Alyssa J Freitas

July 8, 2020

Podcasts for History Lovers

It took me a really long time to get into podcasts. I would opt to read and listen to music during my commute, but now that my "commute" is taking a walk, I was looking for entertainment I could just listen to. In my post about favorite social distancing activities, I highlighted a few podcasts. Now that I am listening to even more, I wanted to share my favorite history shows!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! If you love history, here are the podcasts you should be listening to

HISTORY This Week 

HISTORY This Week remains a favorite. The episodes are not too long (usually no more than a half hour) and give you the perfect taste of an event from history that week and its significance. 

Hope, Through History

This is another podcast from the history channel. They started this special series during quarantine to discuss challenging events we've overcome before and to provide hope that we will persevere again. Topics from the great depression, to WWII, to the 1918 influenza pandemic are covered. This show is also around a half hour for each episode, so it makes for a great walk companion. 

Revisionist History

This is a classic by Malcolm Gladwell. I'd listened to episodes before with Joe who has been a long time fan, and now I'm going through the archives myself. The newest season started last month and they did a roundup of the best episodes leading up to it, so it's a great time to start following. I especially loved Dragon Psychology 101 because it's all about the art world and talks specifically about my friends at the Met. 

The Bowery Boys: New York City History

This is my FAVORITE! I was so excited to discover this podcast (that has been around for 13 years!) and have access to all of their back episodes. Like, why am I not being charged for this entertainment?! These episodes are about an hour long, so I reserve them mostly for my weekend walks and cleaning sessions. There are so many great episodes and some of my favorites so far include The Straw Hat Riots of 1922, Andrew Carnegie and New York's Public Libraries, and Chop Suey City: A History of Chinese Food in New York

Honorable Mention: Thick and Thin

I'm listing this as "honorable mention" because the host does not always discuss history. In some episodes she ties her lifestyle topic back to a historical event and it's great when she does! However, you aren't going to get that every episode. 
I mentioned in my last post about podcasts that I was trying out Stuff You Missed in History Class - I couldn't get into it. Next on my list to try is The Last Archive, so we'll see how that goes.   

Any podcasts you'd recommend for a history lover?

-Alyssa J

July 1, 2020

June 2020 Monthly Recap

This month held some new and fun changes and partnerships on the blog, and more long NYC walks. It's also the first month that we've seen anyone who isn't our family, and it was a strange and happy experience to socially distance with others.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! See what I've been up to this month in NYC
On the blog I made a change to the design of my main images for each post. There's still my classic square, and I'm going with more vintage photos when not using my own (see here and here). I also shared more of my own photos in a room redo post and a partnership with a wedding invitation company. Now on to this month not in the digital world...

Loved seeing these gas lanterns on my walk and the new flowers.

There was a scary time this month when everything was boarded up in the neighborhood and the curfew was in effect. Luckily there wasn't any substantial damage in our area and there are reminders everywhere of what the protestors are fighting for.

My boredom levels are definitely increasing...I'm now playing games by myself 😂

I walk past the Teddy Roosevelt statue every morning and I am very sorry to see it go. For a long time now there has been a series of questions and explanations at the base of the statue addressing the historical implications and the modern interpretation of the meaning of the statue. To me it is a shame that it is being taken down despite the clear and consistent way the controversy has been addressed.

Our evening walks are always along the water and we've been treated to some beautiful views.

We mailed our wedding invitations!!! Now let's see if it's actually going to happen like we planned in September 🤞

Sheetal and I had our first socially distanced hang out and it was amazing to see each other!

Joe and I are visiting family this week (hence why this post is going up late) and it's been wonderful to get out of the city for a little while. So grateful that our families are right across the river in Jersey.

Looking forward to celebrating Independence Day and having safe fun this summer!

-Alyssa J

June 24, 2020

What I've Read Lately, Vol. VI

My last post about reading came out at the start of April. I've flown through 10 more books since then, so it's time for an update! I've covered a ton of genres, from historical fiction, to short stories, to thrillers so hopefully this gives you inspiration of what to pick up next.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! These are awesome books you should pick up for your summer reading

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I love Donna Tartt and was completely taken with her other two works. The subject of The Little Friend was interesting and different than anything I've read before. Her prose is wonderful, her characters captivating, and her stories engaging. The Little Friend follows Harriet, a 12 and a half year old girl who sets out to avenge the death of her brother that took place when she was just an infant. There is a wide cast of characters and plenty of action, making the long book go by fast.

American Royals by Katherine McGee ⭐️⭐️

I read this book as a palate cleanser with the hope that it would be a light and fun novel. It was definitely light, but not too fun for me. The characters were predictable and tiring, and it didn't end with a nice, happy ending. I should have realized it was only the first book in a series so it needed to end on cliff hanger! While the concept was original, the end product is not something I'd recommend.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really liked this look at how things can change in an instant, and how we can be tempted to go back in time. This book is about a man who is wrongfully convicted and how his wife moves on while he's in jail. Things can't go back to the way they were after their separation, and they both struggle with how to move on. It's a great look at expectations, fault, and right versus wrong.

