This trip made me realize how much fun traveling will be with a child...not the normal sentiment, I hear. 

After spending most of the day at the seaport, we drove around the town of Mystic. We searched for a place to eat dinner and actually were seated at an outdoor restaurant when it started to pour down rain. So after a quick bit of searching we found a cute pizza fitting that we ate pizza in Mystic, but it wasn't THE Mystic Pizza. The place wasn't crowded and we got to really talk the night away and catch up. Our trip ended the next morning after a quick breakfast of crepes at Cafe Sofia in West Hartford. It was tough to say goodbye, but know that we'll return soon to be with friends and explore more of the beautiful state of Connecticut! 

I'll leave you with my favorite photos of Jack from the trip! He took his first boat ride and his little expressions were adorable!