Alyssa J Freitas

August 5, 2020

Quarantine Routine To Keep You Sane

Here we are, in August, and I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day. The same thing happens over and over, but somewhere along the way during this quarantine I finally got into a routine that works. Or at least keeps me semi-sane (if you're interested in my pre-quarantine routine, you can check out this profile Sales Hacker did on me here). Today I wanted to share what's been working for me in the hopes it will inspire you and also for posterity sake. Alright, let's jump into it!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's how you can make the most of your day during quarantine by implementing a routine that works for you

7:15am wake up
This has stayed pretty consistent. I wake up and look at my phone for a few minutes - usually reading The Morning Brew - and then physically get up.

7:30am get ready
This is a very pared down version of "getting ready." I take vitamins, brush my teeth, drink a glass of water, put on my mask, and head out the door. 

7:40am morning walk
I have been taking different routes around the neighborhood and Central Park. I listen to podcasts (I shared my favorite ones here) and get my mind going. 

8:10am breakfast and reading
I come back to the apartment, eat breakfast, and read for a little while. It's nice to do some of my favorite activities before my work day even begins. 

8:30am continue getting ready
This is when I get dressed in real work clothes for the day and decide whether or not I want to put on makeup. I'll also bring a chair into the bedroom for my desk and get my workspace set up. 

8:45am work begins
Even though I'm working from home, I've been starting my day about 15 minutes later than I used to at the office. Without co-workers to socialize with, walking around the office and getting lunch, and other (very much missed) distractions, I find I get even more work done despite starting slightly later.

5:45pm work ends
There's a bunch that happens in that span of 9 hours, but that hasn't changed all that much since before quarantine. 

6:00pm evening walk
This is my favorite part of the day. Joe and I put on our masks and head outside. We talk about our days, give each other work advice, and have a relaxing walk to wind down the work day. 

6:45pm dinner by Joe
I'm lucky that Joe enjoys cooking, so I just have to show up :) I'll sometimes make the sides while he makes the main, and will set the table and clean up.

7:30pm watch the Sopranos 
Guys, I am so into this show right now. Joe introduced me and I quickly became obsessed. I love seeing the landmarks from where I grew up and have gotten so invested in the lives of the characters. We're starting season five and I don't want it to end. Can't recommend diving into this show enough!

8:30pm reading, watching YouTube, general entertainment
This is where Joe and I split up for the evening. I've been reading a ton of books (be friends with my on Goodreads!) - most recently about the Met- and I can never watch enough YouTube. 

9:45pm get ready for bed
I have always been one to go to bed early, so I'll wrap up my living room hang out time (I need to spend some of the day out here since 75% of my day is spent in the bedroom) and get into bed with my book before I fall asleep. 

The walks are what really keep me sane, both by myself and with Joe. When quarantine first started I wasn't willing to leave the house at all, but now I recognize how important it is to get outside safely. Fingers crossed we have continued improvements here in the city and won't be in this scenario come winter when I probably won't be able to bear such long walks! 

How have you structured your days during quarantine? Any advice for how to make your day better? 

-Alyssa J

July 29, 2020

An Essential Guide to Visiting the Met

I've been having major withdrawals with the Met being closed. BUT it's opening again at the end of August and I cannot wait to get back. Today I'm sharing my essential guide for visiting the Met. With my series, #findmeatthemet, I've gotten to explore so much of this great museum and have decided this makes me an authority on advising your trip. That, plus all of the books I've read on the Met, there's a lot I want to share. I hope that when you get the opportunity to go you enjoy it as much as I do!
Click to read now or pin to save for later. Here is a complete guide to visiting the Met - the metropolitan museum of art in NYC

First things first - how to enter

So you have two good options: 1. the main door on 5th avenue that is the iconic entrance at the top of the stairs. 2. the side entrance at 81st street (and 5th). 

My recommendation is to use the side entrance. The lines are shorter, you walk right past the least crowded coat check, and you can still go to the great hall when you're in the museum. 

How to decide what to see

Let's break this down into different circumstances...

