Does anyone else struggle with shopping weaknesses? The items that aren’t really necessities, but upon seeing them, it’s love at first sight and you can’t fathom leaving the store without them? Shoes are the one item that always get me in trouble! I saw these sparkly dream shoes on another blogger’s Instagram back in September and, however impractical they may be, they immediately went to the top of my wish-list. But I had some other things that took precedent over these frivolous shoes, such as a brown pair of fall boots (I have like 10 black pairs and no brown at all #Goth). I combed the internet over for the perfect boots before browsing the mall and, to my dismay, discovered that the sparkly shoe I wanted most had sold out online. I was pretty upset, but then I thought that maybe it was a sign that I shouldn’t be wasting my money on such an impractical pair of shoes. I made a trip to the mall later that week to scout out some possible contenders to step up my boot game and there they were – the glitter Mary-Jane’s that had been on my mind since September. I ran to the nearest Nordstrom associate I could find and literally said, “If you have these in a 7.5, I’ll take them!” As with any impulse purchase, all logic went out the window and I ate Ramen for the rest of the week (kidding… but it will probably be winter before I can buy myself a pair of brown boots “for fall”…) 🙂 However, I am here to inform you that although they may seem quite the contrary, these unique Mary-Jane’s are actually pretty practical. Or maybe I’m just so obsessed with them that I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that they look good with everything. A lot of girls consider leopard print to be a “neutral”, meaning it can be worn with just about anything. But since I’m not a fan of animal print, I have had to come up with other versatile options that add a pop of personality and a dose of fun to any look. For me, glitter is a “neutral”. Although sparkles scream “kindergartener”, they can look very fresh and modern on the right piece. Mary-Jane shoes are a huge trend for fall so I love that these are right on trend for the season, but I also think their modern pointed toe, chunky heel, and chic details (like the circular clasps), will keep them on staple status in my wardrobe for many years to come. What are your biggest shopping weaknesses? Tell me all about them in the comment section below!
“Twinkle Toes & Pussy Bows” Photographed by Luke Bowes
There’s just something so magical about autumn, and when it’s finally time to break out the sweaters, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning – I have the hardest time picking out which one to wear first on those initial chilly fall days. I nabbed this over-sized cardigan at H&M while in the U.K. over the summer and I was so excited to wear it that I almost draped it over myself for the journey home, only refraining because getting airplane germs on my newest and prettiest cardi is my idea of torture (germaphobe over here!). So when I walked outside to a brisk morning breeze for the first time this past week, I ran back inside and grabbed this warm hug of a sweater and was ready for anything, because it GOES WITH EVERYTHING! At this point I’m just keeping it in my car at all times, in the event that I ever find myself without a jacket and/or in need of a little comfort. I’ll be wearing my new baby over relaxed tees and joggers, casual daytime outfits (like the one in this post), and with dresses and boots for cool autumn evenings. I may even brave the pumpkin patch while wearing it (thank goodness for stain remover, am I right?). What are some things that always get you in the Autumn mood?
“Cozy Cardi” Photographed by Luke Bowes
When shopping on a budget, one thing that I always struggle with is finding unique pieces from mainstream, affordable fast-fashion retailers. Sure, they have pieces to fit almost every personal style, but sometimes it’s hard to find special things that aren’t so trendy that everyone else will have them too. But every so often you come across the perfect piece, which is what happened when I fell in love with the tom-boyish cut and fit (and colors!) of this sweater dress. Because of the looser fit, you’re able to wear it both casually with sneakers for a street-style inspired look or with a pair of simple, strappy heels to dress it up. I’m on the shorter side of the spectrum so to get that effortless off-duty model style, I think I would have to hem a dress of this length to be able to pull it off with sneakers. While I didn’t intend for this outfit to be a part of my fall trend series, it seems the perfect opportunity to give the jewelry of the season – the choker necklace, some recognition. 90’s trends have really been gaining momentum over the last few years, with the choker being one of the 90’s most iconic accessories that is currently being re-imagined in many different materials, including intricate lace and luxe velvet. I went with a simple tattoo choker to add some interest to my neckline without detracting from the statement-making sweater dress. Which decade inspires your style the most? I think I pull little bits and pieces from all of them! 🙂 Leave a comment below telling me your favorite!
“Striped Sweater Dress” Photographed by Luke Bowes
I recently visited the U.K. for the first time over the summer. We were primarily there to visit Luke’s family and to sort out his visa situation, the latter affording us a couple of days in London. Paris has really set the bar unfairly high for any future visits to famous capitals. I tend to have high expectations when visiting big cities, as I’m always on the hunt for the next location I’ll fall in love with. I feel like I didn’t spend enough time in London to truly get a feel for it, but the two 10-hour days I was there didn’t excite me as much as I was hoping it would. I did, however, manage to shoot some of the things that I was inspired by during my short time there so keep scrolling to see London through my eyes. I’m looking forward to returning one day and doing some of the things we didn’t have time for on this trip, such as visiting a market (We were planning on going to Camden Lock Market), having a picnic in Kew Gardens, seeing the inside of Westminster Abbey, and visiting the Notting Hill neighborhood to walk down the photogenic streets lined with pastel walk-ups. London is just so big and busy and when you have to be back to catch a bus on time, going to places across town is quite risky. I’m looking forward to exploring more of London in the future, but I think it’s safe to say that Paris continues to be my favorite city thus far. 🙂
P.S. Read about my visit to Sketch, a non-traditional option for an exquisite afternoon tea experience in London here.
(Left) Beautiful architectural details inside St. Pancras rail station. (Right) A swan swims tranquilly in St. James Park, a peaceful escape from the city located directly in front of Buckingham Palace.
One of my favorite little quirks about London was the window boxes decorating almost every residence that were overflowing with colorful flowers.
(Left) Facade of Westminster Abbey where royal coronations and weddings (including that of Prince William and Dutchess Kate) have been held for nearly 1,000 years. (Right) Interior of the former Covent Garden farmer’s market. Now a fashion, food, and cultural destination in London, Covent Garden was one of my favorite areas because it was so lively and had something for everyone.
(Left) There were so many beautiful stoops throughout London, but I particularly loved this pistachio green door. (Right) The Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous bell known as “Big Ben” is a part of the Houses of Parliament building and is a true London landmark.
(Left) View of the London Eye from the North side of River Thames. (Right) One of my favorite window displays on Oxford Street, London’s most famous shopping area.
Interior of St. Pancras station where we arrived to and departed from our London day trip.
(Left) Gorgeous gardens and elaborate golden gates surround Buckingham Palace, the royal residence. (Right) The quintessentially British red double-decker bus driving down Oxford Street.
Harrods was one of my favorite places in London. I’ve been to several high-end shopping centers, including many in Dubai and Paris, but the shopping experience at this British department store is unmatched. Instead of being elegant in a grandiose way, such as Galleries Lafayette in Paris, shopping in Harrods is like walking through a chic fashionista’s closet and being invited to play dress-up. I walked right up to a Chloe Drew bag (which is at the top of my designer wish list) and examined the fine craftmanship in my own hands. Most stores would only ever have a $2,000 bag on display through a glass case, not just casually sitting pretty on a shelf. I’ve never felt more welcomed to browse through numerous rooms and several floors of high-end pieces than I did here. If and when I ever have money to spend, I will go back to Harrods for the experience alone.
(Left) We didn’t arrive in London in time to see the famous changing of the guards at Buckingham, but we did get to see a trooper of the Household Calvary horse-back so that’s even better because HORSES. (Right) The National Gallery, a world-renowned art museum which houses an incredible collection of oil paintings, is situated at the top of Trafalgar Square, a popular meeting and common area.
“London Photo Diary” Photographed by Emily Davis
© Emily Davis
I’m beyond excited to finally feature my favorite versatile and wearable trend for the Fall and Winter 2016 season – the bomber jacket. This cold weather staple comes in a plethora of fabrics from simple satins to heavily embroidered works of art. No matter which style you prefer, this piece is about as versatile as they come and to prove it, I decided to feature my H&M army green satin bomber in my first ever post with multiple outfits curated around one item. I have been wanting to do a post like this for quite some time because I think it’s a great source of inspiration if you’re on the fence about a trendy and/or expensive purchase. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the hunt for versatile closet staples that afford you the most bang for your buck. Keep scrolling for all three of my looks created with this fabulous bomber jacket, along with styling tips and, as always, product links. Leave me feedback in the comment box below and let me know if you would like to see more of these “3 in 1” posts!
Bombers aren’t just for casual days – if you’re looking for a fun and on-trend replacement for your blazer, look no further than the new jacket in town. Bomber jackets instantly ooze a playful and sporty vibe and offer that effortless look that we’re all aiming for. Ready to throw on a bomber over your workwear? My biggest tip for pulling off this trend at the office is to alternate fits – a tighter and more structured bomber paired with loose yet work-appropriate pants (such as the H&M pair that I’m wearing) OR an oversized bomber over a pair of classically fitted cigarette trousers. When it comes to incorporating trends in a subtle way, there is always a balancing act involved (i.e. fitted vs. oversized, pattern vs. solid, texture vs. smooth, etc.).
Bombers are great for nearly any occasion, but I can’t help but think that they were made for a sassy night out on the town as they’re not too bulky, can be worn unzipped like a cardigan, and they’re the perfect complement to a glam outfit. I have opted out of wearing a jacket on cold winter nights out for fear of ruining my outfit more times than I can count but now that this bomber is in my life, I think it’s safe to say I can now look fab and be warm simultaneously!
And last, but certainly not least, everyone’s favorite casual look – a white tee and jeans. A bomber jacket is the perfect piece to dress up this go-to style. I’ve also worn mine with joggers before because let’s be honest – I wear joggers more often than I wear jeans on my days off! Keep this look plain and simple with a solid t-shirt and lightly distressed, fitted denim. I love the combination of the olive green jacket and my tan Nike Thea’s, and these colors are heavily in my fall color palette rotation so I know I can pair this dynamic duo with many more outfits.
“The Brilliant Bomber” Photographed by Luke Bowes
Click carousel photos for product links
The universal theme for the fashion trends of the Fall and Winter 2016 season was most definitely opulence, with designers’ meticulously patterned creations made with gilded details flowing down nearly every runway. So I wanted to incorporate the FW16 fabric of choice – brocade in my trend series to showcase a realistic (and affordable) way to justify it being a necessity in your fall wardrobe. I recently had a request to see some non-traditional, work appropriate outfit options and I think this look is perfectly professional while still maintaining personality. I’ve never worked in a corporate atmosphere (with the exception of my high-school internship to which I wore ill-fitted khakis…Let’s all take a moment of silence in remembrance of those awful pants and my pre-college lack of style..) but I think the most important aspect to always look for in workwear options is fit. Finding a good fit is all about balance – not too loose and just tight enough to be flattering – and honestly it can sometimes be tricky, especially if you’re on a budget. I always visit the store to try on clothes whenever possible to make sure they fit me well. Remember that you can always have things tailored, too if you like the overall fit but want a piece to be tighter or shorter in certain places. We all have different body types and shapes and we have to accept that no one looks good in everything. Find shapes and cuts that you feel great in and build your wardrobe with variations of those – be it with different colors and patterns or slightly different silhouettes. If you’re wanting to incorporate a little more character into your workwear, the best technique in which to do so is to find small repetitive patterns and soft yet unique colors in classically professional silhouettes, This H&M brocade floral skirt is a timeless pencil skirt shape in a subtly on-trend fabric. A large print or bright color tends to be more on the risky side of business attire as it can sometimes be too distracting. Finish the look off with office appropriate accessories like this DKNY satchel and these blush Sam Edelman pumps and you’re good to go! Let me know if you’d like to see workwear looks more regularly represented here on Epicurean Emily and which other FW16 trends you’d like me to cover (list here) and previous posts in this series here and here.
I was wearing;
H&M Bow Knit Blouse; Similar Here
H&M Brocade Floral Skirt; Exact Here
“Business in Brocade” Photographed by Luke Bowes
The official start of fall is this week and with it comes hayrides, Pumpkin Spice lattes, and sweater weather! As a constantly cold person, I take every chance I get to wear a sweater – it’s the next best thing to my warm and cozy sweatpants and makes me look pretty put together so easily. I used to never buy sweaters from fast fashion retailers because I thought that they would be such poor quality that they wouldn’t last the season. But I went on a little (or big…) Forever 21 sweater haul last winter when I realized that all of my sweaters that I’d had since high school were looking a little ragged. My updated collection saved me during the winter and most came out looking practically brand new. I’m really careful with all of my clothes (yes, I am that girl that will take a $17.90 Forever 21 blouse to the dry cleaners and pay $4 to have it cleaned) but I aim to be even more gentle with sweaters. From cashmere to cotton, knitwear is all very delicate and should be washed as such. Here are my top sweater care tips;
- Hand wash in lukewarm water with a dash of detergent and let soak for 10 minutes.
- Gently ball up sweater to squeeze out the majority of the water. Don’t wring – it will cause elongation.
- Rinse out tub and add clean water. Place sweater in water and swish around to remove any sticky detergent that may be clinging to the fabric.
- This may be the most important step – Always, always, ALWAYS lay your sweater out flat to dry, even if you didn’t hand wash it and just threw it in the washing machine. When it comes to knitwear, heat is the enemy which is why its soaked in lukewarm water and NEVER dried with heat.
- If your sweater is still excessively damp, let it dry on a flat surface with a white towel underneath (the white prevents the bleed of the dye from the towel onto the sweater).
- Gently re-shape the fabric as it dries, paying special attention to the sleeves as this is where elongation is most prone to happen. Grab either side of the flattened sleeve and gently tug in opposite directions.
- Once dry, fold and store. Never store knitwear on hangers as it causes stretching.
Follow these knitwear care commandments and you will keep everything from affordable synthetic sweaters to 100% cashmere pieces looking their very best!
P.S. Every piece listed is under $45! Happy shopping!
These are the perfect sweaters that you’ll be wearing for the milder fall temps. This Zara short-sleeve sweater is sporty but sophisticated and because of its turtle-neck you could continue to layer it over or under warmer pieces for winter. The H&M Lace detailed sweater is a must-have staple piece for fall because you could use it to dress up a pair or jeans or tuck it into an on-trend skirt or pair of trousers (brocade or floral print, anyone?) and it comes in 3 great colors (I love the blush, but the olive is too good to pass up for fall). I’ve already purchased this H&M striped knit dress after falling in love with it on Instagram. The fit is great because it’s not too tight but also not too loose, and if you’re afraid of looking too matronly, the slit shows the perfect amount of skin to make it flattering. The Missguided options I’ve linked keep everyone’s favorite off-the-shoulder trending pieces relevant for fall with Bardot OTS shapes and cold-shoulder cut-outs.
These sweaters are a bit more traditional, but you all know my style is anything but boring so while these options may be classic and some timeless, they have unexpected details. The Forever 21 basic mock neck sweater is the most affordable and most versatile piece to have in your fall wardrobe. I love all the colors and the mock neck collar provides modernity. A camel-colored sweater like this H&M merino turtleneck is a year-round staple that can be worn just as well with cutoff shorts as it can be with boots and jeans. Since I normally wear high-waisted jeans, I’m always looking for the perfect cropped sweater like this Forever 21 cropped turtleneck – and I love every color that this one comes in! They’re all so perfect for autumn! Military and nautical influences were seen all over the FW16 runways. This Zara patch sweater and Zara striped navy sweater are a great way to subtly incorporate these of-the-moment trends into your outfits without investing in a statement piece that may go out of style in a few years. If you need a basic ladylike sweater to wear both to the office and to a chilly September date night, look no further than this Zara basic sweater. It comes in any color you could want and what attracted me to it was the button detail on the cuffs. It’s the little things, am I right?
Cardigans & Ponchos
Cardigans are a girls best friend in these transitional months. You can still get away with wearing tank tops and strappy dresses in the fall by simply throwing a cardi over them. On my casual days, I also utilize my favorite flowy cardigans by pairing them with black leggings and a tee which is a great technique to dress up the college girl uniform. This Zara classy buttoned cardigan reminds me so much of the classic Chanel aesthetic. Pair it buttoned with a tweed skirt (another Chanel staple), or leave it unbuttoned over a simple LBD (little black dress) for a more effortless elegance. This H&M draped knit cardigan is perfect over everything – even jeans and a white tee as shown on the model, and it comes in several practical colors that you’ll be able to get a lot of mileage out of! Ponchos and shawls are big for fall, but I usually have a hard time finding affordable ones because they tend to be a little too Coachella-esque with crocheted patterns and knit tassels. So I was ecstatic to find this Forever 21 color blocked poncho with a simple cut and a great color palette – neutral enough to pair with almost everything, but also interesting enough to shine as its own statement piece. The Zara cowl neck cardigan is a great option for a more dressy basic cardigan. Personally, I like a little draping on the cardis that I wear with jeans or leggings to keep me from looking boxy, but the product photos show this one worn with jeans as well. I would tend to wear this one with dressier pieces such as patterned trousers and a blouse or a skirt or dress. If you need styling ideas, Zara has created a different look for each of the many colors that this cardi is available in, so that is also a great resource for inspiration!
