I cannot believe how quickly this year is flying – it’s already May and my summer is quickly filling up! It’s been almost two months since I’ve shared a look into my life lately, so I have a lot to catch you up on!
One thing that has been on my mind a lot this year is how to best spend my free time on my creative projects. I’ve been posting on TikTok more and having a lot of fun doing so — but taking video content is still a new skill for me, so it is time consuming to both shoot and edit, and I tend to be a perfectionist, especially when I am picking up a new skill. But one cool thing is that my journey on TikTok as a novice reminds me of my early blogging days — I used to put in so much time to both taking and editing my photos, and now it’s second nature to me, so I am hoping the same can be said for my video content one day.
But then, any time I spend making video content takes away from this sort of written long-form blog content. While the latter can be hard to motivate myself to do after a long day, it is something I want to continue to put effort into — unlike TikTok, which could go away at anytime, or Instagram, which offers up an algorithm that is on my daily shit list, my blog is something I own and control 100%. I do feel like the nature of long-form blogging has changed so much since I writing A Touch of Teal back in 2014, though. I used to spend so much time reading my favorite bloggers — who posted long-form content daily! — and now, I rarely find myself reading a blogpost unless someone links to something compelling on Instagram Stories. So then, part of me, wonders if writing long-form blogposts is worth the effort when sharing on more visual, less-text heavy mediums is often less time intensive and more engaging — both to me and, seemingly, to you.
Concurrently, the older I’ve gotten, the less vulnerable I’ve wanted to be on the internet — and my philosophy has always been to write the blog I would want to read, which often means sharing my heart in some regard. Given my reservations in this arena, I feel like my blog has become more of a resource for travel, book, dining, and home decor recommendations, which is great, but is often the type of content you seek out when you’re in the need for it — not the type of content you read while you’re enjoying your morning cup of coffee, you know?
And then other times, I just want to live my life, and not worry so much about capturing it to share it. (I have always loved taking pictures, even as a kid! But to me there’s a big difference in capturing a photo just for your own memory versus one you capture to share with others.) I am continually impressed by some of the creators on TikTok who are able to share their daily lives or cleaning routines — but I have to think that it must be exhausting at a certain point to always be filming, especially when doing quotidian things. Yet, sometimes, I put pressure on myself and can’t help but wonder as I’m unloading the dishwasher or the afternoon light is hitting just right in my apartment — should I be capturing this?
All that to say, I’m not going anywhere, on any platform — but I am thinking about my overall strategy so I can focus on the places that are most fun for me (this is my hobby, not my job!), while rightsizing the amount of effort I am spending on things that maybe aren’t driving a ton of value — whether monetarily or in my personal joy.
If you have any thoughts on influencers/creators/bloggers — whatever we are calling them these days! — let me know; this is something I think about often and am definitely interested in having a dialogue around the ever-changing landscape.
AN OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA STAYCATION —
My sister, Jennifer, turned 30 in April, and to celebrate, I treated her to a one-night staycation in Old Town, Alexandria last month! We stayed at The Alexandrian right on King Street, so the location was unbeatable. We arrived in the early afternoon and did some shopping — of all the places we went to, I loved The Lucky Knot the most. They offer an awesome selection of clothing and accessories, and have so many cute sundresses. (They also have a ton of formal gowns on the second floor if you’re in the market!) When we popped out of The Lucky Knot, the skies were rather ominous, so we decided we better start looking for a place to ride out the storm.
We tried to grab a drink at Brut Champagne & Wine Bar, but it is very small and was already full, so we headed over to Sonoma Cellar and grabbed two seats at the bar. It’s a California-inspired spot, and located inside a historic home right on King Street. We split a bottle of bubbles and some burrata while it absolutely poured outside, so taking shelter was absolutely the right call.