If you are visiting for one day and don't know when you'll be back: In this case, you'll want to see a little bit of everything. If you have some strong preferences or works you want to see, start with those, and then make stops at the other essentials (note: this is informed by my preference, but if you're into, for example, Arts of Africa, by all means make a stop there!):
  1. Walk up the stairs from the 81st street entrance, turn right, and walk down gallery 153 towards the Great Hall. Along the way you get a taste of Greek and Roman art.
  2. Take a look at the Great Hall, then turn left to gallery 300. Don't go up the stairs yet. Walk around them towards the Medieval Art section.
  3. After looking at that section, turn right and go through European Sculpture and Decorative Arts to get to the Arms and Armor section. 
  4. Next, enter the American Wing to your left and see what grabs your attention there. 
  5. Now head over to the Temple of Dendur.
  6. We're done with the first floor! I mean, there is more to see, but if we only have one day, we need to go up to the second floor now.
  7. I would spend the bulk of your time on the second floor in the 19th and Early 20th Century European and Sculpture section. 
  8. Wrap up your day with whatever special exhibits are going on in galleries 999 and 899, and stop by the roof to get some nice pictures of you and the city.


If you're a repeat guest and want to go deeper into the museum: I have my preferences, like seeing the snuff boxes and complete rooms on the first floor in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts section, but if Asian art is more your thing, make sure to check out the Chinese courtyard in gallery 217. 

The Costume Institute on the ground floor usually has some fun exhibit showing and the Modern and Contemporary Art section has been evolving. 

My favorite exhibit is the Dutch Masterpieces, behind the Medieval art section. I literally go there every time I visit. 

Check out my Instagram highlight for other ideas of what to see. I start each story by circling the section on the map I'm visiting so you'll know exactly where to go. 

What to eat

I would recommend going in the morning after you've already eaten breakfast and getting a light snack for lunch if you feel you need some sustenance. Joe and I had a great experience at The Dining Room, but we went there after the museum had closed, so it's not exactly a casual stop when you're visiting. 

Guides

There are always tours offered throughout the day, and you can also use audio guides. I haven't use the audio guides before, I prefer to read each description and do my own research, but it's a great way to get the highlights if you don't want to do a tour. 

What to wear

Comfortable shoes are a must, plus a sweater in case you feel chilly. In order to optimize your experience, optimize your comfort. 

Where to take pictures

  • On the steps outside
  • On the steps off the Great Hall
  • By the reflecting pool and Temple of Dendur
  • On the first floor in the Greek and Roman art section
  • In the Charles Engelhard Court, gallery 700
There you have it - an essential guide to visiting the greatest art museum in the world! Anything else you'd like to know about? Let me know in the comments!

-Alyssa J

July 22, 2020

Historical Fiction Books You Must Read

It's no secret around here that I love historical fiction. While real life can be even more wild than fiction, I have an appreciation for authors who can weave both together. Today, I'm excited to share a round up of the very best historical fiction books you have to check out.
Click to read now or pin to save for later. Check out this list of top historical fiction books you must read!

Anything by Edward Rutherfurd 

Seriously. I have raved about his stuff a ton, and am currently reading my last un-read book of his. His next book, China, is coming out in 2021 and I can hardly wait! His novels are based in one place, through the ages, and follow interconnected families. I first fell in love with Paris and have been devouring them ever since. Check Rutherfurd out here

The young adult series, Bloody Jack

I was obsessed with these books growing up, and I'm still enthralled with Jacky's story. As a young orphan in London, she decides to disguise herself as a boy and board a ship. What follows are countess adventures across the globe, all lead by an inspiring heroine. I wrote about this series back in 2015 and think I sold it quite well, if I do say so myself. Check out all of the books here

Books about the church/religion

I tend to think the most with these books. Anything that can poke fun at the church, while still highlighting its good attributes, is a winner in my book. The Relic Master is hysterical. It's been years since I've read it and I don't remember all the details, but I do know I was completely captivated. 

