beautiful utility: rug update in our kitchen

Posted on: Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hello friends! I’ve shared photos of my apartment on my blog before and often on Instagram (#aesfnest), but one room I don’t share a ton of photos of is our kitchen. The main apartment areas, our bedroom and living room, get really nice natural light and are fairly spacious, but our kitchen is…small. Tight, slightly crammed, poor lighting. Oh, and rental life means we, of course, didn’t get our choice in finishes and appliances (seriously, our stove and porch are miniature and way too small for tall people like E 😂).

Wayfair recently challenged me to add some beauty to a “utility” space in my home with a rug from the ELLE Décor Home Dynamix collaboration and I gladly accepted! Our kitchen, while the least perfectly styled or “beautiful” area in our apartment, gets a TON of use almost all day, every day. We both like to cook, so one or both of us are often in there making breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have a little coffee station in there, as well as a wine fridge – two areas that are frequently visited. ☕️🍷 Jack’s food and water bowls are also in the kitchen, which automatically makes that area 100000x messier than other areas of the apartment.

I selected this rug from the collaboration’s Lyncrest collection . Previously, we had a thin throw rug in the kitchen that we purchased in Tulum and while I LOVED the pattern and color, it would get so dirty and it didn’t hold up at all when washed. Washing it was probably a massive mistake because it never looked the same after that. 😬 My new ELLE Décor Home Dynamix rug is machine-washable and has non-skid backings, so definitely holds up to the regular life wear and tear that happens in our kitchen. And, the rug is fade and stain resistant! The colors are muted blues/grays and white and the pattern is forgiving meaning we can spill all the things without it getting ruined immediately. I’m sure we’ll appreciate both of those practical and functional features even more when our little baby is here and crawling around, too!

Our kitchen primarily serves as a (very) utilitarian space in apartment, but I love that this new rug makes the room look nice, while still being super functional. We also try to spruce up the way the kitchen’s overall aesthetic by having some framed art above our coffee cart, displaying pretty marble platters and bowls on the counter, having plants hanging on the wall by the window and arranging succulents on the windowsill. PLANTS ARE MY #1 WAY TO MAKE ANY ROOM LOOK BETTER AND MORE ALIVE! 🌿🌵

Thanks to Wayfair for sponsoring this post and for the challenge to spruce up our kitchen with a new rug!

on motherhood

Posted on: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A few weeks months ago, we shot some family photos for our baby announcement and I also wanted to get some photos in this new mama bird tshirt. These photos were taken right around 14-15 weeks, so my regular jeans still fit and my stomach was still fairly “normal” size. Not the case anymore! This week marks 26 weeks into the pregnancy – we’re getting much closer to meeting our little babe!

Anyway, I really like how these turned out and wanted to share, along with some inspiring quotes I found about motherhood. Obviously I have NO idea what this whole parenting/motherhood journey will be like (aside from a very slim look at it from being a #puppymom 😉) but I am inspired by these beautiful words, and comforted knowing that everything will turn out alright, no matter what.

Photos by Lisha Wang // Mama Bird Tee via The Bee and the Fox 

“Years ago someone wrote [about me]: ‘She characterizes Molly Weasley as a mother who is only at home looking after the children.’ I was deeply offended, because I, until a year before that, had also been such a mother who was at home all the time taking care of her child. What has lesser status and is more difficult than raising a child? And what is more important?” – J.K. Rowling

“How you view yourself [changes]. I think that was the biggest change for me when I had my first son. I really kind of respected myself for the first time. I respected my time for the first time, and I respected the value of what that meant and what I was giving up when I spent it incorrectly or when I used it correctly. [My children have taught me] to not forget to be in wonder of all the things around you, as simple as they might be.” – Alicia Keys

“Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer, overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes over night. You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost. And yet, there is no rulebook. No right or wrong. You just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family. For many mothers, myself included, this can at times lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance. Some of this fear is about the pressure to be a perfect parent. Pretending we’re all coping perfectly and loving every minute of it. It is right to talk about motherhood as a wonderful thing, but we also need to talk about its stresses and strains. It’s okay not to find it easy. And asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness.” – Kate Middleton

“[Motherhood is] the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force. It’s huge and scary—it’s an act of infinite optimism.” – Gilda Radner

