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Good & Bad Days in Quarantine

May 25, 2020

So it’s been a lifetime since I’ve sat down to write a blog post, something I used to do all the time. It’s the reason my job is what it is, I started my blog because of my love for writing, fashion, and documenting things. I’ve kept diaries all my life and I can definitely express myself better with written words that I can get across on video sometimes.

But times have changed, and I changed with them. People prefer watching videos than reading, that’s what the numbers on my Google Analytics tell me anyway, so I decided to put my time where it’s more valuable – in Instagram & YouTube (that’s where you’ll find most of my updates these days).

Quarantine is a strange time for everyone, a lot of us have found time to do things we haven’t in ages. The blessing of Quarantine. I’ve been journaling quite a bit. Writing about my experiences, my feelings having come home from New York in the middle of this crazy time, my hopes for my career, for the future.. when I don’t even know myself what is going to happen over the next few months. It’s allowed me to find so many positives in this strange time. It’s allowed me to get my head around everything I’ve learnt since moving to New York alone in September, and it’s helped me get through days when I don’t feel so good.

There is definitely a weird mix of good and bad days in Quarantine. When my social and personal life is so quiet I have no choice but to feel those feelings I sometimes just wake up with. It could be something as small as a bad dream that sets my mood for the day. Or it could be something rational that has stayed on the forefront of my mind longer than it does on other days. I think what I want to get across in this blog post is that it’s ok to have those days, and it’s totally normal. I want to practice what I preach and do that “self care” thing we all talk about, which for me is writing. My hope for Quarantine is to come out of it better than I came into it, which means going through the hard feelings, feeling them, accepting them and hopefully learning from them. One thing is for sure, I’ll never take normal life for granted again after all this, I’m sure none of us will.

Good days

Ok let’s start with the positives – which you may have heard already if you watched my YouTube video talking about what I’ve learnt in quarantine (click here to watch) or in the podcast I did with Georgie Crawford for the Good Glow (click here to listen)

In general – after moving to New York, and experiencing the sometimes lonely times that come with moving country alone, I am very grateful to be home with my family. I live alone in New York, and with work slowing down a lot due to COVID I just couldn’t imagine trying to fill all day every day by myself. It would be really hard. I’m someone who’s naturally happier around people, chit chatting and just being in the presence of others. I’ve learnt that since moving. So in that sense I know I made the right decision in coming home, to be around people I love for 8 weeks (so far) of quarantining.

The downtime – how incredible has it been? I know for a fact I would never have taken this time off… I would not have allowed myself to sleep in until 9 mid week. I would not allow myself to not have plans on the weekend. Fear of being bored. Fear of not being productive enough. Fear of “if I slow down how will I speed back up?”. I was living life at far too fast a pace, putting a lot of pressure on myself to always be busy. I hadn’t written in months, read a full book in about a year, caught up with some friends in too long… it has given me time to pick up activities I haven’t done since I was a kid: knitting, baking, running in the fresh air.

Speaking of which, Quarantine has definitely made me appreciate the simple things in life so much more. I’ve realised in order to be happy it’s really just making time for the simple things that I need to do (which in normal life I stupidly don’t, too busy rushing around). Taking the time to enjoy a nice cup of coffee, going for a long walk on a nice day, listening to or reading a book, spending hours on the phone catching up with friends, finding a good song I love enough to listen to on repeat, playing with my dogs (to be fair I always made time for this, but maybe not enough). These are the things keeping me going at the moment, among other simple things. I think for a while I thought I needed more to be happy, but it’s really that simple.

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Bad days

Ok I have focused a lot on the positive sides of Quarantine, and there are so many. I’m sure I’ll look back on this time and be so appreciative of all the reflecting I did, and the growing as a person that happened as a result. I do believe we grow from the hard times, the times your out of your comfort zone (which for me has been nearly a full year now but what can ya do? lol) but I want to mention some of the things I find hard about this time too. Mainly to share it and get it out of my head, and also so hopefully any of you reading this who feel the same will know you’re not alone.