The Name of the Rose caused me to laugh out loud at some moments and at other moments I skipped long passages. This book tells a compelling story with beautiful prose, but I could have done without the drawn out theological conversations. I’d recommend this book if you want to sink into a complex and wonderfully challenging read.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

It's been years since I've read this as well, but I gave it five stars on Goodreads so I know I loved it! It tells the story of Ernest Hemingway's wife and her experience being part of Ernest's successes and relationships during the Jazz Age. Check it out here

Author Amor Towles

I gave another five star rating to A Gentleman in Moscow. 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 unfold 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! 

Rules of Civility is another Amor Towles novel, this time set in New York, so it was right up my alley.

Books I read a while ago and know I was super into, but don't remember all of the details

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. This is a thrilling novel about the race to claim the invention of the lightbulb. Told through the eyes of the young lawyer hired by Westinghouse, you get to run into Edison and Tesla, among others, on the quest to win the case. 

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki. All I remember is diving into the world of Russian rulers in the mid 1800s and falling in the love with the heroine. 

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Two sisters find themselves nearly destitute in Paris, trying to make ends meet. They make their way to the theater and ballet, where one ends up modeling for Degas and the other falls in love with a dangerous character.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. A novel based on the painting by Jules Vermeer. The story is lead by the maid who is the model for this famous work, and I don't remember much else. 

What historical fiction books are your favorite? 

-Alyssa J

July 15, 2020

Virtual Meeting Etiquette

A little while back I wrote a post about quarantine etiquette and in that post I talked about video meetings. My company has announced we won't do any in person customer meetings until at least 2021, and I'm sure many of you are in the same boat - either not going back to the office soon, or not having the opportunity to meet with customers and colleagues in person. So I decided it would be good to expand on that previous post and give you a comprehensive guide on how to have great virtual meetings!
Click to read now or pin to save for later. Check out all the etiquette and tips you need to know for your next virtual meeting

Default to having your video on

It is far too easy to turn off your video and multitask while you're on a call. That's detrimental to you (you could miss important information) and rude to the people you're on a call with. A great way to stay engaged is to have your video on so you won't be as tempted to look at other things. 

This is also essential for helping you to connect with others. When you can see one another, you pick up on the essential body language and facial expressions of everyone else. 

Keep your background as distraction free as possible

Whether that means sitting in a different spot when you're on calls or using virtual backgrounds, make sure to keep it clean and professional. 

Tell others IMMEDIATELY if you can't hear them

If you have to interrupt someone, do it. It saves everyone time and you don't want others to have to repeat themselves. Same goes if they are sharing their screen and you can't see it or it's too small. Just tell them! And in the same vein, ask others if they can see your screen ok when you are sharing.

Create and stick to a realistic agenda

It's tough to keep meetings running on time and can get even worse when you are scheduled back to back all day. When you create a realistic agenda with some padding, you avoid the need to go over time and trust me, everyone will appreciate your punctual meetings. 

Another good practice is to have a slide or doc with a summary of what you covered in the last meeting and where you plan to go from here. A quick recap is beneficial and a supporting visual will help keep everyone on track. 

Don't be intimidated by this idea of "zoom fatigue"

I'm not buying it. Yes, it is hard to be "on" all day, but even when we were in the office we were running from meeting to meeting. Take a deep breath before each meeting, smile, and go in with your best, energetic self! If you need advice on how to harness more energy, check out this post

Mute yourself when not talking

Especially if you're on a call with a lot of people, it's best to mute yourself so everyone can hear the speaker as clearly as possible. Just don't forget to unmute yourself - you don't want to be that person that everyone has to yell at to unmute themselves 😂

Send out an email with next steps 

This is a good meeting practice in general, but especially in this virtual environment, it helps to have a "paper" trail of what each person is going to do next. You can lift this to your summary slide or doc that I mentioned earlier so there is a very clear series of events and tasks that will keep you moving forward.

Anything else you would add to this list? Remember to always think of what will be most helpful to others and you'll be able to adjust your virtual approach accordingly! 

-Alyssa J

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
Follow