Monday, August 24, 2015

Visiting the 18th

It’s hard to pick just one thing that I loved most about my time in Paris. There are the little things that most Parisians probably take for granted—the long, meandering meals or the friendly greetings whenever you enter a shop; and there are the bigger things like the dozens of masterpiece-laden museums and historical landmarks. Now that I’m back in New York, I can’t help but wish for some of things in my day-to-day life. I’ve even taken to buying baguettes but, for whatever reason, they just aren’t the same as the ones I stuffed into my handbag while I was doing my tourist thing.

If there wasn’t one thing that I loved most, there was certainly an arrondissement that captured my heart. Montmartre, an arrondissement atop a hill by the same name, gave me a glimpse at the Paris I had expected to see on my visit. Quiet, sleepy streets with a boulangerie on one side of the street and a fromagerie on the other. You had the impression that everyone who lived there knew each other. There were no designer stores, no chain stores, just honest-to-goodness “mom and pop” shops, as we call them here.

Mom and I headed to Montmartre first thing in the morning on our last day in Paris. We—meaning I—had planned for us to climb the steps to the top but thought differently when we were standing at the bottom. Instead, we took the funicular which cost under 2 euros and saved us both a lot of panting.

Our first stop was Sacré-Cœur, the white-domed church that you can see from all over Paris. Maybe it’s because of the domes and the stonework, but the basilica felt exotic-looking to me in the midst of all the gothic architecture around Paris. It’s a gorgeous church though—and new in comparison to Notre Dame. It also didn’t feel touristy while we were there, much more like a parish church that is still used for weekly services. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside and there were no souvenir shops by the entrance (that I saw anyway). I kind of liked that about it though. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the top of the dome that day because it wasn’t open, but we did get some stunning views from the steps outside.

We took the morning to live as flâneurs, just strolling down the narrow, somewhat serpentine streets. I had a few things that I wanted to see—the two remaining moulins (windmills), Carre Roland Dorgeles (a little vineyard), and Place des Abbesses—but we were able to just take the sights in without watching the clock. I felt like I’d been transported to a different time. I felt somewhat out of place walking around with my iPhone and DSLR. The arrondissement is beautiful though with its ivy covered buildings and classic architecture. It’s no wonder so many of the great artists had studios or worked in and around the area. We had a delicious breakfast at a street café, hoping to prolong the experience just a little bit longer, and then I had a field day going from the boulangerie for a baguette to the fromagerie for cheese and then the charcuterie just out of curiosity (I don’t eat red meat or pork). And they were all on the same street, right next to each other! I have to say, I’m a fan of shopping for groceries that way instead of by going to a supermarket that sells everything. The quality just can’t be beat.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Montmartre without seeing the famed Moulin Rouge. You can still go and see shows there but, I have to say that the Moulin Rouge, in reality, doesn’t quite live up to its glitzy reputation. It was definitely a must-see, but I wasn’t blown away by it. Plus, the area surrounding it is much more touristy than the other areas in Montmartre that we visited. You know, plenty of those inexpensive souvenir shops, with mini-Eiffel Towers and things, spilling out onto the street.

I fell in love with Montmartre and, if I should ever be fortunate enough to live in Paris, I could see myself living quite comfortably up there. What I wouldn’t give to live in the studio that once belonged to Monet, Van Gogh, or Picasso! It’s the Paris I always envisioned.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Phantom of the Opera

If you are a Phantom of the Opera fan, then odds are you will start humming the Andrew Lloyd Webber songs as you approach Opera Garnier, like Mom. We had the treat of being able to go on a tour of this world famous opera house, and it was one of our favorite excursions during our time in Paris. If you do want to tour Opera Garnier on your next trip to Paris, then I suggest you buy the tickets ahead of schedule like we did. The English language tour was already sold out by lunchtime.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of history to Opera Garnier, and just as much legend. The chandelier that fell and inspired the novel that Webber based his musical on? It never actually fell, but a counterweight did, killing a female theatre-goer. The underground lake that the Phantom boats across a la the River Styx? Non-existent, although there is a small reservoir beneath the opera house. Sorry to burst your bubble.