“…now that I am a mother, I understand what Mother’s Day is about: it’s about looking through our lives and recognizing the act of mothering everywhere we see it, and more than that, recognizing that when any of us mother– when we listen, nurture, nourish, protect–we’re doing sacred work.” – Shauna Niequist

“For years I spent my life pressing pause on those things that are now my priority, like having a family. Now, I hit play. I formed a family, and it’s the most wonderful thing, the most important thing to me. And before, I used to be the center of my whole world and the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of my whole world, and now my kids and my family are that one priority.” – Shakira

book recommendations

Posted on: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

reading is one of my very favorite things to do to relax, but i often only end up picking up a book before bed. while on vacation, i pretty much spent several days just reading straight through each morning, afternoon and evening – on the boat in Greece, along the beach in Positano, on flights and trains and in cafes. i ended up getting through a bunch of books and wanted to share some of my favorite recent reads! i love sharing (and receiving) book recommendations, so if you’re into reading and feeling stuck on what to read next, hopefully this list helps. 🤗

recent favorite read (maybe ever):

a little life by hanya yanagihara // this book was ranked the top book of the year by like, every publication. truthfully, the book rocked me and it was hard to put it down once I started. the book is truly beautiful and so, so heartbreaking and sad, and the author did an excellent job developing each character, to a point where you felt close to each one. and, the book had that strange power of haunting me after reading, where I continued to think about the characters and story afterwards.

easy reads (quick to get through, engaging storyline, iconic ‘beach read’):

crazy rich asians by kevin kwan // funny and fascinating (although fictional), easy to get through — a perfect beach read!

the kind worth killing by peter swanson // if you were a fan of gone girl and/or like psychological thrillers, you definitely should read this one!

her every fear by peter swanson // after i finished swanson’s other book (above), i immediately downloaded and finished this one in two days.

memoirs/personal essays:

drink: the intimate relationship between women and alcohol by ann dowsett johnston // this book explores patterns of alcohol consumption and abuse in women, telling one woman’s personal story of recovery with in-depth, shocking research about binge drinking among women and girls.

the rules do not apply by ariel levy  // a lovely memoir from journalist ariel levy – lots of beautiful and heartbreaking parts, all woven into one book.

we are never meeting in real life by samatha irby // this was one of those laugh-out-loud books, filled with hilarious essays from samatha’s life. favorite chapter: an epic essay about her working out (in a prenatal yoga class while not pregnant and in an aerobics class for senior citizens when she’s only in her 30s)

important reads (with historical, cultural, sociological impact):

we gon’ be alright: notes on race and resegregation by jeff chang // important essays about the rise of the #blacklivesmatter movement and the different tragedies and protests that have happened here in amerca.

just mercy by bryan stevenson // this book, authored by the founder of the equal justice initiative (helping the poor and wrongfully condemned prisoners on death row), discusses death row, our (very messed up) criminal justice system and the importance of mercy and justice going hand-in-hand

evicted by matthew desmond // really loved this book – it was a fascinating look into eight families’ lives in milwaukee as they struggle to pay rent. it was a great mix of storytelling and real, disturbing facts about those living in poverty or less-than-ideal housing conditions in america.

the hate u give by angie thomas // this is actually a book aimed for a younger teen audience, but touched on the topic of teen activism after the main character witnesses a police shooting. it was easy to read in terms of understandable language, but definitely an important and loaded topic so not an “easy read” in that sense

UPDATE: hillbilly elegy by j.d. vance // this is a book I read a few months back, but a few people commented mentioning this book so I wanted to add to this recommendation list, as I really enjoyed and learned from this book. hillbilly elegy could also fall under the memoirs section in this post, as the book tells the story of the author’s family, while discussing and analyzing Appalachian culture and the white, working class population.

what’s the best book you’ve read lately? please share! my good friend rob just finished autumn by ali smith so that’s one book next on my list.  // image via

travel adventures: greece!

Posted on: Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Excited to share some photos from our recent trip to Europe! First, I want to share about the first half of our trip to Greece! We were super excited about this part of the trip because 1) we were going with our good friends Luke and Renee who recently moved to Paris and 2) the majority of the trip would be on our own private sailboat visiting different Greek islands. 💙  SO DREAMY!

