Spread Love, It's the Brooklyn Way

Sonja Lyubomrisky is a social psychologist who has compiled extensive data on what makes people happy: expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, avoiding overthinking and social comparison, practicing acts of kindness, nurturing social relationships, developing strategies for coping, learning to forgive, increasing flow experiences where one is absorbed in activity, savoring life’s joys, committing to your goals, practicing religion and taking care of your body through physical activity.

For some reason, I'm the last person to find out when Mercury is in retrograde. A string of technology failures, communication issues, and an emotional roller coaster took ahold of me inconveniently during a much-anticipated trip to the Pacific Northwest last October. Everyone tried to reason with me: Mercury is in retrograde! I had no idea what it meant and brushed it aside. It must have been a one-time thing.

Sikeeee. For the past week, I've been feeling completely off-kilter. Highly emotional and over-analyzing everything from my personal relationships and my life choices to the placement of my apartment. Oy! It's been a headache. Until the Twitter universe kindly threw me a bone. I just love Harper's Bazaar's article on how to survive the next couple of weeks. If you want to prepare for the next cycle, the next round is May 19 until June 11th. I've marked my calendar! And, per my horoscope and the quote above will funnel all my energy into getting things back on track, including this here blog. How are you faring?

Here are a few other links keeping my mind off the crazies:
1. I've really got to get on top of this list: The 25 Classic Restaurants Every New Orleanian Must Try (EaterNola)
2. Even though I've been in a long-term relationship, I still try to understand What Men Want  (Evan Marc Katz) 
3. The 5 Words That Improved My Email Efficiency & Inbox Woes (Hands & Hustle)
4. Our brilliant design team shared a preview behind the branding of Montrose Shop (Stitch Design Co.)
5. And, finally The 10 most important life lessons to master in your 30s (QZ)

The First of Upperlyne & Co.

Ever since I was a young, I knew my end goal was to have specialty shop somewhere down the line. What that store looks like? I have no idea, but I know what it would feel like and how I'd make it a refreshing addition to the plethora of shops in the market.  This simple but lofty dream, while vague, remains firmly in the back of my mind. It is my ultimate professional end goal; something I want to do until my old age. I don't need to make millions. I just want to be responsible for my own success. One thing I know for sure, though, is that I am pre-mature. That I have a lot left to learn and that I need to go through a process to get there. Because in order for me to love a business wholeheartedly, I have to be involved in every step of the way. From developing the idea, art directing, and funding, to building it brick-by-brick. Truth be told, I'm happily not there yet.

Some of you have asked how am I able to do what I'm doing. How I'm able to afford my current lifestyle. I won't bore you with the little details, but I will tell you that it takes risk, sincere planning, a lot of sweat equity, an uncomfortable amount of credit card debt, and a boat load of faith. Instead of savings, any money I earn is put toward laying down the brick work for that end goal. Maybe you're in the same boat as me but I'm starting to get out of the habit of needing to do everything perfectly at the first go. I'm starting to be ok with slowly building up instead of waiting until things are just right. And so, I said to heck with it. Let's lay down some groundwork. That first brick, I'm so excited (and nervous, of course!) to announce is the first product to be born under the Upperlyne & Co. name. 

After months of development, we have a ticking stripe apron designed for the classic entertainer and aspiring cook who wants to look as stylish in the kitchen as she is elsewhere. It's a durable and functional apron that will complement your outfit. So, you can wear it in the kitchen, around guests, or in the garden. It's made for people - who like me - might not be the best cook but want to feel and look good, and to have quality products to match that lifestyle.

I had a complex and lofty plan to get these babies to market, but I've decided to take the slow and steady route and own this process. A very limited quantity will be available in a few short weeks. I'll be sure to keep you all posted! xo

24 Hours in New Orleans with Design*Sponge

When mega-blog Design*Sponge asked me to share a travel guide for New Orleans, I couldn't contain my excitement! It's rather difficult to pinpoint all the things I love in one day, so I thought it would be most helpful to share my perfect downtown day. This is an example of a day Josh and I have had many times over. It's our absolute favorite kind of day. 

