Second Floor Flat

Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Shopping List: 5 Natural Beauty Products

My interest in using natural beauty products has definitely increased over the past few months.

Whether it's for health reasons, my desire to support companies who are doing good things and putting fewer chemicals into the environment, or just a want to use products with yummy, fat-kid ingredients like honey coconut, I've begun to explore different, more natural products to replace the go-tos that I've been using for years.

Here are a few of my new must-haves: 

Raw Honey – be sure to buy this locally!

Raw Honey – be sure to buy this locally!

One thing I'm still missing: shampoo! I'd like to try a nice, relatively natural shampoo that will enhance shine. Recommendations, anyone?

And if you're thinking of taking a second look at your beauty products, you have to use GoodGuide – it's an amazing organization with a site and app that allows you to check the social, environmental, and health ratings of companies and products. Best idea, right?


Making Friends Online

Like many folks who are active in social media or blogging, I spend a lot of time "meeting" and forming relationships with people online. All kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons. 

I've met employers through friendly e-mail exchanges, made quality acquaintances over Twitter, industry contacts through blogging, and actual friends via Instagram.

Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite things about the internet: The genuine community that exists online, and the fact that I've formed real friendships with people who I enjoy talking to, working with, and feel inspired by. People who, in past years, I may have never met.

But when you take this offline, and try to explain to someone how you met a certain friend, it sounds a little weird.

My husband teases me about it. Because I work from home, when he returns to our flat at the end of the day I usually run up to him, not unlike a child, and tell him about my internet adventures. Which feels lame to type, much less say, even now.

 

"I met this girl and we e-mailed and now we're basically best friends."

"Cool. So how do you know her?"

"We have similar taste in Instagram."

 

I started Second Floor Flat some time after I moved to London because I was in search of a community, not to mention a new creative outlet.

After over two years living in this city and after blogging on and off, I have the foundations of a community that I really like and genuinely look forward to growing. Even if it sounds a little weird, my online friends are real friends in a way.

I have real relationships offline too, plenty of them, but I wouldn't shed my online community for anything.

And even better: Since these communities are not location specific, they can come along with you for the ride.

In my case, when we leave London and make it back to the States, my community will make the move with me. And once we're settled in North Carolina, I'll be able to start building a community of new friends there – both online and off, but both equally as real.

I can't wait to meet them.


Sunday Objects | 1

Happy weekend! Today, I'm starting a new series called Sunday Objects.

The idea behind Sunday Objects is taking time to look around, reflect, and think on the past. I've been lucky enough to travel and live in some pretty cool places, and have collected little tchotchkes all along the way. 

So each Sunday, I'll post a photo of a few simple, everyday objects in my life. All of these things remind of me of the people and places that I love, so I figured I'd share them with you folks and encourage you to do the same!

My first series of objects:

  • A beaded necklace, purchased at a roadside village on my second trip to South Africa
  • A tiny wooden shoe, purchased on my first trip to Amsterdam 
  • My trusty Herb Lester City Guide to East London, purchased when I first moved to East London at the end of 2012
  • A seashell from a family trip to Wilmington, North Carolina a few years back
  • A sugar-skull type tchotchke purchased on my second trip to Amsterdam

Now: show me your Sunday Objects! It could be anything – a pair of shoes you love, a magazine tear out that inspired you, a random pine cone. Whatever little things exist around you that you see every day, but maybe don't take the time to reflect on. Here's your chance to both reflect, and share. I'd love to see!

Have a lovely, relaxing Sunday!


Good Reads: 25 July 2014

We may not be in the English countryside this weekend, but I'm still very much looking forward to the weekend. I'd really like to see: Boyhood, this documentary, or watch Love Story for the 99 millionth time.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to brunch at a French bistro with an American gal in East London, planning our trip to Paris in August, and doing not-so-glamorous things like green card and visa paperwork. 

Here are a few lovely things I found around the web this week:

This amazing song

This darling baby gift

This interesting look at being a feminist housewife.

This wear-with-everything tunic

These interesting facts about being parenting in Germany

This dog driving a car

This amazing Atlanta street art project. (Started by a fellow SCAD alum!)

This adorable pair, and their cute dresses. 

This app that tells you whether you're a good cultural fit at a company.

This comfy-but-still-sexy black swimsuit. 

This heartbreaking story and a reminder to snuggle up with your loved ones. 

These clogs

AND:

This article on independent fashion designers I wrote for DesignGood.

This Teen Vogue shopping round-up on wide leg pants.


