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NEW YORK CITY GUIDE: PALMA



What: Saturday brunch at Palma with Carver and Will

Where: 28 Cornelia Street, West Village

Why: Classic brunch fare and a super charming block. But the real reason I love Palma? Flowers. Everywhere. Seriously the prettiest (and most fragrant) brunch spot in the entire city! More NYC recommendations here. 

Keep up with Design Darling


WEEKEND READING


Considering these affordable X benches in lieu of a coffee table. Love the white trim!

Feeling really inspired by Grace's fitness updates. I need to get my butt to the gym!

I hit 40,000 followers on Pinterest. Join me!

In case you missed it, my advice for moving to New York.

Inspiration for your dream closet.

Loved this: the smart girl's guide to vitamins.

This DIY project would be super pretty with pink peonies.

WEEKEND WARDROBE


Whew, happy Friday! This week I interviewed two fabulous new career features, had a couple brand meetings, took outfit pictures in insane wind (can't wait to see how those turn out... eek), and did dinner and drinks with a bunch of girlfriends I hadn't seen in way too long. The career shoots in particular have become a really rewarding part of my week... I'm always nervous on the way there but the actual interview is always inspiring and I always leave with an extra skip in my step. I hope you feel the same way reading them! It makes me excited to keep producing original content for the blog and see what else my little corner of the internet could become.

This weekend is supposed to rain so I'm thinking it's time to catch up on my Netflix queue (anyone else getting really into House of Cards?!) and maybe catch a movie in theaters if there's anything worth seeing. (Recommendations please!) Whatever you're up to, stay dry and have a good one! xx

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10 DREAM BEDROOMS

Pinterest really is the most valuable tool when it comes to decorating. I love being able to collect inspiration in one place and then go back and connect the dots on what inspires me about each pin. I thought I'd share a little bit of my bedroom brainstorming with you — ten bedrooms I love (for totally different reasons!) and three key items from each interior to help recreate a similar look. This post took me forever but it was actually a pretty fun experiment to see which pieces I was most drawn to in each bedroom and try to get the same look with items you can shop online. Now if I could just narrow it all down for my own space...


















10 UNDER $100


Ten more pieces for your spring decorating and dressing up, all under $100. I'm thinking of making this a regular feature on Design Darling... I know we're all working with different budgets and I like to think there's something here for everybody! Let me know your thoughts. 


That silky top for $49 is a steal, don't you think? 


ADVICE FOR MOVING TO NEW YORK

Anxious about moving to New York? I've been getting so many emails about moving to the city, finding a first apartment, finding the right neighborhood, etc. that I thought it might be worthwhile to compile some of the most frequently asked questions into one post. I hope some of you find this helpful!



How did you find your apartment?
I'm obsessed with Streeteasy and highly recommend it for preliminary research. You can search by neighborhood, price, number of bedrooms, pets, etc., save listings you like, and contact brokers and owners directly through the site. I have a couple friends who found their apartments without brokers but I was moving during my busy season for work so it was hugely helpful to work with a broker. Mine worked so hard to find the right apartment that I was almost happy to write him a check for all his help. (Email me if you'd like his info!)

Which neighborhood do you live in? 
I lived on the Upper East Side my first year and just moved to the West Village. The Upper East Side was more "affordable" (which I use as a relative term given that everything in New York is pretty pricey) but the West Village is a better location for downtown meetings, my social life, and taking Rory to the dog park. I now spend more money on my apartment but less time and money on cabs.

How should I choose where to live?
Consider where you work, what you can afford, where your friends live, how often you take the subway, and where you tend to eat and go out. There's no one "cool" place to live and each neighborhood has its own unique feel. Talk to your coworkers and friends who live here and spend an afternoon in a couple different neighborhoods to decide where you feel most at home. I equate it to touring different college campuses your senior year of high school, except you'll only have to stay one year.

How much did you save before moving to New York?
Obviously this is a personal matter but my advice is to save as much as you possibly can. I was lucky that I could live with my parents in Connecticut for a year to save money. If that's not an option, you could always pick up a second job on campus during your senior year to start putting money aside. (I worked in alumni relations on campus and did a virtual internship for an online magazine.) There are no two ways around it: New York is expensive and it helps to start saving early. Where there's a will, there's a way!