After the rain cleared up, we headed back to the hotel, freshened up for dinner, and then headed to Thompson Italian! Done by the same people that do L’Artusi in Manhattan, it’s one of my favorite Italian spots. My dinner club has previously gone to their Falls Church location, so I was excited to try out their new-ish Old Town location. Both are great — the Falls Church location feels a little more cozy, while the Old Town location feels a little more cosmopolitan — and have incredible food. We split the lamb meatballs (a must-order!) and some garlic bread to start, and then both ordered the rigatoni. They brought out a dessert to celebrate the birthday girl, and we both left with full hearts and full stomachs.
Ever since the pandemic, they’ve closed off the last few blocks of King Street near the river to car traffic and it has made for such a lovely and lively scene. We headed back that way for a nightcap and ended up at O’Connell’s, one of our favorite bars in Old Town. They have a small rooftop space overlooking King Street — we enjoyed our time out there since it was one of the first nice days of spring and offered great people watching!
It was such a great little staycation with Jennifer, and I can’t wait to see all the memories we make together in our next 30 years!
A WILMINGTON WEDDING —
I wrote about the wonderful afternoon I spent in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina with my sisters here, and wanted to share a little bit about our time in Wilmington, too! We were in town for my cousin Caroline’s wedding, and it was such a beautiful affair. I wore this Petal + Pup Pontee One Shoulder Pleated Dress in pink and loved it. The dress also comes in black and champagne, and is at a great price just under $100. The pink is often out of stock, but they do regular restocks — so definitely check back often if it’s sold out in your size! I paired it with these Dolce Vita heels, a pair of Target earrings, and a tweed clutch from Vici Dolls.
The night prior to the wedding, my cousins and I hung out at Anne Bonny’s — a floating barge right on the river in downtown Wilmington. (Since our family is so big, cousins typically aren’t invited to the rehearsal dinner, otherwise, it would be a second wedding!) We had the best time — if you’re looking for a fun spot for a drink or casual meal in Wilmington, I can’t recommend it enough; it also offered a great view of the sunset. After, we met up with the rest of the family at Ironclad Brewery, which was also a great spot, especially if you’re into craft beer.
On the day of the wedding, my family grabbed bagels at Beach Bagels and then checked out The Cotton Exchange and took a long walk on the riverwalk along the Cape Fear River. Wilmington is such a gorgeous port city, and I definitely want to get back to explore it even more!
THE GREAT SHAMPOO DEBATE —
Over the last 18 months, I have been on quite the journey with my hair. I’ve always had very fine, thin, and straight hair — and while a little more natural body would be nice, I’ve long made peace with my God-given hair type. At the beginning of 2022, however, I noticed my hair was falling out in clumps in the shower and way more was ending up in my hairbrush than ever before. This set me down a health journey that you can read about here, but ultimately, after conferring with my doctors, my hair loss was the result of a prolonged period of stress.
Last year, I did use Nutrafol for about six months, but did not notice a significant enough difference in my hair to justify the cost of continuing. (Disclaimer here — I am not a doctor, so definitely talk to yours before you start taking any new supplements!) And, because hair grows in three phases, it was hard for me to tell what regrowth was from Nutrafol versus what was just normal hair growth and/or my hair coming back after not being so stressed out.
During the Sephora sale last November, I decided to give Olaplex shampoo + conditioner a try. However, I wash my hair every day, and after about six months of use, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think Olaplex is too concentrated for daily use, mostly stemming from the fact I’ve noticed breakage that doesn’t have another explanation. As such, I’ve switched back to cheaper shampoo + conditioner — before Olaplex, I loved the Kristin Ess shampoo + conditioner, but this time, I am trying out the Monday shampoo + conditioner, and so far have been really happy!
I’ve also switched up what hair brush I am using and am super gentle whenever I am brushing out my hair. When I got my haircut recently, my hairdresser recommended this brush and it’s amazing for wet hair — I love it so much more than the traditional Wet Brush! I also grabbed this hair gel stick on Amazon to tame my baby hairs and am a big fan.