Sojo Spa Club

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing weekend with friends and family celebrating my 26th birthday. My boyfriend went above and beyond the call of duty–planning a weekend full of surprises with clues along the way. It was perfect!

The first surprise of the weekend was a trip to one of Hoboken’s newest neighbors- Sojo Spa Club. Upon walking in, I was so blown away that I could not stop taking photos. Words just don’t do Sojo justice.

IMG_5240

When you enter the spa, you are brought to the first level “Shoe Locker Room”. This is a locker specifically for your shoes, as you are not allowed to wear footwear within the facility. You will receive a bracelet, which will be your lifeline at Sojo. It is your key to your locker(s), and also serves as your running tab for the day (more on that later).

IMG_5996

After putting your shoes in the proper location, you are then directed upstairs to the men and women locker rooms. There, you are given yet another locker, and your “spa clothes” for the day. Warning: THESE ARE NOT CUTE. With a tap of my bracelet, I rented a robe for $5.00 instead. Totally worth it!

IMG_5238

We started off our day on the rooftop infinity pool overlooking the NYC skyline. We soaked up some sun, and were one of many people working on that perfecting that ‘gram. Safe to say, it wasn’t hard to get a good shot.

IMG_5145 (1)

Next, we made our way to the cafe for some food. It had so many healthy and yummy options. We opted to try the tofu & pork baos which were beyond delicious! It being my birthday, I had a goal of eating an ice cream cone everyday that weekend. So of course I had to finish off the meal with a vanilla soft serve ice cream.

IMG_5377

 

Fabian and I spent the rest of the afternoon hopping through the five saunas, three therapy rooms, and three outdoor baths. It may sound hectic–but I was nothing but relaxed.

This summer if you are looking for something to escape your everyday hustle and bustle–I highly recommend Sojo to all my fellow Hobokenites and NYC residents (there is a free shuttle on the weekends from Port Authority). P.S.–Don’t forget your sunscreen!

IMG_5152

Info on Sojo Spa Club:

Admission:

Weekday: $55.00

Weekend: $65.00

Hours: 9 AM-12 AM

Complimentary valet parking available.

Update: Sojo is now giving out robes for free. 

 

Guess Who’s Back?

Hey all! Long time no see. Guess who is back with a brand new facelift?

After a year hiatus consisting of some soul searching, self doubt, reconsiderations and realizations, I have come to the decision that this blog deserves a real try. I felt as if I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, under a title I wasn’t happy with (The Post Grad Diaries). It was time for a refresh.

When revisiting the idea of starting again, I thought about things that made me happy–my favorite books, colors, brands, badass women and of course, flowers. What I landed on was a mix between my favorite romantic novel written by a badass woman, and my favorite flower. Pride & Peonies was born.

A little update on me: The past year has been full of big changes. I recently moved across the Hudson from NYC to Hoboken. I’ll always miss living in the city, but this new little city of mine has so much to offer. There is always something new to explore in the Square Mile City. And hey–I still work in the Big Apple five days a week so they aren’t getting rid of me yet!

Pride & Peonies will be a lifestyle blog full of style, beauty, travel, food and more. So get ready, I can’t wait to start sharing with you all again!

 

 

Saturday Staples: Carol’s Daughter Leave-In Conditioner

Saturday, saturday, saturday. My favorite day of the week. Why you might ask? Well, I currently may or may not be  sitting on my couch enjoying a glass of vin rouge and watching Mad Men. Ladies, take notes.

Lately, it has been freezing cold in the big city, causing me to stay indoors and resort to using my hairdryer more than I would like. The result has been dry, straw-like strands. Not my cup of tea.

Conditioner has always been my hair’s best friend. To be honest, I’m not super picky about my shampoo, but I’m always trying to find the best nourishment for my hair. Beyond that, I really place a ton of importance on the leave-in conditioner.  Heat and styling products wreak more havoc on your hair than you might know.

In college, me and my friend Audrey started using Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner. It was affordable ($10.00-$12.00 depending on where you buy), makes your hair so soft, and smells amazing. I spray it on the ends of wet hair, brush through, and voila!

