Starting Fresh with May Designs

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The past few years, I had Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer planners to keep me organized, but after graduating, my needs have changed somewhat. I no longer have three or four classes a day with multiple assignments each, and so I didn’t need something quite so huge and spread out.

Instead, I embarked on an online shopping search for a smaller, thinner planner, with the left-hand page containing days of the week, and the right-hand side free for notes and to-do lists. I searched every site that I knew made quality planners, and so many of them failed me. On a whim, I went to May Designs, a site I had written about when I was working at Lovelyish. I didn’t think they would meet my specifications, but lo and behold, the left hand side had the days of the week, and the right has space for all the notes and lists I could need.

The major draw of May Designs is that you can design them yourself. They offer tons of different patterns in a million different colors, and you can add a monogram or initial on the cover. My mom and I spent hours going through different patterns and color combinations before we decided on the Vintage Bird print in “Spa” with a K in “Melon.” It’s such a sweet color combination that isn’t way too over-the-top, and the K adds a nice little personal touch without being in-your-face monogrammed.

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What’s great about May Designs (besides their meeting my extremely specific requirements) is that the inside is also customizable. Not only the front cover pattern and monogramming, but the pages inside are even up to you, too. You can pick a student agenda type, with the two-page weekly spread, or a meal planning type, or even just lined pages to use as a notebook—which I am strongly considering.

The only downside to this type of agenda is that the dates are un-numbered, so I had to add them in myself, which is fine with me, but there’s also no month at a glance full calendar at the beginning of each month. If they wanted to keep the dates un-filled in, May Designs could still add some un-numbered calendars at the front/back of the booklet that I could fill in, too. Other than that, though, it’s perfection.

The planner itself is also a ton cheaper than the Lilly one I had, and it shipped in a little over a week. My mom was confused about the size, but it’s 100% exactly what I was looking for. I can throw it in my work bag or take it with me in my purse when I run errands. That way, I can keep track of my lists and appointments even when I’m out and about.

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I love this little book, and I would even consider getting them for friends as a gift, since they’re so cute and inexpensive, but still super personal and thoughtful, especially for a friend starting a new job or going off to school. I am definitely going to be a May Designs repeat customer.

Favorite New Spot: Pour Coffee Lounge

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Tuesday night my sister came to me and said she heard of a breakfast place near Park Ave (in Rochester) and wondered if I’d be interested in going there on our day off together. After that exceptional description I agreed, and Wednesday morning we rolled out of bed and made our way to Pour Coffee Lounge.

Oh my God.

I haven’t stopped talking about it since. The Pour Coffee Lounge is located on 23 Somerton Street, off of Park Avenue. We had a little bit of a tough time finding it, since it’s behind the row of street-side buildings, including Abbotts and Boulder Coffee,  and the (small) parking lot can only be accessed by taking a few back and side streets. But we made it. It’s pretty unimpressive from the outside, but I trusted Bridget’s judgement and in we went.

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It’s the kind of rustic-meets-industrial environment that is homey and comforting rather than isolating and disengaging. The floors were concrete and the chairs were all metal, but the tables and bar were all wooden slabs. Coffee was served in glass mugs and mason jars, and meals were served on wood platters that resembled cutting boards (that description courtesy of Bridget). There were vases filled with flowers and it was bright and airy despite the contrast of the cold floors. It was the kind of place that makes me want to settle in with my laptop and a cup of coffee and stay for a few hours. And there were plenty of people doing just that.

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The menu isn’t extensive, but it definitely has enough. Everything offered is locally farmed or made from locally sourced ingredients. The coffee section is split into “black” and “white” drinks, black being coffees of different brewing techniques, and the white being drinks made with milk, like lattes and cappuccino. We both ordered iced coffee, only to find out that their cold brewed coffee is actually on tap. I had never heard of such a thing but it was strong and delicious. They had local whole milk and raw sugar to mix in, too.

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Bridget ordered a Lumber Jill, a breakfast sandwich, with eggs and sausage, and even better, they have gluten-free bread for her wheat-free dietary needs. She was so obsessed with the bread that after she inhaled her sandwich, she went back up to the counter and asked where they get it from. Turns out, they get it from Ellie’s in Fairport. So if you’re from the area and are looking for good gluten-free bread, that’s the spot. Pour also has a selection of gluten-free cookies and muffins, if a sandwich isn’t what you’re looking for.

After reading the menu for five minutes straight in indecision, I settled on the Lone Turkey. The sandwich came stacked high and it was absolutely delicious. The greens were fresh and there was at least an inch of fresh sliced turkey, plus spicy jack cheese that gave it a little kick. The cucumbers were a nice touch, too, adding a little bit of crunch. And the sourdough bread was perfect; not hard and crusty, but soft with a tiny bit of flavor. I inhaled the entire thing.

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I’ve been telling literally everyone I know about Pour, because I feel like it’s such a gem of a place and I want to go back already. They have waffles on the menu that look absolutely amazing, and are something I definitely need in my life.

Next time I go back, I’m bringing my laptop and making a day of it. A cup of coffee and a muffin, and after a few hours, a sandwich and a glass of wine. Yes. They also have wine and beer. I want Pour to stay the kind of hidden little Park Ave treasure that it is, but I also think everyone should go there because it definitely deserves recognition and business. A+ FOR POUR.