We took a red-eye from SF to Athens, with a layover in Munich. The long flight was fairly painless, especially since 1) they had good movie options and 2) we booked a row of two seats together instead of having a third person next to us. Way easier to sleep that way, in my opinion! We then took an Uber to our Airbnb in Athens (more about Athens at bottom of the post) where we stayed for the weekend before our sailing trip started on Sunday afternoon.

But, since the majority of our trip was spent on the water, that’s what the majority of this post is about, plus what I have photos to share of! Here’s more info about the sailing adventures.

We booked our trip via Incrediblue, which is like Airbnb for boats. I had no idea this was even a thing, but Eric and Luke did a ton of research (thanks guys 🙏🏻) and booked our sailboat. This is the boat we stayed on and it was just the four of us, plus our captain, a 60ish-year-old quirky guy named Dimitris (who spent a lot of time in his speedo working on evening out his summer tan 😂).

We went to three different cities on two different islands during our trip – all listed below and I have a breakdown of photos from each city below too.

Night 1: Lavrion (about an hour drive from Athens) – this is where all the Incrediblue trips begin and you spend your first night here getting acclimated to the boat, especially sleeping on the boat and seasickness.

Night 2: the town of Loutra on the Kythnos island – more below

Night 3: the town of Merichas on the Kythnos island – more below

Nights 4 and 5: Vourkari on the Kea island (our favorite!) – more below

Our typical day started with expresso (thanks, Dimitris!) and an easy breakfast like yogurt and granola on the boat. We would take off around 9-10am for our next destination, stopping at different coves to swim, lay out, nap, and just spend a few hours on the boat. We would do lunch on the boat, which was usually cheese, bread, tons of fresh fruit, olives, nuts, etc. – my type of eating!

We would arrive to the next town around 4-5pm to dock and explore the town, grab dinner and then hang out on the boat before bed. In town, we would grab provisions for the boat, like food and water for the next day.

The trip was slow and relaxing and amazing. I think I finished eight books during the trip and we played cards, water colored, journaled, and took leisurely afternoon naps every day. I’m really grateful that I felt great overall (was 20 weeks pregnant at the time) and didn’t feel sick throughout the trip, especially with the boat constantly rocking back and forth. 🙌🏼

Renee said it perfectly – that the trip was a good reminder that slowing down is good for our souls and how important it is to carry over some of the relaxation from the trip into our regular life. 

Greece was GORGEOUS and we really lucked out with amazing weather the entire trip. I really liked that we were able to explore smaller, less touristy islands and that we had an “insider’s look” of sorts at the Greek islands, thanks to Dimitris’ never-ending recommendations and “fun facts.” 🙃

A majority of these photos (the pretty non-iPhone ones) were all snapped by Renee and E snapped a few cool GoPro ones, so I can’t really take credit for any photos other than the subpar phone photos 🙃). Here’s the three different places we visited on our sailing trip!

LOUTRA (KYTHNOS): this was such a pretty town! And, the beach had hot springs so that was really cool and relaxing. We went to dinner at a super local place a little outside of the main town strip that our captain recommended to us. It had a great view of the water, right at sunset.

MERICHAS (KYTHNOS): this was our least favorite of the three cities, but it was still charming and quaint. We grabbed dinner at an Italian place (trying to take a break from our daily meal of mussels and Greek salads) and ended up getting like two types of pizzas, pastas, etc. SO FULL. Also, random, but there are cats everywhere on the islands. That was really weird and surprising to me!

VOURKARI (KEA): this was our favorite town by far, and we were super pumped we could stay for two nights. On the second day, we took the boat out and explored coves like usual, but then came back to this town to dock for the night since we liked it so much. There’s a few cute boutiques and we found cafe with good smooothies (and wifi!) and some good dinner and happy hour spots here.

As I mentioned, we only spent about 24 hours in Athens, but here’s a few photos from our quick time there. Our favorite neighborhood was Kerameikoswhere we grabbed dinner and drinks at a few different spots. It’s a little grittier than other areas but super good vibes and much less tourist-y than areas like Plaka and Monastiraki. Both of those areas were cool to walk through and explore, but would recommend limited time because they are just really crammed and crowded.

ATHENS:

Thanks so much for reading! xx

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