Decor

How To Make A Cheese Board in 10 Minutes

I hosted T and his family at my place the other night and wanted to share the spread I put together for all of us. I wanted all of the food to be casual and easy – nothing over the top. Everyone loves cheese and crackers. It’s a European staple. So I ran to Whole Foods and picked up a medley of goodies to create the perfect cheeseboard. I’ve been whipping up cheese boards for friends and family for years, and thought I’d share my tips on how to make a cheese board in 10 minutes! Wood Cheese BoardsFirst and foremost, get a beautiful wood cutting board to place all of the yummy ingredients on. This one is from Hudson Grace, which is one of my favorite home decor stores in LA (it’s at the Brentwood Country Mart.) This one from Studio McGee’s shop is super similar. They have TONS of other boards that would be stunning in any kitchen. If you’re looking for a huge, oversized board for a large party, I have this one from World Market and LOVE it. It’s perfect for creating a massive spread. Bistro table + chairsMy table is a great find from Wayfair’s outdoor section. Sadly it’s sold out, but I found this gorgeous one for half the price! Not only is this a cute outdoor table, but it’s a darling entry table, bedroom side table, or living room console. My chairs are from One Kings Lane and can be used indoor or outdoor. I also love these ones from Serena + Lily, and these ones from Amazon are super affordable. Napkins, Plates, CutleryLay out napkins, plates, and cutlery. My napkins are oldies from Pottery Barn (love this vintage stripe version). My silverware is a total STEAL and under $30 for the set! The plates are Hudson Grace’s organic style. The cheese knives are Williams Sonoma and have beautiful thick marble handles that have held up for years. If you’re looking for a more modern set, these ones from Nordstrom Home are chic. How To Make A Cheese BoardWhen it comes to building a cheese board, I like to always get; at least 3 different types of cheeses, green grapes, a fig jam (or figs), 2-3 different types of crackers, marcona almonds, and honey to drizzle on top! If it’s a meat loving group, I’ll pick up a prosciutto or salami to place underneath the cheese. It’s nice to have a mixture of different colors and textures to place around the board and for people to choose from. Types of CheeseLet’s talk about the most important part of the board – the cheese! Whole Foods has a nice cheese selection. It’s so convenient, so I head there and typically pick out 1 hard cheese, 1 softer cheese, and 1 brie. For the softer cheese, I like to get one with truffle in it. A truffle fontina is to die for!!!! For the hard cheese I like to get a parmesan and/or sharp cheddar. Other cheeses that are yummy are Manchego and Mt Tam by Cowgirl Creamery. Mt Tam is my favorite cheese of all time (legit drooling thinking about it right now LOL) and you can get it at FarmShop in LA! Arranging TechniqueIn terms of arranging everything, first place the 3 cheeses equal distance a part on your board. Then place 2 handfuls of grapes on opposite sides, and 2 handfuls of marcona almonds sprinkled on the other sides. Tuck a fanned out line of salami or prosciutto in one corner, and then place a jar of fig jam or handful of figs in the other corner. Lastly, dip a honey spoon in fresh honey, and drizzle over the brie. Place crackers to the side, or even sliced baguette for guests to help themselves! Open a bottle of wine – I love Whispering Angel rose – and enjoy!