Tip:Try to avoid the roots, as it will leave your hair looking greasy.

I’ve tried other more expensive brands, but years later I still swear by it. Trust me, your hair will thank you!

BLACK VANILLA

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave in Conditioner

Have a great weekend!

Saturday Staples: essie Gel Setter Top Coat

It always amazes me how one week, you could have nothing better to do but lay on the couch, eat cheetos, and binge watch Mad Men every day after work. The next, you’re running around like the world is about to end, wondering how you’re going to get everything accomplished. How it happens? I don’t even know. No children, nine to six job, and a relatively small commute.

Go figure

With all the running around and recent tightening of my budget, my monthly upkeep has become a little bit expensive. At twelve dollars a manicure (plus tip), I’ve had to reevaluate how often I can afford to get my nails done. I know, doing it at home would save me time, money, the works. But truth be told, I really don’t have the steadiest hands, yielding less than desireable results.

After a recommendation from a coworker, I think I’ve found the perfect solution. I have recently been extending my manicures by putting essie Gel Setter top coat on my nails twice each manicure. One right after I get home from having them done, and one about four days later. In truth, I’ve actually been pretty shocked by the results. The top coat doesn’t give you the same gel manicure you would receive in a salon, but it gives your nails the strength and durability you would expect. My nail polish has been lasting way longer than usual! In short, it’s amazing.

essie gel setter

essie Gel Setter

Give it a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy your weekend y’all!

Shopping on Newbury Street

Yes, once again, another post on my travels! I know this sounds strange to say, but I’ve been feeling a little homesick for New York City these days. It’s not like I don’t already spend five days a week here, but between all the travelling and difficulties with storm Jonas, I’m looking forward to a weekend in my city!

This past weekend, we ventured up to Boston and New Hampshire for a quick getaway to visit Fabian’s sister! We decided to head to Boston Thursday night, and spend Friday morning exploring. Our version of exploring ended up being a walk around the Copley Square area, with a quick peek at the Boston Public Library, and a delicious brunch at Joe’s American Bar & Grill.

IMG_1959

The beautiful Boston Public Library

IMG_1969

 

IMG_1966

They even had my favorite St-Germain cocktail!

We only had a short time after brunch to walk around, and the Jack Wills store was calling my name. Unfortunately, New York City is missing on this gem from over the pond, and I was in desperate need of a warm winter coat. By desperate, I mean my lips were literally turning purple the other day. Time for an upgrade.

One parka and a little “light” shopping later, we walked out to a perfectly chilly Boston day. Luckily, it was warm enough that I could get away with a layered combo of a gingham button up and my favorite L.L. Bean Fishermans sweater.

IMG_1975

Sweater. Shirt. Hat. Purse. Jeans. Shoes (similar).

It was the perfect start to a great weekend!

A Weekend in Saratoga Springs

Fun fact: I may love birthdays, but I love birthday surprises even more.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was my boyfriend’s big 2-6 and the planner in me wanted to organize it to perfection. When Fabian’s sister suggested a surprise birthday trip, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

We ended up going to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. It was an impromptu romantic getaway, but our horse and carriage came in the form of a super fancy Adirondack Trailways bus. Vinyl wood flooring and leather seats.

Need I say more?

I honestly did not know much about Saratoga Springs, other than the fact that I had been dying to go to one of the famous horse races in the summer. But hey, no harm in having a quick winter preview!

Honestly, it ended up being amazing. Saratoga Springs has so much history, great hiking paths, natural springs, and delicious food. We arrived Saturday afternoon, determined to accomplish as much as we could in the 24 hours we had there. We walked around the town, tasting the natural springs with cups, courtesy of the visitors center. The water was sweet, delicious, and filled with minerals. This hypochondriac was convinced that it could heal anything… a little cold I had went away overnight!

IMG_1840

When I travel (and in life in general), I am a complete planner. I love to research ahead on the best restaurants, bars, and shops in town. To me, a short trip should never include any subpar meals. You only live once (and this girl loves good food)! Luckily, Saratoga Springs in particular was full of endless options. I could hardly decide!

