TRAVEL: 3 Days in New York City

Thursday, March 12, 2020

It happened - I finally made a return trip to New York City! It was a short and sweet, but a nice bite-sized portion of Big Apple was taken. I'm officially hooked. Drake may have struggled adapting to the busy, fast-paced city life, but it was like hitting the refresh button for me! I'm not saying I could live there...but I definitely love visiting.

Here's the thing with NYC - it can very easily become overwhelming. From the amount of cool things to go see, eat at, and just experience, there are TOO MANY OPTIONS.

So here's a life-saving hack for next time you travel to any large city: Bookmark every cafe, landmark, and cool spot you know you want to visit in your Maps app! That way it doesn't matter what part of town you end up in - just open up your map and see what's close by.

Last tip before we dive into this blog post. Not sure how to navigate the public transportation system? Download CityMapper! This app was a game changer for figuring out the subway system!

Day 1: World Trade Center, Chinatown, & Little Italy

What a day! We discovered we walked over 10 miles every single day while we were here, and this helped break our legs in...

We stopped for a delicious coffee and breakfast at Hole in the Wall Cafe & Cocktail Bar. This adorable Australian-themed brekky spot was worth every penny. Not to mention our waitress was nothing but a ball of sunshine on this gloomy day! I highly recommend getting the Brekky Roll (and add avocado!) for something savory. But if you're in the mood for something sweet, get their Belgian Waffles! I'm drooling just thinking about this meal.

Our plan for the day was to just walk around and see what we discovered. It was already well into the afternoon when we came across the Brooklyn Bridge, so it was CROWDED. While cool to see, we planned to come back at an earlier time when there would be less people. Trust me, I can be fearless, but know when to pick your battles. I decided I'd rather fight for a shot at a different time.
McNally Jackson Books

After a quick stroll through Chinatown, we found ourselves in Little Italy. Tucked away on the streets is an adorable bookstore called McNally Jackson Books. There's a cool cafe section that has books hanging from the ceiling and pages of books papering the walls! Definitely worth the stop to browse both their impressive book selection and snag a potential photo op.
Seamore's Happy Hour

By now our feet were exhausted, so we grabbed a quick drink at a nearby bar called Seamore's. It helped that it also happened to be happy hour! Cheers to that, am I right?

Finally, for dinner we took the subway and hopped up to the MidTown to try Quality Eats. Highly recommend this spot, the fun neon lights, overall atmosphere, and delicious food was worth every bit! Also, their dessert? DELICIOUS.
New York Public Library

Day 2: Midtown, Hudson Yards, & Chelsea Market

Today started by getting on the wrong subway and ending up in the wrong part of town. But you know what? That tip for bookmarking spots for wherever you end up worked out! We decided to just go with the flow and hit up one of the places we had been wanting to check out anyway. Not to mention, check out that Apple Watch reading...we ended up walking over 10 miles EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. we were there. They don't call it the Concrete Jungle for nothing...
If you haven't stopped at the New York Public Library, add it to your list! It's absolutely dreamy and what every Hogwarts daydreamer imagines when it comes to libraries. Just LOOK at this place! I can't begin to properly describe how impressive it is. If you want, I recommend just going to my NYC story highlight on Instagram to see the video snaps from this place! For a free place to check out in New York City, it's at the top of the list.
New York Public Library

Next up, The Vessel! This cool landmark has only been up for about a year now, and it's symmetrical design and beautiful copper coloring has made it the perfect spot for a cool Instagram shot #doitforthegram. Something I didn't know however is that you need to reserve your time slot for when you visit. Makes sense, since it can only hold so many people at a time. You can sign up for it on the spot, and we had to wait a couple hours before we could check it out. Luckily there's a nice mall right there to explore! But save yourself the hassle, and sign up HERE to reserve your time slot for when you're ready to go.

Hudson Yards is right by the famous Highline, and Drake and I took it all the way to Chelsea Market. This area is really nice, and Drake highly recommends it as a spot for anybody who feels anxious in big cities. It is cleaner and less stressful for just walking around as opposed to MidTown.
The Highline
Chelsea Market

Day 3: Brooklyn and TWA Hotel

Our last and final day was split between spending the morning in Brooklyn and the rest of the day at one of the most amazing luxurious hotels I've stayed at (which isn't saying a lot since I never stay at luxury hotels, but still).
On the left: Brooklyn Bridge and on the right: The Manhattan Bridge

As with most places in New York City, if you want to experience something without the crowds, get there EARLY. We arrived in Dumbo, Brooklyn and snagged this famous one-way street that perfectly frames the Manhattan Bridge all to ourselves!
DUMBO, Brooklyn

We were able to easily get some photos, take a walk in the nearby park, then headed straight back to our AirBnb to check out.

Next up, the TWA Hotel!

Did you know this used to be an actual terminal in JFK? That's why it's so close to the airport. However, it has now been restored and reimagined into a first class-hotel that happens to overlook the JFK ramp from it's rooftop (but more on that later).

Here are some quick highlights on this incredible place:

-They are home to the world's biggest gym! It's a 10,000 square-foot fitness center with an entire room filled with Pelotons!

- Retro-inspired bar and cafe that I am dying to go back and shoot at...I cannot get over the pink chairs and booths!