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How To Decorate A Small Space

My sister recently moved into a new apartment in Williamsburg and I’ve been helping her decorate it! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from living in small NYC apartments over the years, and which ones I incorporated into her place. There are a ton of simple ways to make a small space look and feel bigger – you just have to do a little rearranging! How To Decorate A Small Space Use a large round jute rug under a sofa or bed. A round rug completely opens up a small room and is a nice juxtaposition to a big, rectangular piece of furniture. Jute is a natural, airy, clean material that will go with any style of decor – and it’s one of the most inexpensive types of rugs. I’ve gotten mine on Wayfair, Overstock, and Pottery Barn. Use the Ikea Billy Bookcase as storage and decor. This simple white bookcase has been in every single one of my apartments! It’s been a wardrobe (the one with doors) in my college dorm and West Village apartment, a bookcase in my first NYC apartment, and it now acts as shoe + bag storage in my office. You have the option to get it with or without glass doors (it’s super chic with glass doors – and you can switch out the knobs + put wallpaper or fabric behind the glass to hide what’s inside!), and it also comes in various widths. It’s a great divider if you live in a studio and want to put 3 right next to each other. Use a narrow bench, ottoman, or acrylic piece as a coffee table. Most coffee tables are pretty big and made for large living rooms. Be sure to properly measure your space so you’re not stuck with a HUGE one! My favorite coffee tables for small spaces are; a narrow bench that you can decorate with coffee table books and trinkets to warm it up, a small fabric ottoman or two matching stools (sometimes a printed fabric is fun depending on your style!), or an acrylic/lucite piece like this one that I had in my old Upper East Side studio. If the room won’t fit a traditional coffee table, get some fun moroccan poufs, or a stack of small vintage suitcases or trunks for the space. Create a gallery wall behind your sofa, dresser, dining room table, or in a narrow entry. A gallery wall instantly lifts your eye up and makes a space feel more cozy and eclectic. You would be AMAZED at how it can transform a long, dark entryway. Don’t be afraid to hang art on a brick wall – there are special nails that make it possible. I always hire a handyman through Taskrabbit to do all of my hanging since they come equipped with the right tools. Be sure to read my; How To Find Art For Your Home blog post to see some of my favorite resources. Wallpaper a small bathroom. A beautiful, intricate patterned wallpaper can transform a tiny bathroom! Swap out a plain light fixture for a mini chandelier or pendant, and put in a pretty mirror – and you’ve got yourself a darling powder room. Incorporate vintage pieces into your space. Vintage pieces are much smaller than the furniture pieces they sell in stores today. A vintage item can add a ton of pizzaz to a space and make everything feel more homey. I never like to order sets of furniture or everything in the same type of wood/color because it ends up making a space feel crowded and sterile. Mix and match modern pieces with vintage pieces. Get a cute gold bar cart to put booze, glasses and books on. Find a fun ceramic umbrella holder for your entry. Hang baskets or hats on the wall. Mix gold and wood frames of all shapes and sizes on a gallery wall. Use a vintage leather trunk as a side or coffee table. Frame your windows with long white curtains. Quality curtains immediately make a ceiling look higher and elevate a space. They pull together any room, and give it a more chic/polished look. I’m a sucker for a thick, Belgian linen French pleat style – and in my opinion, no one does it better than Restoration Hardware. BUT their curtains are pricey, so I recommend checking out Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma Home, and West Elm for other options! Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Mirrors act as windows in a space. If you feel like your space is cramped and doesn’t have enough light or windows then add a mirror! I love the look of an oversized mirror leaning against the wall opposite of a bed to really open up a room. I also love a mirror behind a sofa, or dining room table. And last but not least, a mirror in an entry is always a good idea – not only for makeup touch ups before you leave, but just to add that extra oomph that most entries need! Use baskets as storage. I LOVE baskets. I use a basket in my living room to store extra pillows and blankets in, I use baskets in my bedroom for laundry/dry cleaning, I use baskets in my entry for groceries/errands, and I use baskets in my closet to store towels, scarves, and toiletry bags. There are a zillion places to buy baskets, but some of my favorite spots are Ralph Lauren, One Kings Lane, Serena and Lily, and Etsy. Use a dresser as a TV console. A dresser maximizes your storage space, AND in my opinion looks way better than an open TV console which shows the cable box and cords. Anthropologie has gorgeous dressers like this bone inlay one, or this carved wood one. I also always like to check World Market, vintage stores, One Kings Lane and Studio McGee’s shop for consoles! Keep clutter to a minimum. This goes without saying, but whether you live in a small or big space, my philosophy when it comes to “stuff” is always less is more! Be diligent about cleaning out your closet and cabinets. Don’t hold onto stuff that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t used in a year. Purge, purge, purge! I have an entire blog post talking about How To Clean Out Your Closet here. So be sure to check that out! I hope this post was helpful and you learned a few things :) I’d love to see photos of your space and ways that you’ve incorporated my tips + tricks in so feel free to send them way!!! As always, feel free to leave any questions you may have below! And be sure to check out all of my other Decor posts here like; How To Find Art For Your Home, Refresh Your Home For Spring, and My Favorite Coffee Table Books.