How can I make living in New York more affordable?
Pick your battles. For this apartment, I cared most about location and natural light. For other people, having a great kitchen or a true one-bedroom might be more important. My situation is rare in that I work from home and it wouldn't be fair to subject a roommate to my business, dog, inventory, etc. But if your post-grad situation is more traditional, having roommates and living in less central boroughs or neighborhoods is a great way to cut costs. Here's a map with the median rent for one-bedroom apartments last year to help you get a feel for which neighborhoods cost less than others.

How can I decorate my first place on a budget?
I wrote a whole post on that right here!

This all sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth it?
Ask anyone who's dealt with moving to or within New York and they'll tell you it's not a walk in the park. But there's something about this city that sucks you in and makes you fall head over heels in love with it. My friend Hallie did an awesome job explaining it in her love letter to New York City.

I'm visiting New York for the weekend. What should I do / where should I eat?
Check out my New York City guide — I'll be adding new favorites every week! Some recent favorites include Café Cluny, Café Gitane, the Mermaid Inn, Palma, and Tipsy Parson. And definitely see a Broadway show if you can — I loved these three.



BLOGSHOP NEW YORK


Last week I got to cross off my tenth task on my 101 in 1001 list. Wooohoooo! I finally downloaded Photoshop and took Blogshop as a crash course in learning the program. All I can say is whoa. I didn't know my 24-year-old brain was capable of absorbing that much information in just two days (you know how they say the optimal age to learn a new language is around 10?) and I can't wait to incorporate some of what I learned into Design Darling over the coming weeks and months. Understanding layers, adding type, writing on images, applying actions, learning healing and stamping... I feel like I have a totally new vocabulary. Oh and we even made gifs:

{Wearing this top and this necklace}

If you're on the fence about taking Blogshop, here's my advice: do it. I've definitely paid for disappointing classes and workshops before but this was not one of them. The workshop was the perfect mix of fun and structure: mimosas, numbered lessons, photo opps, practice time, etc. There were interns walking around to make sure everyone was up to speed and we were given flash drives with every lesson as a takeaway for more practice at home. And the lessons are pertinent well beyond blogging — I know I'll be able to improve product photos for my boutique and even touch up our family Christmas cards thanks to everything I learned. If you've been wanting to learn Photoshop, this is the way to do it.

*This is not a sponsored post. I just loved the experience and had to share!


OUTFIT {NORDSTROM FAVORITES}

Julie Vos necklace  //  Clare Vivier clutch  //  Sole Society heels c/o (old, similar)

When Nordstrom asked me to help spread the word about some of their emerging designers,  I was excited to purchase something a little outside my comfort zone. That's what I love about Nordstrom: they carry my favorite basics (these jeans, for instance) but mix it up with lots of fun new-to-me designers as well. I settled on this Sandro top, a beige silk number with a cutout back and leather trim. It's a little dressier and more edgy than I typically wear but the quality is amazing and it's a fun piece for date night... or around town if you throw a navy blazer on top! Business in the front, party in the back. ;) Shop a few more of my Nordstrom favorites here:





*Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post!

IVY & VINE GIVEAWAY!



My friends over at Ivy & Vine are gearing up for another sale on One Kings Lane and I'm dying over every piece in this sneak peek! The tastemaker tag sale starts tomorrow, Tuesday, March 25, at 11 a.m. EST (I'll link up when it's live!). In the mean time though, Ivy & Vine is giving away three sets of leopard throw pillows to three lucky Design Darling readers! To enter, simply follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below and I'll contact the winners on Friday. Good luck!



WEEKEND WARDROBE


blazer  //  earrings  //  tank top  //  wicker bag  //  leather watch  //  jeans  //  ballet flats

I can't get over how cute this wicker camera clutch is. The perfect weekend bag! We're expecting weather in the 50s again so I'm making plans to catch up with one of my oldest friends, log some serious time playing fetch at the dog park, and shoot a couple things for the blog. 

