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.


A Day In Wilmington, North Carolina

I'm picky when it comes to footwear.

Aside from being pretty particular with my style, I find that my comfort level is directly tied with my confidence level. For someone who's all too familiar with insecurity (though aren't we all?) it means that being comfortable in my clothing is of the upmost importance if I'm going to feel and do my best. A real top priority item.

Despite a sharp 7th grade obsession with all things platform, I'm now firmly committed to the flat and love the freedom flat shoes give me – to walk, go down stairs, and move with ease without worrying about turning an ankle. It's the little things sometimes, isn't it?

We may have recently moved to a more car-centric landscape, but walking is still my favorite mode of transport. D and I walk both at home in Durham and as much as possible when we travel. It's my favorite way to see a city, and I believe the best way to truly immerse yourself anywhere. But my penchant for walking led me to realize, many moons ago, that quality, comfortable flats were in order.

Enter the Pikolinos Calabria. (Also known as my new go-to oxfords.)

After a coastal weekend spent in slides I was looking for a little more structure for a day in Wilmington, which we'd planned to swing by on the way home from the beach. While Wilmington is not exactly the big city, it is A City (the one where Dawson's Creek was filmed, mind you) and it called for a more stable shoe than my beach sandals.

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Even though it's still hot as everything here in North Carolina, I can already tell that these oxfords will be one of my regulars as the weather transitions and becomes cooler. Aside from the fact that they're comfortable, accomodate my obsession with comfort, and wear well with just about anything, they're also made of a super soft leather that's been treated naturally and tanned in Spain, which means that they're high quality and just plain feel good to wear. You know when you buy a great leather bag or new belt or something and you can just feel the quality? That's these shoes. Their production process is also simplified, and everything is hand finished.

In other words this is a pair of shoes you can feel good in, and feel good about.

Pikolinos is also a socially-motivated company working with the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania on several of their products, which is yet another reason to feel good.

Needless to say, the shoes served me well during our afternoon in Wilmington and overall it proved to be an enjoyable place. It's been so nice revisiting areas of the South that I haven't seen for years and noticing the change all over the state of North Carolina (mainly in the form of of cute farm to table restaurants, which I'm more than happy with). While there, we walked around the Historic District, had $3 (!) sangria at Beer Barrio, saw the farmers' market, strolled along the Cape Fear River, and talked for a long time about getting ice cream. All while feeling cool, calm, collected, and comfortable despite the craziness of the past few months.

Yep. So far, so good.

I received product and compensation from Shoes.com for this post, though note that I believe in and support the process and mission of Pikolinos. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support Second Floor Flat. Have questions? Let me know!

Photos by Derrick Watterson III


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!


Weekend Getaway: Durham, North Carolina

Last month, we hightailed it over to Durham, North Carolina (that's in the US, folks) to throw my sweet big sister a baby shower. North Carolina is the state in which I was born, the state in which my sister and more recently, my mother, live, and the state we plan to move to post-London.

It's a lovely state, that North Carolina. Beautiful as all get out, relaxed, friendly, and super happening, too. We were there for just a few short days but we sure did make the most of it. Here's what we got up to:

The KokyTu from Cocoa Cinnamon. A triple ristretto espresso over iced cane sugar Mexican Coke. WOAH. 

Sunglasses similar to this Urban Outfitters pair. 

A baseball game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Naturally, took a selfie at the game. 

Striped shirt is similar to this one from Need Supply Co., sweater is J.Crew, lip color is gone

This room was originally a front porch and has more recently been converted to an extra bedroom. The folks who did the renovation kept the external siding on the walls even though it's now an indoor room. Isn't that neat?

And here's my sweet sister! Isn't she so cute?

This, in case you're feeling a little cheese ball today. 


The Soundtrack: Inside Llewyn Davis

After hearing mixed reviews for months, I bit the bullet and watched Inside Llewyn Davis on the plane ride back from North Carolina a few days ago. (I threw my sister a surprise baby shower in Durham which you would know if you were following me on Instagram, thank you.)

Of course I fell asleep halfway through, but was almost as taken by the music as I was by the cat that plays a very prominent role in the movie. The songs are haunting and the type that really stick with you, and perfectly fit with a nighttime plane ride away from the sweet, sweet South. 

Here are a few photos from the trip (more to come) along with a few of my favorite songs:

More photos to come of our weekend in Durham, NC. In the meantime, see the movie if for the music (and the cat!) if nothing else.