“Fall Sweater Guide” written by Emily
Click photos for product links
Luke and I always try to make the most out of our weekends. We’re not the type to frequent the movie theater every Friday night – we’re always on the hunt for unique experiences. Because of our recent move, Durham is our oyster and with sites like Get Offline and plenty of contacts at Duke who are more than happy to lend recommendations, I don’t see us getting bored any time soon. I found out about Blue Whistler Farm on Facebook by seeing their “Open Farm” event. According to their website, Open Farm and Markets are typically held every second and fourth Sunday of the month but the next one will be held on October 9th. See their event calendar for more activities and “Like” their Facebook page to be in the know with up to date info (in the event of a cancellation, etc.).
Anyone close to me knows about my strong feelings against factory farming. It is ruining our country in so many aspects that I don’t think were initially anticipated by corporations and the FDA, but they believe that they are in too deep now to admit that they were wrong and remedy the situation. Mass-produced livestock eats primarly (or in most cases, only) GMO-produced feed which makes them abnormally large, equaling more meat. Antibiotics are heavily administered to prevent infection from breaking out because of the confined quarters. When we eat this poor-quality “meat”, we are ingesting the GMO’s and the antibiotics as well. The run-off from their waste is toxic and spawns disease in vegetation (E.Coli outbreak in Spinach). If I kept typing all the things I despise about the American “industry” of farming, you would be reading this post until Monday. So when I find a special place like Blue Whistler Farm, I have to share it. This farm, located in Bahama, North Carolina (20 minutes north of Durham) is run by young couple Josh and Amy Sliffe. It is a sustainable farm using non-GMO feed and creating an environment on its 5 acres that allows the animals to fulfill their natural duties, “with the larger animals mowing, the smaller animals scratching and spreading”, the farm is naturally efficient. As someone who cares very deeply for animals, I love being able to see them in an environment that they were created to be in and that is exactly what Blue Whistler is all about – raising livestock the way they were meant to live, informing the community about these amazing animals, and providing that community with quality experiences and products. If we want to put an end to factory farming, we have to start supporting trustworthy, local farmers like Amy and Josh. P.S. I learned that the poultry eat lots of bugs, including mosquitos, and I’m here to say that we had no issues with bug bites whatsoever during our visit (I don’t even remember flies being a nuissance).
There is plenty to do and see on open farm day. Carrots and apples for the rabbits and pigs are welcome (and I would recommend bringing some – nothing like some food-inspired motivation to bring the animals up close and personal). Chicken holding 101 was a favorite among the children, but the tire swing came in a close second. There were plenty of newborn animals for this open market, although the piglets were my favorite (I just can’t handle the cuteness of those curly little tails)! After making our way around the farm, we stopped at the Bluebird Bakery stand to grab some sweet corn and blackberry ice cream (unexpected combo, I know, but so delicious!).
Visiting Blue Whistler Farm has been one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do so far in Durham. It makes for a unique weekend experience and spending some time on the farm gives you an unmatched sense of peace that you will carry for the rest of your Sunday and into your week. The whole family will love it and it’s a great educational opportunity for the kiddos to learn about farming and livestock. Bring a picnic if you like, or grab a pastry or ice cream from BlueBird, find a bench or a spot in the grass and just take some time to appreciate farmers like Amy and Josh who are committed to sharing their sustainable practices with their community – and don’t forget to leave without some Blue Whistler Farm fresh meat and eggs. I’m pretty picky when it comes to eggs – I like a rich, orangey yolk, but thanks to their chickens’ variety of diet these are some of the best eggs I’ve ever had!
We haven’t been living here in Durham for all that long, but we’ve somehow managed to eat at Monuts a few times already. I feel like I should be ashamed of going to one restaurant multiple times instead of trying new places, but when you find a place as special as Monuts, you will be willing to wait in line all day for a peach pistachio donut. From what I’ve heard (I can’t tell you because I’m a repeat customer at only one restaurant), Durham is quite the foodie town. Over the next two years I plan on eating around to see if Bull City truly lives up to the title of the “foodie capital of the south“, and of course I plan to document my experiences for all of you, too. 😉 Something that particularly excites me about the Durham food scene is that “farm-to-table” dives seem to be the name of the game. I am a strong supporter of local farming and eating seasonally so I’m thrilled that this “trend” is catching on and I hope it continues as more and more people begin to think about where their food is coming from. Monut’s menu is made by hand from scratch using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. They began selling donuts off of a tricycle at the local farmers market, upgraded to a restaurant, and moved to the current Ninth Street location after they out-grew their previous store-front. I’ve only been on the weekend so I don’t know how applicable this is Monday-Friday but if you want a table, you should be there when they open. For this review, we arrived about 10 minutes prior to the eight o’clock Sunday morning opening and there were already a handful of people waiting outside. Saving tables isn’t allowed until you’ve placed your order and gotten a number to put on your table-top, so finding a spot is definitely a matter of good timing. The bar however, is first come first served so if you see a couple of free chairs, snatch them up and wait on the bartender to take your order.
Something that is really unique about Monuts is that they are not only a bomb bakery, but also a full-service breakfast and lunch joint. It’s the perfect brunch spot because there is truly something for everyone – not just donut aficionados. Their variety of breakfast sandwiches is vast, but even if you can’t find anything on the main menu to tickle your tastebuds, there is always the option to build your own sandwich or create your own breakfast or lunch with a customizable side plate (think avocado toast and maple Sriracha home fries, to name a couple of choices). This time around, I tried the “Heirloom Summer” sandwich with a plain bagel, chèvre cream cheese, heirloom tomatoes, over-medium farm eggs and basil pesto. Albeit a little challenging to eat, the flavor combinations in this sammy were amazing and it featured some of the freshest and most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Luke chose the “Guac Dirty to Me” – house breakfast sausage, farm egg, red onion, queso fresco, and – of course, guacamole between a fresh biscuit. You can’t go to Monuts without getting donuts, so I chose the Peach Pistachio yeast (traditional donut) while Luke chose the Blueberry Pancake (cake donut). I’ve eaten many donuts in all my carb-loving years, but Monuts are continually some of my favorites and these two flavors were no exception. I couldn’t believe how much the blueberry pancake tasted like an actual pancake and Luke and I were arguing about the science behind gourmet donut making before coming to the conclusion that maybe buttermilk was the secret pancake-flavored ingredient.
I know I don’t have much validity to say this quite yet, but Monuts is definitely my favorite Durham dive so far. I relate to Leslie Knope in more ways than one but in particular, our undying love for breakfast foods is eerily coincidental – I could eat eggs, avocado toast, waffles, or even donuts for every meal and be perfectly satisfied. I imagine that kind of versatility is what keeps people coming back to Monuts time and time again – their menu is anything but boring and with their seasonal offerings, you could come once every week for a year and never have the same breakfast twice. But these sandwiches and sides are mere supporting characters to their superstar – the Monut donut. With classics such as plain glazed to more gourmet options like the North Carolinian – a sweet potato cake donut with a bourbon & sea salt glaze, Monuts donuts are sure to please the entire crew.
“Monuts Restaurant Review” Photographed by Emily Davis & Luke Bowes
© Emily Davis
While I love shopping for all kinds of autumn clothing, stocking up on fall footwear is my favorite. I’m sure all of you who have been readers for any length of time know that Target is where I do most of my shoe shopping. They almost always have fashion-forward styles at amazing prices and I’ve had Target shoes that have held up for over two years with regular, seasonal wear. However, my favorite red bullseye retailer is a little lacking in the boot department (seems to be the case more-so this year, but I’ve honestly never been overwhelmed with their shoe selection for the colder months). I know that I can be very particular – which can be a blessing or a curse depending upon the day, but when I shop for boots at reasonable retailers, I notice an annoying pattern. I see boring colors, repeated shapes year after year, and poor quality materials (I’m looking at you, faux-suede!) There is no modernity in their winter selection. I know that many women are in search of cognac riding boots and western-style booties come autumn and I understand the need to cater to the masses, but Target’s design department seems to produce cute pieces for women with more unique personal styles in every other season and leaves us out in the cold come winter. So I’m writing this guide with the girls who don’t want to look like equestrians and cowgirls in mind – the girls who want to have trendy, stylish, AND affordable options. I know that many of these selections may be a bit above the Target price-range, but I would rather pay just a bit more to have better quality shoes for the colder months since I feel that the winter takes such a toll on them and cheap shoes begin to look really worn out after only a few outings. Comment below and tell me your favorite shoes from the post and also which fall staple item(s) you’d like me write about next!
I must admit that Over the Knee boots intimidate me a little bit. Maybe because my first pair had a narrow heel and the tops folded down and reminded me of a trashy pirate Halloween costume. Lots of people love wearing OTK boots under leggings which makes it even harder for me to appreciate them. But as much of a love/hate relationship that I may have with over the knee boots, I must admit that they really are a versatile staple, making your favorite summer dresses autumn-appropriate or spicing up a pair of skinnys for date night.
Flats work for any and every season, whether you’re running to the office or vacationing in Europe. The lace-up trend is still going strong and I’m still loving it. However impractical they may be, the pom-pom flats are at the top of my wish-list because they’re so unique and I love the understated and muted colors. Slipper loafers are also having a moment right now, and while I can’t afford the embroidered Gucci pair, I love the unique striped detail on these Zara ones.
I have a thing for booties, y’all. I would consider my personal style a tad on the edgier side and it can be very hard to find tall edgy boots that don’t make you look like a hooker… or a pirate. So booties are my go-to by default.
Sock boots are huge this year, making them the only decent thing to come out of Kanye West’s Yeezy fashion line. Personally, the true “sock” boots aren’t for me (I don’t like my shoes to suffocate my ankles) but they have spawned a lot of modern options donning patent leather and clear heels, which I can definitely get on board with. Velvet was all over the FW16 runways and if you’re a little intimidated by the trend, starting with a velvet statement shoe is the way to go because it can be styled both femininely or edgy and it’s not overwhelming either way.
I just purchased these Adidas maroon superstars and I’m obsessed with them. I know they will get so much use over the next few months. Please note that this style is only available in Men’s and “Big Kids” sizes. BK sizes will fit up to a women’s size 9, just subtract your normal size by two (I’m normally a size 7.5, so I ordered a 5.5 in Big Kid size).
“Fall & Winter Shoe Guide” written by Emily
Click photos for product links
Even though fall doesn’t “officially” start for a few more weeks, I’m sure you’re already dreaming about Pumpkin Spice lattes, layers, campfires, and boots – I know I am! So to celebrate everyone’s favorite season, I’m beginning a series starting with this outfit showcasing wearable looks inspired by the season’s biggest trends on the Fall/Winter 16 runways. I know you’re probably looking at this outfit thinking, “Is she kidding?! That looks like something I’d wear on Easter Sunday!” But that is part of what excites me about high fashion – it’s constantly redefining the industry’s standards and everything seen in mainstream fast-fashion retailers and department stores is heavily influenced by designers’ collections. This spring-evoking color combo of yellow and dusty pink was one of the most unexpected trends seen on the fall/winter runways of both Delpozo and Marissa Webb. The traditional fall color palette is undoubtably my favorite (give me all the burnt orange, olive green, and maroon!) but I have been loving this soft begonia shade of pink lately so I’m excited to have an excuse to continue wearing it into the Autumn months. This look is definitely still wearable in these late summer weeks when the temps are still high, but if you wanted to make it feel a little more appropriate for the season, I think a great pair of culottes would be a great transitional piece as they resemble a skirt but aren’t too tight so they’ll keep you cool (I’ve linked my favorites below). I’ll be sharing more of my favorite trends for fall throughout the season in addition to some shopping guides for my autumn must-haves over the next month or so. Take a look at the best FW16 trends and let me know which ones you’d like me to re-create by leaving a comment below!
I was wearing;
“Mellow Yellow” Photographed by Luke Bowes
Pubs in England are about as abundant as Starbucks in America. Going out for a pint at the local pub is a regular English tradition that has been around for centuries and remains a common past-time in modern England. During our holiday we were able to experience several different pub settings – some had lawns with outdoor seating and even a playgrounds for the children, others were very dark and donned with a rich and masculine traditional interior. On my itinerary for pubs to visit in Nottingham were two that are a little more known to be tourist destinations but are still frequented by locals because of their long-standing good reputation – Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and The Pitcher & Piano. Claiming to be the oldest pub in England and dating back to 1189 AD, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem sits at the base of Nottingham Castle. The pub is carved out of Nottingham’s network of caves and sits atop cellars that were once used as the castle’s brewery but are now being used to store the brews available on tap – making for a true “cold one” no matter the season. Since the weather was so lovely, we sat outside on the spacious patio and enjoyed our drinks while watching the sun set over Nottingham Castle. Inside, the setting is much more intimate – misshapen sandstone cave walls divide the pub into several different “rooms” and a more private courtyard is located at the rear. It would seem that there is never a bad time to grab a pint at Ye Olde Trip. Sit on their patio in the summer while enjoying the best view of Nottingham Castle, or warm up by the fire inside the cozy caves during the winter.
Housed inside an old Unitarian church, The Pitcher & Piano provides a very unique pub experience. Although P&P is a national chain, the Nottingham facility may be one of the best, boasting tucked away tables in all the nooks and crannies of the old cathedral, and an outdoor terrace offering plenty of seating with a full bar in the summer. We just went for drinks but The Pitcher & Piano is a full-service restaurant as well – serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner and offering a traditional roast dinner on Sundays. It was a great place to mingle with friends over a drink (or two)!
What better way to celebrate the last month of summer than with a bright and cheery flamingo-printed piece?! I actually scored this adorable Kate Spade piece in a New York consignment store that Keiko recommended last summer. When I have the time (and the patience!), thrifting is one of my favorite ways to shop. Some of my most beloved items are pre-owned pieces, and it’s so rewarding when you find a gem after all that searching! I’ve discussed my mission to feature affordable fashion here on Epicurean Emily before, but I thought in addition to linking reasonably-priced pieces of my outfits, I would also start sharing some tips for shopping on a budget as well. “To thrift or not to thrift?” I’ve never met anyone that has been in the middle of the spectrum – you’re either obsessed with looking through racks and racks of old clothes or you think that sounds like something you would be asked to do as a punishment. I do love consignment shopping, but I definitely have to be in the mood for it – which doesn’t happen all that often (I’m practicing my patience!). Thrift stores are really a hit or miss shopping experience. Something that happens to me quite regularly – in all shopping scenarios, is that I have a hard time finding things when I’m in search of them. That is especially true in my thrifting experience – I go in to look for a certain item and since I can’t find the one thing I’m looking for, I discard all the rest. The key to consignment shopping is to go in with an open mind and just see what you can find. It takes a lot of patience, which is why I reserve it for once in a blue moon. But if you enter with a positive attitude, you’ll walk out of the store with a bag full of second-hand steals! I also try to thrift shop when I’m out of town because my options back home are so limited. I try to get in touch with the locals and fellow vintage lovers before a trip to see where they frequent to find their most loved pieces. Yelp is also a great app that can be used to scope out new stores if you don’t have someone that you can contact for recommendations. They compile reviews and assign ratings to local businesses (restaurants, salons, shops, they do it all!) so it helps to hear from locals whether a place is a treasure trove or an over-priced tourist trap. These are my top tips to conquer the thrift store! What are yours?!
Kate Spade Flamingo Print Blouse; Similar Here
Target Merona Nude Quilted Cross-Body; Similar Here
Target Mossimo Taupe Gladiator Heels; Exact Here
“Frolicking in Flamingo” photographed by Luke Bowes
I can’t believe I’m already saying this, but it’s Epicurean Emily’s first birthday! I began this crazy blogging journey with my first post one year ago today. The time has absolutely flown by, which I guess is a good thing because it means I’m still just as much in love with blogging as I was when I first started. A lot of people ask me what my purpose for starting a blog was and I know I’ve discussed my answer vaguely on EE before but in celebration of my blog-iversary, I’d like to re-iterate for any new readers and honestly just to remind myself why I work so hard to constantly create quality content.
I’m not going to tell you my whole life story but you should know that I’ve always been a bit of an oddball. In elementary school, I was a tomboy who would rather be drawing or playing outside with my dog than having sleepovers with my friends. I was terribly obsessed with the Jonas Brothers in HIGH-SCHOOL (middle school was about the oldest age where a boyband obsession was *somewhat* socially acceptable) and my senior quote in my yearbook is literally about having more JB t-shirts than days of the week to wear them. Because of all the quirky things that made me me, I was far from “popular” and never considered myself to be someone who people looked up to. But in recent years, I’ve discovered that there was one quality that people admired about me – my comfortability in being true to who I was (no matter how embarrassed my family and friends were for me at times). Growing up, I often wondered why I wasn’t like everyone else, but I realize now that being a little weird was truly the best blessing in disguise.
This generation of young people weigh especially heavy on my heart because they feel the overwhelming pressure of today’s twisted society so strongly at such a crucial time of their lives. With the advance of the internet and the skyrocketing of social media, teens today are constantly told who they should be, what they should do, what they should buy, and what they should wear. A large part of my mission here at Epicurean Emily is to encourage young people to fully accept who they are and to always be true to themselves in a world that is telling them the exact opposite. Embracing your weirdness and knowing what makes you unique can be the key to success. Beyond the comprehension of your own identity, I also encourage the constant pursuit of the best version of yourself. The minute you lose the desire to learn is the minute in which you will fail. Be passionate in your pursuance of knowledge – about anything at all that you’re interested in. I love photography. I love fashion. I love travel. I love food. Every opportunity I have to shoot, I’m trying new techniques and camera settings to learn how I can improve my images. I’m constantly looking for new editing programs and watching Photoshop tutorials on YouTube to learn new things and/or re-learn old things I’ve forgotten. I consider buying one fashion magazine per month a necessity because it’s a fresh source of all kinds of inspiration. I keep up with several fashion bloggers so regularly that I consider many of them to be old friends (See my favorites here). I feed my never-ending wanderlust by looking at Pinterest and travel blogs and planning itineraries for my future adventures. I’m always excited when a new restaurant opens in town and I research ways to improve my own cooking techniques at home and find new recipes through food publications and blogs.