I’ve never been to New Orleans myself, but in my mind it’s a place that takes you a step back in time; a place filled with soul, plenty of character(s), historic streets that fill up every night with music and dancing, coffee shops and stores that are always bustling and, at any given time, the sound of a saxophone playing in the distance. Turns out, this isn’t too far off from the truth (other than the saxophone bit — maybe I got a tad carried away there).

New Orleans is home to Juley Thuy Le (pictured above) of Upperlyne & Co., a blog-turned-business. She’s a proud Southerner who simply can’t shake the city and confessed that she had a hard time fitting all of her favorite places into one day. Now, time for my confession: In crafting this post I asked Juley to confirm the proper pronunciation of New Orleans, which, as it turns out, is the charming, soulful way you’d expect: “Never, ever, ever New Or-Leens. [It’s] New Or-lins!” - Sabrina Smelko, Design*Sponge

I grew up an hour from New Orleans in a smaller town on the bayou and remember weekend trips to the big city. Just as I was beginning to fall madly in love with New Orleans, I had to move to Nashville for a job, where I spent most of my time figuring out how to move back. This city just pulls you in. You can live here for 10 years (as I have) and not have seen it all. You can take on the city with a group of friends or on your own. It’s a photographer and history buff’s paradise. It’s so imperfect that you want to help find solutions and build great businesses. A place with as much character as potholes. I hope my 24-hour guide helps your next trip, but feel free to scrap it and create your own. It’s impossible to have a bad time here.

9 am: My perfect downtown day starts with a scenic route of the city on the historic streetcar line with my boyfriend. We hop off on Canal Street and walk towards the French Quarter. Our first stop is always Petite Amelie for a healthy green juice (the mint julep is the best!) and a buttery, flaky croissant, because, you know — balance. 

9:30 am: As often as we explore New Orleans, there’s always something new to see so we usually wander aimlessly to take everything in and people-watch. Royal Street is my absolute favorite. It’s lined with art galleries, cafes and shops. But, the best part is the street musicians and entertainers. On the luckiest days, we get to witness the incredible duo Tanya & Dorise pull at everyone’s heartstrings with their violin and bass set. It’s quite possibly the dreamiest background music to have on a sunny day in the Quarter. And other days, there are second lines and jazz musicians who make something as simple as walking seem that much more special.


Noon: My sister has been taking me to Camellia Grill in uptown since I was 14. When they opened the second location downtown, it was game over! We love eating at The Grill for both breakfast or for lunch because of the laid-back diner atmosphere. Paired with the fun, tongue-in-cheek service, their pastrami omelets and milkshakes are great any time of the day.

1 pm: After lunch, it’s back to strolling the city. This time, we move away from the Quarter, through Jackson Square, check out the French Market, and finally end at the Mississippi River. There’s usually a stop or two at Canal Place for an afternoon movie and a little shopping.

3 pm: At this time, I’m in dire need of a pick-me-up so we head back to the French Quarter to Spitfire Coffee for the best iced vanilla lattes. We love to stop by Bevolo Gas & Electric to watch the coppersmiths hand-make their famous gaslights. Beckman’s Bookshop and Papier Plume are also favorite stops. My boyfriend loves soccer so we always make a point to stop by Ryan’s Pub for games and an ice-cold glass of Strongbow.

5 pm: Happy hour is usually spent at Cane & TableSoBou (great happy hour deals), or we head to Wednesday at The Square, a 12-week live music series in Lafayette Square.

6 pm: Hop back on the streetcar to head home. We stop by Keife & Co. to pick up a bottle of wine, cheese, baguette, and chocolates for dinner at home.

10 pm: After dinner, we usually meet friends at our neighborhood wine bar, The Delachaise, where we indulge in yummy duck fat fries and Pimm's Cups in a very Parisian atmosphere.

Thank you Design*Sponge for the wonderful opportunity. Check out their travel guides and my full post for more travel inspiration!