Before venturing into Maplewood, NJ for to meet a friend for breakfast, we briefly explored downtown Morristown, about 15 minutes from where I was staying with Mari. There, we found stunning blossoming trees, neighborhoods fully rebuilt since the hurricane, and a few hidden gems I photographed below.
The Artist Baker & Colly Flowers were connected, both micro-small but seemingly full with tables and communal space I could've enjoyed all day if we didn't have plans. Mari and I mused over how the multiple-concepts business idea is a dream of each of ours. A cafe - florist - bookstore or a coffee shop - stationary - local goods compendium were among our favorite ideas.
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Everything you could hope a small commuter town "main street" would be:
We arrived early and took the opportunity to explore Maplewood's "main street", Maplewood Avenue. The first business we saw was The Able Baker (not to be confused with Artist Baker!) and I, on the never-ceasing quest for gluten free-dairy free treats, ducked in without a word. Sure enough, gluten free & vegan banana bread was soon to be mine! I don't know how I managed to carry it around for the rest of the morning, but I was a good girl and saved it until our coffee date.
A few doors down is WORDS: Bookstore, the quintessential independent book shop that anyone could ever hope for. Local author book signings scheduled on fliers in the window, gorgeous displays of off-the-beaten-path titles, and an array of literary accessories ripe for impulse buys. Including limited-edition Theo Chocolate Bars the owner sourced from the factory just last week!
I bought a book by a local author: Salad in a Jar, by Anna Helm Baxter and one of those aforementioned chocolate bars, barely able to tear myself away from the good conversation at the cash-wrap.
NOTE: IT WAS HERE THAT I MADE THE CONSCIOUS DECISION TO STOP USING MY AMAZON BOOK WISH LIST AS A PLACE TO "KEEP BOOKS IN HOLDING", KNOWING FULL-WELL I WOULDN'T BUY THEM LOCALLY.
Instead, I'm using Goodreads as an opportunity to keep my to-read list up-to-date and to have a no-buy-zone to inspire library usage, book swaps, and buying local when the book I want is sitting in front of me.
I finally got to meet my absentee Instagram consultant - @thehappilyeverafter / AKA Chrissy Alba!
It was a lovely meeting-of-the-minds with myself, Chrissy, and @mpartyka - Mari, as we collectively geeked out over our love of Instagram and media creation, our constant qualm with social media's potential to take over our life, and how amazing The Able Baker was. I'm so envious - Mari & Chrissy have decided to make this their meeting spot, but it's a little too far for me!
Late last year, Mari reached out to Chrissy for advice on building our nonprofit: @mahilapartnership's Instagram account. She provided expert coaching that boosted us A LOT, as well as made an impression on how I interact with the platform.
Chrissy also shared her story of "blowing up" on Instagram a few years ago. I was surprised to find that while she considers it luck, it had much to do with being in a network of strong social media contributors who were each getting featured by Instagram, Martha Stewart, and other large accounts.
Needless to say, the coffee (La Colombe) was superb, the atmosphere was inspiring, and the conversation is the first of many with these two powerful yet gentle souls.
From Maplewood to Penn Station →
The Amtrak Station was fully-painted with murals, patterns, and quotes from floor crease to floor crease, even over the ceiling.