I have to say that I felt more than a bit underdressed as I walked around. Apparently, going to the theatre was never about watching the performance. For the wealthy Parisians, it was about wearing their best jewels and finest gowns and being seen. And you did get a glimpse at the sort of elaborate “costumes” that the theatre-goers wore which rivaled those of the performers. The opera house’s opulence was probably only rivaled by that of Versailles. Everything is intricately carved and painted, and everything is so vibrant and colorful. I mean, even the seats in the auditorium are this plush, crimson velvet.

Opera Garnier is a temple for music and, even if you aren’t a fan of operas or the ballet, it’s worth seeing. And if you’re a Phantom of the Opera fan, then you will get a real kick out of walking up the grand staircase like you’re in the musical number “Masquerade.” You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Impressions

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 2 weeks since I bid France adieu. The trip seemed to take forever to get here and then was over in the blink of an eye. It’s taken time to come down from the vacation-high and get back into the swing of the 9-5 workday grind, probably because I’m so reluctant to leave France behind. When can I go back? Tomorrow? I’m just going to go repack my suitcase. I wish.

Luckily, I have close to 1500 photos from my trip and a head full of memories to last me a lifetime. There was so much to take in—the tastes, the smells, the sights, and the sounds. It was amazing to share those memories with my mother too. If you think about it, it hasn’t been just Mom and me since my sister was born twenty-one years ago. But it was really just the two of us from the moment we woke up until the moment we closed our eyes for 10 days. We got along well too except for a few bickering matches when we were lost, hungry, or exhausted.

Anyway, now that I am somewhat recovered I’ll be pulling together some travel related posts. And, you guessed it, this is the first.

Baguettes. Crepes. Cheese. Berets. Wine. The Eiffel Tower. Flâneurs. Poodles. They’re all clichés, but that’s how I envisioned Paris. Granted, there are a lot of baguettes, crepes, and wine, and you can’t miss the Eiffel Tower—La Dame de Fer has the habit of poking her head out when you least expect her—but that isn’t what Paris is about, not by a long shot.

The first thing I noticed about Paris is that everything is bigger—grander—than what you ever imagined. You know that the Eiffel Tower is tall, but you don’t feel its grandeur until you’re standing at the base or taking the two elevators to the top. What’s crazy is that the tower was supposed to be taken down after six months. Why would anyone have ever wanted to do that? The Arc de Triomphe is also this vast structure with a 287 step climb to the top, but it isn't until you're standing under the vault and looking up thinking “Wow!” that you can truly appreciate how massively impressive it is. And Notre Dame? Well, it’s impressive from far away, up close, from the inside, from the outside, from the top of a 387 step climb, and from its base. Every inch of it is intricately carved. It was one of those places where, even for someone who isn’t incredibly religious, I felt like I was in the presence of something much greater than myself. It was awe-inspiring.

There is something to say about a culture where stopping to smell the roses, so to speak, is a way of life. Living in New York, everyone always seems to be in a rush—to get to work, school, home, the store. Parisians walk at a leisurely pace (except during rush hour) and will just sit on the edge of the Seine or on the lawn of some park watching the world pass them by. Meals are events that last several hours and are meant to be enjoyed over pleasant conversation and a glass of wine. Life is to be savored, and I think that's something Americans need to learn.

Every inch of Paris is worthy of a photograph or a painting. Arguably, the only unsightly thing in Paris is Tour Montparnasse which I think smacks of the Tower of Mordor. The rest of Paris has this classic, elegant feel and striking facades. I loved that the city hasn’t been overrun by skyscrapers and glass facades. It’s quintessentially old world.

Have you ever been to Paris? What were your first impressions?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Post-Vacation Ennui

Have any of you ever experienced post-vacation ennui?

For me, the symptoms start on the way to the airport. As I watch the city that I’ve called home for the last week or so pass me by in the window, my heart gets a bit heavy. I see landmarks I visited, the streets I walked down, the restaurants I dined in, and I wonder when/if I will ever visit them again. I think I will, but I know that it won’t be for a while yet. There are dozens of countries and cities that I want to visit first—places and cultures that I have yet to experience.

By the time I get home? Part of me is daydreaming about what it would be like to just pick up and leave again, you know, if I had the funds. It’s always hard to accept that the trip I’ve been daydreaming about for nearly a year is in my rearview mirror. I want to start planning my next trip, but it just seems too far away to be a fact yet. So, I’m forced to accept my sedentary, 9 to 5 lifestyle again.