I am a strong believer in the power of the internet. It’s an endless source of inspiration and education for everyone in our modern world. It has catapulted careers for people who are doing what I’m doing – sharing themselves online in hopes of inspiring someone. But all of us know that while the internet has many great perks, it is also one of the biggest platforms for the spread of negativity. Social media provides a barrier that makes it easy for people who are hurting to inflict emotional pain on others and no one knows that to be true more than today’s teens. I think a big reason for the rise of bloggers is because they are almost a light in the dark tunnel of the internet – a real person you can trust in a galaxy of companies competing for your constant attention. I love YOU (my readers) so much and all I want to do is create quality, wholesome content that elevates your life. While there are a few bad apples in the world of blogging, I think ultimately that’s what most of us are passionate about – helping you feel like the best version of yourself when you read our new post, see our photo on your Instagram feed, or view our far from perfect lives documented on Snapchat.
I began Epicurean Emily for a lot of reasons. It was one of the only creative venues where I could collectively combine everything that I was passionate about. I don’t just want to be a photographer. I don’t just want to be a fashion designer or stylist. I don’t just want to be travel agent. I don’t just want to be a food critic. I want to be all of these things and more. I want to be an inspiration for my high-school self – the girl who is passionately creative and consequently deemed an outcast. I want to encourage the introverted and shy that sometimes feel as if they don’t have a voice to speak up and let them know that the world is in desperate need of their unique perspective. I want to encourage people that it’s never too late to discover what makes them feel beautiful. I wore blue eyeshadow and “sensitive” mascara in high school, but I wanted to learn how to apply make-up correctly (Out of all the things my mother taught me, make-up application was not one of them – Still love you though, mom) so I watched beauty tutorials religiously and learned everything I know about make-up through bloggers (Thank you makeupbytiffanyd, pixiwoo, xsparkage, and kandeejohnson!). I want to show the fashion-obsessed college girls that it’s ok if you don’t want to wear yoga pants to class every day. Yeah, you may get some weird looks when you show up to class in stilettos, but if heels give you the confidence you need to ace your test or kill your presentation, then click-clock your way across campus. If you’re a girly girl who looks forward to doing your hair and make-up and wearing the perfect outfit every day, then allow yourself the time to get dolled up and pick out the perfect pair of shoes. If you’re the sporty opposite of girly and are perfectly happy going au naturel and wearing workout gear and trainers, then do that – lucky for you, athleisure is very IN right now! I created Epicurean Emily to be a judgement-free platform and source of inspiration for everyone (regardless of race, gender, religion, or social status) to come together to find new ways to invest in themselves. Whether you read my blog to get outfit inspiration, for my photography tips, to hear about my travels, or to see if the new restaurant in town is worth all the hype, from the bottom of my heart I truly appreciate every one of you who has and continues to make Epicurean Emily a success. I’m so thankful for the platform the world wide web has provided me to create my own community of Epicureans who celebrate each others’ weirdness! Cheers to many more blogging years!
Hello from Duke’s beautiful west campus! For those of you who haven’t heard… I moved to Durham, North Carolina! Luke began his MBA program at Duke the day after we got back from England and it has been pretty non-stop ever since. We’ve been “home” for a little over a week now and we’re doing our best to explore our new town, make new friends, and finish unpacking while jet-lag seems to be getting the best of us (I’ve barely stayed up past 9 since we’ve been home!). This is my first time moving and while I’m so excited to see what’s in store for us over these two upcoming years, it’s strange to be apart from everyone that has been a huge part of my life for so long. I’m trying my best to keep myself busy with the blog, social activities, and job hunting (and I’m trying to convince Luke of my need for a dog) but sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the change. So like any basic white girl, I go on Pinterest to browse through quotes and find this one, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” I will always love Tennessee and I’ll always consider it my home – it’s where I grew up and where my family is. But my dreams and passions to work in a creative industry just can’t be fulfilled there. While these upcoming two years are a mere pit-stop on the journey to bigger and better things, I’m trying to embrace this new season with open arms and remember that although the majority of us hate change, “great things never came from comfort zones.” Alright, logging off Pinterest now.
I was wearing;
“Summer Monochrome” Photographed by Luke Bowes
When most people begin planning at trip to London, they start with the basics – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Hyde Park, and Trafalgar Square to name a few. At the top of my itinerary for London was Sketch, a quirky but oh so glam restaurant/art gallery in the Mayfair neighborhood of London. I have a bad habit of setting unrealistic expectations for almost everything, and I’m often disappointed that things are never as good in real life as I imagine them being. So when I find a place or an experience that not only meets, but EXCEEDS all of my wildest expectations, I just have to share with anyone that will listen! If you’re visiting or live in London and appreciate the finer things in life (hello, fellow Epicureans!), you should make dining at Sketch a priority!
Sketch is a work of art in itself and provides a truly unique dining experience. Located in an 18th century townhouse on Conduit Street, diners can choose from a variety of 5 different rooms based on the time of day and type of cuisine they’re in search of. Each separate space has its own “theme”, if you will. We were seated in the often-Instagrammed “Gallery” which boasts chevron-tiled floors, panoramic “sketches” by featured artist David Shrigley, rose-gold details, and the prettiest pink seats. According to this video, Sketch commissions a new artist to transform the Gallery, which is their main room, every two years. If I had to choose one interior that I would want to inspire the design of my own home, it would be Shrigley’s Gallery.
Sketch offers several options as far as afternoon tea goes. All are served with the same finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and desserts, but with your choice of tea, champagne, sparkling wine, or non-alcoholic cocktails. At £45 (~$60) per person (£57+ for alcoholic beverages), the basic afternoon tea is not cheap, but the experience was well worth the price tag and the restaurant is very generous with servings – order more of whatever you want and it is covered under your individual rate. Luke’s mom, Julie, and I each tried three different teas out of their selection of about 20 and we both loved every one that we tried (I’ve been craving the Jasmine Pearls green tea since we left!). When we told our waitress which tea we were partaking in, she informed us that they would be bringing all of our snacks out of the kitchen over the next two hours. We were all quite surprised, but it was really refreshing to be able to sit down and enjoy each others’ company in such a beautiful space and not be pressured to rush for the restaurant’s turnaround.
Our sandwiches and desserts arrived about half an hour after we were seated. My favorites were the coronation chicken sandwich (similar to chicken salad) and the mozzarella and pesto panini (wrapped in parchment paper and tied with a bow to keep warm). I saved the desserts for last and they were all divine, as well. I didn’t have a favorite because by the time I got around to eating them, I was so full of sweets that I just took a bite of each one so I could try everything. I used my sweet tooth on the sultana scones, served with clotted cream, fig, and strawberry jams and I was tempted to have another round since they were baked to perfection – not at all dry or crumbly.
The service at Sketch is a testament to its success. All of the staff seemed to thoroughly enjoy their jobs and their positive attitudes were something that I took notice to. Drinks were never dry, fresh plates were always offered, and multiple rounds of tea or dessert were encouraged. The restaurant seems to have a teamwork-oriented philosophy, with several different waiters and waitresses happily assisting our table whenever we were in need.
As if Sketch wasn’t already the total package, just wait until you see their bathrooms! Yep, you read that right. Sketch’s futuristic “pee pods” are a hot topic and definitely make for the most Instagram-able bathroom selfies. Seeing photos of this art installation of a loo on Instagram is actually how I found out about Sketch – great marketing tactic they’ve used here, getting everyone to talk about their toilets!
Out of all the things I had the opportunity to see and do while in London, Sketch was by far my favorite experience. One thing that I always strive for when traveling is to find off-the-wall experiences that are unique to their location. Obviously, part of being a tourist is seeing all of the famous landmarks, but more often than not, my fondest memories of my travels include one-of-a-kind experiences such as the afternoon we spent at Sketch. They’ve taken the British tradition of afternoon tea and modernized in such a posh and fresh way. It was just what our sore feet and hungry tummies needed after exploring London all morning. If you’re going to London soon, or if you live there and haven’t visited, plan a visit to dine (or drink – the Gallery is a cocktail bar in the evenings) at Sketch and don’t leave without getting a selfie in the bathroom!
“Afternoon Tea at Sketch” Photographed by Emily Davis and Luke Bowes
© Emily Davis
As summer is now in full swing, we are also finding ourselves in the midst of wedding season so I wanted to feature a look that I would wear to attend someone’s big day! I got these statement lace-up ballet flats from Target back in the spring and have been dying to feature them in an outfit post (unfortunately, the pink color has since sold out but I’ve linked a similar pair at the bottom of this post). Most summer weddings are held outdoors, which usually means there is a fair amount of grass to muck through, so save your heels by opting for flats! I love a pink and navy color combo and this was the perfect opportunity to wear this amazing dress that I found at Marshall’s for under $20. The dress is so comfy – the fabric is pretty stiff so it keeps its fit and flare shape, and the length is long enough to make me feel secure (read about my dress-phobia here). Let me know your favorite thing about summer weddings in the comments below! Being outside celebrating with friends and family on a warm, summer night is one thing that I always look forward to!
A struggle that I think all girls have in the summer is finding outfits that will keep you cool, but aren’t too skimpy. One of my favorite ever vintage finds has got to be this pair of Levi’s pink high-waisted shorts that I found a few years ago. I love everything about them – from the fit, to the length, to the color. Most high-waisted shorts available in trendy stores are super short and tight, and I find myself longing for the day when I find another pair that fits as well as these do. I wanted to emphasize the shorts by pairing them with this feminine yet edgy crop top. I’m really picky about floral prints, but I adore this one because it’s not too girly and frilly. Wearing high-waisted pieces with crop tops is one of my favorite ways to elongate my short frame. What are your summer dressing secrets?
I was wearing;
American Eagle Floral Crop Top; Similar Here
Levi’s Pink High-Waisted Shorts; Most similar I could find Here and Here (I found mine at a vintage shop, but you could even DIY a pair by starting with a white pair of high-waisted shorts and dyeing them pale pink)
Target Chain Detail Slide Sandals; Exact Here
H&M Black Rose Embellished Sunglasses; Similar Here
Forever 21 Gold Chain Ribbon Choker; Similar Here
“Golden Floral” Photographed by Luke Bowes
Life has been a bit crazy as of late. In addition to our move to North Carolina in July, I am also finalizing the details for a trip to England with Luke just two days after we move. We will mostly be in Nottingham to visit Luke’s family, but we will also spend a couple of days in London and Birmingham. This will be my first time visiting England so I’m pretty excited about it. I wanted to share my current itinerary with you, but also ask you for any suggestions that you think are “must-do’s” that I should add to my list!
Wollaton Park Home of Wollaton Hall and Nottingham Natural History Museum but also, more importantly, home to hundreds of friendly deer
Sherwood Forest Nottingham’s claim to fame, the forest in the legend of Robin Hood and home to Major Oak (a nearly 1,000 year old tree), Newstead Abbey, and Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Caves One of the largest networks of man-made caves in Europe
The Arboretum Nottingham’s first public park
Old Market Square The center of Nottingham, the largest city square in the U.K.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Known as England’s oldest inn, a pub that has served locals and tourists alike for centuries
Bromley House Library A nineteenth century library fit for Princess Belle
Cadbury World To see how the best chocolate in the world is made (and hopefully taste some) 🙂
Sketch Luke’s family is already giving me a hard time for this one. Aside from being a unique and top-notch restaurant, Sketch is famous for its bathrooms. Each toilet is its own “pod” and the ceilings of the bathroom are colored in every hue of the rainbow. We’ve already booked a table for afternoon tea here, so I’m looking forward to doing a restaurant review!
British Museum History Museum containing the Rosetta Stone, which was used to depict ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and the original pediments of the Grecian Parthenon (featured in this post)
Buckingham Palace Home of the Royal Family and the sight where many tourists gather to see the “changing of the guards”
Harrod’s “Macy’s but nicer” – Luke
Camden Lock Market Outdoor market with vendors selling everything from art to street food
Kew Gardens The largest collection of living plants in the world
Westminster Abbey A beautiful gothic church and the traditional place of coronations (and weddings – Prince William and Dutchess Kate were married here!) for British Monarchs
Notting Hill Famous neighborhood of streets lined with cotton-candy colored pastel houses
We will have two weeks to spend in Luke’s home country and I’m so thrilled to have a little vacation before he starts business school at Duke in the fall. Are you familiar with any of the towns I’ll be visiting? Is there anything that’s not on my itinerary that should be? I want to hear ALL of your suggestions, from restaurants to historical sights to museums! Let me know by leaving a comment below! I can’t wait to share all of my photos and tips from my travels with all of you!
The “Points of Interest” on Google have been really helpful for me to not only plan itineraries for upcoming trips, but also to help me remember some sights I’ve already seen but maybe have forgotten the name of. They have these for most cities, so just Google “[City] points of interest”.
I’ll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with rompers. The idea of them is perfect – a wearable dressy piece with the security of a constantly covered backside (read about my dress-phobia here). However, the excitement is usually abruptly ended when I take my pretty little romper back to the dressing room to try on and realize that if I make any movement, I will be mooning everyone. I stumbled upon this high-neck one at Target and was instantly drawn to it because of the color but after inspecting it for a moment, I thought maybe, just maybe, it would give me the coverage that I was looking for. One life-changing trip to the dressing room and here we are! Something that is pretty unique in the construction of this romper is that the shorts have a good, thick lining which seems to tame the thin exterior fabric a bit. In the last few years I have really come to appreciate versatile pieces, especially when I travel. I have worn this piece to the weekend farmers market with a straw sun-hat as well as with some lace-up heels for a date night and it was perfect for both occasions. I’m looking forward to wearing this affordable romper all summer (this entire look is under $50, BTW) and it will definitely be in my suitcase on my next trip in July. Any guesses where I’m headed?
Luke and I are always looking for new local restaurants to try. Primo opened in the early Spring of this year (2016) and, like most new downtown eateries, there has been a lot of buzz about it lately. It is Chef Bruce Bogartz’s first project since the overwhelmingly popular, albeit not exactly successful Rouxbarb. I had the pleasure of dining at Rouxbarb only once, but it was enough to make me a big fan of Bogartz so I was thrilled to hear that he’d be head of the first Italian restaurant in downtown Knoxville. Being that Bruce is such an esteemed chef – and fairly well known by most Knoxvillians, Primo is what I would consider a “fine dining” establishment – one of the more expensive places in the area. I think Knoxville needs more of these types of restaurants. Most of the eateries, especially near downtown, are fairly casual so it’s nice to have a couple of spots to visit for special occasions or even just when you want a more intimate date night. We had previewed the menu online, so we were well aware of the steep prices (it is Bogartz, after all). What did come as surprise, though, was the utterly underwhelming experience we had dining at Primo.
- We made reservations for our Saturday night date early in the week. We like to eat pretty early (we’re both 75 at heart) which is usually not a problem downtown but because of its newness and Knoxville’s flocking tendencies, we reserved a table just to be safe. We arrived on the 5th floor of the Sunsphere for our 5:30 reservations to a fairly empty restaurant. We didn’t have to do much walking as we were sat directly in front of the elevators and hostess stand at a TINY square table (no more than 2×2 feet). Intending to take blog photos, I had my chunky DSLR and I carried a small purse, both of which I had to set on the floor by the time our drinks arrived. One good thing about sitting on the westward-facing side, though, was that we were in the prime spot for the sunset and the Sunsphere provides some of the best views of Knoxville.
To start, we had the “Tartufo Fonduta”, a thick and decadent pesto cheese dip served with veggies, house-made chips, and warm bread. Looking back, this was most definitely the best part of the meal. You know how a lot of people will refer to themselves as a “dessert person”? Well, I am a “cheese person” and I could, and sometimes do, eat copious amounts of cheese for every meal. The fonduta had a rich flavor and I was practically eating it by the spoonful once we ran out of our dipping snacks.
Before placing our order, we inquired about the origin of the meat on the menu and were sadly told that the kitchen did not source locally. Many restaurants downtown really pride themselves on featuring produce and meats that are grown and raised by local farms, so I was disappointed to find out that even though I was paying double what most of these “trendy” restaurants charge, the quality of the meat still did not meet my standards. There was only one vegetarian-friendly entree, so I decided to try two small Primi pasta dishes instead (I’d rather have pasta over meat anyway). I ordered the only two Primi dishes without meat – the “Orecchiette” and the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi”. Luke tried the “Chicken al Mattone”. We had to play a game of Tetris to fit the dishes onto our small table upon their arrival.
The orecchiette was not my favorite – I ordered it despite the menu stating that it had leeks and artichokes which I kind of despise (its a texture thing) but I thought I would be able to eat around them. The pasta was served in a mushroom broth that both of the roots had been cooked in, making them tender but also… flaky. It was impossible to take a bite of the dish without having that repulsive texture against my tongue. The dish was almost in between a soup and a traditional pasta, with the broth making it watery and flavorless. A true testament to my attention to detail is the fact that I noticed that on the menu, the orecchiette was “finished with parmesan curls”. CURLS, people. Like freshly grated slivers of heaven shaved from an aromatic block of parmesan. When it arrived, it was topped with parmesan shreds that were clearly scooped out of one of those industrial-sized Costco containers. As a cheese person, that was the last straw.
Since the orecchiette was such a disappointment, I was really hoping the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi” would be special. What I didn’t realize was that “Dolce Patata” meant sweet potato. I think I would have enjoyed it more had the sweet potato been shaped into gnocchi-sized potato pillows, however it seemed like they just cubed a roasted sweet potato and called it pasta. The gorgonzola cream sauce was almost overwhelmingly sweet, but it did have a good flavor that complemented both the taste of the sweet potato and the poached pears well.
Luke is not picky at all when it comes to chicken, but the “Chicken al Mattone” at Primo must be one of the only exceptions. I think their menu is really poorly done, from it not clarifying (in English) that the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi” was sweet potato gnocchi to stating that the chicken was served atop a “brick pesto potato salad and mama’s broiled tomatoes” when it arrived in front of Luke with a pile of olives (one of the only foods Luke cannot stand) the same size as the chicken leg with hardly any potatoes and no tomatoes in sight.
We were both already so uncomfortable by the time our food arrived that the disappointment in our dishes made for a pretty terrible overall experience. It may work in a bar area, but there is absolutely no place for a table of that size in the dining room where patrons are encouraged to eat multiple courses. Our legs kept colliding and as the restaurant started to fill up, we felt even more claustrophobic when fellow diners began bumping our shoulders as they were seated. Other couples who arrived after us (probably without reservations) were seated at spacious four-top tables while we were crammed in between them. The presentation of our meal was surprisingly underwhelming, with all our dishes thrown into what reminded me of my dog’s dinner bowl without much care as to how they looked. I think it’s important to state that, while many may think I am nitpicking, these are things that I expect when I pay for a “fine dining” experience. If you’re curious about Primo, I would suggest going for appetizers and drinks and sitting in the bar area. The lounge is on the south side of the sphere as well, providing good sunset views and it has a row of intimate couch-surrounded tables facing the floor-to-ceiling windows. Our drinks and appetizer were the only part of our meal that we actually enjoyed, so this is our plan should we choose to revisit Primo. If you’re looking for an Italian eatery (with a hint of a southern influence) in downtown Knoxville, Emilia in Market Square opened in late Spring (2016) and it is incredible. The experience I had when dining at Emilia was the one I was hoping Primo would deliver – an intimate setting with traditional, yet inventive authentic Italian cuisine. I’ll try to squeeze in a proper review of Emilia before I leave Knoxville in July, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you have any questions or comments about Primo, Emilia, or downtown Knoxville dining.
Like most of my international excursions thus far, my trip to Greece was through a study abroad program. I tried to push myself out of my comfort zone on a couple of my trips, but for my last one I wanted to go somewhere I’d fantasized about visiting for my entire life – so I chose Greece and it totally blew me away. Many times when people envision Greece, they picture cobalt-colored water and little white hillside villages. While I did not get to see Mykonos or any of the more well-known Greek isles on this trip, I was still in awe of the beauty of the entire country. We began our course in Athens, which was a dream come true for an art history nerd like me. I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to have learned about something in class and then to get to stand in front of it. I want so badly for everyone to have that awe-struck feeling about something, whatever it may be, and that’s why I’m such a big believer in the power of travel and pushing yourself outside your own comfort-zone. I can’t wait to share these photos with you, along with helpful tips if you’re planning to visit Athens. If you have any questions about my trip or about Athens, please comment below.
P.S. There will be lots more photos from the rest of my trip coming soon!
From my first night in Athens as I was walking around and exploring the neighborhood near my hotel (which is something I always recommend doing when traveling).
(Left) Slipper shopping at the Plaka market. I bought a pair of these wooly ones and they are the only house-shoes I’ll ever wear! I have to get some backups on my next visit! (Right) Lone poppy in the flowerbed around Agios Eleftherios Church in Mitropolis Square.
Inside the airy Acropolis Museum, where many artifacts of the original Parthenon are on display. While you’re here, take advantage of the amazing view from the cafe patio.
The remainder of the pediment and frieze on the East end of the Parthenon, a temple built in honor of Greek Goddess Athena, the “patron” of the Greeks.
The Mediterranean wind gusts are incredibly strong up on the Acropolis so if you aren’t comfortable flashing strangers, learn from my mistake and don’t wear a dress!
(Left) An intricate artifact from the Benaki Museum, which focuses on Greek art throughout the country’s history. (Right) Fancy Spanakopita (spinach pie) for lunch at an Athens restaurant.
One of my favorite activities to partake in while traveling is people watching. Most Americans are turned off to the idea of people staring at them, but from my experiences, other cultures pay no mind to making eye contact with a stranger.
There are three Metro routes in Athens, all intersecting in the city center.
Overlooking the Temple of Hephaestus through a field of bright poppies in the agora (gathering place) of Ancient Greece.
A sculptural marble head in the Stoa of Attalos overlooking the Agora.
Even though there are symbols of ancient time throughout city, Athens has all the hustle and bustle of most capitals. I love this juxtaposition of the remaining columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus with the graffitied storefront and busy mom.
Fun photo-op alert! The guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Old Royal Palace in Syntagma Square change each hour and you can pose for a photo to see how close you can get before they aim their weapons at you.
The view of the Acropolis from the Ancient Agora. One of my favorite views was from the Areopagus (commonly known as Mars Hill) which is on the northern side of the Acropolis, near the entrance. It has great views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens, both in the day and at night.
A local sits back to people watch in Monastiraki, the “flea-market” neighborhood. Outdoor vendors sell everything from jewelry to fresh produce in the best area for bargain shopping in Athens.
“Athens Photo Diary” Photographed by Emily Davis
© Emily Davis
I think almost all of us get stuck in a rut of repeating the same weekend activities, whether that be going out to dinner, seeing a movie, or staying at home and binge-watching Netflix shows. While I enjoy these activities on occasion, my favorite weekends are ones where I try something new or go somewhere I’ve never been before.
I have been buying fresh food regularly at the weekly farmers market for a month or so and I’m honestly bummed when I have to buy produce at the supermarket now. Since my diet is very heavy in fruits and veggies, I want to have the best possible produce so I can look forward to my home-cooked meals. So when Luke suggested visiting a pick-your-own berry patch over the weekend, I was all for it. We chose to visit Mountain Meadows Farm because we had been buying their strawberries at the farmer’s market so we knew they were delicious. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a few dogs (making for the best first impression ever), briefed with a couple of rules, and sent out with our baskets in hand. The patch was neat and well-manicured which I imagine is not an easy task when the public has access, so I was very impressed. As for the strawberries, they have to be the best I’ve ever had – juicy and sweet, not tart, like store-bought ones tend to be. Not only did we have a unique adventure, but we also were able to support a local family farm at the same time. If it weren’t such a drive, we would go every weekend! What’s your favorite “outside the box” recreational activity that you’ve ever done?
Last week, Luke brought up the topic of targeting a more specific audience, particularly featuring “affordable fashion” as a way to catch peoples’ interest. This has always been something that I have done naturally with Epicurean Emily (I show what I actually wear and I can’t afford high-end items at this point in my life), but I had never really thought of advertising it as such. I think all girls (even the ones who say they don’t care) feel the societal pressure to look a certain way and have the best of everything – perfect hair, quality make-up, beautiful clothes, and designer shoes and handbags. While I love all of these things, I am a pretty frugal person. I learned how to shop from my mom (the coupon queen) who dragged my brother and I through the aisles of Marshall’s before it was cool. I know that my style might not be for everyone, but something that I’ve always been (without necessarily trying to be) is different, and I want that for this lil blog of mine, too. I want my style to inspire my readers to think outside the box, and I want to show them that cheap can still be chic (#Moschino). In the Instagram world everyone always has the latest Louboutins and the coolest Chanel boy-bags, but that’s not a reality for me (or many of their followers). I absolutely believe in buying quality pieces that will take you through many seasons, but honestly so far none of my closet staples have cost me over $150, and that’s ok. One day when I can actually afford a Céline bag, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to drop $3,000 on a purse – there’s a reason they’re called “investment” pieces!
My trusty DKNY satchels, all purchased from TJ Maxx, have been through a lot with me and are still going strong (and I just added a new BLUSH one to the collection!). TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are my go-to stores when I’m looking for a new bag, although I never find one that I like when I go in with the intent of buying a new purse- you have to enter these stores with a “treasure hunt” mentality. I’ll sing the praises of Target’s shoes till the end of my days. They always have what I’m looking for at a price tag for much cheaper than they look. I also adore their shoes because they’re always sturdy, well made, and true to size. As far as clothes, I stick to mainly Forever 21. When there’s an H&M and Zara in my neighborhood, I’ll frequent those as well. There are several amazing fast fashion websites (such as Boohoo, MissGuided, River Island, and Asos) but to be honest, buying clothes online stresses me out. I don’t like the hassle of having to return and/or exchange if I don’t like the fit. I think a common misconception with many of these fast fashion chains is that the quality of the clothes is compromised to drive the price down. While they’re not handmade designer pieces, I never see any major wear and tear on the clothes that I’ve purchased from these stores. I had way more mysterious holes in my middle and high school American Eagle and Abercrombie items (I know I should be ashamed, but we all had that phase).
Along with links to everything I’m wearing below (as usual), I’ve also linked other previous outfit posts in which an item is featured. I would like to start doing some posts focusing on a specific item showing different ways it could be styled. If you all have any other ideas or requests, please comment below. While this blog is a creative outlet in itself for me, I still value your opinions and want to inspire you to find your own unique style!
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Colorblocked Houndstooth Shift Dress; Exact Here
Target Mossimo Orange Pumps; Exact Here
“Orange Is The New Black” Photographed by Luke Bowes
Usually by the end of April, I’ve been wearing sandals non-stop for a solid month. I’m always really bitter come September when I have to start slapping on socks and real shoes again. But lately, I’ve become accustomed to wearing sneakers with many of my outfits (and not just my yoga pants). When I was in high school, the only tennis shoes that were “cool” enough to wear with anything other than gym shorts were Converse All-Stars (Mine were black because I thought I was more hardcore than I actually was… and the fact that I just used the word “hardcore” reiterates that statement). Just recently, more of the classic sneakers (Converse All-Stars, Adidas Superstars, and New Balance 501’s to name a few) are coming back in style in a big way. Not only are they becoming your go-to errand-running shoe, they’re also providing a casual edge to basically any outfit and bringing some practicality back into the fashion scene. This is a trend that everyone – from editors to bloggers to models to the everyday girl can get on board with and for the past couple of fashion week seasons, I would say that there were more sneakers than stilettos on the feet of the attendees. The Nike Thea Premiums were game-changing sneakers for me – I really like how these are all one solid color. One of my qualms with regular trainers is that they’re too busy and usually look tacky worn with anything but gym attire, but these babies are practical AND pretty. I’m still holding out for the suede finish ones like the much-coveted (and sold-out everywhere) “Desert Camo”, although I’m fairly infatuated with my silver ones at the moment. With summer right around the corner, I think this outfit would be great for a day at the theme park. This striped blouse is sheer and airy but will still shield most of your skin from the sun, the high-waisted cutoffs are a classic warm-weather staple, and your feet will never tire in these shoes (they don’t call them “Air-Max” for no reason!).
I was wearing;
Levi’s 501 Denim Cutoff Shorts; Similar Here (I found mine in a thrift store! It takes some patience, but there are definitely plenty of old,”vintage” high-waisted Levi’s to be found. You can can also make your own from a pair of thrifted jeans. DIY video Here)
Quay Australia Quay x Shay “Vesper” Sunglasses; Exact Here
“Silver & Stripes” Photographed by Luke Bowes
I was lucky enough to attend the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby last year (2015) for the first time. I took riding lessons in middle school and had always had a fascination/obsession with horses, so spending a day at the races was something that had been on my bucket list for quite some time. So when my best friend invited me last year, I couldn’t say no – a girls’ weekend, horses, and an occasion to dress over-the-top are a few of my favorite things, after all. Much to my surprise, Derby Weekend can actually be fairly affordable. I had no idea that they had any sort of general admission option, but the infield of the track is practically its own world, complete with betting booths, bartenders, and lots of carnival-type food options. We brought our own snacks for the day, both to save some money and to keep our options as healthy as possible. There is plenty of room in the grass to set up a little picnic area for your crew, just BYOB (bring your own blanket). You can easily fit all the items you’ll need throughout the day in a large tote and each take turns carrying it. You will have to do a significant amount of walking between the nightmare of a parking situation and the various events taking place throughout Churchill Downs. A close spot will probably be around a one to one and a half mile walk but there are plenty of cyclists and uh… professional golf cart drivers that will give you a lift to and from the racetrack. And, trust me, if you don’t wear wedges and don’t pack flats, you will pay ANY price to not have to walk to your car after the races (blisters for days!). If you are wearing stiletto heels and have infield tickets, buy some heel protectors that can be attached to the point of your stiletto to prevent them from getting scuffed and scratched or, more importantly, sinking into the grass.
So now that we’ve covered all the Derby survival tips, we can discuss a more important topic, i.e. what you’re going to wear. I was really on a budget last year, so I had to work with things that were already in my closet. This H&M dress seemed perfect for the occasion and the length and material made it comfortable to trot around in all day. I bought the floral fascinator at Dillard’s for about $20 but they even have some nice reasonable ones on Amazon this year. I’m all about the headpieces, and the next time I have the chance to attend the Derby, I plan to go big or go home. Unless you’re a member of the royal family, when will you have another opportunity to wear a fascinator? There’s no shortage of crazy looks and/or hats and headpieces at Churchill Downs on Derby day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way – it’s people-watching prime-time! I would say 90% of women wear a combination of bright, spring-time colors and floral, so if you’re having trouble deciding on your outfit, you can never go wrong with that combination. Think Easter dress meets cocktail dress. I really love getting to wear fascinators because it completely elevates the outfit and gives you a chance to play with color. With a floral dress, singling out a random color in the fabric and finding a hat or fascinator to match works well (which is what I’ve done here). If you have a solid dress, instead of going monochromatic, try a hat of a complimentary color (directly across from each other on the color wheel) or a color adjacent to the hue of the dress. For example, an adjacent color combo would be a bright orange fascinator with the beautiful solid yellow Zara dress linked below. A complimentary color for the same dress would be a royal purple. My biggest advice when dressing for the Derby is to have fun with it and wear something that makes you feel confident. Everyone goes all out and that is part of the fun. Make the most of your opportunity to play dress up!
A few of my favorite memories from Derby day include watching celebs walk down the red carpet (we saw Nick Lachey and Sarah Hyland!), betting for the first time (even if you don’t get a dime back, it’s still fun), and getting to people watch in a place where everyone is dressed to the nines (it honestly feels like going back in time). Have you ever been to the Kentucky Derby? If so, what’s your favorite memory? Feel free to leave any questions you may have about Derby day and/or Derby attire and I will try my best to answer them!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m all about using blush as a neutral. It adds a nice, subtle hint of color and gives any look a bit of sophistication. I found these shoes at Ross for about one third of the price the exact style retails for on Sam Edelman’s website (linked below). I have a love/hate relationship with all these discount retail stores because I usually go in only needing one particular item and then I leave with yet another pair of shoes. These blush beauties were too pretty to pass up though (and the only pair was my size, so you know what that means – it was fate). For this look, I really wanted to feature my new gorgeous Forever 21 blouse. I’ve been looking for one of these decorative collar blouses for a long time now, since I always love the ones that Keiko Lynn wears. I love its versatility and that I can pair it with an edgy leather mini skirt or black skinny jeans or a retro printed skirt. This feminine yet sultry look is perfect for a spring date night out on the town.
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Rose-Collar Blouse; Exact Here
Forever 21 Faux Leather Skirt; Exact Here
Riviera Feather Headband; Similar Here
H&M Black Rose Embellished Sunglasses; Similar Here
“Black, White & Blush” Photographed by Luke Bowes
Every spring when Coachella rolls around, I get super envious of all the cool people on my Instragram feed who are all in Palm Springs attending the huge California music festival. To be honest, the music is the least appealing part to me. But I anxiously await seeing all the hippy-inspired styles that the It girls have come up with for a weekend away in Palm Springs. And all of the cabana parties seem pretty appealing, too. So until I can check Coachella off of my bucket list, I will just come up with outfits to wear for when I do have the chance to attend. This look really revolves around this gorgeous Forever 21 canary yellow lace top. With 70’s trends heavily in style right now, you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of this color this summer – which I am totally alright with because I’m kind of obsessed with it. When I was trying to piece together an outfit to feature this top, I originally thought I would pair it with some flared jeans and cognac heels (which would still be cute for a casual night out), but as I began to toy around with other ideas, I tried on these shorts and fell in love with the combo. One thing that I really love about fashion is that once you have some staple pieces in your closet, they become building blocks for great outfits. I’ve had these shorts for several years, and my shoes and hat are closet favorites, last seen here and here. But with a little help from the new blouse, I have a new, fresh, and on-trend look.