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I found a note in my phone I wrote on April 16th:

So we are currently in the weirdest time of our lives, a pandemic that none of us could have seen coming. Would I have still moved to New York if I’d known my year would be this disjointed? This is my third trip home in 7 months, and this one is for a long time. 

I moved to New York with the hopes that it would be a new, exciting, happier chapter for me & although it definitely was at first. The novelty wore off when I realised how hard it would be to move country & do it all by myself. To make choices that really are going to affect me forever. To be away from the people I have spent all my life cultivating amazing relationships with. 

I think back to this time last year & how trapped I felt. I needed to go, I needed to experience this on my own, maybe to learn how much I love and appreciate home but also just to live freely for a while where no one knows me, in the city where I learnt years ago that anything is possible. 

I went there with the highest hopes that things would fall into place. Not stupidly though, I had done my research, I had saved and planned. I’ve lived there before, I sought advice from my friends and most of all I followed my gut. I knew as much as I could have known & it felt like I was definitely making the right move. But now 7 months into this journey I don’t know if it was. 

I recorded a video reflecting on my first 6 months in New York last month and it was a lot for me to share, very personal, everyone has their own opinions on what I should do. Some people say stay longer you’ll learn to love it, others say go home you’re happier there. It’s not an easy decision to make.. I’ve spent so much time and money to move my life there I feel like I will give it more time but I guess the magic I remember from before isn’t there for me now. Maybe I’m older and I appreciate being around the people I love more, maybe that’s not the lifestyle I really want anymore, maybe it’s just been a lot of changes and I need to give it time.. I’m not sure. I’ve learnt since coming home I’m definitely happier when I’m with people, living alone was probably not the best decision for me. 

I stopped the note there, it was probably a lot to think about and consider. It’s kind of the thoughts I’ve had to deal with since coming home, as well as thinking about how much money is literally going down the drain in my apartment I’m still renting in mid-town Manhattan. When these thoughts come into my head and stay, it’s not gonna be a fun day. I’ve trained myself to not over think them most of the time, there’s nothing I can really do right now. “There’s no point in worrying about things you can’t control”.

It’s a month since I wrote that note, and I’ve realised even though it hasn’t been plain sailing or easy. I had to go to New York in Sept, I was dying to. And my gut told me too. I have faith it’ll work out one way or another with time. If NY is really not meant to be this time, how bad, I’ve learnt how much I love home too, so I won’t be sad to come back here. But I do think/ hope when I get back, with all I’ve learnt before and during Quarantine, I’ll be able to be happier there.

I’ve no idea yet when the travel ban will be lifted, I’ve booked a flight back at the end of June. I really hope that I can go back then, hit the ground running, and make the best of what’s left of the summer. The summer I had dreamt about having there for so long.

Another thing I want to mention, but not dwell on (lol), is the fact I’m 27 and am back at home, having lost months in this year. That does get me down sometimes, as much as I’m enjoying being home. I want to be out meeting people, socialising, being independent, progressing my career and life, and I can’t do any of those things. It seems unfair, as silly as that seems to say. I know we all feel a bit like that at the moment. It’s unfair that people have lost their jobs. It’s unfair that other countries lockdown is being lifted before ours. It’s unfair that so many people have been sick and so many have died. This whole thing is a bit unfair isn’t it?

Perspective is so important here though, think about how much we have the opportunity to learn in this time. I feel like I have. I feel like I’ll be coming out of quarantine knowing myself a lot better, feeling more comfortable in my skin, and being aware of the changes I need to make in New York to be happier and feel more settled there.

On the podcast I did with Georgie the other day, she said it was “a gift” to learn these things so young without having been sick. That struck a chord with me.

This time has really given us all time to reevaluate our lives: small changes we could start making, things that make us happy, the type of people we want around. We’re lucky in a sense because if we can learn these things and implement them we’ll end up living a far more fulfilling life than the one we had been rushing through before Quarantine. I know that’s the case for me anyway.