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How To Plan A Bachelorette Party

I’ve planned two bachelorette parties now; one for my childhood best friend and one for my sister, and wanted to share everything I’ve learned from organizing both. There are a TON of logistics that go into a bachelorette party – it can be quite overwhelming to be honest!!! Hopefully this guide full of tips will be helpful and take some of the stress away! How To Plan A Bachelorette PartyTimelineUsually bachelorette parties occur around 2-3 months before the wedding. You should connect with the bride and get the emails for everyone she wants to invite. Send out a mass email to the list of girls with 3 weekends that work for the bride and then choose 1 weekend that works best for the majority. If you don’t want to go the mass email route – you can create a free poll at Doodle.com that tallies the responses. Once you’ve decided on a date, send out an invite with: date, time, location, a general itinerary, and an approximate cost breakdown. 2 weeks before the party, send a follow up email with more details such as: travel specifics, a packing list (if there are certain outfits needed i.e. you want all the girls to wear black one night), gift ideas (if you’re asking everyone to wrap a piece of lingerie for a guessing game), food allergies, payment reminders etc. Packing ListNext to each activity on the itinerary it’s always nice to give a little outfit suggestion. For example, Wine Tasting – sundress and sandals. Night out – wear all black. You can send a friendly reminder for people to bring certain things like; sunscreen, Advil, mini travel size shampoos (if you’re staying at an airbnb), cash, and heels. GiftsA popular game at bachelorette parties is everyone brings a wrapped piece of lingerie and the bride has to guess who brought it. Some people bring silk pjs, robes, eye masks – it doesn’t just have to be bras/underwear. Other than that, guests aren’t really required to bring a gift. In terms of being the Maid of Honor/Host of the party, it’s always nice to give all of the guests a goodie bag upon arrival. You can fill it with all of the essentials; bandaids, Advil, coconut water, flip flops, a personalized T-shirt, candy, sunglasses etc… For my sister’s bachelorette party I wanted to go all out so I found these amazing faux leather bags for under $10 (don’t they look so much more expensive?!) that are soooo versatile and go with everything. I stuffed them with fun items like; Skyn Iceland face masks, TCHO chocolate bars, Sweet Reason CBD water, BEV canned rose, stripe straws, heart sunglasses, personalized wine glasses, Supergoop sunscreen, Kopari lipgloss, Goop bubblebath + glow kits, and Essie nail polish. My sister hand wrote notes to to go inside each bag which was such a nice touch. GamesI mentioned the lingerie game above, another game we love to play is a Q & A for the fiancé. You can look up questions online, but I’ll share a few of my favorites that we’ve asked each groom-to-be. “What was your first date?” “What’s your biggest pet peeve of your significant other?” “What’s your favorite thing about them?” “When did you know they were the one?” “What’s their favorite food?” “What is one thing you did to impress them when you were first dating?” “What’s their biggest quirk?” “What’s your favorite body part of theirs?” “Where’s the craziest you’ve ever had sex?” “What’s something no one knows about them except for you?” You can either email these questions or have them record a video of themselves answering for all of the girls to watch! At the bachelorette party, ask the bride-to-be these questions and have her guess the answers, then read them back to her. Another game that’s fun is with Dare Cards. The bride has to act out whatever the card says, so things like “Take a picture the bartender.” “Ask a random guy for a piggy back ride.” etc. ActivitiesThis will vary based on city and time of year, but I’ll share what we did in The Hamptons. We were a group of 20 girls total, so we decided to enjoy our days and late nights out and then have all of our dinners at the house we rented. I ordered HelloFresh for the 3 nights we were there – and it was PERFECT because I didn’t have to grocery shop and the meal kit was delivered right to the front door. This was WAY more cost effective than eating out, and just made more sense since it’s so hard to seat 20 people at a restaurant on a weekend. FYI you can use this link to receive $80 off your first month using HelloFresh! Here’s a brief rundown of our itinerary for the weekend: Friday – check into Airbnb, wine tasting at Wolffer Vineyards, head home to refresh and relax, enjoy appetizers and HelloFresh dinner at house, Uber to Talkhouse (Friday night is the best night to go), Saturday – breakfast at house, Gurney’s Montauk beach club, head home to swim/hang out/refresh, enjoy appetizers and dinner at house, Uber to Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s, Sunday – breakfast at