coffee diaries | the local market & kitchen

"Taylor, you'd love this place." That was the first I've heard of The Local Market in Ship Bottom, NJ, from my mom, who knows a good pick when she sees one. On our morning outings, this place is the exact thing we look for. Something new, cutting-edge, and exceeding our expectations. We've been talking more and more about what it would be like to open our own cafe...and I am pretty sure it would be just like this! It is literally PERFECT, and I can't wait to share about it to all of you coffee and beach lovers out there!

So...let me preface this post by stating a few things to help you understand my very strong enthusiasm (!!!) about this place...

a) It's located in the heart of Long Beach Island...my childhood vacation spot/eternal happy place.
b) the baristas have beautiful latte art skills! 
c) it's not just a cafe...it's not just a market...it's both!
d) The interior is jawdroppingly gorgeous, bright and clean
e) Italian coffee and espresso (ahhh, all the heart eyes!)

I've pretty much given it away in those points right there, but seriously the vibes of this coffeehouse are so unreal. It is chic, trendy, but beachy-classic. 

Some of my favorite parts of this beachy interior are the custom benches and furniture made from reclaimed wood. The whole interior reminds me of a cross between Australian coastal cool and classy, elegant, small-town charm. So much attention went into the details here. Above the windows, little wooden plaques adorn the perimeter of the ceiling to remember the hurricanes from the past several years. Not a detail went unnoticed, including the little vases of wildflowers perfectly arranged on each table (they offer bunches for sale, too! swoon).

Now, let's get to the whole reason we are here...the coffee. I ordered a latte at $4, but was impressed with the smoky and nutty taste before I even realized that they were using Lavazza coffee! I swear, these people were reading my mind...Italian coffee, or anything Italian, is the way to my heart. So, the latte was absolutely delicious. The kitchen offers other pastries and deli goods, like homemade italian breads braided with prosciutto, simple panini, cookies and croissants. They also have bagels, muffins, and fresh fruit - this doesn't even count the grocery part of the store (final photo) which includes everything from gourmet dips, fresh-pressed juices, organic snacks, pasta, fish, and meats. Outside, surrounding the store is a pergola with bountiful flowers, heaping hanging baskets, and small garden wares that are also for sale. Who thought of this place, and how can I meet them to shake their hand in congratulations? You've done it - created the cafe of my dreams, on my favorite island in the world. 

The tricky thing is the location - LBI is notoriously tricky in this way. Located a block or so off the main boulevard, the Local Market and Kitchen is an easy walk in between the beach and the bay. If you've been to LBI before, you know it's really narrow and takes only minutes to walk from ocean-to-bay, depending on what town you're in.  Once you're around, though, you can't miss this place because it offers great parking (bike friendly, too) and takes up a whole corner with its plentiful outdoor seating, garden, and signage. 

LBI has just gained another amazing cafe worth checking out! 

604 Central Avenue
Ship Bottom, New Jersey


summer moscow mule

S got me hooked on moscow mules last winter when we made them for the first time together on NYE. These little babies are not only beautiful in presentation, but s-t-r-o-n-g when made with the ingredients we bought! I'm not much of a recipe follower, but we found one that called for four simple and easy to find ingredients. Just add the copper mug and you've got an elegant, 1940s-era cocktail ready to be sipped. Now they are kind of our signature drink :)

The absolute, hands-down most important thing to get right about this drink is the ginger beer. S and I have had trouble finding Crabbie's ginger beer lately, but this is the beer to have as the base of your drink! It is delicious, but makes makes the Moscow Mule pack a completely unexpected punch. It tastes like ginger ale, but has a spicier flavor that ginger ale can't quite cut. The beer is a little expensive, but it is completely worth it - don't skimp on this part!

I am also a big lime person, so I added some fresh limes in addition to the lime juice (it can be found in the grocery store near the margarita mix).

Lastly - the mugs! S was so right about this one - you need the mug for this drink to taste and feel like the elegant 40's cocktail that it is. They are not only beautiful pieces of hardware that will look great in a cabinet or bar cart, but they are timeless and pretty easy to find. We found ours at Bed Bath and Beyond (link below) and ended up buying 6 or so more because my family wanted to add their own set to their collection!