Sunnies by Zenni

zenni-sunglassesI’ve written about my love for Warby Parker before, and I will explain the entire process and company to anyone and everyone because I am a huge fan of the company and their products. But their prescription sunglasses are a little pricy and that’s what I was looking for this time around.

I’ve read and watched a lot of things about the eyeglasses industry and the more I learn the less I want to buy designer eyewear and the more I research different companies who provide the same quality eyewear at a more fair price.

The eyewear industry basically consists of one monster company, Luxottica, who manufactures basically every eyewear brand you’ve ever tried to buy. Ray Ban, DG, Coach, Tory Burch….and on and on and on. Glasses are decently cheap to produce, but Luxottica will mark up the prices significantly (as we all know). Luxottica also owns several eyeglasses retail chains, including Lenscrafters, so in order to get an in at one of these companies, a designer has to go through Luxottica or their glasses won’t be on the shelves. What companies like Warby Parker and Zenni do is cut out the middle man and manufacture and sell their glasses themselves. That way, they can provide quality eyewear to the consumer (us!) for a much better price. And I’ve found that these companies generally care more about their customers, too.

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SO. I was looking for a good pair of prescription glasses to keep in my car for when it’s really sunny, and I went to Zenni, since that’s where my (frugal) parents have been ordering their glasses for a while now. I found this pair, and then when I was ordering my lenses, I ordered an amber tint to them, so they would be sunnies. I didn’t get them polarized, just glare resistant, because I’m not made of money here.

What’s important when you’re ordering glasses anywhere is to not only have you Rx, but to have your pupillary distance, too. My dad measured mine last summer, since that’s the one thing the optometrist won’t willingly give up to you, but it’s simple, the instructions can be found here, and all you need is a ruler with millimeters. When you make your first order from Zenni, they include a ruler with your glasses for future use.

I ended up paying about $40 total for mine, which is a fraction of what I would pay anywhere else. They came in about a week and a half, and the quality is actually better than I expected. I would equate my frames with my Warby Parker ones, they’re a sturdy plastic, and they’re fashionable. I’m not sure how I feel about the frames themselves, I think I just chose the wrong style, but I would definitely order from Zenni again. They have tons of different styles for both eyeglasses and sunglasses and almost all of the frames are under $30. I am sold and Zenni is definitely worth the money.

Where To Eat in Rochester: Rocco

Continuing with my ongoing exploration of Rochester, my family, Andrew and I went to Osteria Rocco last week to celebrate Andrew being home/Bridget getting Dean’s List/me graduating. My parents had been there several times before and always talked about how good it is, so we finally carved out a night and made our reservation. (Side note, Edwin was also invited “for being nice to Bridget” but he had to work so he couldn’t be there.)

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Rocco is a delicious Italian restaurant on Monroe Avenue, right off the Inner Loop. The place itself is decently cramped, so if you’re planning on going with a party larger than two or three, I’d suggest making a reservation, but they’re really good about it.

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My dad had been raving for months about the appetizers there, saying they were better than the actual food, so we started off with fried mozzarella, fried risotto fritters and house made ricotta and charred bread. They were all amazing. The mozzarella and risotto came in a pool of tomato sauce, warm and delicious. I was most interested in the house-made ricotta. I’m a big cheese lover and something about a cheese made in-house just spoke to me. It was delicious and incredibly fresh. I ended up just eating spoonfuls rather than spreading it on the toasted bread because it was that good.

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They had an interesting mix of cocktails and wines, too. My dad has been on a weird blood orange kick this year, which included a Rochester-wide hunt for blood orange juice, so when he spotted a blood orange martini on the drink menu, he ordered it immediately. I am not a fan of martinis or the taste of vodka, so I settled for a glass of wine. What was great about Rocco was that they have a ton of different Italian wines which are delicious and authentic. The bad part is that they aren’t the traditional “pinot noir” or “merlot” names. But the waitstaff is so knowledgeable and helpful, I told our waiter I prefer a pinot noir, and he gave me the blend that came closest and it was a perfect. I’m no pro at describing wines, but some red wines have the tendency to make me wince and pucker my lips on their way down, but this one was delicious and went down super easy.

They also had house-made sodas, which Bridget was all about, and she ordered one orange and one lemon and sucked down both in about a minute.

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I ordered an eggplant cannelloni, which is basically ricotta cheese and sauce folded into long, flat noodles, with eggplant on top. It was divine. I’m not a huge eggplant fan, but that combined with the sauce and fresh ricotta (!!) was just so delicious. My mom ordered the lasagna, which was basically the same thing, but without eggplant and plus mozzarella and meat and that was just as heavenly. If we ever make it back, I’m ordering that one for myself.

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My parents had told me about the unique way Rocco serves pizza – with scissors – so I was interested to watch my dad and Andrew tackle theirs, especially because someone as messy and useless with scissors as myself would be embarrassing in that situation. So the pie comes out in a circle, uncut. would have cut it across like one would use a pizza cutter, but the strategy that seemed to work best for them was to cut it out, one slice at a time.

All in all, Rocco was a delicious little gem hidden away on Monroe ave. I had, what my dad would call, a lavish meal there, and I will definitely be returning.