For now, we have to deal with the fact that some days are shitty. We have to try and find positives where it feels like there is none. We have to be easy on ourselves and allow ourselves to feel sad about our current situation. It’s ok to feel worried too, I know I do. Talking about things does help, I try and vent to friends, and let them know I’m here for them when they need to vent. Writing stuff down helps me too. Or listening to uplifting podcasts. Or even taking a bit of escapism on Pinterest, looking at pretty pictures and reading motivational quotes. Sounds silly but these things do help. It’s such a weird time, I’d thought about writing something like this for a long time, but it’s such a complex time it’s hard to mention all the feelings. I’m sure I’ve missed some and look how long this post is already! Lol.

If you made it this far I hope it made you feel a little better, and less alone, 

All of our plans have been messed up, the rug was pulled from underneath us with this pandemic, everyone is struggling in different ways – but we’ll figure it out. Things will go back to normal eventually – a slower normal, where we’re all a bit more compassionate and understanding I hope,

Anyways, I’ll stop babbling on now, 

Hope you’re all keeping safe,

Lou xxxx

New York

Packing for NYC

January 29, 2020

Hey guys.

I regularly get lots of messages asking what the weather is like in New York and what you guys need to pack if you are coming on a trip. Today in the blog I’m going to take you through what I think are your best options and the top 3 things to bring on an NYC holiday right now.

The weather has been pretty good at the moment. Some would say REALLY good! 2 weeks ago we had the warmest weekend with temperatures of 18 degrees. Considering it’s January and its only snowed once this year, we’ve been pretty lucky. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing prettier than New York in the snow, but it can also be a nightmare when you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry and you’re trying not to slip on the ice! Not to mention how cold it gets. The weather is very questionable at the moment and not your typical NYC winter weather. So in my opinion the best thing to do, is to prepare for all kinds weather. Layers are going to be your best friend. So when choosing your wardrobe I would pick pieces you can layer under and over each other, that way you won’t be stuck.

Thermals

If it’s going to be cold, thermals are amazing. I have only just discovered these and I appreciate them a lot on a cold day. Wear them under your outfit to stay cosy and no one will even see them. Best part is, most thermals are also really comfy so you won’t even notice you’re wearing them.

Coats

Obviously a good coat is essential. Nowadays there are so many stylish but also very practical winter coats which is great. A coat with a hood is probably a good idea incase of random rainfall. Also when its cold a hood is the best for keeping your head warm if you’re not wearing a hat, and of course most importantly protecting your hair.

Shoes

A comfortable pair of shoes is probably the most important thing you should pack on your New York trip. You are definitely going to get your 10,000 steps in everyday, probably double or triple that! I would advise a pair of comfy, waterproof boots. Trainers will also work but if it’s snowing they’re probably not your best option. Wellies work great for snow and rain. Or if you want to invest in snow boots then that’s another option.

For Winter accessories, don’t forget to check out this blog I posted here for everything else you will need. Hope you enjoyed this post guys and hopefully this has been helpful if you are planning a trip here to New York anytime soon.

Chat soon,

Louise xx

*This post contains affiliate links meaning I can make a small % commission if sales are made as a result of this post. It does not affect the price of the item

New York

Travelling to New York? Best Airports & Where to Stay!

January 23, 2020

Hey guys.

A lot of people have been asking me recently for advice and tips on getting to New York and the best places to stay. In todays blog I have taken some time to tell you about about the different options out there and everything I know about visiting the Big Apple.

AIRPORTS & FLIGHTS

There are 3 airports you can fly into from New York. The 2 mains ones are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. LaGuardia Airport in Queens is another but this one is mainly domestic.

In my opinion the key to looking for flights is to start looking about 6 months in advance to get the best price. Obviously visiting in peak season aka Christmas and Summer is going to be more expensive so be prepared for that. Aer Lingus fly twice daily from Dublin to JFK and daily to Newark direct which is great because you have no layover. They also fly direct daily from Shannon to JFK.

You can also look at other cheaper options with other airlines. Some of the best places to look online are Skyscanner, Kayak or the app Hopper. You can also keep an eye when prices go up and down. Apparently Tuesday is the best day of the week to book flights but this could just be a myth.

