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.

FARIS Jewelry

There's something about jewelry that I just find interesting. As someone formally trained in clothing design, I find the limitations that jewelry designers have to work with fascinating – in a way, a jewelry designer has a lot of freedom and is able to work with a variety of materials and experiement with the relation a piece will have to its owner. But in another way, there are a lot of restrictions placed on jewelry – size has to be considered as does wearability. Ultimately it has to sit and stay on the body in a way that clothing doesn't.

I love how jewelry can feel so individual, so personal, and at the same time jewelry is just a tiny little piece of wearable sculpture that goes with you everywhere throughout your day.

It's pretty cool.

FARIS, a line I recently found via LISA SAYS GAH, certainly fits that bill. Everything about the line feels like modern art. I love how versatile, refined, and modern it feels, and yet the price points are overall still affordable.

A few favorite pieces are below. Don't you love them?

FARIS Jewelry | Second Floor Flat

Good Reads: 20 November 2015

This is a slightly blurry photo that I took when I was last in Paris in August of 2014. It was beautiful and perfect and filled with love and light and pastries, as Paris tends to be, and of course still is.

Like most life-changing events, this time last Friday we had no idea what was about to happen. I know that's how "life" goes, but it'll never cease to surprise me how one minute we can be so caught up in nothing of importance, and the next minute everything can change.

Anyway, I know everyone is feeling the same way right now but I wanted to share a photo and a couple of quick thoughts about what was, is, and will always be one of my favorite places on Earth. Paris.

Hoping everyone has a wonderful, appreciative, and safe weekend. A few links below for some quick Friday reading, most of which are much lighter in theme than this.

Wishing you and yours all the best.


one way to help.

"what would I do if I weren't afraid?" probably nothing." this piece on imposter syndrome is reading my mind.

loving ursa major's new kits, and wanting to try their natural deoderant. (their moisturizer is my personal all-time favorite.)

so much gloria steinem goodness – here she is with rgb, and here she is with lena dunham. also, has anyone read her new book?

a genius gift idea, especially for those of you who are looking to gift a little more intentionally this season.

aidy bryant's tokyo travel diary is gold.

really, really, really like the concept (and design) of this beautiful new mag.

if you're married, or would like to be at some point, did or would you change your surname? an interesting podcast on this topic. (i didn't, so i love this discussion.)

women as witches (love this). 


this week's additions to the independent designer directory:

association / prae / wind blown / faris / horses atelier / annie costello brown / olyver / monk oil / saskia pomeroy 


Becoming Minimalist: Holiday Shopping

We're a family of gifters. In my pre-recession, suburban America, Father of the Bride youth, gifts were always a big part of the holiday experience.

This may sound terrible and might not even be true, but in my memory the fact that my parents were divorced helped to drive some of that gift giving. Growing up, I had elementary school classmates who would pick my brain, and eagerly ask what it was like to have divorced parents.

"It's not so bad," I'd say. "You get two Christmases and two birthdays, which means twice as many presents."

How's that for perspective?

Ever grateful, this attitude towards gifting extended into my adult years. I love giving and getting gifts, and often find the wishlists I build for myself in Gmail drafts and on Pinterest are more closely fit for a Palo Alto teenage heir rather than me, who is an adult and could just as easily buy a new pair of yoga pants herself.

In sync with both "the times" and with our natural progression of aging, life changes, etc., my family has backed off of the whole holiday gifting thing a little bit. Mainly because there are more important things than things, and because we're extremely fortunate and can say that none of us actually need anything at all. 

Maybe you've heard, but sometimes the best gifts are the smallest. Case in point – this postcard sent from Scotland by my friend Bridget. It wasn't really a gift at all and yet it made my week.

Though giving is still a part of our holiday festivities, we've slowly shifted towards gifting in smaller, more practical, intentional, and meaningful ways. If you're looking to add a minimalist slant to your holiday season and tone down the shopping, there are a few ways to give gifts intentionally without going overboard.