Weekend Getaway: Colehayes Park in Devon, England

This past weekend, we went to a really good wedding. And if you've been lucky enough to attend a really good wedding recently, you know how magical they can be. 

Mix friends and family with food, drink, dancing, and put them all together in a beautiful setting and you have the type of thing that just makes you feel better about life in general. Faith in humanity = restored.

The wedding took place in the English countryside. To be specific to people who know something about England, it was at Colehayes Park and Field Study, which is in the Dartmoor National Park in Devon. And my, was it lovely. 

The Georgian mansion dates back to 1540 and was as beautiful in the day and creepy in the night as they come.

Imagine 20-something bedroom mansion situated on the edge of a national park. Add a swimming pond, plenty of sheep, and you have something worthy of royalty. (No really – Prince William and Prince Harry once stayed in our room.)

Here are a few photos from our weekend:

We stayed at Colehayes for about four days, and spent our time dining outdoors on barbeque and woodfire pizzas, reading, napping, and explore the nearby grounds: 

And then we enjoyed the most perfect wedding, set in an English garden with the sheep providing the soundtrack. There were balloons, bubbles, and plenty of Pimm's and sunshine. 

Dress from ZARA, sandals by Marais USA

Congrats, guys! Let's do it again soon. 


A Weekend Away

And we're off! To Devon, that is, on the southwest coast of England, for the lovely wedding of dear friends.

The wedding is at a park field study that dates back to 1540 (WOAH), so aside from history and hiding from ghosts, it shall be a weekend full of food, lovely friends, hopefully sheep, and hopefully not ghosts.

We spent a weekend in Devon last year, in late summer, where we found plenty of sheep and no ghosts. This should give you an idea of the area:

I'll be Instagramming the hell out of the place, so feel free to follow along.

Have a great weekend, folks!

 

Photos by D Watterson III


How To Lose Control

My sister had a baby a few weeks ago. Her name is Eleanor Elise, and I'm in love. 

As a new parent, like any and all, I'd say one of the biggest things my sister is struggling with is that her life is now…different. Different in a beautiful, positive way, but she's struggling to cope with the lack of the structure of a full-time job and an active social life – not to mention adequate rest. 

We spoke about it the other day – just before she jumped off the phone to clean while the baby was sleeping – and said she was struggling to maintain some sense of control. (There's the word.)

I suggested she make lists to help her feel more organized, and she assured me that she was doing just that as well as keeping a planner on the kitchen table so she could plan anything she could, since babies don't allow you to plan much.

Control. Learning how to give up control. Learning that you can't plan everything. It's awful and painful, isn't it?

As a modern lady, what with my working life and personal life, I absolutely struggle with control "issues" – and I know I'm not alone in this.

If we're lucky, work is something we can more or less control. But when it comes to personal life, that's usually when shit hits the fan. When people and therefore emotions come into play, our ability to control everything is compromised.

I come from a line of planners and by golly, we are proud of it. Actually, I'm sitting here now typing this next to not one but two notebooks full of lists. I'm also feeling super smug about the fact that I'm the first one up in my house, getting shit done. 

But what I'm learning is that while it's always good to organize, and it's great to plan, having control of your life and what happens in it is not something that you can always, well, control.

I started to see all of this first-hand when I moved to London two years ago. Prior to that, I'd been living with one of my best friends in Brooklyn for a few years. 

Then, I got married, and moved into a flat with two dudes in another country (one of them was my husband – I'm not completely insane), and experienced the rainiest, chilliest summer I've ever seen. 

In hindsight, I spent the first few months – if I'm honest – completely panicking. Dusting everything in site, rearranging my husband's (now our), bedroom, checking for added sugar content on labels, literally taking everything off of his walls and re-arranging it into collages by color palette.

And why did I do this? Aside from my background in design and general obsession with all things visual, I needed things to be in an order that I recognized.

I'd (willingly and excitingly) left my job and the city I loved to live with the person I love in a country I was excited to try out, but everything was different and there was nothing I could do about it.

In the world of foreign-born spouses, expat experiences and visas, I've learned that you can't always be in control. And if living in another country isn't a lesson in giving up control, then I don't know what it is. 

For now, my sister and I are both coping with our situations. She's learning that being a brand new mother means that your child is in control, and I'm learning the patience needed to deal with the slew of paperwork that's required when you live abroad.

It's a growing experience for both of us, and while I can't pretend that we'll come out  less controlling on the other side, I know that we are both gaining a lot from our experiences and learning more patience.

If nothing else, I guess at the end of the day we can always compare lists.


Photos by D Watterson III and me