If you're interested, these are the ingredients we used (and loved): copper mug / crabbie's ginger beer  / rose's lime juice / limes / ice 

And the recipe, along with some other summery takes on the drink, can be found at this amazing site

happy sipping! ciao, xo



Dear June,

It's good yet bittersweet that you're leaving us! It has definitely been a trying month, and it continues to be very challenging...but the summer is sweet, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So...let's start with the most recent. I got a new car! It felt weird driving off in a brand new car, feeling like it wasn't new at all but back to what I had before.  I detest the whole negotiations bit, the haggling is absolutely exhausting! But it was a big accomplishment and step for progress, so I am pretty excited. We took it for a lovely, lazy Sunday drive up the river and found ourselves in a totally new spot - Frenchtown, NJ - where we walked around the main street, popped in the shops, and had lunch. How cute is this town!? American flags everywhere, old industrial buildings, little restaurants and cafes and shops right along the Delaware.

This month I have been working SO hard on the ever-rewarding and time consuming craft of calligraphy! I have two wedding collections that I am working on, which has been so amazing. These brides are lovely and have such great taste in wedding paper and stationery. I am so thankful that they have entrusted me with this project! Through these, I have learned so much about etiquette and all of the ins and out of format, spacing, and keeping up with tradition. I'm learning to hone my skills. The most importance is patience and deliberation. Each black canvas needs to stay blank until all the preparations are made - each item off the checklist, checked twice. Ink? Water? Viscosity? Opaque enough? Spelling? Spacing? Choice of tools? All of this is time consuming, and requires my full concentration and attention all of the time. I love the feeling of accomplishing a full set! I can't wait to see how these two projects turn out!

A few days ago by little bro rang in his 20th birthday! We sneakily threw him a big surprise party at our house, with all of his friends, family, s'mores and a bonfire, yummy BBQ food and of course some good old lawn sports - volleyball is my absolute favorite to play as a team! S loves Spikeball, but we didn't get a chance to play at the party (hello, beach!). My sister planned the whole thing and it went so well.

Next week, I am going here to ring in July 4th and spend some time in the sun and by the sea! I absolutely love the chilly early morning walks, multiple coffee stops (I miss coffee SO much - I can't drink it and work on my calligraphy usually in the same day) and coming and going to get some relief from the sun. I think my favorite aspect of the shore by far is watching all of the boats through their binoculars and watching them come and go. I normally figure out which one is which based on time of day, or color...I am such a nerd! But I love it. So next time you hear from me, it will probably be about the beach!

ciao, xo


summer bucket list

This summer is lining up to be a busy one, and I am incredibly shocked that June is already halfway over! Since my last entry, so much has happened. Periods of growth, frustration, thankfulness…I am glad that for now, there is a sense of calm around me that is surrounding me more and more with the onset of summer.

So naturally, as I always do, I am looking ahead with anticipation. I am so excited for the summertime and lapsing into a deep relaxation. I've been thinking about the things I want to do, but the first thing on my list is probably the most important:
  • Live EVERY day slowly, thoughtfully, and with purpose.
  • Go white water rafting!
  • Get some fun, action photography shots…I’m envisioning a rope swing??
  •  Hot air balloons
  • Wine tasting with S
  • Miniature golfing down the shore
  •  Enjoy a girl’s weekend with my gal pals
  • Get up to 4 miles running after physical therapy
  •  Go kayaking in the OBX
  • Do a spontaneous day or weekend trip with S?
  • Star gazing
  • Be good to my skin
  • Finish the current wedding projects currently queued up with @ataylorstudio
  • Expand my calligraphy practice
  • This is an ambitious one…new paint on the walls in my room?
  • Another ambitious one…get acclimated to summer eating with a more vegetarian diet
  •  Tend to my herb garden
  • Experiment with some European and Asian recipes…I subscribe to the Try to World boxes and have got some awesome themed collections from Thailand and Portugal…have to pluck up the courage to try some home cooked international flavor
  • Finish 3-5 summer reads

What's on your summer to-do list!?

ciao, xo 




Starting this post is a little hard. I was debating posting about this, because I decided to keep this more or less 'private' up until now. I felt weird about sharing the fact that I was in a car accident. I didn't want to garner sympathy or attention, and I didn't want to seem like I was complaining or oversharing. Social media does that so much, and I try to share very little on there. Which is why I feel a little hypocritical having a blog and sharing it here. Not that I owe an explanation, but I want to share this for the positives, not the shock value or the scary imagery. Because in the end, the positives are what is left out of this post.

