Val’s NYC Apartment Guide

Hola Amigos! So as you know, I decided to move neighborhoods and am now an Upper West Side girl. I have nothing but good things to say about this neighborhood. It’s so artsy, beautiful and most of all, convenient. Apartment hunting can be fun but also the most stressful thing in the world. As you’re looking, it’s important to note the things you value when it comes to a home. I prioritize neighborhood and style of living. With a new home comes decorating and reorganizing. I don’t know about you but this is the best part. I’m a huge fan of Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace. They have the best apartment stuff. I wanted to keep my new home simple and modern but with a tint of chic, of course. I’ve included a few pictures of my apartment below. Enjoy!

Photo Session with Yovan

I believe one of the best things about photography is traveling and meeting different faces. Everyone has their own story to tell and photography is the medium that communicates the story.

Yovan is a photographer from Atlanta, Georgia ( instagram.com/yovaaannn). We decided to meet up together and shoot for fun. He captured these images with a Canon 6D + Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 lens. Unfortunately, it was a quick shoot in Piedmont Park, so I only had one outfit. However, I’m super excited with how the pictures came out.

Yovan is truly amazing, and his photography encourages me to become better. Creative minds definitely inspire others!

How do you stay inspired? Leave the comments below. 

 
 

How I Edit My Photos

Hi Guys, so I want to start off by saying this is MY way of editing pictures. Like I have said before, I do not consider myself a photographer but rather a girl with a camera who likes to shoot and take cute pics occasionally, simply for fun. I take pictures with my iPhone 6s, which I am currently dying to switch over to the 7 but I might as well wait for the 8 AND my camera – a Canon M3. By the way, I highly recommend the Canon M3 for those of you who want a DSLR camera but dislike how heavy they all are. Essentially, the Canon M3 offers high DSLR quality photos but because it is mirrorless, it is a lot smaller and lighter than the average camera. Mirrorless cameras don’t have the complex mirror systems that DSLR cameras do, which makes them more compact and mechanically simpler. You can also change the lenses. Now, if you are trying to get into photography as a hobby or career, I do not recommend you get a mirrorless. Ok, I’m getting off topic here.

Lighting is one of the most important factors when creating an image. Your pictures will still come out blurred and grainy without proper lighting, regardless of your edits. Additionally, natural lighting is one the best sources you can use when taking pictures. I like to use an application called VSCOcam to edit my pictures, which is free to download. It is also a great tool to use to see how your images will look on your feed before publishing them. Lastly, Instagram filters are a no go.

Anyways, here is how I edit my pictures. Hope you enjoy it! 

xoxo,

val

Portraits

A6 filter +6.2 | Exposure -1.0 | Contrast -0.5 | Temperature 1.0 | Grain +3.5

A6 filter +7.0 | Exposure -0.4 | Contrast -1.0 | Temperature -0.4 | Grain +3.5

Selfie Fun 

A8 filter +6.5 | Exposure -0.5 | Contrast 0.0 | Temperature +0.8 | Grain +3.3

Landscape ~ Nature Shots

HB2 filter +8.4 | Exposure -2.7 | Contrast -1.9 | Temperature -1.0 | Grain +9.3

C1 filter +6.7 | Exposure -3.7 | Contrast +1.4 | Temperature -0.9 | Grain +8.5

Selfie Fun Part 2

A6 filter +6 | Exposure -0.3 | Contrast +0.4 | Grain +6.9

Brunch with Open City

Pizza, fresh salads, all day breakfast, burgers, and more. Open City is a diner, coffeehouse, and bar situated in DC, just a few blocks away from Woodley Park. The perfect combination for those who enjoy a relaxing yet enjoyable location. 

Open City has a diverse menu at reasonable great prices. Being able to order breakfast until 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays makes it a local spot for foodies craving late night breakfast, especially the young ones, after a long night out. Their diverse menu offers selections from sandwiches, pizza, salads, and like mentioned before; they serve breakfast all day. During my visit, I didn’t order from the breakfast menu, but it seemed most of their breakfast entrees included eggs, pancakes, and French toast dishes – the typical American breakfast.

Since I enjoy ordering from the healthier side when I go out to eat, I went ahead and ordered the Sesame - Quinoa Ginger Salad for the fair price of $13.00. It includes Golden quinoa mixed with red and yellow peppers and carrots. Topped with watermelon radish, avocado, toasted sesame seeds and sesame ginger dressing. My boyfriend, however, went all out and ordered the OC Burger, known as the “Open City” Burger, named after them. It is a half-pound of New York strip ground steak with white cheddar, and Applewood smoked bacon and a side of chipotle mayo. I would have to say, both of our dishes were amazing. My salad was excellent. I was happy it didn’t taste like a typical and boring iceberg salad. My boyfriend was pleased with his selection as well, he ordered it with a side of crispy, sweet potato fries, which made it even better.

However, excellent service? Not so much.

The food is unquestionably tasty, but the service is mediocre. Such a shame because the restaurant itself looks appealing and nice, but they do need to work with their customer service. I believe if they work on that, they’ll be booming. We can all agree; there is always room for improvement.

Open city is certainly flourishing off its famous location, but how long can they keep this up? It surely is, always full. Could it be the location or the food itself? Who knows. Even though I loved my salad, would I go out of my way to eat at Open City? Probably not. However, I would have to agree, if you happen to be in the area, go ahead and give it a try.

 
 

D.C. You are Beautiful

I would say Beautiful has a lot of definitions. Maybe that's why they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Before visiting DC, I wasn't expecting much; maybe just a few monuments, the white house, and museums. Nonetheless, I was wrong. It's so beautiful in so many ways and yes the monuments are a great sight. Washington D.C. is full of green parks, boutiques, open door restaurants, and wide tree-lined streets which give it that European vibe. It's spacious, cute, and you definitely don't feel that congestion you feel in New York. Not to mention, D.C.'s Metro is the number one system in the nation; you can pretty much get anywhere in D.C. using the subway. Just remember, you don’t have to be a politics nerd to enjoy the city. 

- Happy Tuesday.

Personal Recipe: Quinoa & Lentil Salad

 
 

Hello, beautiful people. I'm so excited to finally launch my blog. For my first official post, here is a quick, healthy, and easy recipe! I have to say I was so excited to try this one out and it was fantastic.

Prep time: 10 minutes + 20 min of cook time

Ingredients: 

4 oz chicken breast 

Olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

3 mini sweet peppers

1/2 cup of Lentils

1/2 cup of Quinoa

Preparation: Begin by seasoning the chicken breast with a teaspoon of salt. Once you are finished, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a preheated pan. Toss the chicken in the pan; make sure the stove is set to medium. 

While you are waiting on the chicken, boil one cup of water with a pinch of salt and olive oil. Then, add 1/2 a cup of lentils and 1/2 a cup of quinoa into the boiling waiter. After about 20 minutes everything should be ready and cooked. Lastly, dice up some sweet peppers. Mix it all together & Enjoy! ❤

For Vegan eaters - leave off the grilled chicken :)