Here, a few tips on holiday shopping as a minimalist:

Give experiences

I'm sure you read that Atlantic article a while back that declared that experiences have been proven to give us longer lasting, more fulfilling pleasure than things, right? Use that idea and scale it according to the size of gift you want to give. It could be anything from a simple one-on-one dinner out at a new restaurant, something as a big as a trip, or something as everyday as a credit towards a gym or yoga studio – I got this for my birthday, and loved it. Whatever it is, gift experiences that require extra thought, planning, and care. You really can't go wrong.


Useful leisure

My favorite category of gifts has been coined (by me) as "useful leisure".

"What the hell does that mean?", you ask. A useful leisure gift can be defined as any item that's practical, but also carries pleasure. For example, a new pair of yoga pants could count as useful leisure. It might not seem like the most wacky, "fun" gift in the world, but the recipient might really love them and use them. Other examples: magazine subscriptions, a good sweater/fleece/something cozy, a note card set, gift card to Whole Foods, new pair of sneakers. You get the idea.


Set gift maximums

Whether in cost or quantity, setting a gift maximum is the best way to keep holiday gifting under control. As long as no one breaks the rules, this assures that everyone is getting (and giving) fewer items which means that ultimately less money is being spent, less clutter is being accumulated, and overall the gifts you are giving will be that much more memorable. Win win.


Does your family or group of friends still give gifts? Do you set maximums? What's your approach or, dare I say, strategy to holiday gift giving? This (somewhat) converted minimalist would love to hear. 


So I Brought A Sweater

The weather is slowly growing colder in North Carolina but there was a time a few weeks back when it was warmer, and walking barefoot on the beach felt like a solid option to be explored.

If "the beach" has never topped your list of fall plans, I might recommend you change your tune. There's something about being at the beach while everyone else is looking at leaves that makes you feel like you're cheating the system. It's nice.

Our weather was nice but then again, an added layer of warmth was still needed – it being fall and all. And so I brought a sweater along for the trip.

I've been living in my Jesse Kamm cropped pantsBrookes Boswell Boro hat, and KULE Striped Shirt lately. Adding to this 'uniform' is a new sweater from Appalatch. Made by the incredible Grace Gouin and Mariano deGuzman Jr. who are just down the road in the mountain city of Asheville, my classic black, crewneck sweater is made of 100% alpaca yarn and is soft but strong in a way that's hard to describe.

I won't go on about Appalatch and their high-tech production methods (just Google them – plenty of other folks already have, thanks to a 2013 Kickstarter that raised over $55,000) but know that the team at Appalatch makes their sweaters using a knitting machine that 3D prints every piece to your specific measurements. 

I'm never taking mine off.

(Real talk, for a minute. I receive product as gifts from time to time and I come across a lot of cool things on a daily basis. I stick to rules of never writing about anything that I don't genuinely think is worthy of attention, but I was blown away when I spoke to Mariano and Grace about their custom-printed sweaters that are made from what we could almost call a knitting vending machine. Is this the future or what?)

Read up on Appalatch and their incredible production methods here, shop the rest of their products (including their fall collection) here, and follow them here, here, and here.

And go to the beach this fall or winter, for heaven's sake. You won't regret it.

Someware Holiday 2015

Though my Pinterest wishlist boards would have you believe otherwise, I can't believe the holidays are around the corner...again. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were going to Berlin, or that I was returning to the States for the first time. In reality, it's been a whole entire year. 

Regardless, the holiday season is coming up fast. But leave it to Someware to get me excited about the release of new holiday products. I received their lookbook, featuring the holiday collection, just the other day and I'm absolutely smitten.

Take a look below and I think you'll agree – it's beautiful, and those blue and white doormats are now firmly on my wishlist.

Holidays, here we come. 

Are You Doing What You Want?

I recently expressed some career anxiety to a friend – a bad habit of mine, and I suspect I'm not alone in this, is tying my work to my identity.

I'm constantly worried that I'm not pushing myself hard enough, or that I'm not far enough in my career. It's something that's plagued me since I started interning and now that I'm at the very tail end of my 20s, it's turned into a bit of a panic over the past few months. I'm not worried about getting older, but I am very focused on getting to a certain place in my career.

I mentioned this to a friend recently who (kindly) replied that I needn't worry, because I'd already done what I wanted to professionally. Went New York, like I always wanted to. Worked in fashion and magazines, like I always wanted to. Heck, lived and worked abroad and now I'm living the dream by collaborating with cool people and working from home. I'd done what I wanted to do, so why stress over the state of my career now, or in the future?