All of this happened last Thursday at 6:30 am. My morning routine is pretty standard. Wake up at 5:30 or 5:45, wash face, brush teeth, put on clothes, makeup, lunch, coffee, out the door. Last Thursday was another normal day. I wasn't late, I had a pretty meager packed lunch, and I liked my outfit. It was a warm but clear day, actually a beautiful morning. I was thinking about what I had to do that day. I clearly remember that NPR was doing a story about Donald Trump on the radio.

About 3 minutes into my morning commute, a pickup truck smashed into my car. I didn't even see it coming. My car had spun and lodged into a fence and everything around me was shaken up. I remember screaming, loudly. My seatbelt was on, but I felt like I had been thrashed around. Miraculously, my hands worked. My arms worked. My legs worked. My mind was, albeit hysterical, working. I unbuckled my seatbelt, and walked out. Thinking about it now, I truly believe that this was an honest to God miracle.

I saw the shattered glass all over the road, my car in a heaping mess of twisted metal. Cars around me stopped; I was shaken to the core. A sweet woman whose name I didn't get came over and held my hand. I fumbled for what felt like forever before I dialed the police, then my parents. It truly was an eternity of standstill horror.

But the next thing I knew, my mom and dad were hugging me, and everyone involved was okay.  I know that ride for them felt like an eternity of horror, too. I remember seeing my car, now hanging from the frame and lodged into a chainlink fence all the way up to the windshield. The back doors were bent and useless. The rear of my car, which was where most of the force hit, was literally reduced to pieces of metal hanging off a steel frame. The only comfort was that everyone in the scene seemed to be okay, and I was with those I love the most.

I clung to my mom, and she helped me realize, that this car took all of the damage and I WAS OKAY.   And this was a miracle. It definitely took me a few hours, especially after thinking about it again and again, but I realized that I was so unbelievably lucky to walk away like I did. I was inches away from so much more pain or even death. It was a serious crash, and just thinking about it is really hard for me to do. I know there are so many people out there who have lived through worse, or who know people who didn't make it out. Thinking about it is so haunting, but now I am aware of how truly lucky I am to be typing this right now; in my bed; enjoying the light rain outside; able to look forward to next weekend. I am so lucky to have all of those things I am enjoying right now. Despite the waves of shock and infuriating anger, I have so much to be thankful for. So much learning in this jarring experience.

I chose not to share this with my friends (until now, that is) and still have mixed feelings talking about it. But an entire support system came into place, here. My colleagues, my mom's friends, her colleagues, and family. S came over right away from work to be with me. Flowers have come pouring in. Family friends pitched in and bought us a take-home dinner so we didn't have to cook. I swear, even Scout knows and has been spending more time with me than usual. There have been so many offerings of help.

The world, in a way, is a little more bright and cheerful. I can't find the words to explain how amazed I am at the joy of life, the hidden explanations and "what ifs" and mysteries of luck. I am so thankful for the beauty in these people I love and this town and the world I live in. I am so lucky that this incident is now, really, only just an inconvenience, and not the loss of something more. I am just so eternally and irrevocably thankful and appreciative of this beautiful world. Letting go of the negative, and embracing the happiness and positivity in life, is so so so much better.

ciao, xo


spring delights

sweet gifts from my bloggy friend, kerri!

With the nonstop rain over the last week, it has felt like an eternity since I have been outside!! There are, fortunately, some lovely things keeping me sane indoors. First, I recently did a total 'spring cleaning' overhaul and redecorated my room with new DIYs, crafts, art pieces, rearranged stuff, and the best part: decluttering! I threw out about 10 pairs of shoes!

Between Michaels, TJ Maxx and Whole Foods I have been very busy indeed with beautifying my living space. I scored this exquisite pink peonies from Whole Foods (only $12.99 - which I thought was at first expensive, but compared to other places around here, it isn't!) and they opened up BEAUTIFULLY in my window sill. I also have been getting through the chilly rainy days with lots of delicious candles and scents like lavender, hibiscus, and rosemary mint.

But probably the most delightful things here were a completely surprise snail mail gift from Kerri! She sent over a gorgeous tassel necklace and bracelet (she makes them herself - Kerri, where is your Etsy shop!!?!), fun birthday-themed treats (my b-day was this past April) and of course, our common passion, TEA. It was so sweet of her to send this over, and it really came in handy this week to get past the rainy day blues.