The Dutch House by Anne Patchett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book explores abandonment, ownership, and responsibility. A family lives in a mansion called the Dutch House, but happiness doesn’t last long when their mother leaves. A stepmother and two stepsisters come to live with them, and the story unfolds from there. It’s a wonderfully written story that makes you think about the bond between siblings and what is and isn’t worth holding on to.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was intrigued by the subject of this book. It tells the story of Joy, an American woman who writes to C. S. Lewis about her faith journey and questions, and starts a correspondence across the sea. From her first visit to England, to the challenges she faces with family relationships, to her long burning love for her friend turned husband, it’s a compelling story. The reason I gave it three stars? PACING. Joy’s love for Lewis is apparent very quickly, but we wait until the last quarter of the book for any concrete sign that he feels the same. It’s a long game of back and forth (“are we friends, or are we more”) and then it’s nearly too late. I suppose that this is an accurate representation of how things developed between them, so I’m not sure what else I’m really expecting the author to do here. Perhaps this could have been a shorter novel?

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The first 3/4 of this book were very good, and the last 1/4 was great! I read The Night Circus and had high expectations for this Morgenstern book. The concept of an underground world where books and stories are treasures appealed to me as a reading lover, and the scenes in Manhattan were up my alley. This was a mystical and ever twisting story in a story that I would highly recommend!

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown ⭐️⭐️

This was a quick summer read that was part of my book club. It was fun to discuss with others and I don't think I would have picked it up on my own. This is the third Robert Langdon book from Dan Brown, and you don't have to read in order. The story is set in Washington, D.C. where Robert finds himself in a man hunt that begins when his friend's severed hand is found completely tattooed in mystical symbols. There is intrigue, murder, people who are not as they seem, and tons of interconnected events.

The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowely ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A book set in Manhattan, and on the Upper West Side no less, had a great chance of capturing my imagination. This novel rotates through the perspective of Smith, Clio, and Tate - alumni of Yale who have all had various experiences in life and love since their graduation a decade ago. Smith and Clio are best friends and roommates who have lived together since freshman year and post graduation. They bonded quickly when they supported each other through challenging times in college and their care and regard for each other continues well into their adult lives. We meet the women while Clio is struggling to develop a relationship with the shadow of her family's past hanging over her, and Smith is recovering from a devastating breakup. Tate comes on to the scene when he relocates to Manhattan to move on from his divorce.

The beautiful scenes of the city, bright and engaging characters, and focus on forgiveness (of yourself and others) made this novel a highly enjoyable read.

Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy short stories! In this book you get a mix of short stories, followed by a longer story, followed by more short stories - win, win, win. From conversations with Marilyn Monroe, to unsolved murders, to unusual and ordinary people in unique situations, this book is a delight at each page. The writing is compelling and there's something delicious about just getting a small taste of each character.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved this novel! Adult/child relationships make me so happy and this was the centerpiece of the story for me. The main character, the Count, is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol hotel as communism rises in Russia. His life and the story unfolds within the confines of the hotel, but feel as wide and varied as any tale. From interacts with a famous actress, to statesmen, to the staff, Towles gives us a lifetime of experiences over decades with the Count. Highly recommend!

What books have you been loving?

-Alyssa J

June 17, 2020

Customizable Wedding Invites & Thank You Notes

I've mentioned wedding planning a few times on the blog since Joe and I got engaged, but as you'd imagine there hasn't been too much to report since the world went on hold. We had already put all of the details in place (venue, DJ, photographer, florist, wedding invites...the whole bit), however I hadn't given much thought to the things I would need after the wedding - specifically, thank you notes!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the best place to get your wedding invitations and thank you notes
With my penchant for etiquette this should have been higher on my list of things to do. Once I started browsing, I got very excited to pick the perfect options. I ended up ordering from Basic Invite and am excited to share my choices with you today in partnership!

I went for a blue and silver theme and tried out a variety of styles. The ones with silver foil really stand out, and I loved getting to customize them. You can change the color of each element on a card, with over 180 different color options. It can be exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail and this was unique among the different sites I explored.

All of the options you have to customize your cards extends to Basic Invite's wedding website templates. You get a starting point that coordinates with the invitation suite you choose, and then you can make it perfect for you from there.

Another huge win with Basic Invite is that you can get custom samples. I ordered our wedding invitations a while back, before I knew about Basic Invite, and the site I used sent a sample kit, but when it came to our invitation we only got to see a digital copy with our details before placing the order. Basic Invite allows you to order a printed sample of your invitation so you can see the card’s paper quality and how it will print before you have to place the final order.

I am really impressed with the quality of the cards I received and am excited to send them out to our guests, whenever our wedding ends up happening!

Thank you to Basic Invite for partnering on this post!

-Alyssa J

June 10, 2020

Small Desk Tour & Bedroom Update

Since we've been working from home for the past few months, I've been trying to find a good setup. Joe and I can't be in the same room since we are both on calls frequently, so I had tried to create a standing desk in the bedroom on top of the bureau. That was ok, but improvements could definitely be made. I needed to find a desk that would fit our small space, but still give me a good amount of room to work - enter this beauty!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's how you can make the most of a small space to create a compact office/desk set up
I affectionately call this a Murphy desk (a la a Murphy bed) as it's attached to the wall and folds up to save space. Papa helped to mount it to the wall and I use a chair from the kitchen to save even more space.

With the cabinet top it's the perfect place for storage, and I can put my computer up there when I'm not using it.

I also got some new notebooks to spruce up my collection (although most of my note taking is digital...something is refreshing about getting new notebooks).

The other big updates to the bedroom are these photos above the bed and the headboard! It pulls the room together and it was fun to take the photos on my own.

Since we're spending all of our time at home, I'm finding it even more important to ensure I love the space I'm in and make it functional.

How have you changed up your space during quarantine?

-Alyssa J