This week was so much fun with a panel on building a blog and online businessgirls' night outnew career feature, and two days of Photoshop fun (more on that next week!). It was a great reminder of how much I love what I do: sharing, writing, photographing for the blog and constantly learning something new to improve the boutique. I can't wait to do it all again on Monday. But for now, let's do this, weekend! Have a great one. xx



TORY BURCH'S SOUTHAMPTON HOME


The girl crush continues. I've had this tour of Tory Burch's Southampton home saved in my bookmarks forever and finally remembered to post it here. Dream home inspiration, anyone? Happy first day of spring! xx

Get the look:

OUTFIT {JUST THE CLASSICS}


This outfit includes so many of my current favorite pieces that I think we should just refer to this post as my spring uniform going forward. It's a look so classic that I could look back twenty years from now and not regret a single piece, which has become my unofficial metric for a favorite outfit. First of all: this boy shirt, which is as cute on its own as it is layered under a sweater. Second: these pants, which I cannot believe cost just $35. They would be perfect for wearing to work in a traditional office and come in a ton of colors so you can stock up for the whole season. They're made of a heavyweight cotton that feels way more pricey than it is and have just the right amount of stretch thanks to 5% spandex. Yes please! Next: this clutch, a Christmas gift that I have been dying to bust out for spring, and my Brandy Pham ring, which you've seen me wear a million times and you'll probably see a million more because I just love it that much. And finally the shoes, which are just a little bit higher than this J.Crew pair and insanely flattering (I can't wait to wear them with dresses once it warms up). What about you — what pieces are in heavy rotation in your wardrobe right now?


This post was sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy's latest fashion lineup in store or online at oldnavy.com.

CAREER SPOTLIGHT: TAMRA SANFORD, EVER SWOON

Thank you all for the amazing feedback on Design Darling's first career feature! I have some really exceptional women lined up for the next few months and I can't wait to keep sharing their stories with you. We could all use a little extra #girlpower, don't you think? 

Today's spotlight is on Tamra Sanford, an event planner extraordinaire and one of the feistiest, most fabulous women I've gotten to know since moving to New York. She founded her company Ever Swoon in 2012 and has taken the wedding industry by storm, landing her in New York Magazine's little black book for preferred wedding vendors after just six months in business. Being an event planner is totally one of those careers that I would have listed as a dream job as a little girl so it's pretty neat to see Tamra making those dreams a reality. I'll let her take it from here!


Name: Tamra Sanford
Age: 30
Position: Founder and owner of Ever Swoon 
Location: Tamra's SoHo apartment and home office

What was your first job ever? Were you always interested in event planning?
I taught ballet and interned for the Texas Rangers but I've always been planning events on the side! My grand idea at the ballet studio where I worked was to use an extra room to host birthday parties for kids.

So you've always had a bit of an entrepreneurial streak. How did you wind up launching your own company?
I moved to New York and started working in product development at a major beauty company. I continued planning events on the side, volunteering for charities, and planned my own wedding. Eventually it caught on with other women in my company and through my blog. I started hearing from people, "Can you help me plan my wedding?" Finally it occurred to me that this is something I'm really good at — why don't I take the leap?


And that was back in 2012. What does a typical day look like in 2014?
It sounds so cliché but there really isn't a typical day. I could be doing venue visits all over the city (or outside the city!), appointments for flowers, photographers, videographers, stationery, or meeting with clients in my studio. I like to take one day a week where I have no meetings and can just sit at my desk and get shit done. 

That's great advice for anyone who's self-employed. I'm taking notes! How would you describe your ideal client?
My ideal client is somebody who wants to enjoy the process of wedding planning, the experience of being a bride. I love hearing each person's story and pairing them with vendors that will make the process special for them. I build relationships with each couple, letting them know they're heard and really becoming a friend to them in the months leading up to their wedding.


You told me earlier that you're juggling more than 20 weddings this year. (Congrats!) How do you keep everything organized?
I live by Google Docs. My clients are able to access their budget sheets, contracts, planning documents — everything lives in one place. Quickbooks is a must-have as a small business owner; you can photograph your receipts and upload them to Quickbooks instead of holding on to them and having to sort them at the end of the year. And some of my clients like to create a joint board on Pinterest for planning. 


What's it like to be self-employed in the wedding industry?
Well, the wedding industry is pretty much run by innovative small business owners. Every day I'm surrounded by inspiring and successful entrepreneurs. Whether you've been in the business for two months or fifteen years, we're constantly teaching each other new things. Right now I'm launching this group called Downtown Wedding Revolution. I'm partnering with all these amazing women: a wedding dress salon, a beauty concierge, a stationery company, a jeweler, a floral designer. We all started getting together because we realized we were sharing a lot of the same downtown clients and we all look at the wedding industry in a different light. It's a very approachable, laid back, fun, and business-savvy group.