house, check out, people walk around town at their leisure before heading home. SuppliesYou have to get the bride a sash! I ordered my sister this one. She can wear it on one or both of the nights out. In terms of decor – it’s totally up to you and will be different for everyone. I personally spent my time investing in the food, booze, goodie bags, and itinerary rather than a ton of decor. Some people like to do funny decor like blow up the groom-to-be’s face on cardboard cut outs, put the groom-to-be’s face on temporary tattoos, personalized streamers from Etsy with the wedding hashtag, flowers, balloons, and other typical bachelorette paraphernalia. Custom T-shirts or accessories are also popular. For my sister, we ordered a tie dye kit and plain white bandanas off Amazon so everyone could make their own piece to take home. It was a nice activity for everyone to do by the pool, and super cost effective compared to custom T-shirts! For food/drinks you definitely want to have the house fully stocked with chips, salsa, guacamole, popcorn, yogurt, granola, bagels, frozen pizzas, straws, paper plates, napkins, booze and mixers. CostIt’s no secret that bachelorette parties are expensive. They’re expensive for the person hosting/planning it and the guests attending. Sometimes the bride and maid of honor will cover a lot of the costs such as accommodations/housing, meals, entrance fees, goodie bags, food/booze and more. Sometimes the bride won’t pay for anything and her guests will pick up everything down to the Ubers. I personally think it’s a really nice touch when the bride and/or maid of honor cover something like the accommodations (since flights can often be so expensive for guests), or at least the goodie bags. I hope this bachelorette party guide provided a few helpful tips for your weekend! It’s such a special time for a bride-to-be and all of her loved ones to come together and celebrate her! I’ll be sure to update this post with even more ideas and tips after each bachelorette party I attend in the future! If you like this post on how to plan a bachelorette party, also, check out: How To Create A Healthy Girls Spa Getaway, and An Outdoor Dinner Party At Home.
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How To Find An Apartment in NYC

Looking for a rental apartment in NYC can be a bit of a nightmare. Sketchy real estate agents, false listings, insane prices, and hidden fees galore are what you come to expect. I’ve lived in 4 different places over the course of 7 years and learned A LOT during this time. I’m going to share all of my tips, tricks and any general information you should know when it comes to apartment hunting in NYC. How To Find An Apartment in NYC You don’t have to hire a real estate agent in NYC to find a rental apartment. I’ve found all of my apartments on my own through either: Streeteasy.com, Zillow.com, or Craigslist.org. I’ve looked on Apartments.com, but never gone to see a listing from there in person. Don’t underestimate Craigslist – there are a lot of sketchy/false listings on there for sure, but if you comb through it, you’ll end up finding a legit listing like I did for my old West Village apartment. Each time I was ready to move, I basically STALKED these websites everyday and pounced on new listings that popped up. The key is acting FAST which I’ll talk more about below… If you don’t have time to be actively searching, looking and sifting through listings, then absolutely hire a realtor – but like I said, I’ve had great luck at finding spots on my own! If you’re interested in buying an apartment and need a realtor for that – email me because I know a great one who specializes in sales! How To Choose An Apartment Narrow your search down based on neighborhoods (I highly recommend walking around TONS of areas so you get a feel for them!), proximity to work, price, size, and amenities. Call and email each agent for the listing you’re interested in, and set up several appointments back to back in 1 weekend. You’ll want to see a handful of spaces so you can compare them. Then do your research. Is the apartment right next to a fire station or popular bar? Has it been infected with bed bugs recently? You can easily find that information by typing in the address to a Google search. Does the management agency have bad reviews online? (Honestly most do, so don’t let that be a total deciding factor…) Once you’ve found the place you love, put in an application immediately because places go quick – as in 1 day quick. A few hours could make all the world of a difference. How To Get The Apartment If you’re serious about moving, then you should have ALL of the paperwork for an application ready to go and saved on your desktop. Typically an apartment will want; past 2-3 paystubs (cross out any secure information), past 2-3 months of bank statements (cross out your account numbers), proof of income (in NYC your annual salary needs to be at least 40x the monthly rent, if you don’t meet that requirement you’ll need