The next day for breakfast we woke up early to be sure to make it to the best bakery in town.  I had read a lot about Mrs. London’s Bakery online, and it did not disappoint. The sandwiches were made to perfection.

IMG_1898

Better yet, the scones and almond croissants were to die for. Finished off with a cup of coffee, it was the perfect pre-hike breakfast.

MRS LONDONS

 

Saratoga Spa State Park was next on the list. It seemed as if the whole town was out and about and enjoying the chilly morning. Us New Yorkers walked off the path a bit and acted like we had never seen snow before!

IMG_1921

IMG_1915

The grand finale was at Druthers Brewery. I had read great reviews online, but expected it to be the type of place you had a beer flight (small samples) and an appetizer. Two large casseroles of mac and cheese later, I was proven wrong. Their mac and cheese section on the menu was irresistible. I went with a veggie tex mex medley.

IMG_1934

It was the perfect weekend getaway. My only regret is that I wish we were there longer! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to experience the mineral spring baths at the famous Roosevelt Baths. Lesson learned, make an appointment ahead of time. There’s always this summer!

Any suggestions for our next Saratoga Springs adventure?

XO

-J

 

 

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Anyone who knows me can tell you this: birthdays are my favorite. Whether it’s my birth-week (yes, I get an entire week), or celebrating the birthday of a friend, I get so excited! This upcoming Saturday, it’s a birthday I’m more excited about than usual. My boyfriend Fabian will be turning 26, and I wanted to make sure his year started out extra special. Needless to say, I have been driving both him and myself crazy trying to prepare and make everything perfect.

I decided that for his friends dinner tomorrow night, I had to make him his favorite cake. Of course, his favorite isn’t something simple like chocolate or vanilla. Nope, my man wanted himself a red velvet cake. A RED VELVET CAKE. Do I look like Betty Crocker?! The perfectionist in me was by no means going to buy a Duncan Hines cake in a box and call it a day. I was going to make him the best homemade red velvet cake he would ever eat.

After a google search, I found a great recipe from the blog Divas Can Cook. It was simple, and had great reviews. What happened next is in no way her fault.

New York City kitchens are tiny, definitely not meant for cooking, and in my case outdated. Mixing the batter was easy, minus a run to Duane Reade to pick up more vanilla extract halfway through the recipe. But when I had gone to check on my cake in the oven, it started burning way before the recommended 30 minute cook time. I quickly took it out, put it in the refrigerator and decided to give it a day before I would try to frost it. Note to self: My oven temperature is really off.

IMG_1818

Today, in order to attempt to save the cake, I cut around the edges, and made the two layers about an 8 inch round instead of 9. Burning problem, solved.

Next, I moved on to making the frosting. Once again, halfway through the recipe, I realized that my newly bought bottle of vanilla extract was missing. After a frantic search in my poor little kitchen, I decided the only thing to do was run out to Duane Reade (again) to grab a new bottle.

IMG_1825

IMG_1830

Following a powder sugar explosion, and a bit of a mess in the kitchen, the cake was FINALLY on it’s way to being iced. At this point the hallelujah chorus was playing in my head.

The cake was a bit crumbly from being hacked at, so the icing had little red flecks in it. To hide the imperfections, I took the cake crumbs from the burnt pieces and sprinkled them around the edges. The finished product?

IMG_1835

I can now see why he confused me with Mrs Crocker.

But seriously. This cake faced some serious adversity and still came out pretty well. I was shocked, but also really proud of myself! It’s great to see what you can do when you put your mind to something.

For all you birthday lovers/cake enthusiasts out there, here are a few items I recommend for your baking adventures:

  1. Kitchenaid hand mixer. Pick one in a bright color to make baking fun! Mine is flamingo.
  2. Non-stick 9 inch cake pans. Perfect for making a two layer cake!
  3. Wilton Icing Spatula. I grew up watching my mother use these to ice all her cakes and cupcakes. A baking must have.
  4. Cooling Trays. Whether you’re making cookies, cupcakes, or a cake, you don’t realize how much you need a cooling tray until you go without one. After a bad Christmas cookie making experience in my apartment, I ordered myself a set right away!