The shoes Tamra wore to her wedding!

That's so exciting! What's the best advice you've received along the way?
Not everything is going to be perfect, no matter how much planning you do. It's how you handle it and react to challenges in the moment. That's a must in this business!
(Editor's note: Tamra is definitely a roll-with-the-punches kind of girl! When we couldn't get the right lighting in her studio, she offered to climb out onto her fire escape to capture the portrait above. Love it!)

When will you know you've made it?
In some ways, I feel like I already have made it! I really love what I do. But I never want to feel comfortable. I always want to feel like there's something else I'm chasing!

Keep up with Tamra:
Ever Swoon  //  Facebook  //  Instagram  //  Pinterest  //  Twitter







SCALLOPED DRESSES AND PAPER AND SHOES, OH MY!




one  //  two  //  three  //  four  //  five  //  six  //  seven  //  eight  //  nine  //  ten  //  eleven

Ever since I lived in this scalloped dress all last summer, I've been searching for more scalloped pieces to add to my wardrobe (and my decor!). I'd say scallops are right up there with stripes in terms of details I can't get enough of. Whether you like scallops in small doses (this stationery is my favorite) or you're ready to wear them, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of them for spring and summer. Now if it would just warm up in New York...!

Oh and I totally forgot to include them above but these scalloped ballet flats are on sale for $42... Yes please.

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JACK ROGERS & SAIL TO SABLE


Last week Carly and I hosted a little shopping event for Sail To Sable's spring collection at the Jack Rogers store. We had so much fun trying on dresses from the new line, discussing details for the designer Jen's upcoming wedding, and meeting a bunch of lovely readers (one of whom even brought us handwritten notes — consider me completely charmed!). 

I wore this striped tunic which will be perfect on Nantucket this summer (for the beach with flip flops, church with Jacks, and dinner with wedges — don't you love a piece that does double triple duty?). Carly wore this navy and pink tunic which also comes in a beaded silk that's pretty dreamy. It's been really cool to see Sail To Sable expand and improve over the years... Definitely check it out if you haven't shopped it before. I'm so proud of Jen and her team!

In addition to wanting to move into the Jack Rogers store (a must-see if you find yourself on the Upper East Side), there are about twenty pairs of sandals I could have left the store with. I wore this navy glitter pair for the event and loved the way they looked with my striped dress. I absolutely lived in my monogrammed Jacks last summer so I'm trying to decide which color to pick up next — hot pink? lime green? turquoise? Unsurprisingly, I love them all. 

Thanks to everyone who came out to say hello and shop and of course thank you to Jack Rogers and Sail To Sable for the much needed sneak peek of summer! It's less than 100 days away, you know ;)

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COLOR LOVE: OLIVE GREEN & HOT PINK

one  //  two  //  three  //  four  //  five  //  six  //  seven  //  eight  //  nine  //  ten

It's funny how much more I listen to my mom now that I'm in my twenties. Despite the fact that my mom worked in fashion throughout my childhood, there were countless times that I disregarded her advice on certain colors or silhouettes that would work for me, opting instead for whatever was new at abercrombie kids (shudder). Every now and then, I'll find myself drawn to something that my mom recommended 10+ years ago. Case in point? Olive green and hot pink. Perfect for redheads, recommended by Mom, and rediscovered just in time for spring. It took me a while but it's true: Mom always knows best.

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P.S. Want the same look for less? This top is just $32 and these shoes are $48.

SO TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF

This weekend was exactly what I needed: a double date on Friday, a long stroll on Saturday morning, dinner with friends on Saturday night, and a little work catch-up on Sunday. The glimpse of spring definitely didn't hurt either! This week will be a busy one and I'll get to cross something off my 101 in 1001 list... Stay tuned!

Let's kick off the brand new week with one of my favorite features. Tell me all about you!


Favorite board game: Competitive family Scrabble
Favorite weekend activity: Taking Rory to the dog park followed by brunch outside
Something on today's to do list: Booking flights and hotel for a friend's wedding
Where you'd live if you didn't live where you are now: Paris
Your role model: My mom, who worked in fashion for ~20 years then went back to school to become a nurse!

Now copy and paste the below questionnaire and share your responses in the comments! Can't wait to read. xx

Favorite board game:
Favorite weekend activity:
Something on today's to do list:
Where you'd live if you didn't live where you are now:
Your role model: