Second Floor Flat – An American Expat in London

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

We Moved!

Fifteen months after we began our process of moving from London to the States, it finally all came together and we moved. We moved, y'all. On Saturday, just in time for the 4th of July. 

We got to Atlanta, saw the fireworks, and ate all of the barbeque and baked beans and brownies our tummies could take. It's been absolute paradise!

We're staying in Atlanta to see family for a few days before heading up to North Carolina later this week, so needless to say it's going to be a tad on the busy side trying to get things settled after three years living outside of the country.

I'll be back either later this week or early next, and in the meantime you can follow along on Instagram as we (re)acquaint ourselves with American snacks and warm weather.

Hope you had a great weekend and have an even better week! See ya on social media.


Good Reads: 3 July 2015

This has been one of those weeks where there's so much going on that you don't even realize what you're doing or how much time is passing. You're just going through the list, crossing off tasks, and running around like a nut. Man alive, it's been crazy.

I'm a big reader but it's been the kind of week where I haven't done any reading at all because I haven't been able to fully relax. I've relied on the powers of Amy Schumer and Kenny Powers to put my mind at ease, as you do. And while I'm definitely not complaining about that, I am looking forward to having a little bit of space and breathing room, which will happen very, very soon. 

And on that note: We have a very big weekend coming up, which I'll share more about tomorrow on Instagram. And because of the craziness of this weekend, I'm going to be a little quieter on the blog next week. Dry those eyes, though, because I'll be back. I just need a few days to deal. (So, so ambiguous right?)

Oh – and how could I forget? To my fellow Americans, whever you may be, happy 4th of July! Here's to fireworks, burgers (veg or non), popsicles (or ice lollies), sunshine, cold beer, and all of the rest. Enjoy!

how to look smart in a book club. (via stella)

girl scouts, ftw.

these are some of the best damn hand poured candles around.

for the voyeurs in the crowd.

are you familiar with this french photographer? her work kills me, every single time.

two great sweatshirts: this one and this one

looking for a creative workshop for your team? need some confidence boosting in the biz department? lisa is your girl. (she's also awesome for a lot of reasons – see here.)

just about drooling over the mociun white interior, no big deal.


favorite independent designer/retailer finds of the week: cienne / ivy ivy ivycalder + roxana salehoun (via lisa says gah) / father rabbit (via jojotastic) / the midnight shop (via jaime) / antonym cosmetics / mox store / camp cove swim / anm / rachel ravitch 

Dresses By Bird

The weather has been unseasonably warm in London lately. By that I mean that it feels like real-deal summer rather than a British summer – we're even set to hit the 30s C / 90s F degree mark today. This is the hottest, sunniest week I've seen since moving to London and I'm over the moon (sun?) about it.

Cue wearing all of the sundresses, immediately. Summer dresses have a way of seemingly solving all of your problems, don't they? They're so easy, so comfortable, and there's so much opportunity for chicness. 

Just in time, Bird – which is a bit of an establishment in the world of Brooklyn boutiques – has launched their first collection. Dresses By Bird will now hang alongside designers like Demy Lee and APIECE APART, and their placement is most certainly well deserve. I love seeing retailers branch out and launching their own collections, and bringing their taste and aesthetic to life. 

These dresses are perfect for summering, whatever that looks like to you. I'm having trouble choosing a favorite but I'd love to hear what yours is. They're all so dreamy, aren't they?

Life As An Expat: On The Move

Twice in six days.

That's how many times we've moved over this last week.

See, since our move abroad has ended up taking longer than we expected, we got a llittle optimistic and gave notice on our second floor flat too soon. We were able to stay a bit longer, then a bit longer, then further still, and finally, on the eve of the arrival of new tenants, we had to leave.

Moving, right? It's always a sweaty, stressful mess no matter how much preparation you put in. And also, don't listen to anyone who says that things get boring after you get married. Three and a half years in and I'm here to tell you that our lives have been anything but boring lately. Moving around a city and then across an ocean will do that for you.

But thank god for AirBnB and our "sharing" culture. I could write a whole piece about the kindness of strangers that's revealed in the culture of Uber and AirBnB and the like. It really is incredible. Two honest, regular folks living in North London suddenly found themselves with piles of luggage, shopping bags full of organic groceries too yummy and pricey to throw out (of course), but with nowhere to go. There was and is beauty in being able to stay at the flat of a complete stranger down the street who will not only be kind and interested in your story, but will also allow you to stay at their home for a mere fraction of what you would pay in a hotel.

There are horrible, frightening stories associated with doing business with a complete stranger in this "sharing" world of ours, but I've had nothing but good experiences along the way. It's been a lifesaver during our period of transition.

I've just about made real friends wtih kind, generous Uber drivers in Salt Lake City and Durham, and loved our experiences using AirBnB, always – it's the only thing we use when we travel.

But anyway. Our madness has died down slightly for now, and while I'll post some updates on Instagram related to our move, I'll tell you right now that I probably won't announce that we're leaving London until we're basically on the plane.

At this point, I'm too afraid of jinxing anything to say anything sooner. So...stay tuned! Update coming soon.

Good Reads: 26 June 2015

How was your week?

Mine was good, though I will say that we basically have all of the things going on right now.

As I mentioned, we're bouncing around London as we wait for the final ok for our move. It's been fun in a way because it's allowed me to see different areas of the city – try out different flats (thank for for AirBnB), see what my life might've been like elsewhere. The flat we stayed in this week was on a quiet, sweet, residential street. The back area has lots of trees and greenery – I heard birds for the first time in forever – and there's even a little fox who sits on the brick wall at the back of the garden every morning and evening. Isn't that charming?

But if all of the moving and visa waiting wasn't enough, I've also been working on a couple of really, really exciting side projects in addition to my regular work. I can't wait to share what I'm working on with you guys, but it's meant that in the build up I'm working a full day, then working on my side project in addition to blogging when I have the time outside of "work hours". I have confidence in my multi-tasking skills and pride myself on being able to handle whatever I'm given (or really, take on) but I'd love to hear any tips you have on sustaining energy and time management. Suggestions are certainly welcome!

As always, my favorite designer and retailer finds of the week are at the bottom of this post and you can find more favorites on my Independent Maker Directory.

 Hope you guys have the best weekend! I'd love to hear how you're feeling and what you're up to. 

i've had this samudra clutch for years and it's currently saving my life as the perfect sized bag for dry shampoo (i finally got on the klorane train), teeny travel hair dryers, hair ties, and other random bits and bobs.

beautiful magazine

my week felt a little bit like this.

an awesome choose your own adventure travel guide that starts with san francisco.

kule's super-duper babelicious striped shirts are now available! love them all.

why we need to stop apologizing

marc maron's interview with president obama is definitely worth listening to (if you haven't already). 

also, this classy response.

fog linen everything, please. especially these.

i've been nerding out this week on business strategy and financial podcasts. any books, etc. on this topic that you love? occassionally, i get really into it.

farewell to lucky as we knew it, though i'm looking forward to seeing what's next. here's what writing about fashion and shopping can teach. (and yes for a bit of justification for people, like me, who write about clothes.)

how to wear vintage levi's

a glorious natural beauty resource for those in the uk. how i wish i'd known about this sooner! (thanks for the find, erin!)

loving helen's style.

reminder: exclusive tradlands discount ends on tuesday! i promise you won't regret your purchase.


favorite finds of the week: lindsay stead / nikki chasin / kelaoke / half moon atelier / jamie and the jones / alexis mera / primarilly pure (via death to the stock photo) / black optical / gunner & lux / dresshirt / c.a.b. / lacausaclothing

UK Bucket List (Plus Tradlands Discount!)

You know, the moment you decide to move the questions come out. Aside from the standard what/when/where variety, the most common question I've been asked on the eve of every big move is this:

Is there anything on your [CITY] bucket list?

I'd been saying no to this question for months in relation to London and the UK, mainly because once I've decided I want to move or do something I'm really ready to do it. Maybe it's a Scorpio thing, or maybe it's because I analyze every decision so greatly that once I've made it, I tend to stick to it. 

Not so in this case. 

For months I told everyone that there were no items left on my UK bucket list because I'd pretty much squashed it within the first few months of arriving in 2012 – just in time for the Olympics. There were weekend trips to Cambridge, picnics in Greenwich, London Eye, Borough Market, obvious tourist things, neighborhoods to explore, etc. etc. etc.

Then I came across a photo of cliffs lining the English Channel, courtesy of a friendly reminder on Instagram. I remembered I hadn't seen England's famous chalk cliffs – either those of Sussex or of Dover. And so, a weekend visit to Seven Sisters (filming location of Atonement, thanks) was planned.

Seven Sisters Cliffs | Second Floor Flat

The Seven Sisters chalk cliffs sit along the southern coast of England, just about an hour and a half outside of London. Despite their relative closeness, the difference is shocking – it's quiet, spacious, and stunningly beautiful.

We spent a few hours exploring around the cliffs before heading off for a pub lunch (as you do) in the nearby village of Lewes.

Despite its slightly more southern location and the sunshine that showed its face during our visit, overall it was pretty cold. And as beautiful as the English Channel may be, the wind that comes off of it is no joke – layers were absolutely necessary.

Park Lane Button-up from Tradlands, straw bag from Fy, striped tee from Chance

Sadie at Tradlands sent me a Park Lane polka dot button-up a few weeks back and I took the opportunity to try it out on our trip to Seven Sisters.

You guys know I love me a good button up, and that I love Tradlands, but I now own three of their long sleeve button-ups and am continuously impressed by the quality. Before I came across brands like Tradlands and California Tailor, I wasn't completely sold on the idea of a high quality button-up. My shirts from Gap, Uniqlo, and the rest had always worked fine and I couldn't quite get the need to spend more money on a product that I assumed was equivalent in quality.

I stand corrected 100 times over. The fabric is noticeably different (the Park Lane is crisp, mid-weight Japanese Cotton) and the attention to detail is remarkable. You feel it in the thick, pearlized buttons, and the tailoring in the cuffs and collar. Not to mention the fit which assures no boob gap – something that's always, always appreciated.

Because Sadie and Jeremy, the husband and wife team behind Tradlands, are so lovely, they're offering $25 off all orders over $100 with the code summerready PLUS a free Ferry Plaza Tote (which I have and use every weekend) with every order placed – no code necessary. Offer expires at 11:59 PM PST on Tuesday, June 30.

Act fast, y'all. As you know, I only share products from designers and brands that I genuinely support and believe in, so I wouldn't even consider working with Tradlands if I didn't love their product, their mission, and didn't know for a fact that Sadie and Jeremy are some of the nicest, hardworking people out there.

Shop Tradlands here (their summer collection releases next week!), and follow them here, here, here, and here


Photos by D Watterson III; poor editing job by me

I received product from Tradlands though this is a business I love and support – which you know because I just said that. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support Second Floor Flat. Have questions? Let me know!

Good Reads: 19 June 2015

It's going to be a bit of a stressful weekend, you could say. In our (hopeful) final few weeks in London, we're going to be hopping around before we leave. Like, living in different places.

Fun? Sure. Stressful? Definitely. 

It'll be nice to see other parts of the city but yeah, you know the tune. We're both so beyond ready to move to the States at this point and it's been a tough week for both of us, I won't lie about that.

But in light of some of the terrible things that happened this week, I'm doing my best to put it all in perspective. It's only fair considering what others are going through right now.

There are also two more things happening this weekend that are much, much brighter: It's my darling niece's first birthday and it's Father's Day. Such a happy weekend, no? I'm looking forward to some good FaceTiming sessions, that's for sure. 

Otherwise we're going to find a way to to have a good weekend, despite our current stressful, limbo situation. We've had some sun this week and started watching Curb all over again from beginning. Plus, there's always pastries. 

Let's all do our best to have a great weekend and to keep it all in perspective, no matter how difficult that might sometimes be. Wishing you all the best!

love this chalk we picked up off the beach last weekend at seven sisters.

gals: remember how you used to be scared out of your mind about getting tss when you were 14? you should still be concerned. here's why.

sweet komono sunglasses, now available at bridge & burn.

thinking these sandals would be perfect for my forever-in-flats lifestyle.

four things that are extremly worthy of your support: the bitter southernergift shop brooklyn, soul carrier (we interned together at women's wear daily!), nodo

this should brighten your day.

it's a little bit of an investment, but this is a great opportunity for sustainable fashion business owners.

a magazine i need to spend some time with.

how to speed up the inbox review process.

thinking good thoughts for the dear people of charleston. and, amongst all, thanking my lucky stars.


me elsewhere: ethical fashion designers + gifts for summer occassions

favorite finds: litke (via shop ethica) / the old try (especially this sweet print – read the story) / morgan carper / spark + pepper / woodlot / the small + savage wild / of note stationers / hoot / froww / wray collection / the granite