TRANSPORT FROM THE AIRPORT

Once you land in either of these airports you have many choices on ways to get into Manhattan.

Trains

From JFK the cheapest option is to get the subway. First get the air train which costs $7.75 plus a $1 metro card fee. Once you transfer to the subway you can either buy a weekly pass which works out a good deal especially if you plan on taking the subway a lot to do tourist things or else you can top it up with how ever much money you want. A single fare costs $2.75. Visit this website to learn more.

From Newark you also get the air train first and then transfer to the NJ Transit train. AirTrain Newark costs just $5.50 as you enter or exit the system at the Airport Station. The fee is included when you purchase a ticket from NJ Transit their train stations. One ticket does it all.

Buses

Bus service is available from Newark Airport through NJ Transit Bus Lines. For schedules and information, visit the NJ TRANSIT website. An Express Bus runs between Newark Liberty International Airport & New York City. The Express Bus runs from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m./ 365 days. The cost is $18 for one way, or $30 for round trip.

The MTA (NYC transport authority) also provides regular bus services between JFK Airport, Brooklyn, Queens and beyond with subway connections. It takes between 50-75 minutes and costs $10.50.

Taxis

If you don’t want to take public transport another way to get to Manhattan is by taxi. If you’re taking a taxi to Manhattan from Newark you will be charged a metered fare (approximately $69-75) plus tolls and a $15 surcharge. 

JFK to Manhattan there is a flat fare $52.80, plus any applicable toll (about $8)

*If you take a taxi don’t forget to tip. For good service the taxi driver should be tipped approximately 20%.

Apps like Uber or Lyft can be a cheaper way to get taxis to the city and not have to worry about dragging your luggage around. Especially if you select their carpool option. Most airports have free wifi you can connect to if you want to do this – and they have special Uber pick-up points (separate to where the yellow cabs are) – if you ask in the airport or google it you should be able to find it.

HOTELS

There are sooo many hotels to choose from in the city – so many amazing ones. It actually wouldn’t be fair to say I have a favourite. I don’t, it just depends what you want.

I think for site-seeing Midtown/ Times Square is a good location, it’s also where you’ll get more reasonably priced hotels.

For eating, drinking & hanging out I love Soho. The last two times I came to the city I stayed here in the Citizen M & I loved it!

The city is so well connected by the subway that it doesn’t really matter that much where you stay as long as you have access to a train! I’ve broken some hotel options down into luxury hotels, budget hotels & centrally located hotels – hopefully this will help you narrow it down.

Treat yourself to a stay at a famous New York hotel

New York definitely has some of the nicest and most luxurious hotels in the world. Renowned for their design, service, and fabulous amenities. If you have a little more to spend and want to splash out and treat yourself on your New York experience, there are many famous fancy hotels to stay in. Below I have listed a few of my favorites in the city.

The Plaza – 5th Ave

The Standard – High Line

The NoMo SoHo Hotel – SoHo

Mandarin Oriental – Upper West Side

Ritz Carlton – Central Park

Public Hotel – Soho/LES

Budget Friendly Hotels

If you want to save your money for shopping, fancy dining experiences or maybe a Broadway show and don’t want to splash out on a hotel, there are plenty of cheaper options too. Below are some hotels that won’t blow the bank but are still really nice and in good locations too!

Citizen M – Bowery/ Soho (for solo travellers or a couple)

Pod 37 or Pod 51 – Midtown (for solo travellers)

Best Western Soho

Row NYC – Times Square

Chelsea Inn – Chelsea

The Frederick Hotel – Tribeca

Embassy Suites by Hilton – Times Square

Best Location

If location is the biggest draw to which hotel you choose, then below I have listed some for you. All are centrally located for top sights and tourist attractions. If you want to be in the heart of it all, my advice is to look in neighborhoods like Midtown or the Theatre District (West 42nd Street to 50th Street) While there’s much to see everywhere in the city, the most sights in one neighborhood by far are those in Midtown, the heart of New York shopping and theater and home to some of its most iconic buildings. Especially if its your first time.