This came as a total and complete shock to me. I once read that careers are marathons, not sprints, and that's how I try to look at mine. This means that at this phase in my life, I've done things I wanted to do – but I only view them as the groundwork to what I'd like to do in the years to come. Throughout my 20s, I've been building a foundation to get to that next place in my career.

Wanting to always go further in my career inspires me, humbles me, and pushes me forward.

This is why it shocked me so much to hear my friend's response – that I'd already done my career, as if following your dreams really meant accomplishing a goal, then letting go and getting comfortable.

I'd never even considered that many people end up not doing what they set out to do. As far as I'm concerned, I haven't done my career yet. The 'leaning in' has only just begun.

At least, that's how I see it. 

For me, doing what I wanted to do was always a no brainer. 

But this conversation with my friend made me realize something I didn't see before: Most people don't end up doing what they originally wanted to do professionally. Maybe their priorities change, or their circumstances, or their goals. But ultimately, a whole lot of us end up doing something else. To say that we 'give up' is the wrong term in every way – often external forces are at play, and sometimes the things we set out to do don't look like the way we imagined they would. And that's fine. People change, as do their wants, needs, and desires.

But it still surprised me. I've always done what I wanted to do professionally and, quite honestly, can't imagine not doing that – following my 'goals' and 'dreams' and living my career to the fullest extent is such a big part of who I am that I can't imagine any other option. Even if it means sacrificing sometimes.

This insight has made me incredibly...sad? Maybe sad isn't the right word. More like surprised. Don't get mad at me for saything this, but it makes me wonder why we ask kids what they want to do when they grow up, or encourage them to go after their dreams when ultimately we all really know that they'll likely switch gears and head to something more practical a few years in to their careers.

And again, there's nothing wrong with this. It's just blindsided me and I can't believe I didn't see it before.

If you're lucky enough to have a career you're passionate about, then I'd love to know: Are you doing what you want? Are you doing what you set out to do? Or, did your interests change? What about your priorities? This has been on my mind in a big way the past few weeks – would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Good Reads: 30 October 2015

Rather than getting drunk and dressing up as a cat, impersonating Lucille Ball, or eating sugar and scaring myself with old movies to the point of throwing up (all tales of Halloween past), this weekend we're celebrating by leaving town and heading to the mountains. But in the spirit of the holiday, I booked us to stay at a small farm house in the middle of the countryside on Halloween night. Just to keep things interesting, and because in planning the weekend I didn't think about the fact that I was basically writing a horror movie. 

Speaking of interesting, next week is my birthday. 30th, that is. I'm not sure how I feel about it – it didn't bother me in the slightest leading up to it, and I'd like to say that it still doesn't, but it does feel kind of weird. Like, how am I 30? But at the same time, all of my friends are over 30 already so it feels a little dramatic to even go on about it. Just having some thoughts is all.

I hope you're up to something fun and festive than includes either shacking up with strangers in the middle of nowhere or getting drunk and drawing on your face. What I'm trying to say is happy Halloween and weekend in general! Hope you have a good one and in the meantime, check out some of these very good reads before you go – 

one of my favorite things about the cold-weather season.

zadie smith's rules of writing.

looming birthday in mind, this book feels appropriate.

i know we're all sick of this at this point (actually though, i'm not) but i could watch drake dancing to the rugrats theme all day long.

nyc gals – come hang out with dear kate in a few weeks! were i going to be in ny, i would definitely be there.

cienne's fall/winter collection looks gorgeous and, even better, warm and snuggly.

love this bed stuy loft.

what are you reading? i've just finished my mindy kaling-athon and have moved on to this gem

love the idea of this brilliant and beautiful new site.

all hail jesse kamm.

brilliant women, brilliant interviews: jenny slate on rookie, carrie brownstein on fresh air

hudson + daughter asked me a few questions over on her blog. thanks for having me, rebecca!


new additions to the independent designer directory + favorite independent finds of the week:

laura slater / hechizo / kindred black (via the american edit) / mquan / modernhaus / k studio / toit volant (via lisa says gah)  / marigot collection / loela