I was wearing;
American Eagle Woven Shorts; Similar Here
Target Sam & Libby Lace-Up Heels; Similar Here
Forever 21 Black Fedora; Similar Here
“Coachella in Canary” photographed by Luke Bowes
Although I don’t really care if I ever attend another baseball game in my life, I really have an attachment to baseball-sleeved pieces of clothing. I wear baseball tees with leggings and jeans all the time for a cool and comfy errand-running outfit, so I was all over this Forever 21 dress. It’s definitely dressier than my typical baseball tee/sweatpant combo, but still laid-back at the same time. I will be wearing this dress to many summer cookouts and casual events this year, as the sleeves are perfect for that extra bit of coverage I’ll need when the sun goes down. (Which is when I’ll be groovin’ and feelin’ alright… Kenny Chesney, anyone?) I got these sandals at Target last spring and wore them through the ENTIRE summer. They’ve made a very similar version this year that I’ve linked below, but I can’t recommend them enough because they’re so well made and durable and bring just a bit of boho glam to any outfit they’re paired with. Which summer traditions are you looking forward to celebrating?
How many ladies out there will admit that you hate pants??? Well have no fear because Spring time is here, which means it’s acceptable to wear dresses all day, every day (I’m not a big fan of leggings under dresses). I didn’t discover the power of the dress until high school, probably, as I was such a tomboy before then. I was always playing outside and they seemed too fragile and impractical. Nowadays, I opt for dresses a bit more often. I love the ladylike quality of dresses, and the instant elegance they provide from the moment you slip them on. The dress-loving Emily is a new breed, and I remember even just a couple of years ago feeling very uncomfortable while wearing dresses. I was always terrified of having a Marilyn moment and was consumed with self-consciousness. I started wearing compression shorts to reassure myself that even if my dress did blow up or if I fell (which was the more likely of the two) that I wouldn’t be giving anyone too much of a show. It’s really helped me to feel at ease while wearing dresses and if you’ve ever been the person always tugging on the hem of your dress, it’s a great way to help you relax and learn how to be a professional dress wearer (#GOALS). When I locked eyes on this Forever 21 dress, it was love at first sight. I sometimes have a hard time finding feminine dresses without a floral pattern, but this one is right up my alley and the fit and flare shape is so flattering. It will definitely be on repeat until the weather tells me it’s time to bundle up again.
Nothing says Spring quite like my H&M flamingo pink pleated skirt and when we found this teal store-front to shoot against, some colorful magic ensued. Because I’m a design freak at heart, this has to be one of my favorite outfit posts to date here on Epicurean Emily. I’m looking forward to start scouting locations and planning outfits accordingly, as I think it adds such a fun element and completely elevates the photographs. I got this skirt at H&M a couple of years ago for no more than $20 and it has gotten so much use because the fit and flare shape is very classic, but the bright pink color makes it unique and fun. I’m all about buying “staple pieces”, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that those can only be neutral and/or solid. I think as long as the shape flatters your body and you feel great in it, you can rock brights and bold patterns year after year. Also, how perfect is this Target Chanel Boybag dupe?! I’ve been looking for a quilted bag for a long time, but could never seem to find one I loved until now. Now tell me, what’s your favorite color combo? For the past several years mine has been Tiffany blue and black (the colors used throughout my blog and in my logo), although at 12 I was obsessed with orange and pink together and I loved them so much that I decided to paint my walls in those shades (a decision I still regret). I’m loving the flamingo pink and teal together now, but I don’t think I’ll be re-painting any time soon.
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Bow Blouse; Similar Here
H&M Pink Pleated Skater Skirt; Similar Here
Mossimo for Target Black Strappy Heels; Similar Here
Mossimo for Target Black Quilted Crossbody; Exact Here
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Lipstick in Firebird; Exact Here
“Pop of Pink” Photographed by Kurt Eslick
I know I’ve already featured this jacket before (See here) but it is honestly just the perfect pop to any simple outfit. This ensemble is comprised of my favorite basic items – a white tee and fitted black skinny jeans, two inexpensive staple pieces that every girl should have in her closet. Obviously they can be styled so many different ways separately, but together they have a cool and effortless vibe. I decided I wanted to dress it up just a bit with my silver loafers, but the look could be even more easy-going with classic sneakers – like a pair of white Converse All-Stars.
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Baby Blue Faux-Leather Jacket; Similar Here
Forever 21 White Tee; Exact Here (I went up one size so it would be less fitted)
American Eagle Black Hi-Rise Jeggings; Exact Here
Forever 21 Silver Pointed Loafers; Similar Here
“Basic Baby Blue” Photographed by Luke Bowes
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Abu Dhabi around this time last year. Like most westerners, I was fairly familiar with Dubai but knew very little about the other cities that the wonderful country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is comprised of. While Dubai could be called the New York City of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi can hold its own with many exciting things to offer, including two of its most popular tourist destinations – The Emirates Palace Luxury Hotel and The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The Emirates Palace is technically a “5 Star” luxury hotel, although it was once famously deemed a “7 Star” Hotel by a journalist. I think the fact that I’m referring to it as a “hotel” is even doing it an injustice because it is truly a palace, from the fountained plaza lining the entrance to the all-gold interior (I’m not lying – EVERYTHING is gold, including a gold vending machine in the lobby that dispenses gold bars!). The palace has about 400 rooms and Luke and I were not exclusive (or rich) enough to stay there, but they welcome visitors to peruse the common areas on the main floor. We took our time looking around, taking plenty of photos, and no one treated us as if we were a nuisance. If the gold starts to get to you and you’re feeling the urge to splurge, you can sit down for coffee at the cafe where they’ll top your latte with gold flakes for about $25 a pop. Seated with menus in hand, we politely passed on this one, and that was the only time anyone saw us for the poor tourists that we were. I definitely consider The Emirates Palace a “must-see” while in Abu Dhabi, as it is truly one of the most immaculate hotels to ever exist.
Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had as a traveler. Since most of my trips abroad have been to Europe, I’ve been to many landmark churches and cathedrals, Notre Dame and St. Peters’s Basilica probably being the most well-known. Obviously old cathedrals are remarkable for many reasons, (amazing architecture, eventful history) but maybe their age is what is most astounding – the fact that they’ve been around for numerous centuries and are still standing in good condition. While the Grand Mosque doesn’t have decades of history (construction was finished in 2007), I can without a doubt say that it is the most beautiful center of worship I’ve ever set foot in. Visiting the mosque is very much an experience. Women must wear an abaya, the “cloak” worn in Arabic cultures, and men must be wearing pants – not shorts. They have a station for women to rent abayas free of charge, although you must leave a form of ID that you can reclaim once the robe has been returned. Everyone, women and men, must remove their shoes before entering the mosque. Upon entry, talking is not allowed although photography is permitted. Everything about the Grand Mosque is exquisite, including the articulately patterned carpets and the giant Swarovski-dripping chandeliers – every single detail is impeccable. We only visited once, but we both agreed that just before dusk was the perfect time to go because there’s enough daylight to get a good view of the exterior and as it gets darker, the illuminated arches lining the structure become more magnificent. Even as I look back on these photos, I still have a hard time believing I was actually there. It was so perfect that it sometimes feels like a distant dream.
It’s finally starting to feel like Spring again, and I can barely contain my excitement as I wave good-bye to winter. Nothing says Spring like pastel hues, so I decided to pair this flowy Forever 21 LBD with a fresh mint blazer. With the two solids paired neatly together, it was the perfect opportunity to take this beautiful opal statement necklace out for a spin. I’m not usually a statement jewelry (or any jewelry) kind of girl, but I love the refined quality the opal stones on this one give and obviously the chain detail was a huge selling point as well (considering almost all my necklaces are some variation of a chain). With the blazer and lace-up heels, this is the perfect Spring date night outfit. The dress could also be worn with tights and flats for a casual day-time look. I’m all about versatile pieces!
I was wearing;
Worthington Mint Blazer;
Forever 21 Black Dress; Similar Here
Forever 21 Statement Necklace; Similar Here
Target Sam & Libby Lace-Up Heels; Similar Here
“Baubles & Blazers” photographed by Luke Bowes
This outfit makes me feel like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn, which I am ecstatic about as she is one of my biggest inspirations. It seemed only fitting to put together an outfit inspired by one of my heroes and feature this beautiful cape (Because Superheroes and Capes, duh… I had to). Since the sweater and cape are solid, I wanted my pants to add some pizazz to the look. These Old Navy Pixie pants did just the trick. The houndstooth print isn’t too distracting and keeps the look playful, but still mature. If you don’t have a pair of these pants, I highly recommend them. They always have new patterns and colors every season and they’re my favorite dress pants because the crop and the fit are so flattering. I finished off the look with some pointed ballet flats, which tied the whole 60’s-inspired look together nicely. Who is your Old Hollywood girl crush? Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor? Let me know in the comments!
Hello! Hope February is treating you all nicely and you’re doing your best to stay warm. Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I wanted to share this outfit as a *warm* date night look option. I’ve seen a lot of V-Day looks that have consisted of a cute dress and a pair of stilettos, which is awesome if you live in a warm climate but seriously y’all, the east-coast highs have been in the 30’s this week and I’m about to freeze to death. I know many of you will sacrifice warmth to debut a cute new outfit but with this look, you can be glam and toasty at the same time. I’m not about that winter life and probably never will be, but this coat is like a warm hug that shields me from the brisk February wind. So now let’s talk about Valentine’s Day plans… Luke and I are making a nice dinner at home (we both hate crowds) and then we’re going to see… wait for it… Zoolander 2!!! (I’ve honestly been counting down the days!) What are your Valentine’s plans?
Guys… I think I have a problem. I can’t stop wearing this gorgeous light blue color. Not only do I love pastel colors to perk up my winter wardrobe, but they also make great transition pieces as spring approaches. I wanted to add some femininity to this otherwise edgy look by incorporating the baby blue sweater. The color contributes to the overall 90’s influences, but the boxy shape of the sweater gives it a nice modern touch. With the end of January upon us, I am anxiously awaiting warmer temps (and spring fashion!). What are some of your go-to transition pieces from winter to spring?
I know this may sound cheesy, but I have to admit that Paris was my first love. France was the first country outside the U.S. that I visited and while that trip primarily took place in Normandy and the western coastal towns of France, the final two days that I spent in Paris were enough to spark an obsession. My first French adventure was through my college’s study abroad program, so we were hosted by French students and their families. My host, Julien, and I have been close friends ever since. He came to visit Tennessee the summer following my trip to France and the following year he hosted my friend, Niki, and I in Paris. Although I’ve spent only a short amount of time overall in Paris, (a total of two weeks and two days) I feel very at home there. Obviously it helps when you have such a knowledgeable friend and guide, and I believe that is how we were able to make the most of our precious time in Paris. Between my two trips there, I’ve seen most of the typical tourist “attractions” as well as some sights that are a bit more off the map. If you only have a short amount of time in Paris, here are the things that I would see over what the guidebooks recommend. If you’re enjoying a substantial amount of time in the City of Light, then by all means, do both my recommendations AND the guidebook ones. Paris is an incredible city with lots to offer but to get a true Parisian experience, these are my preferred activities.
Skip Musée du Louvre / See Musée D’Orsay
Unless you have a good amount of time to spend in Paris, paying admission to the Louvre is a waste of both time and money. Sure, The Louvre is one of the biggest museums in the world, but unless you can spend a whole day (or two) wandering around inside, you won’t do it justice. Trust me – it’s not worth what you pay just to see the Mona Lisa. I do think it is an incredible museum, but only if you have the time to appreciate and see all, or most of (let’s be real – it’s HUGE) what it has to offer. Because it’s such a big tourist destination you have to deal with large crowds and we all know how I feel about tourists in art museums… Meanwhile the Musée D’Orsay, formerly known as Gare d’Orsay (an old railway station), is fairly quaint and sits along the Seine River. Since its much smaller than the Louvre, it has a more natural flow of traffic and you’re less likely to get lost. It boasts an impressive collection as well, featuring work from French artists such as Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and several pieces by Vincent Van Gogh. The building is absolutely beautiful, with lots of natural light and since its not as much of a tourist destination as the Louvre, the crowds are much more bearable. When comparing Musée du Louvre to Musée D’Orsay, the phrase that comes to mind is “quality over quantity”. While the Louvre may have a hundred more exhibits and a thousand more pieces, I wouldn’t consider anything on display at the Musée D’Orsay to be a “filler” piece.
Skip Eating Out Every Meal / See Parks & Monuments over a Picnic
One of my favorite memories that I have from my trip to Paris was taking some time to sit down and have lunch in beautiful locations all around the city. We only ate out twice in our two weeks there, so we packed lunches each day and took them with us to wherever we were headed. My favorite picnic spots were in front of Sacre Coeur, on benches in Le Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, along the Seine river, and overlooking Place du Trocadéro. You are able to see more of Paris by not having to backtrack at all for lunch and dinner and you’ll save a crazy amount of money, too.
Skip the Top of the Eiffel Tower / See the View from Arc de Triomphe
Since the Tower gets progressively thinner as you get to the top, the wait time to the highest viewing deck is usually a couple of hours. It has a total of three decks and there is minimal to no wait time for the lower two because they are much wider and don’t require elevator access. There is plenty of room to walk around and I still recommend viewing Paris from the Tower, if you have time, as it gives a good perspective of where everything is in relation to Tour Eiffel. However, I think everyone agrees that the tower is the City of Light’s single most famous landmark so what’s the point of a good view if its without the symbol of the city? The Arc de Triomphe sits in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle and is on the western end of the most famous avenue in the world, Avenue Champs-Élysées. Several smaller avenues radiate out from the Arc and you have an amazing 360-degree view of Paris, including the tower.
Skip the Guided Walking Tour / See Paris from the Seine River via Boat Tour
One quality that makes Paris one of the dreamiest cities is the beautiful Seine River that runs through most of the city, providing numerous waterfront views. Boarding a boat and taking a tour by river is the best introduction to Paris. It allows you to develop a sense of relation and helps to set your internal compass. One of the first things I do when I’m visiting a new place is take a tour, whether that’s just walking through the neighborhood or jumping on a tour bus or boat, to get to know the city and gain a sense of direction. I feel more comfortable to explore the city by just having general idea of where everything is. You may be able to see a little bit more during the day, but my favorite time to do this tour is right before sunset because you’re still able to see the sights but the atmosphere is very Parisian.
Skip Going Out for Drinks / See the Louvre at Night over a Bottle of Wine
When I reflect on my time spent in Paris, one of my fondest memories is sitting on the benches surrounding the fountains and the pyramids of the Louvre drinking wine with two of my best friends. I promise I’m not an alcoholic, but one thing I always look forward to when going to other countries is the freedom to drink wherever I want, so I take full advantage of the lack of open container laws while abroad. I much prefer the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the Louvre at night to the chaos and crowds during the day.
“Paris; What to See / What to Skip” photographed by Emily Davis
© Emily Davis
Growing up as the “artistic” type, I did – and still do, highly value inspiration. Anyone who makes art will agree that there is NOTHING worse than a creative block. I’ve found inspiration much easier to come by with the age of social media. If I’m bored with my daily makeup routine, I can go to Youtube and find tutorials from a thousand different beauty bloggers, each with their own version of an “everyday makeup look”. Maybe I got a scarf for Christmas and since I’m not an accessory person, I don’t know the first thing about how to wear a scarf. There is a Youtube tutorial AND a blog post AND an info-graph for that. With the rise of social media stardom there are hundreds, realistically thousands, of Instagram accounts and blogs to inspire all of us. I wanted to share a few of my favorites because after years of endless inspiration, I have them to thank for encouraging me to start my own in hopes that I, too, can inspire others.
CHIARA FERRAGNI | THE BLONDE SALAD
I have been following Chiara on Instagram for about 2 years now and I still look forward to her posts every day. Her sense of style is so unique and she truly pairs things like no one else. My favorite aspect of fashion is the ability to be a chameleon and to experiment with my look and personal style. Chiara inspires me and many others to do just that – to be who you want to be and to wear what you want to wear, regardless of what people will think or say. She was a pioneer of the now over-saturated blogging industry, posting pictures of her outfits online while she was in undergrad to prepare for law school. She now manages a team of over 10 people who help her keep her site, The Blonde Salad, afloat while she travels around the world to attend events, fashion weeks in various countries, and to manage her Chiara Ferragni Collection of shoes and bags designed by the blogger boss herself. She made herself into a social media star and made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015, with an estimated income of $8 million just last year. If I had to name just one person who inspired me to create Epicurean Emily, it would be Chiara.
NICOLE WARNE | GARY PEPPER GIRL
I love Nicole’s classic style and her travel photos are wanderlust-inducing. A native Aussie, Nicole’s claim to fame all started from her e-Bay store, Gary Pepper Vintage, where she sold quirky vintage pieces. As the store became a success, so did the blog and she decided to pursue blogging full time and is now a creative director, model, digital influencer, and a Net-a-Porter.com ambassador as well as a founding member of their prestigious Style Council. Her fiancé is a well-renowned surf photographer and when they travel together, photographic magic happens.
JULIA ENGEL | GAL MEETS GLAM
I was first drawn to Julia’s Instagram because of the exceptional photography. I later found out that her and her husband are self-taught photographers who have been figuring it out along the way since she began her blog in 2011. I have a crazy amount of respect for both of them and their passion for each other and for Gal Meets Glam. There aren’t any “filler” posts and even if it’s a sponsored post, it is still beautifully and thoughtfully photographed. I am a total sucker for Julia’s style, but I must admit my favorite posts are their travel posts. They have an authentic way of telling a story between their sequence of photographs and the raw way that Julia writes that makes you feel like she’s your best friend filling you in on her latest getaway. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from Gal Meets Glam, it’s that passion makes all things possible.