Merrion Row Hotel – Times Square

Fitzpatricks Grand Central or Midtown East

W New York – Midtown West

The Westin – Times Square

Arlo Nomad or Arlo Soho

I hope you found this helpful guys. If you’re looking for things to do check out my last blog post here and check out the New York tab on my website which has lots of recommendations.

If you have any of your own tips you think would help others please write them in the comments below. Happy travels!

Chat soon,

Louise xx

New York

NYC Restaurants

January 10, 2020

Hey guys!

Nearly done with our first week in February already, how crazy! Today I thought I would do an updated post on restaurants in New York City. One of things I love most about living in New York is the variety of food you can get here. NYC has some of the best restaurants in the world. If you are visiting I highly recommend adding some of these to your list, you will not be disappointed!

BREAKFAST & BRUNCH

Brunch is somewhat of a tradition here in New York City. It is definitely something that New York does very well.

Bluestone Lane – The Upper East Side location is in a church which is very cool.

The Blue Box Cafe aka Breakfast at Tiffanys – If you’re looking for a fancy breakfast for a special occasion, this is such a cool experience.

Penelope – All I’m gonna say is, Nutella French toast!

Juliette – Highly recommend if you’re exploring or staying in Brooklyn/Williamsburg.

Rubys – This is practically my local in the city. I love it here and you can also come here for lunch and dinner. It is an Australian restaurant with a great vibe.

Butchers Daughter – Plant based restaurant with many vegan and gluten free options.

Sadelles Soho – They do afternoon tea style bagel toppings, so good.

Bubbys – Massive portion sizes so come hungry.

Citizens of Gramercy – Try the pulled pork benedict.

Restoration Hardware – A rooftop restaurant as well as a furniture shop so as you can imagine the decor is amazing!

DINNER

Whether its catching up with friends, a girls night or a romantic meal with your other half, dinner is always the a good idea. There is always somewhere new to try here in New York.

Black Tap – The Milkshakes here are out of this world so leave room for dessert. Check out their Instagram for amazing pics.

JG Melon – Apparently Gigi Hadids favorite burger spot in NY.

Mole Mexican – Get the nachos with guacamole!

Delicatessen – Really great comfort food. Amazing burgers and truffle fries.

Eately – The pasta is incredible. You won’t leave hungry.

Momoya – The best sushi restaurant. The crispy rice rolls are sooo good!

Mercer Kitchen – I’m drooling just thinking about the truffle pizza and pasta.

Uncle Boons – Delicious Thai food.

Lure Fishbar – If you are looking for a meat free alternative.

Pizza Beach – Because you can’t go to New York and not have pizza!

FASTFOOD

If you are looking to try some American fast-food, there are definitely options to try here that we don’t have at home. These are also pretty high standard takeaway restaurants, not your typical grease bar and they have healthy options too.

Shake Shake – Highly recommend visiting the original one in Madison Square Park. It’s outside and really pretty with fairy lights and views of the Empire State.

Chick-fila-A – If you’re a chicken lover, like the name suggests, it serves all the chicken.

Chipotle – Mexican fast food.

Five Guys – The cajun fries are so good and they always give you way more than the portion size.

DESSERTS

I have to say, the desserts in New York are out of this world. There are just so many options, sometimes too many. If you have a sweet tooth, I would most certainly recommend any of these.

Momofuku Milkbar – I dream about the birthday cake truffles!

16 Handles – American style self serve fro yo, with all the flavours and toppings you could wish for.

Levain Bakery – The biggest cookies ever. Definatley try the dark chocolate peanut butter.

Pop-Bar – Hand crafted gelato on a stick. Check it out if you are visiting in the Summer.

Sprinkles – Try the cookie and ice cream combo. They also have a cupcake vending machine!

Georgetown Cupcake – So many flavours to choose from and they do daily specials with even more new flavours.

Sweet Corner Bakeshop – Try the red velvet Nutella bomb cookie or the sea salt chocolate chip cookie.