a parent or someone who does to co-sign it for you), and a credit report. If you’re trying to rent in a co-op building you’ll need the paperwork I mentioned above, plus letters of reference from past coworkers, friends, and landlords. You’ll also have to write an introduction letter about yourself. I recommend including a “cover letter” in your regular apartment application even if they don’t require it – bonus points! If it’s a co-op building, the approval process can take up to 60 days (usually it’s 30 though); so plan accordingly. Sometimes you’ll have to do an interview with the board of the building so just be prepared! The biggest thing I’ve found is that if you want an apartment you need to ACT FAST and have everything ready to go immediately after seeing + loving it. When To Look For An Apartment You’ll find the best deals aka lowest monthly rent – in the winter. Summer is prime time when all of the new graduates are moving to the city and many people are relocating, so prices and places are higher and more in demand. You should start looking and seeing places about 1 month in advance. Any further out than that would be unnecessary unless you’re set on moving into a co-op building (which could take 2 months for approval), or if you don’t mind paying rent before you’re ready to move in. Most places will approve your application within a few days. If a place is empty it will most likely be ready immediately, or it could take a few weeks until the other tenants move out and they clean/repaint. Be sure to ask the listing agent for details. Things To Look Out For Don’t sign a real estate broker agreement first thing when you walk in the door of an apartment. They often try to rope you into signing one which basically says that you HAVE to pay a commission to that person/their company if you rent the apartment they’ve shown you regardless of how much leg work they’ve done. Tell them you’re looking at multiple apartments and haven’t decided on which real estate agent or agency you want to work with and you’ll get back to them. If you like them, and are willing to work with them EXCLUSIVELY, then sign it – but READ THE FINE PRINT. I always recommend meeting with several different people in a profession before deciding on ONE to work with. This goes for lawyers, accountants, doctors, therapists, etc. The ball is in your court as the customer. You really want to find a real estate agent who is going to be ON IT and has YOUR best interests in mind. If the apartment you’re looking at is a sublease, which many Craigslist ads are for (my apartment in the West Village wasn’t; it was directly through the building’s management agency), then you need to make sure that the person leasing to YOU is allowed to sublease. You can look into this by seeing their original lease or going straight to the owner/management agency for the building. Make sure there aren’t random building fees that you’re responsible for ON TOP of the rent in a sublease situation too. Again, READ THE FINE PRINT. Check to make sure the building you love hasn’t been repeatedly infested with critters. Often times, what can happen in an older building is, (I’ve heard too many horror stories from friends…) you’ll have a tenant who’s been residing there for 40+ years, is a total hoarder, and refuses to allow anyone inside to spray, so the building continues to get re-infested and the problem never goes away. In addition to critters, you should ask the listing agent or building managers about construction plans for the area; because you certainly don’t want to move into a place and hear drilling for a year straight. Lastly, DO NOT WIRE MONEY to anyone that you are not 100% sure of is legit. Wire transfer frauds happen ALL THE TIME. Be Willing To Sacrifice If you want to live in NYC you’re going to have to sacrifice something. No apartment is perfect. Maybe it doesn’t have a washer/dryer in the building, maybe it doesn’t have an elevator, maybe it’s extremely small, but in a great neighborhood, maybe it’s big, but not in the greatest neighborhood, etc…. You ultimately need to figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice and what’s most important. I will share the things that I sacrificed early on and never cared/minded: no doorman, no microwave, tiny kitchen, no washer/dryer in building, no view, and no AC. Having a doorman is great, but if you can get a PO Box or send packages to your office then do that. Having a tiny kitchen with no microwave honestly isn’t a big deal. You eat out in NYC so much or order take out that it’s just not a huge inconvenience. Not having a washer/dryer in your building isn’t a big deal either because it’s so easy to find a dry cleaner to pick up and drop off laundry. Not having a good view never really affected me as long as I had good natural light. And lastly, barely anyone has central AC in NYC. I always just bought a window unit from Home Depot and installed it in the summer, then placed it in storage for the rest of the year – no