I am working on a few DIY projects and improving some crafts I recently bought at Michaels. I got a really nice linen board (functions as a cork board, but cleaner and more crisp) that I want to doll up with some of my favorite photos and some calligraphy work. I am also trying to fix up some shelves to put on my wall so I can start building some sort of gallery wall a la pinterest.

In the mean time, I'll be on the hunt for more peonies...

ciao! happy work week, all!



bag envy

Every once in a while I get the urge to browse for a new bag! I rarely splurge on handbags, because when I buy a bag it goes through some goooood usage, let me tell you. After a little bit of time though, the usual wear and tear starts to appear and it loses the appeal it once had...ah! I also hate to have a bunch of unused bags wasting away in the closet, so I only keep a few "in circulation" to avoid clutter.

My current bag (pictured) is my work bag and sometimes weekend bag. I looove it! It's a piece from Urban Outfitters, which I mainly bought for its deep and roomy pockets (I am such a fan of pockets). My only complaint is that it doesn't stand up straight by itself like a normal tote does. So it is a bit floppy, which is causing me to eye up the following bags (above) for a next potential purchase?! Honestly, these bags are mostly out of my price range, but it is fun to dream. And I am really impressed by the bags at Fossil! I love the mint colored cross body with the leather strap, it adds such a classic touch and could easily fit into any outfit.

As you may also see I loveeee bright colored bags, and all accessories for that matter. I wear grey and black and other neutral colors SO often, that I find that my accessories are often my only bright POP of color.

Hope you have an  a m a z i n g  week!

ciao, xo


insta-lately: @ataylorstudio

By the looks of these pictures in my phone, all things are either a) flowers, b) calligraphy or c) watercolors. Here's what is not pictured:

  • grad school woes: my stats class (final exam was last week, AHH).
  • my birthday! yay 26. i'm getting old.
  • AMAZING NEWS about S
  • some family hardships, sadly - but immediately in my life, all is well
  • a sweet birthday gift from my best blogger friend! more on this soon!
  • summer planning and travel dreaming
  • my 2nd ever newborn session - eeee!!!
  • getting hooked on the office (again, from the beginning)
  • obsessed over my new favorite snack: organic habanero bacon tortilla chips :) 
  • trying to be consistent by working out 5x a week and eating well (ahem, bullet point above...)

So today is awesome because it is Earth Day AND I have the day off. When does this happen!? An entire weekday Earth Day to spend outside? It is almost too good to be true. Being outside and hearing the birds chirp can do wonders for the mood.  I fully plan on doing this today! Everything outside is so refreshed and new. The fields I see on my morning commute are crisp and green, not a deep or rich green but a sprightly and fresh lime colored green that is newly reborn, grown, and springing to life. 

My birthday was good, too. I had some not so fun things to do (like my evening grad class, statistics, gahhh) but I was surprised with so many pleasant gifts and thoughts. S sent me flowers right to work - I love when he does that and how it embarrasses me (but it really doesn't, I love that kind of stuff). It was so sweet - I kept them at my desk all week and they are still kickin! After my class, I came home to a homemade Funfetti cake (my childhood favorite) and a sweet little party complete with party hats, balloons, and all of my favorite things. We had champagne, chips and salsa, and birthday cake all in the same sitting. It was the BEST, and so hilarious! My family and I had a great time being ourselves and laughing about nonsense. My brother will be home in just a few weeks and we'll all be reunited again.

Speaking of reunited: S is coming home!!! I will post more on this later, but I am thrrrrrilleddddd with the news!

As for A. Taylor Studio, I've been enjoying working on some calligraphy and photography projects in the last few weeks. Especially with calligraphy, I've been so pleased with how my practice has developed. An ideal Sunday morning now consists of a hot oolong tea and a clean piece of paper to practice some calligraphy on. I have been SO inspired and helped out by reading this blog,  which is a great resource for those still learning the tricks of the trade and which tools to use. I love the fine, delicate skill of being able to letter an envelope -  a skill that is unfortunately long gone for most of the world!