Magnolia Bakery – Sex and the City made it famous. Although there are almost always lines, there is no question that it is worth the wait!

Thats it guys. I actually struggled to narrow it down to this list. If you have any of your own favourites, don’t be afraid to leave them in the comments below for me or others to try. Also if you need more recommendations check out my other posts here and here and my dessert post here.

Chat soon,

Louise xx

New York

Touristy things to do in New York in Winter

January 10, 2020

Hey guys,

Since moving to NY in September there has definitely been a lot of questions about things to do in New York, where to stay, where to eat… all that kinda stuff. So I’m starting a new mini series with lots of recommendations for you all!

If I’ve left anything out do let me know and I can add it!

Hope it’s helpful for any of you planning a trip,

Lots of love,

Louise xx

Things to do in Winter in NYC:

See the views from above

The observation decks at Top of the Rock, Empire State Building and the One World Observatory. No matter what the weather these famous skyscraper buildings will always provide breathtaking views from the top. You will also have an easier time getting tickets and won’t have to fight the crowds to get to the windows.

See a Broadway show

Winter is off peak time for Broadway shows so you may find cheaper ticket prices. You can also experience the madness of Times Square whilst you’re there. It really is breathtaking, especially at night. Lots of photo opportunities.

Winter sports events

Now is a very good time to go see a Winter sports game. Ice skating, basketball and football are all very popular American sports over here. The atmosphere at the games is electric.

Staten Island ferry

See the best view of the Statue of Liberty as well as the Manhattan skyline from afar. Bonus is, it’s free!

Museums

New York has many incredible museums. Visit The Met, The Natural History Museum or the 9/11 Memorial and museum to escape the cold.

Shopping

If you’re coming to do some shopping and get some good deals now is a very good time because of the January sales. Visit the post Christmas sales at Woodbury common or Jersey Gardens. As you maybe saw in my recent vlog there are lots of bargains and discounts to be found at the outlet malls. Or if you want to stay closer to the city there is plenty of shopping to be done at Herald Square, 5th Ave and Times Square.

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Central Park

Even though it may be chilly outside Central Park looks different every season of the year. Grab a takeaway coffee, wrap up warm and stroll around the park. Especially in the snow, you will see how really stunning it can be.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge or the Highline

If you want to get some steps in then I highly suggest walking the famous Brooklyn Bridge or The Highline in Chelsea. Neither take a very long time and both provide incredible views. Just remember to layer up.

Hop on Hop off bus

If you’re stuck for time Hop on Hop off bus tours are a good way at any time of the year to see a lot of the city in a little bit of time. In Winter a bus tour has the additional feature of keeping you warm on days when it’s especially cold outside.

Go iceskating

The number of iceskating rinks in New York grows every year. There always seems to be a new one popping up. The three most popular are Wollman Rink at Central Park, Rockefeller Rink and the Rink at Bryant Park Winter Village. These are all open in Winter. You can even go ice skating at night for a magical experience.

Heated rooftops and patios

If you want to enjoy the view whilst also enjoying a drink during Winter, heated rooftops and patios are the one for you. The Lodge at Gallow Green, La Birreria at Eately, Clinton Hall, Bookmarks Lounge, The Lodge at STK and Orsay are all great heated spots to stop in at during the cold Winter months.

Fashion, New York, Travel

New York New York

July 13, 2017

Hey guys,

As you may have seen on my social media, I spent the last 5 days in New York City and what an amazing week we had!!! With having just finished work last week, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a few days. We literally spent our time eating, drinking, laughing, dancing, sunbathing and catching up with friends – both of our favourite things to do!

New York is without a doubt my favourite city in the world. I spent 3 summers out there before moving out for a year in 2014. I was reminded as soon as we arrived absolutely everything I loved about the city: the lights, the energy, the weather, the people and most importantly, the mindset. I actually got emotional walking around the first day, just remembering all the (mostly) good and (occasional) not so good times I had while living in the city, away from all my family and friends. I grew up a lot in New York and when I left in 2015 I definitely wasn’t ready to go.  Continue Reading…