big deal. Things that I wouldn’t be willing to negotiate for now (and again this is just me/my personal preferences; we are all different): elevator, neighborhood, good natural light, and low noise levels. Having an elevator is a game changer for heavy suitcases when you’re traveling and God forbid if you ever break something. Decent natural light from windows is important during those dark, dreary winter months. Neighborhood is SUPER important to me because it’s what I’m exposed to every single day when I walk out my door. I want to love the restaurants, shops, hotels, people, parks, architecture, and the overall vibe I’m surrounded by. And in terms of noise; it’s NYC so you’re never going to have total peace and quiet, but of course, there are certain areas that are more quiet than others. Just be cognizant of where your apartment is situated and ask things like; Is it overlooking a busy street or in the back of a building where the noise is muffled? Is it near a fire station? A bar? A nightclub? A school? A hospital? A construction site? All things to be aware of! Cost of Living in NYC + Negotiating Tips It’s no secret that housing in NYC is expensive. I can’t say exactly how much you should pay because I don’t know your financial situation. I also can’t say how much a typical apartment costs because prices vary widely much based on neighborhood, building, amenities, etc. When you’re looking for an apartment, be sure to do ample research and compare the price per square footage of other similar apartments in the area to the one you’re looking at. You should look at past rentals in the same building (Streeteasy provides this info) to see if they compare to the apartment you’re interested in, and what rent those tenants were paying going back as far as 2 years. You can use that as leverage if you’re trying to negotiate the monthly rent. Usually, you can finagle a little bit off the asking price, so don’t be afraid to offer $100-$200 less per month for rent. If you REALLY want the apartment and think it’s a pretty fair price, then be careful not to low ball because you might lose out on it. You can usually negotiate the broker’s fee down too so don’t be afraid to say you only want to pay 1 months rent; not 15% of the yearly rent. I have always had to pay a brokers fee even when they barely did anything. It’s just how this game works, but I’ve never paid more than 1 months rent. If you’re hesitant on getting a roommate in the city – don’t be! It’s extremely cost effective and really nice when you’re just getting started! Where To Live In NYC – Neighborhoods Every neighborhood has something special to offer. And everyone’s preferences are so different. Maybe you have kids and want more of a residential, tree lined street feel. I’d recommend certain parts of the West Village, Tribeca, or Brooklyn; particularly Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill. Maybe you are fresh out of college and want something super safe, quiet, and affordable. I’d recommend the Upper East Side. Maybe you’re single and love going out, so you want a lively neighborhood close to the best restaurants and bars. I’d recommend Soho or West Village. Maybe you don’t want to feel like you’re living in the city. I’d recommend Brooklyn. The best way to figure out what neighborhood is ideal for you is to walk around it. And if you’re really unsure, rent an Airbnb or hotel room in the area for a few days to get the full experience. I’ve most recently lived in Soho and West Village and have only amazing things to say about both neighborhoods. If those neighborhoods didn’t exist I’d probably live in Noho or Tribeca. There are SO many wonderful neighborhoods though, so be open and see what sticks out to you! Move-In Tips Before you move in, I recommend doing a walk through to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape. The walls should have been repainted, the apartment should have been deep cleaned, and all appliances should work. Test things out – turn on the hot and cold water, run the dishwasher, open the fridge, and make sure all of the windows lock. Before you move your furniture in, I’d highly suggest getting an exterminator to come in and spray + seal any holes. This is NYC and something we all need to think about. Critters come up through the back of the oven, holes in closets, gaps in doors, etc so be smart and seal your place early on. Also, if you have a fire escape outside your apartment, I would get a wood bar from Home Depot to put in your window as an extra safety precaution. Speaking of fire – get a fire extinguisher to keep under your kitchen sink. You never know when you’ll need it! And lastly, if you don’t have a dead bolt, add one. I hope I covered all of your questions about finding an apartment in NYC! It can be a daunting experience – and stressful for sure, but in the end it’s so worth it to live in the best city in the world. Feel free to leave any questions below!
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