KEIKO GROVES | KEIKO LYNN
Anyone who knows me will tell you that three of my favorite things are Disney, sunglasses, and bright lipstick and that, in a nutshell, is Keiko’s Instagram feed which I found via Modcloth. I recognized her from Pinterest as well (she’s also a beauty blogger who often swatches and reviews new products, and posts makeup and hair pictorials). I love Keiko’s retro, lady-like style and her eye for color and composition. Scrolling through her feed makes my design-craving heart happy. Bonus, she features her adorable pup, Miku, quite often.
WENDY NGUYEN | WENDY’S LOOKBOOK
So remember when I mentioned watching a Youtube video to learn how to wear a scarf??? That was my first introduction to Wendy’s Lookbook almost 4 years ago. She is the first fashion blogger that I ever followed and her styling and how-to videos were a nice transition into something different from my nightly make-up tutorial binge-watching (don’t judge – we’ve all done it). Her content has an elegance and consistency that I truly admire- the photographs are always crisp, clean, and beautifully lit, and her videos are cinematographic masterpieces.
“Five Favorite Bloggers” photos are not my own and were found on the websites linked below their feature.
Happy 2016, y’all! Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and are settling into the new year nicely. One of my resolutions for this year is to push myself to step out of my comfort zone more often because I’m learning that’s when greatness can be achieved. Though it may sound a little silly, layering (or winter fashion in general) is hard for me. During winter, I just want to be warm and I don’t care to look like the Michelin man from December to February so long as I stay toasty. But in the spirit of the new year, I thought I’d play around with some layers (by the way… how many items do you have to be wearing at one time before you can actually call it layering??? Baby steps…) Because everything is so glum this time of year, I prefer to wear bold but wintery colors. I love this bright cobalt blue in any season (it looks especially great on tanned skin) but this Target sweater was calling my name and I’m so glad it did as it is a very versatile piece. I can’t wait to dress it up with a statement necklace.
I was wearing;
Target Mossimo Cobalt Sweater; Exact HERE
Forever 21 Striped Turtleneck; Similar HERE
Levi’s High-Waisted Black Jeans; Similar HERE
Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Boot; Exact HERE
Quay “My Girl” Sunglasses in Black; Exact HERE
DKNY Kelly Green Bowler Bag; Similar HERE
(couldn’t find a reasonable match to this one ANYWHERE but this yellow would look stunning as well)
“Cobalt Cool” Photographed by Rachel Emerson
If there is one opportunity where it’s perfectly acceptable to wear sequins, it’s New Year’s Eve. Like most girls, I love sparkly things but it’s sometimes hard to find a good NYE number that doesn’t look like it came from a pre-teen’s closet. This post features two of my all-time favorite Forever 21 finds including this beautifully appropriate rose-gold dress and my beloved dusty rose peacoat. I’ve worn these feminine pieces time and time again and each time I slip them on, I still can’t believe I paid less than $50 for them. Even though Forever 21 is known for trendy, fast fashion, I still like to buy timeless pieces that won’t go out of style in a few short months. I wore this dress for NYE two years ago but with rose gold being such a coveted shade at the moment, I decided to break it out again this year. The coat complements the dress so well and will keep me warm while walking in the brisk winter air. What are YOUR New Year’s Eve plans?
Waiting for Christmas used to seem like an eternity when I was younger. Now that I’m an adult, it creeps up on me a little quicker each and every year. I met Luke last December and as our one year anniversary is approaching, I’m still wondering where this year has gone. To get into the Christmas mindset, I wanted to start doing holiday outfit posts as I love getting dressed up and going to Christmas parties and festive holiday events. This outfit is perfect for a Christmas office party because the tweed jacket helps it to look a little more professional and put-together, while the combination of maroon tights and platform booties keep it young and fresh. What is your favorite part of the holiday season?
I was wearing;
MNG Red & Black Tweed Jacket; Similar Here
Forever 21 Cream Long-Sleeved Turtleneck; Similar Here
American Eagle Black Pleated Skater Skirt; Similar Here
Target Maroon Tights; Similar Here
Steve Madden Black Suede Platform Boots; Similar Here
Victoria’s Secret Studded Chain Crossbody; Similar Here
“Turtlenecks & Tweed” Photographed by Rachel Emerson
The ONLY thing I like about winter is being able to wear warm coats and jackets. I think all of us have a favorite piece of clothing or accessory to shop for and mine are coats, sunglasses, and shoes. I am a jacket hoarder and I love the fact that they’re so easy to just throw on and how they can transform your entire outfit. I paired this baby blue faux-leather Forever 21 jacket with a grey turtleneck and black jeans. I really like how the collar-less jacket looks over a turtleneck as it can sometimes look stiff and awkward over just a t-shirt. I wore the fun leopard-print beret to match the turtleneck and jeans, but also to add some print to the otherwise solid ensemble. The black ankle boots are from the Sam & Libby line at, you guessed it, Target (The day I wear shoes that aren’t from Target will be the day that pigs can fly). What is your favorite thing to shop for?
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Grey Long-Sleeve Turtleneck; Exact HERE
American Eagle Black Hi-Rise Jeggings; Exact HERE
Sam & Libby for Target Black Ankle Boots; Similar HERE
Forever 21 Baby Blue Faux-Leather Jacket; Similar HERE
Forever 21 Grey Leopard-Print Beret; Similar HERE
“Baby Blues & Berets” photographed by Rachel Emerson
I can’t believe it’s already holiday season again, but I am reminded that winter is coming every time I go outside and am greeted with a blast of frigid air (I’m not a winter person). The only thing that gets me through the cold and depressing weather is getting to spend more time with family and friends during the holidays. Call me crazy, but I love planning and making Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. I get lots (most) of my inspiration via Pinterest. Until I started getting involved with cooking, my family had used the same recipes for several years and we always had the same dishes every Thanksgiving. The first year I was in charge of the meal, I still wanted to have the traditional sides but make them in a healthy way. My family was reluctant to put me in charge again the following year. I’ve since learned that by taking the time to create completely home-made dishes, you can still make them healthier than the traditional recipes that use pre-made or processed ingredients without being a health-nut (For the record, I enjoy being a health nut but it doesn’t usually please a crowd). I wanted to share with you what I have on the menu for my family’s Thanksgiving Dinner this year.
I’m super excited to try this sweet potato casserole recipe this year. It’s a little lighter than traditional recipes but still has butter and marshmallows. I appreciated that this recipe incorporated BOTH a pecan AND a marshmallow topping, too. Also, blog photo GOALS!
I’m interested to see how this stuffing recipe will turn out as its more of a sweet and savory dish. I’m hoping it will be a good balance between the two. I’ve never made a crockpot dish for Thanksgiving but we all need more stovetop room while cooking for the holidays so it seems like a no-brainer.
This is (and always has been) hands down my favorite holiday side dish. My family has always made it with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and while I love the traditional recipe, I wanted to see if it could be even better without processed ingredients. My entire Thanksgiving feast revolves around this dish so it MUST be delicious.
I am making traditional pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert, both with crusts made from scratch. I found the cutest pecan pie filling in a jar at Trader Joe’s so I’m excited to see how it turns out, although I am more of a pumpkin pie person.
What are you thankful for? I feel so lucky to have all of my closest friends, family, and loved ones celebrating this holiday of pilgrimage with me. My hope during this holiday season is that those of us who are lucky enough to have all the things we take for granted are reminded of our many blessings, but to also keep the ones who aren’t as fortunate in our thoughts. There is so much pain and hurt all around the world right now and it would be a much lovelier place if we all vowed to keep the holiday spirit alive year-round. Spread love and light because you never know who you may meet that is in desperate need of some kindness and compassion. I’m wishing all of you a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season!
My life summed up in one phrase??? “I’d rather be eating”
The Epcot Food & Wine Festival has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. What are my three favorite things in the world? Food, wine, and Disney. It was the International Food and Wine Festival’s 20th anniversary, so it was a great year to go. I wanted to share my experiences with you and give helpful suggestions and tips if you’re planning to attend the Food & Wine Fest yourself.
One of the main reasons I was looking forward to visiting Disney during the first week of November was the lack of tourists. Apparently I picked the wrong week to go sans crowds because there were people EVERYWHERE. I really thought Disney World was only truly busy during the summer months but apparently that’s just not the case these days. I was looking forward to relaxing and eating my way around the world, but unfortunately it’s hard to relax when you’re being trampled by people going in every which direction. I went both during the day and at night. Evenings were definitely more crowed than days, although it was far from being a ghost-town while the sun was up. I believe many locals come in the evenings to eat, drink, and watch the Eat to the Beat concerts. Boyz II Men performed for three nights in a row while I was visiting but they were the only ones I had ever heard of when I took a peek at the roster for the entire festival. The theater where the concerts take place has limited seating but it is open air so you can see and hear it without standing in line for an hour to get a seat (You’ll get really selective about which lines you are willing to stand in when there are so many people).
Epcot’s famous Spaceship Earth with International Food and Wine Festival decor welcoming you to the park
I was a little confused about how the festival worked when I was planning my visit. The main part is all of the booths around Epcot’s World Showcase. For those of you who don’t know, the World Showcase circles the large lagoon on Epcot’s property and takes you around the world on a fairly short stroll. Each of the eleven countries showcased has buildings (which house restaurants, attractions, or theaters) that feature typical architecture of the country they represent. The buildings in the France pavilion have lots of ironwork and greenery and even an Eiffel Tower, while the Chinese pavilion features an elaborately painted Chinese gate and a replica of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. During the festival, there are small stand-alone “restaurants” usually located across from their country’s pavilion. However, there are many of these booths that feature cuisine from countries not represented in the World Showcase, such as Greece and Patagonia, scattered throughout the mix as well. They also have booths not associated with a particular country, but a specific type of food or style of cooking, such as Farm Fresh, Desserts & Champagne, and the Cheese Studio. There were over 30 booths at the festival this year. Be sure to pick up a free passport at the Epcot Visitors Center to get a stamp at each countries’ booth you visit. It also serves as a menu for every booth featured at the festival so you can map out the dishes and drinks you’d like to try. Another helpful tip is to start walking around the World Showcase in the opposite direction that most people will go (start at Canada instead of Mexico). I did this and didn’t really notice much of a difference because there were so many people but if you arrived early enough in the afternoon I imagine it would be much more pleasurable.
The cheese palette from the Cheese Studio booth featuring three cheeses and three wines, perfectly paired, including a short explanation of why they pair well together
The most appealing part of this whole festival is that it is centered around trying new things and exploring new cultures and cuisines. The booths feature “snack” sized portions so that you don’t fill up on just one country. Most every dish is between $4 and $7. Disney Dining Plan snack credits can be used at most, but not all booths and they never go toward alcoholic beverages. You can pay however you like (cash, credit card, Disney gift card, or MagicBand). I found that MagicBand and gift cards were the easiest methods of payment. Gift cards are much easier if you’re on a budget and want to keep track of your spending because it is VERY easy to drop $100 between a few people. In the Epcot and festival gift shops they sell bracelets with reloadable gift cards attached that can be used quickly and efficiently. I really enjoyed how the small portion option allowed me to try many different dishes rather than committing to just one. However, I think that the World Showcase could benefit from more seating areas around the booths. (Free) seating areas were extremely limited and because it was so crowded when I went, benches and edges of flower beds were hard to come by as well. The lack of seating areas was extremely frustrating from a photography standpoint.
Farm Fresh’s loaded mac n’ cheese with pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers, and green onions
Another very cool part of the International Food & Wine Festival is the classes, seminars, and special dining experiences offered throughout the duration of the festival. These include cooking classes with celebrity chefs, cheese and wine pairing seminars, and authentically curated five-course meals prepared by professional chefs. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of these due to lack of information available on Disney’s website. The average price of these special events is around $100, with many being upwards of that. I was very intrigued by the cheese seminar but by the time I checked availability there were no openings during my stay. On this trip, I learned that the only way to do Disney nowadays is to be a planner. From planning your Fastpass slots to booking these festival events, there is no other way that you’ll be able to see or do anything unless you plan out your trip several months in advance. Considering most vacationers will be planning their trip from several states – even countries away, you would think that Disney’s website would be bountiful with useful information about these reservation-only seminars. Nope. It does list the events but it gives you a vague one sentence description of the event/dining experience. It doesn’t even list out the exact FIXED prices or the very basics of what is included with your reservation. On top of that you have to call to make reservations, available at the end of July, for the festival which begins in September. I know that the website information is vague on purpose as a money-making scheme but in the future, I would like to see a comparison chart of these events and dining packages with an EXACT price point for each and a description of what is included with your reservation. For example, “at the Cheese Seminar, guests will have the opportunity to sample five cheeses and five wines from around the world as they learn about the art of pairing”. They don’t have to give away all of the surprises, but if I’m paying $80 to learn about cheese, I want to know if I will have the opportunity to sample the cheese I’m learning about. I was very disappointed with the lack of information on these special events and the steep starting price points.
The hard cider flight from Farm Fresh featuring Woodchuck Raspberry Hard Cider, Wyder’s Dry Pear Hard Cider, Two Henry’s Elderberry Hard Cider, and ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider (my favorite!)
Though it may not sound like it, I did truly enjoy attending the festival. I read several blogs with tips and tricks prior to my visit. Disney Food Blog was by far the most helpful. I think the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is just something that you have to experience to get a thorough understanding of how it really works. I didn’t realize how much planning was involved and I think, had I known, I would have been able to take advantage of more opportunities and make the most out of my time at Epcot. Like everything at Disney World, there is an abundance of things to see and do but to get to your “must-dos” you have to do a lot of research and create a realistic schedule. I plan to do more extensive research and planning next time around.
The Chew Lab’s New York Strip garnished with parsnip silk, balsamic glaze, and arugula foam
My handmade Minnie ears are from the Etsy shop Enchanted Dust, which I highly recommend. She can do custom designs as well, but I just wanted a super-cute pair of ears and I love these so much more than the ones available for purchase at the parks.
It’s finally getting cool enough to wear my favorite Italian leather jacket, although I’m sure I’ll be whining about how cold it is next week (I wasn’t made for winter). I love fall but it comes and goes so quickly that just when I get excited to start wearing light jackets and jeans again, I look up and the beautiful autumn leaves have vanished from the trees and I’m already wearing heavy coats and trudging through the cold and wet snow. We still have a few weeks left before the temperature really drops so I wanted to feature this amazing H&M 70’s style button-down denim skirt. The FW15 runway was very heavily influenced by 70’s fashion and even though this skirt is very “on trend” in that regard, I’m looking forward to wearing it for many seasons to come. As my interest in fashion has progressed, I have learned to buy more closet “staples” as opposed to trendy pieces. I really value versatile articles, especially while traveling so I can mix and match to keep my luggage as light as possible. This skirt can be more dressed up as it is in this look, or you could pair it with a cropped (or tucked in) band tee and converse for a cool, casual look. I paired it with a black and white striped crop top to show off the button-down detail, and my cognac leather jacket and loafers to coordinate with the seams on the skirt and to emphasize the 70’s style I was going for. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of an accessory girl. I am, however, a make-up girl and a bold lip is my absolute favorite accessory. The red lip keeps this look classic, but modern.
I know that most people are totally repulsed by this color of green but it one of my absolute favorite shades when made into the just the right article, like this chic wrap-front skirt. It’s definitely a fall staple of mine. I decided to pair it with a blush-toned top and bolero to start experimenting more with using blush as a neutral. Blush tones are becoming another go-to shade for me and I really like the feminine look they can give to any outfit. I have been wearing them with grey, black, camel, and even this olive green and I think they provide just the right pop of color to otherwise neutral-based looks. I really love the gold detail on the belt of the skirt so I wanted to play that up with my versatile gold collar necklace. You may remember it from my previous “Pleather & Gold” look. This is the perfect date night outfit for these last few mild autumn nights.
In the age of the internet and social media, we are constantly thinking about photographic documentation. The saying, “pictures or it didn’t happen” is proof that we as a society feel the need to take pictures of not only our everyday lives, but especially to document our travels and highlights. I have been lucky enough to visit Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all before turning 23. Most of my trips abroad were through school which usually meant being in a large group for many of the planned excursions. I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and lifelong friends on all of the study abroad trips that I was able to partake in. However, when you’re like me and you long to develop a deep understanding and respect for other cultures, at times it’s frustrating to be walking around with a group of 20 loud American kids taking tons of photos of the famous sites and monuments. One of the biggest things I have learned about making beautiful travel photographs that tell a story is that you have to look for the little things. There are hundreds of thousands of photos of The Great Wall of China. But how often do you see a photo of a Chinese silk factory worker that tells the story of the reality of thousands of Chinese citizens? That is the photo that you will get more feedback from and it truly does give you a look into a different reality than your own. My favorite aspect of travel photography is that you really get to do it all. You’re a photojournalist when you want to depict the lives of the locals through your lens. You’re a still life photographer when you’re trying to capture the beauty of a simple plate of spaghetti. You’re a landscape photographer when you’re at Sacre Coeur, capturing the entire city of Paris with your camera. Travel is beautiful, unfamiliar cultures are beautiful and when you can capture the amazing freeing feeling that travel brings through your lens, you are truly making magic.