- An actual plane sitting outside that you can walk out on the runway to, go inside, and grab drinks in! Say hello to "Connie", your new favorite cocktail lounge

- The famous rooftop infinity pool that gives you runway views of JFK!

 If you ever fly in or out of JFK, budget for a night here - it is so worth the stay. And yes, if you're looking to create some unique content, this is a prime spot for photos!

 That sums up our NYC weekend for the most part. Go watch my Story Highlight on Instagram for a more interactive view of everything we did!

Did you learn something new for your next trip? What did I miss? I know there's a lot, so you could help me compile spots for our visit back!

BEAUTY: How to Keep Skin Hydrated in Winter

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Hi, my name's Linda, and I'm a skincare junkie!

I've accumulated quite a few products over the years and have been on quite the journey to discover what works best, when to splurge, and where to save your money.

Today I'm sharing the best secret I've discovered to having dewy, hydrated skin, even through the drying months of winter! Are you ready to learn what it is?

Introducing...the Ionic Facial Steamer Aera by Vanity Planet! 

I love that I get to bring the spa right into my home. This facial steamer has so many positives the best way to go through them is to list them:

- Therapeutic steam goes to work to hydrate and soften your skin. This helps to detoxify and cleanse your pores of dirt!

- Now my mom's old hack of boiling broccoli and using that steam to imitate this process might've been a good practice too, but you can't beat having an ion generator! This enriches the water molecules so the steam penetrates more deeply and gives an even deeper cleanse. Can we say BUH BYE breakouts!?

- All of this results in your skin being more receptive to the other skincare products you already use! You'll finally see bigger results and greater benefits from using those products religiously.

- And if that's not enough, get this: you can use your essential oils with it! Take a trip to your own personal spa and add a drop or two of lavender (my favorite) or mint. Or whatever scent you prefer best!

If you're ready to invest in this steamer, click the link HERE and use code "THE_DRAGONFRUITXAERA" to get 40% off your purchase! It's now less than $50, so it's the best time to pick this skincare powerhouse up!

Everybody Has Haters

Thursday, February 6, 2020

If you are trying to live a better life, you will have haters.

It doesn't matter what field you are in, there will always be people who try to tear you down or make you feel less than. And more than likely, your haters will come from your own family or friends.
I've experienced this more lately within my circles, and I can't help but find it ironic how much more it's happened almost synonymously with my personal successes.

I've always been extremely sensitive to criticism when it comes from loved ones. However, I've discovered sometimes the people we've grown attached to are not worthy of that kind of care. I've met women in the past few months who are genuinely there for me and support me more than friends who have known me for years. 

Social media can be poisonous to some. It is purposely curated and designed to show only the highlights from people's life. However, don't believe for one second that anyone is living the perfect life. There are struggles you may never know going on behind the social media curtain. While I try to spread more positivity and creativity onto my platforms, it has at times backfired through my personal relationships.

For example - I never did get an explanation for why, but an old, close friend unfollowed me, started cyberstalking my account, and directly copycatted my captions and edits. It was unnerving. Despite trying to directly make contact and understand what was going on, I never did get a real answer. While terse, the reply I did get summed it up pretty well: "People change." 

And you can't do anything about it sometimes.

Here's an unspoken truth: it HURTS letting go of toxic people. You would think it would be easy, but far from it. Because at my core, I still care. I still think of the memories from before, the ones filled with laughter, shared tears, and boy crazy rants.

But you know what? After being on the receiving end of all of that, it's only spurred me on to continue pouring out positivity, love, and support for others! The more successful another woman is, the more I count it as a win for all of us. Cheer them on, support their endeavors, and be inspired by their triumphs!

Have you experienced an old friend becoming a hater?

I Accidentally Went Viral on Tik Tok

Monday, February 3, 2020

Earlier last month, I flippantly decided to upload a short video to Tik Tok, in which I'd recorded my boyfriend explaining how he writes his chaotic Instagram captions. I thought it was super interesting since it ties in the location of the photos he shoots in a clever (and yes, chaotic) way.

We were just hanging out in bed, with bad lighting, no high quality filming equipment or anything. I asked him to explain the process and he showed me. That was it.

The next day I woke up to see the short little video had garnered over 58K views with hundreds of comments and new followers flooding my account.


By lunch time it had hit over 100K and was showing no signs of stopping. Everyone agreed that Drake sounds like Jim Halpert (from The Office). Others were noticing the Boise location tag at the start (Idaho gang gotta represent). A few comments even started saying it was an ad (apparently I have the perfect voice for that). I can't blame them, apparently the app got downloaded a lot after this! Hey What3Words, want to sponsor Drake?

All in all, it was a crazy experience, and now my boyfriend's work has gotten the attention it deserves! That video? It has 2.1 million views last time I checked.

As someone who's been working in social media and posting consistently on it for almost 8 years, I have never gone viral. Yet something that was uploaded so nonchalantly and with no effort at all has been seen by over a million people in 2 days. Ironic, isn't it?

If you're curious and have the app, feel free to follow me on Tik Tok. And don't forget to check out Drake's Instagram profile afterwards and give him a follow @drakebalius! See for yourself how he writes his eclectic captions and how they work!
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