Right now I am off to do a little light spring cleaning and work out. Happy weekend and Earth Day! 

ciao, xo


fresh cut

Seeing the seed packets in stores all around has me dreaming of all the possibilities of potted plants,  rows and rows of sunflowers, vegetable gardens and herb pots. It's amazing what one little seed pack can do!  So with this exploratory spirit, I bought 2 packs of ranunculus bulbs to plant. Ranunculus are possibly my all-time favorite spring flower. They look like delicate, ornate crepe origami creations. With a color palette quite similar to watercolors, their petals are extremely thin and film like, but dense and layered like a peony.

They like cooler temperatures - 50 to 60 degrees is what I'll venture to say - and I have placed them in a sunny window.  They make beautiful cut flowers and apparently last longer than most.

As for this illustration, I plan on making this a beautiful note card or notepad; one thing I need to work on is creating pieces with more of a layered, splashy background. The angles in the vase are the ooooonly thing I'm not sure about for this illustration. Watercolors are all about that breezy, lightly painted look - working on improving that aspect of my watercolors is one of my creative goals for the time being!

ciao! xo


rainy weekend

 dress  / tote / umbrella 

Probably one of the worst things about shopping is finding out that you paid full price for something that is now deeply discounted (i.e. this dress is now under $50!). Ouch. Maybe my pain can be your gain! I had this dress in mind for a drizzly weekend stroll through the streets of Princeton, where I had to stop for some errands over the weekend. The campus is filled with such beautiful landscaping and with the trees in full bloom it was hard to resist snapping a few photos in front of all their pink magnificence!  A lot of people were out doing the same thing even through the fine mist and chilly temperatures.

I added a cheap belt (this was from an outfit from F21) to add some structure, but I love this dress without a belt too. It is supposed to be a sheath dress, and while constructed on the top with a ribbed tee fabric, it is drapey and elegant on the bottom. It adds just enough length and is lined on the inside.

 Most rainy days, I don't feel like dressing up - but when I have an awesome umbrella (old school with the wooden hook handle) I feel a little bit more classic Londoner and more inspired to dress the part.

what makes you feel happy on a rainy day? ciao! xo


sagamore hill

Long Island was certainly not what I expected (see the idealized wanderlust in previous post!). But it was an absolute adventure, with lots of learning (and driving) and getting lost on purpose.

Hands down, the most awe-inspiring part of the trip was our visit Sagamore Hill (it was the sole reason for our trip in the first place). It was the summer home of Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most intense and rugged personalities of American history. I seem to love him even more the more I learn about him; more so as an icon, admittedly...until my visit to Sagamore Hill. It might sound boring to some, but as someone who loves history and learning from travel, this was a weekend well spent. I have read several books over the last year in my free time about the life of Theodore Roosevelt - books that paint him in a good and bad light - and I have concluded that he fascinates me as a person and a President. I wish I could do some of the things he has done.

During our visit of the house, it was as though TR would appear at any moment; as if he was about to return from a short outing or errand in town.  The interior of the home was beautifully and richly decorated with dark walls, lavish tapestries and carpets, and other relics distinctly from early 20th century America. His desk was arranged as he used it, with the actual candlestick telephone, ink wells, gas lamps, and typewriters that he used. Books were on the shelves - something over 10,000 - in every room. Hallways were narrow, ceilings were huge, and every inch of free wall space was covered with naval art, mounted taxidermy, trophies and awards, collectibles, family photos, you name it. I could go on and on about the details in the house - and yet, it was a house, not a castle or a museum. It had a comforting lived-in feel, as if a great deal of living had been done in this house.

Sagamore Hill is located in Oyster Bay, New York, on the northwestern end of Long Island. I severely underestimated how long Long Island was; we didn't come close to our goal of reaching the far east side. Another time. It was cloudy and dreary anyway, and to be honest, we spent so much time driving that I glazed over and lost interest to spend more time in the car.

Our trip to Oyster Bay turned out to be the highlight - my mom and I absolutely loved the tour and would go back in a heartbeat. We poked around the main town of Oyster Bay and stopped for amazing burgers at Taby's for lunch. We were either in a burger-and-fries coma, or exhausted from the hours in the car, but we didn't find much to do after Oyster Bay besides drive around.

We found a Whole Foods and stocked up on a bunch of snacks for the hotel. My mom and I have so much fun stumbling on these ideas - food fest in the hotel! We got delicious (and I'm using the healthy excuse, too) dinners, wine, and other snacks...before crashing in that delectably cushy white bed.

ciao! xo