1. Everyone (even me) wants shots of famous landmarks. The key is to capture a monument in a different way than people are used to seeing it. This could be laying on the ground to shoot up to show people a different view of the Eiffel Tower. It could mean finding a cool reflection of the Great Wall in a metal sign along the path. Always look for unique perspectives.
2. Don’t be obnoxious. Ok I know I mentioned laying down to get a shot in the last tip, but as long as you’re aware of what is happening around you and you’re not invading anyone’s personal space then it’s fair game. Take less pictures than the average tourist but make the ones that you take count. It doesn’t matter how embarrassed you may feel laying on the ground in public to get a shot. Anything is less annoying than someone walking around and running into people because they can’t take their face off of their iPad to watch where they’re walking because they’re taking pictures. Newsflash – no one (especially your Facebook friends) wants to see 1,000 terrible pictures of the Colosseum. Make your photos count.
3. Look for beautiful light. This is more of a general photography tip but it rings true for every photographer. It doesn’t matter how amazing your subject is, if the lighting is terrible then your pictures will be terrible. Many times I will take a photo just because I notice really interesting light. My favorite food shot that I’ve ever taken is of a plate of spaghetti from a resort restaurant in a Tuscan vineyard. Obviously the presentation of the food is a vital aesthetically pleasing component but if I had this exact same plate of spaghetti in a dimly lit romantic restaurant, the two photos wouldn’t even compare. Play around with your camera in different lighting situations to get a feel for how it performs in every scenario.
4. Be respectful of the customs and religions of other countries and people. If you’re in a museum and there is no flash photography allowed, turn your flash off. If you’re visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and you have to wear an abaya and remove your shoes, then do just that. I have missed many photo opportunities in certain situations but at the end of the day, I would rather surprise people with unexpected kindness and willingness to abide by their rules than have the shot. No photo is worth disrespecting anothers’ religion or culture (Reason #462 why I will never be a photojournalist).
5. Notice the little things. One of the highlights of my trip to Italy was touring a small winery just outside Tuscany. Of course I took several pictures but my favorite was one of a feather fan sitting on a side table in one of the bedrooms of the house. There was beautiful light pouring in through the window and I loved how the white feathers stood out against the bright blue wallpaper. Always look for interesting colors, shapes, and juxtapositions in order to take truly great photos. I know this is a much debated topic, but I definitely consider photography a fine art and fine art always requires design elements such as color, shape, texture, etc. to be visually compelling.
6. Don’t forget to live. Why do we travel? To make us feel alive? To give us a period of rest and relaxation from everyday life? Everyone has their reasons, but I think its a general consensus that we want to forget about many things and minimize our responsibilities while on vacation. Don’t get too caught up in being behind the lens that you miss out on life. Travel allows you to experience so much and some of my fondest memories are nights that I wasn’t wearing my Canon around my neck.
“Travel Photography Tips” photographed by Emily Davis
© Emily Davis
One of the biggest trends on the runways for fall and winter were blouses with “pussy bow” collars… I know, terrible name. It’s actually one of my favorite trends of the season, albeit the name. They’re most definitely a Blair Waldorf closet staple (and we all know Blair was the most stylish Gossip Girl character). This was the closest thing to a pussy bow that I had in my existing closet but I’m hoping to find some with bigger, fuller bows to wear throughout the rest of the fall and winter months. The pussy bow blouse is a very feminine and girly staple but I wanted to toughen it up a bit by accenting it with leather pieces. Jenny Humphrey meets Blair Waldorf, you could say (Just don’t tell Blair).
My latest trip to New York over the summer was significantly longer than any of my previous visits to the city so I was fortunate enough to finally have time to meander around some of the most famous art museums in the world. Prior to my trip, I finalized my list of museums down to three; The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (read about my MET visit here).
Whitney Museum of American Art
I had high hopes for the Whitney Museum. The collection just moved to a new location this year (2015) in one of my favorite areas of the city, the Meatpacking District. The building is stunning and has several floors, most with outdoor patios that offer great views of the High Line and New Jersey overlooking the Hudson River. They have an impressive collection, including several pieces by painter Georgia O’Keefe and around fifty photographs by Edward Steichen. The piece that I was most impressed to see up-close and personal was “Phil” by Chuck Close. This canvas piece, created with airbrushed acrylic paint, graphite, and pencil, is the definition of photorealism. You can see every strand of hair and every wrinkle in the subject’s skin. Seeing this piece was the highlight of my visit to the Whitney. The museum does offer a free visit time on Fridays from 6-9 PM. I wasn’t able to go on a Friday so I paid the $22 ticket price. I think it is a neat museum, more-so for the views and the building than the collection, though. If you have the time, it is worth a visit but I would encourage you to go when it is free.
“Phil” by photorealism artist Chuck Close at the Whitney American Museum of Art in NYC.
A northern view of The Standard High Line Hotel from a Whitney Museum patio.
The Whitney Museum’s views were what I was most impressed by. Nearly every level has its own patio and most of the ones that don’t have floor-to-ceiling windows.
View of the Hudson River and New Jersey from the Whitney Museum.
The MoMA contains many famous pieces, which is why it is a “must-see” on everyone’s list (kind of like the primary reason most people know about the Louvre in Paris is that it is the home of DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa”). The Modern Museum of Art is home to Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Time and Memory”, Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies”, and several works by Pablo Picasso, including one of my favorites “Girl Before A Mirror”. I think one thing that is kind of unique to the MoMA is that their collection is mostly made up of artists that you’ve heard of, even if you’re not an art nerd in the slightest. And I think that’s incredible because, in theory, it’s a way to engage visitors and get them to start a conversation about modern art. I visited on the free day (Fridays from 4-8) and if I could do it again, I would pay to see the MoMA’s collection at a less crowded time and go to the Whitney Museum when it’s free instead. There were gobs of people at the MoMA when I visited and unfortunately when it’s free, you get lots of large groups and people who just aren’t all that interested in art. It kills me that people go to a museum just so they can get a selfie with “Starry Night”. I’m not opposed to taking photos (respectfully) in a museum. My minion Dave and I got a photo with Roy Lictenstein’s “Drowning Girl”, which I was absolutely geeking out over. Maybe, as a blogger, I am being contradicting when I say this but I just wish people would live life without feeling the need to document every moment. This art is so historic and incredible and many of us only care about it because we’re told to. So my advice here is that if you’re genuinely interested in spending time viewing these pieces, pay to avoid the crowd – and hopefully most of the selfie queens. If you just want to walk around and get photos of the “highlights”, there’s no need to pay the $25 ticket price. To the latter, I would also advise you to do some research about the pieces you want to see prior to your visit, or at least read the information on the plaques on the museum wall. All famous artwork has either an incredible story that it was inspired by, or incredible pieces and conversations that it has inspired.
Dave and I geeking out over “Drowning Girl” by Roy Lichtenstein, one of my favorite artists.
“Girl Before A Mirror” by Pablo Picasso on display at the Modern Museum of Art in New York City.
As an art nerd, visiting art museums and galleries is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. There are so many, especially in New York City, that it is usually difficult to narrow it down to the ones you have time for. I was in NYC for two weeks on this trip and still didn’t have time for the Guggenheim or the Frick Collection (Next on my list!). I really hope that this post is informative and helpful to anyone planning an upcoming New York trip and if you have any questions that weren’t answered, just comment below! For more information visit the museums’ websites;
I consider myself pretty adventurous in fashion and don’t normally pay mind to the “rules”. However, when you’re a born-and-raised Tennessee girl with a New York state of mind and a passion for fashion there are two things you never, EVER wear – camouflage and that repulsive shade of UT orange. Sometimes though, hillbilly goes high-fashion as the military trend was seen all over the FW15 runways. I saw this romper at Forever 21 and my heart skipped a beat. It’s such a statement piece and can be worn in every season. I wore the long sleeve crop top underneath to keep the October chill off my arms. I paired with a heeled lace-up combat boot to keep it feminine while still tying into the camo print. Now all that’s left to do is to conquer my fear of orange! Are there any patterns or colors that you refuse to wear because of what you associate them with?
Since it is now officially fall, I have been dying to play around in the kitchen and whip up something using my favorite autumn ingredient – squash! I’m not picky when it comes to squash. I will eat any and all kinds. Although I am a pasta girl, sometimes I enjoy a nicely cooked spaghetti squash more than a bowl of regular spaghetti which is out of character for me because in my mind pasta > anything and everything else. I found this recipe from www.halfbakedharvest.com on Pinterest but made a few tweaks. Because this is my first recipe I will throw in this disclaimer; I am very creative in almost every facet of my life, except when it comes to food. To clarify, I really enjoy making unique recipes but I am not super adventurous when it comes to creating my own recipes. When I take time to plan a special meal, buy all the needed ingredients, and it turns out disastrous I get frustrated and, even worse, hangry. Hangry Emily is bad. Just ask Luke. 😉 I have to have some sort of guideline to go by when cooking and I tend to go a little off track here and there, but I’m usually very satisfied with the finished product.
This dish was amazing, although quite time consuming. I would recommend either making the filling for the squash ahead of time and refrigerating until use or cooking this recipe on your next day off because it’s not a quick dinner recipe. You can grate the cheese ahead of time, although I would not do that any more than 24 hours prior to cooking. The carrots could be washed, chopped (if you prefer), and seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil in a plastic bag until you’re ready to cook. For more flavorful quinoa, I like to boil it in broth. I used chicken broth for this recipe but when I want a vegetarian option, I’ll use vegetable broth. You could also make this recipe vegetarian friendly by omitting the chicken or subbing tofu. I wanted to roast some veggies as a side but was planning on having carrots, onions, and brussel sprouts until I found these multi-colored carrots at Trader Joes that were perfectly photogenic. You can use regular carrots though without altering the outcome.
- 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp or melted
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 whole canned chipotle chilies in adobo, minced (use 3-4 for more heat)
- 2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (may sub rice or cous cous)
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 lb whole carrots
- 1/4 Cup Honey
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in sieve. Pour 1 cup broth or water in pot and then dump the rinsed quinoa into the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low heat and cover with lid. It will continue expanding for about 15 minutes but you will need to stir it about every 3 minutes to prevent burning it on the bottom of the pan. Once there is no more liquid in the pot, remove from heat and cover and let cool until ready to make filling.
Cut the squash lengthwise and seed. Place skin side down in oven-safe dish. Use the 2 tbs of softened butter to coat the flesh of the squash. Sprinkle on brown sugar, salt, and pepper and pat down into butter. Bake for 45 minutes or until flesh is fork tender.
Wash and trim chicken. If you want it to cook quickly, I would recommend tenderizing it so that each breast is about half an inch thick. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides and coat both sides in olive oil. Place in baking pan and cook alongside squash at 425 degrees. If chicken was tenderized it will be cooked in 10 to 15 minutes. It will be between 20 and 30 minutes for thicker pieces. Chop 1 cup of spinach and toss in a drizzle of olive oil and place in oven safe ramekin and put in the oven until wilted (7-10 minutes).
- If you have a smaller oven, some options to cut down on oven usage would be to; Boil the chicken by bringing water to a boil, then turning down to low and covering the pot with a lid and cooking for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle (Still rub salt & pepper on chicken prior to boiling). You can also sautée spinach in a skillet with a dash of olive oil on medium-high heat. It will cook in less than 5 minutes when using this method, but you will need to continually be moving the spinach around in the skillet.
Toss the washed and cut (if preferred) carrots around in 2-3 tbs of olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on baking sheet. Save bowl. Once the chicken is finished, place the carrots in the oven (still at 425) for 15 minutes, which is about when the squash should be timing out.
While carrots and squash are cooking and chicken is cooling, mix up; 2 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs lime juice, 2 minced garlic cloves and 2-4 (depending on your heat preference) minced chipotle chilies, 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix well and set aside. Shred chicken with hands or a fork. Place shredded chicken and quinoa in chipotle sauce and mix until well combined. Grate cheese.
Remove squash and carrots from oven. Swirl the liquid that has formed inside the squash around until well coated and discard remaining. Place carrots back in bowl used to coat in olive oil. Drizzle 1/4 cup honey in bowl and toss until carrots are well coated. Place back on baking sheet. Fill squash halves with quinoa mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Place dish of squash and carrots back in the oven and cook 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. You can top with fresh cilantro if you’re feeling fancy.
I’m feeling major Dolce & Gabbana FW15 vibes in this romper. I really love this piece because I love bright, bold floral prints. I don’t have too many floral pieces in my closet because most are too busy and bland for me. However, the D&G FW15 show gave me a new-found appreciation for floral and how it can exude femininity with ease. I chose to bring out all of the tones of the print with my accessories; a bright red lip for the primary color of the print, an oxblood jacket for the shadows in the flowers, and my favorite DKNY bag to correlate with the color of the leaves. I wish I could have this print on some pieces that I could wear as the weather gets colder because I’m not ready to put it in the back of my closet until next summer.
I was wearing;
H&M Black Floral Sunglasses
H&M Floral Romper
Victoria’s Secret PINK Oxblood Lace Bralette
Forever 21 Oxblood Faux Leather Jacket
Target Mossimo Lace-Up Heels
DKNY Kelly Green Bowler Bag
“Red Rose Romper” photographed by Kurt Eslick
My boyfriend, Luke, and I
1. My full initials are EDD, which led me to be called “Ed” throughout grade school.
2. I love animals – mostly dogs, more than most people. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian until I grew up and realized how much math and science were involved (I’ve always been the more artistic and creative type).
3. I am a very shy and awkward person. I’m not one to start conversation with strangers and/or people I don’t know very well because I usually say or do something stupid and embarrass myself.
4. My boyfriend Luke is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. He is from England and moved here when he was 16 to finish high school and attend college. He pursues everything he wants in life with all that he has and I truly aspire to be as ambitious and as courageous as he is. Another fun fact – he also encouraged and helped me to build my blog.
5. I interned for an interior designer during high school and declared interior design as my major when I began college. I took all the pre-requisites at my local community college and the semester before I was supposed to transfer to Savannah College of Art and Design, I started having second thoughts. I had taken a study abroad photography course that summer and fell in love with photography and was encouraged by my professor to declare photography as my new major. One year later, I graduated with an associates degree in photography.
Meet my minion, Dave
6. My first international trip (to France) was in 2010, my freshman year of college, and it changed every facet of my life. I fell in love with travel and experiencing other cultures and people and I couldn’t imagine being limited to only take one life-changing trip per year and sit in an office for the rest of the year counting down the days till my next vacation.
7. Because I have so many passions and interests (which is the primary reason I created Epicurean Emily), I have had an especially hard time trying to decide what I would like to pursue as far as careers go. My dream job would allow me to travel, to collaborate with fellow creatives, and to do something that I consider worthwhile and meaningful. I plan on moving to NYC in the next few years to go to design school so that I can gain experience and education in creative fields.
8. I am one of the biggest Despicable Me/Minion fans you will ever meet. I have my own minion, Dave, who lives in my purse and always travels with me and poses with all the famous landmarks wherever we go. Oh and Luke threw a surprise minion-themed birthday party for me this year…I just turned 23.
9. I am a bit of a perfectionist and have a painstaking attention to detail. I don’t believe in submitting anything sub-par. I not only feel this way about my creative work, but in everything that I do.
10. Sports are really hard for me. Not literally, although I am not the most athletic or graceful girl there ever was, but I just really don’t understand the hype about most of it, especially football. Where I’m from, people live for football season and football saturdays (and sundays and mondays) and then they spend ALL week reviewing stats and tweaking their fantasy teams and it just seems like a massive waste of time and energy to me. Then again they’re probably saying that about this blog of mine. Ah well, to each their own.
I dress up as Katy Perry regularly… concerts, Halloween, any occasion that calls for a costume. Do you know how much fun it is to have blue hair and wear a donut printed one-piece and a cotton candy tutu? Do you???
11. I consider myself a wine gal. I really despise beer. I’ve found a few that I can handle the taste of but I genuinely enjoy a nice glass of Pinot Noir a whole lot more than a cold one.
12. Since I’m talking about wine, I’ll mention my love for cheese because everyone knows that’s the greatest combination ever. Who really cares about peanut butter & jelly, anyway? I love to get really adventurous with cheese because I rarely find one that I don’t like. I’ll be honest, Camembert is NOT my favorite but is still edible. Since we’re talking about French cheese though, I’ve gotta mention BRIE because everyone loves brie. If you don’t you’re only lying to yourself. Throw a wheel in the oven and let it get all melty and gooey and drizzle some honey over the top of it once you take it out. Swipe a pita chip (or a finger-no judgement) through it and there’s no way you can say to me that you don’t like brie after that.
13. Katy Perry is basically my favorite person ever. Everything she does is gold, in my opinion. She is unapologetically herself, and even if that means strutting around the Superbowl halftime stage with beach balls for boobs and dancing with cartoon sharks (shoutout to left shark!), she doesn’t think twice about it. My favorite song by her is “Thinking of You” from the “One of the Boys” album. Most of you have probably never heard it so go listen to it now. Like right now.
14. Although I don’t follow a strict diet, I try to eat mostly protein and fruits and vegetables with as little starch as possible BUT my favorite food group is carbs so as they say, the struggle is real. I live for pastries and pasta and potatoes… (If I ever write a cheat day cookbook, I’ll keep that in mind for a title). Pasta and bread were the only foods I would eat as a child, but unfortunately I’ve had to cut back since becoming an adult with a slower metabolism (It’s not all its cracked up to be kids, never grow up and eat whatever you want forever). And don’t even get me started on fries- regular, steak, sweet potato, waffle, truffle, incredibly unhealthy McDonald’s fries… I have yet to meet a fry I didn’t like.
15. Because of my love for animals, I am very picky about the meat that I choose to eat. If it weren’t for Chik-Fil-A and the occasional burger, I could be a vegetarian easily. I typically go a few days a week without eating (or missing) meat. I try very hard to support local farming and only eat livestock that has been raised in a humane way (which usually eliminates the use of antibiotics and GMOs). I realize that humanely raising animals used for meat is kind of an oxymoron but I haven’t been able to make the vegetarian commitment just yet. I do not support the “factory farm” that American capitalism has created and I feel very passionately about educating people about what is really in their food because I’ve found that it’s not necessarily that they don’t care, but that most of them really have no clue since the government and FDA have no reign on corporations’ regulations. I try to encourage people to ask questions about what they’re consuming.
April Ludgate is my spirit animal. Image courtesy of NBC.
16. My favorite fashion blogger is Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad. I aspire to see fashion the way that she does. She puts pieces together like no one else, she breaks all the rules but does it in a way that always looks effortless and never too over the top (wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be cool Italian girls?). I’ve only been following her for a year or so, about the time I was introduced to the fashion blogging world, but I keep up with her Instagram and Snapchat daily and I’m always inspired. I strive to be a source of unique inspiration to others through my own blog, like Chiara has been, and is, for me.
17. I’m TERRIBLE at styling hair. I don’t have the patience for it and don’t want to spend extra time getting ready after I’ve spent 30 minutes doing my make-up. I tend to do something a little different every time I go to the salon (which is like 3 times a year, if I’m being honest). I’ve had blue hair, a pixie cut, and I try bangs once a year in hopes that my cowlick has magically disappeared.
18. I have CHRONIC Resting Bitch Face (yes, its a thing). Almost all of my friends have said to me at some point, “I thought you hated me/were a bitch when I first met you”. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said that or “Are you ok? You look upset,” to me I’d be a billionaire. I’ve learned to accept it and actually kind of appreciate it at this point. It’s just my face and the people curious enough to get to know me realize that I am anything but bitchy.
19. I’m not a coffee person. I know that’s kind of unheard of in this day and age but I just hate the taste of it, although the smell is HEAVENLY. I will occasionally have the obligatory Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or White Peppermint Mocha, but I really enjoy not having to rely on coffee to make me a functioning human.
20. I don’t really like to watch movies or TV. If I’m watching a movie at home, I have to be really into it to be able to sit still for over an hour. I only have a handful of shows that I can actually sit and watch (usually if I have the TV on it’s just background noise while I’m editing, writing, or trolling the internet). My favorite show of all time is Parks and Recreation. I love the personalities and interactions between all of the characters. Oh and I’m the closest thing you’ll ever find to a real life April Ludgate and have actually had people tell me I look like her (must be the bitch face).
I don’t really consider myself a jewelry girl. I couldn’t tell you the last time I put in a pair of earrings. I don’t have any jewelry that I wear every day because everything is too uncomfortable for me to sleep in and I forget to put it back on in the morning. God help my future husband because I’ll probably lose my wedding ring at some point in our marriage… With all that being said, it is very unusual of me to plan an entire outfit around a necklace, yet here I am – surprising myself. I found this chunky chain necklace at Forever 21 a couple of years ago. I love the silk scarf-like fabric inside because its very versatile. I’ve worn it with a white t-shirt before and it gave just the right amount of glam. Although most of my necklaces are some variation of the gold chain (maybe my real calling in life is to be a rapper… watch out Iggy) this particular one is very classy and feminine. I think it gives the perfect dose of girly to this otherwise tomboyish look. I chose the navy cropped tank to contrast with the primarily bright necklace. Since I had a navy top, I didn’t want to wear jeans that were too dark, so I chose to wear my beloved American Eagle boy crop jeans (Yes, I did buy them with holes, however the holes have grown). I will have to find another use for them when the time comes. I went with my Target (Clearance find!) Mossimo lace-up heels to tone down the tomboy. Tell me – which piece of jewelry do you never leave the house without??? Maybe y’all will rub off on me…
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Gold Chain Ribbon-Laced Necklace
American Eagle Navy Cropped Tank
American Eagle Boy-Fit Cropped Jeans
Target Mossimo Lace-Up Heels
“Ripped Denim & Gold Ribbon” photographed by Arturo Guzman
So I suppose one could consider this a fall outfit, except for the sandals…right? I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet, or ever. But there are many fun trends for the upcoming fall and winter seasons that are making it easier to get a little more excited about the inevitable colder months. One big influence on the runway for this season was 70’s fashion – more specifically the colors of the 70’s. Think burnt oranges, olives, and browns. This skirt just screams 70’s to me, maybe because the cognac color is basically a shade of burnt orange. I can’t wait to pair it with different pieces this fall. To keep with the 70’s theme, I busted out my gold platform sandals because 70’s and platform shoes go together like peanut butter & jelly. Which fall trends are you excited about?
I was wearing;
American Eagle Gold Necklace
Forever 21 Cream Turtleneck
Forever 21 Cognac Pleather Skirt
Target Mossimo Gold Platform Sandals
“Pleather & Gold” Photographed by Arturo Guzman
One of the museums that was at the top of my list during my last visit to New York City was the 9/11 Museum & Memorial. I hadn’t visited the city since 2011 so it was nice to come back and see all of the progress that had been made in an area that many thought would never recover. The Freedom Tower, now the tallest and strongest building in the NYC skyline, stands right across the street from the memorial and acts as a reminder of the resilience of our great country. On the block where the twin towers once stood are two stunning memorial “pools”, around which are inscribed the names of all the victims of 9/11. They incorporated the depth of these pools into the museum and the walls of the pools make up a part of the museum interior. The exhibit follows a timeline sort of layout, with important dates of terrorist activity prior to 9/11, a very detailed timeline of September 11th, 2001, and the aftermath of the attack. It is well laid out and has a lot of interesting artifacts. They don’t allow photography in the exhibit area of the museum, which I appreciate because it forces you to be more present and respectful. Bring some tissues because most of the stories and images are heart-breaking. I was only in fourth grade in 2011 and even though I didn’t fully grasp the concept of terrorism at that age, I remember September 11th very vividly. I would encourage everyone, especially Americans, to visit the museum if given the opportunity. Seeing all the finite details of that fateful day gave me a renewed sense of pride for America and the American people because of our resilience and bravery. If you don’t mind crowds and don’t want to pay the $24 (adult) ticket price, take advantage of free admission Tuesdays from 5 PM to close. You can reserve your tickets on the 9/11 Memorial website (www.911memorial.org) at 9 AM the Monday before or get free tickets at the ticket window beginning at 4 PM on Tuesday, but get there early to avoid waiting in long lines if you don’t reserve online ahead of time.
The last remaining column of the World Trade Towers stands tall in the middle of the museum.
The newly renovated FDNY Ladder and Engine Company 10 station, just a block from the World Trade Center.
This outfit is the kind of outfit that makes it hard to say goodbye to high temperatures. During summer, I live in skirts and dresses because they’re considerably cooler. This Forever 21 mod polka-dot print skirt is so flirty and fun. I love the tulle underlay because it’s almost like getting away with wearing a tutu. Did I mention it has POCKETS?! All of my skirt requirements are met with this piece. I wore an H&M crop top with a black Peter-Pan collar that ties into the pattern on the skirt. I wanted to keep this outfit fun, so I paired it with black polka-dot Keds-style sneakers from Target.
I was wearing;
H&M Mint Peter-Pan Collar Crop Top
Forever 21 Mod Polka-Dot Bubble Skirt
Victoria’s Secret Heart-Shaped Purse
Target Black Polka-Dot Sneakers
Quay Australia Quay x Shay Vesper Sunglasses
“Peter Pan & Polka Dots” Photographed by Arturo Guzman
During my last trip to New York City, I had the opportunity to visit the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for the first time and the brand new One World Observatory at One World Trade Center. Read my thoughts on these observation decks and the deck at the Empire State Building, which I visited on a previous NYC trip, below.
TOP OF THE ROCK
The Top of the Rock Observation Deck, located in Rockefeller Center, was one of the highlights of my entire NYC visit. I know that many people are torn between this one and the Empire State Building and I have been to both and the Top of the Rock is SOO much more enjoyable. Tickets are $30 and you do have to wait to get on the elevator to the deck on a lower floor, but they have informational videos and a photographer taking group photos to pass the time. I waited maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. When I visited the Empire State Building several years ago I remember waiting around an hour just to get on the elevator. The Top of the Rock has three stories that you can wander around for however long you please, unlike the Empire State where you have about 20 minutes on the viewing deck until they force you back onto the elevator. The top deck in the center has no glass panels like the lower two. The glass doesn’t affect the view, however. I know at the Empire State, they have a chain fence around the entire deck and the walls are built fairly high so if you’re short, your views are very limited. I really enjoyed the Top of the Rock because it is in the heart of Manhattan and offers both northern and southern views. To the north, you have a magnificent view of central park and the upper east and west sides. To the south, you can see all of the famous skyscrapers – the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and many more. If you only have time and/or money for one really great view while you’re in NYC, hands-down I would suggest visiting the Top of the Rock. I also shot an outfit post on the deck that you can see here
The middle deck of the Top of the Rock, where a beautiful couple was shooting wedding portraits on the day that I visited.
The northern side of the Top of the Rock, known for its incredible view of Manhattan’s Central Park.
ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY
The One World Observatory is located at the top of the Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest building in New York City. There is a separate entrance for the observatory where you enter to purchase tickets ($32) and ride an elevator to a “briefing” floor where you can rent iPads with information about the buildings as you walk around. The elevator ride to the observatory was one of the highlights. Its probably the fastest elevator I’ve ever ridden and it projects a video onto the walls as you ascend over one hundred stories. The observatory is very interactive and there are “performing” tour guides that stand in the middle of a circular television display and give you information about New York buildings and architecture as well as NYC life. You can walk a complete 360 degrees around the observatory, which I loved because it puts things into perspective. It’s pretty close to having a aerial view of New York City. Because you are on the lower tip of Manhattan, it has a great view of the island, including all three of the bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Willamsburg), as well as Lady Liberty. The One World Observatory doesn’t have an outdoor area but instead has floor to ceiling glass. I think the glass would be wonderful if visiting during the day but at night, there was glare from the gift shop, restaurant, and lights in the center of the floor which made it hard to see unless you put your face up to the glass to look out. I really liked the observatory to show the perspective between the sheer size of Manhattan and also its relation to the other burroughs, New Jersey, and Staten and Ellis Islands. If you want to look out and see the Empire State Building right next to you, this isn’t the observatory for you. Although you are still able to see the famous NYC skyscrapers, they are pretty far off in the distance because this building is so much taller than all of the other buildings in New York AND it is so much further away from most of them. It was a cool experience and I don’t regret it BUT if you are trying to visit on a budget I would suggest to skip it and just do the Top of the Rock.
View of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges and the East River from the One World Observatory in the new “Freedom Tower”.
I found this skirt at Zara recently on the clearance rack and it just might be my new favorite. It’s so classy and feminine but the stitched-on pockets help to keep it modern. Since the skirt is so sophisticated, I wanted to have a little fun with the quirky bow-print crop top. I wore strappy nude heels to accentuate the length of my legs because I didn’t want the longer length of the skirt to make my 5’4″ frame to look stubby. As always, my Quay x Shay Vesper sunnies went perfectly with this ensemble, so I had to feature them.
I was wearing;
H&M Bow Print Cropped Blouse
Steve Madden Nude Strappy Heels
Quay Australia Quay X Shay Vesper Sunglasses
“Bows Before Bros” Photographed by Arturo Guzman
Lucky for me, restaurant week was in full swing during my summer trip to New York. There are HUNDREDS of participating restaurants and bars all throughout Manhattan and a handful in Brooklyn and Queens. During NYC Restaurant Week you can choose between a $25 lunch or a $38 dinner, both options are three courses, at some of the best spots in the city. Participating restaurants weren’t made available until about a week prior to the first day of restaurant week. Most of them have a special menu for restaurant week. I really wish the restaurant week website were better for choosing an eatery based on your location and/or the type of cuisine that you’re looking for. Not being a native New Yorker, it was very overwhelming to try and find a place close to where I was. I had heard of many of the high-end participating restaurants, like Cipriani and Nobu, but I was very underwhelmed when I took a peek at their restaurant week menus. I saw “Chef’s Special” listed several times for many popular restaurants. I got the Yelp app upon arriving to NYC because the reviews are mostly from New Yorkers’ perspectives, as I had heard many of them use the app. This is how I found Fig & Olive. They have three locations in Manhattan and a few in different states as well. I chose to dine at the Fig & Olive downtown location in the Meatpacking District during restaurant week because their menu had a lot of variety and offered several choices for each of the courses.
The fully-stocked wine bar at the Fig & Olive downtown location in New York City.
I chose the Truffle Mushroom Croquette for my appetizer. It is made with cremini mushrooms, parmesan, béchamel, and served with truffle olive oil aioli. This was definitely my favorite course. It’s literally some of my favorite ingredients – mushrooms and cheese – in little fried balls of perfection. Oh and then you have the aioli to swipe it through… Heaven.
My mom chose the Salmon Crudo for her appetizer, which is topped with orange, grapefruit, dill, lemon, scallion, and Arbequina olive oil. This was delicious as well. I’ve never been much of a seafood eater, though I have started eating salmon in my sushi over the last year. I love the taste both smoked and raw, but the texture is too much for me when it is cooked. I thought the orange, grapefruit, and lemon brought out the flavor of the salmon well.
My main course dish was the summer vegetable fettuccine with Ayala goat cheese mousse, fresh tomato, baby kale, pesto, snow pea, grilled asparagus, and Arbequina olive oil. Instead of a traditional alfredo sauce, the fettuccine was tossed with the olive oil. It was a perfect summer pasta dish – light and fresh.
For the final course, we had the Dessert “Crostini” and the Panna Cotta A L’Orange. The crostini was a square shortbread cookie with marscapone topped with fresh strawberries and drizzled with balsamic. The cookie was soft and was a perfect base for the rest of the ingredients. The latter was similar to a parfait – with orange panna cotta as the base, strawberry and basil jam as the second layer, and topped with cookie crumbles. The “parfait” was accompanied by an incredible orange sorbet. Both desserts were delicious and it was nice to have the opportunity to try both.
I was very impressed with Fig & Olive and definitely recommend it. It was one of the few restaurants that I looked at that had regular menu items as options for the restaurant week menu. I also appreciate that their menu is seasonal. While I was using the Fig & Olive website to write this post, I noticed that the meatpacking location has an affordable prix fixe $25 lunch menu during the week (Monday through Friday) that features almost all of the dishes mentioned in this post.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Met. This was my third time in NYC but my first visit to the Met. I didn’t realize how gigantic it was! I had the same overwhelming feeling after looking at the map that I did when I was trying to navigate the Louvre in Paris. I usually steer clear of big museums like this (at least while visiting for a short time) because I feel like I need to spend a full day, usually more, to actually see and appreciate everything. But the Met is a classic and free (they run on donations, not ticket sales!) New York attraction. I spent most of my time wandering through the “China; Through the Looking Glass” exhibit because it featured some INCREDIBLE Chinese-inspired fashion, including pieces from YSL, Dior, Chanel, and Chinese designers such as Guo Pei. The Anna Wintour Costume Center continued with the theme and contributed to the already expansive collection. This exhibit has been extended and will be on display until September 7th, 2015 so definitely make time for a visit if you’ll be in NYC around this time. I was glad that I got to visit the Met and hopefully one day when I live in NYC, I will have the opportunity to get lost in this impeccable museum that has so much to offer.
“Magnificent Gold” gown by Chinese designer Guo Pei. The gown is representative of a lotus flower and, according to the designer, took 50,000 hours to create.
Sequin gown by Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met.
“Blue & Porcelain”, the second of Guo Pei’s two designs on display in the “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibit.
The Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yellow sequin gown by Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent.
Without sounding too much like a seven year old 90’s girl, I have to admit that these overalls have been my summer staple. They have a relaxed fit, but are not too baggy and the wash is perfect and matches just about everything. I have thrown them in my bag for every getaway this summer because they’re completely versatile and they can be dressed up (kind of how they are in this look) or just worn with a graphic t-shirt and converse for an effortless look.
I was wearing;
American Eagle Overalls
H&M Peasant Shirt
Target Mossimo Gold Platform Sandals
Quay Australia Quay x Shay Vesper Sunglasses
“The Overall Effect” Photographed by Arturo Guzman
I was so glad that I got to visit the Top of the Rockefeller Center on such a sunny and beautiful NYC summer day. This was the perfect outfit for strolling around the city on a hot day. I’ve had both of these pieces for awhile but never thought to wear them together until I was packing for my trip. I love the idea of mixing prints but the result is not always as pretty as you hope. I think what works here is that they both have the harsh black as a common denominator and even though they are both “bold” prints, they aren’t busy. 75% of my closet is stripes and I love these shorts because the vertical “prison stripes” are super unique.
I was wearing;
Forever 21 Dot Crop Tee
American Eagle Striped Shorts
Target Mossimo Sandals
Quay Australia Quay x Shay Vesper Sunglasses
“Top of the Rock in Stripes & Dots” Photographed by Terry Davis