After being on the go for ten days straight—always at breakneck speed so I can fit everything in—I’m exhausted and jetlagged. All I want to do is curl up in my pajamas, in bed, watching Netflix and having Netflix watch me when I take an impromptu nap. I’ve been watching NCIS, in case you are wondering. But I always feel that the more exhausted I am when I get home is the more successful the trip was. Considering my current level of laziness and unproductivity, I think that France 2015 was a huge success!

So what happens now? Once I find the energy, I hope to go through my 1300 photos and blog about my adventure in more detail. All I did this weekend was watch TV and sleep. Oh, and ice my ankle after I had a run in with a pothole in Manhattan on Friday (it won). I also want to give the blog a little face-lift to celebrate six months of being in existence.

This will be my only post this week though as I cannonball into the real world after my little escape. So please bear with me!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Au Revoir, France

How did my 10 days in France go by so quickly?

We’re on our way home today (sadly), and I’ll probably spend the next day or so recovering from jetlag and the getting my life back in order. Can I stress how much I don’t want to come down from this holiday high? I really don’t want to. At all.

But I guess it’s time to start thinking about my next trip, right?

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Month, New Goals: August

I think that July might be my favorite month of 2015 (so far). I mean, really, what was not to love about it? Summer Fridays started at my job, so I’ve been getting out of work at 1:00PM. I have no idea why this makes the week feel significantly shorter, but it does. I also spent the bulk of the month preparing for my trip with the zeal of…someone zealous? I don’t know where I was going there. Then, I left for my vacation on July 26th, and I’m still in France as you read this! Current location: Nice. Anyway, it’s been an eventful and exciting month for me. How about you?

How was your July?

Duolingo Review or Die. I did some Duolingo-ing, but definitely not as much as I would have liked to have done. I was bitten by the writing bug this past month and spent my train rides (which is when I usually use Duolingo) drafting short pieces of whatever popped into my head.
Get some reading done.  Again, I definitely didn’t do as much as I would have liked, but I did read a bit. Hopefully, I managed to get some reading done on the plane ride and, if I did, expect a book review sometime in August!
Buy the last of my advance tickets. Done and done! Everything was booked and paid for by the time we headed to JFK airport.
French Trip. Currently a work in progress, but I’ll cross it off my list anyway. By this point I’ve been to Paris, visited London, and am now in Nice. Today, however, I’ll be day-tripping in Provence and evening-tripping (I’m aware that’s not a real thing) in Monaco. Sadly, this means that my trip is almost at an end.
Make a blog queue. Done! I did manage to set up a small queue so that new content (like this post) would go live while I was away.


  • Print & frame photos from France. I have a gallery wall that is devoted to photos I've taken on my travels that is slowly but surely growing in size. There are currently pictures from my time in London, Bath, and Windsor in 2012 and others from Rome, Florence, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast in 2014 up there, so my new photographs will be in good company.
  • Schedule dinner dates with friends. I've been horrible with making dinner plans with friends of late, and I have several friends who are long overdue a catch-up dinner. Hopefully, I'll be able to make up for this in August and September.
  • Go see Minions. Yes, I'm aware that I am 25, but who can resist the charm of those yellow, pill-shaped cuties? I have an unhealthy obsession with them and have watched the trailers so many times that it wouldn't surprise me if I could recite them. I even had my friend who works in the film industry send me the Minion 3D goggles...which I proceeded to wear around the house saying "Banana!" Basically, I need to see the movie before it leaves theatres or mope around until it comes out on bluray.
  • Clean my room. I have been saying that I need to clean my room for months but haven't gotten around to it. A two day weekend hasn't been long enough to clean, blog, and plan my trip, so cleaning--the least fun of the activities--has been put off time and time again. My room is a disaster area though, and it really is starting to make me twitchy.
  • Do some re-decorating. I spent months pinching pennies to save up for France, so I haven't gotten around to working on making my room the little oasis I've intended. I'm intent on making it the perfect little "studio apartment" in my parents' home, so it's time to start visiting Ikea, Home Goods, and H&M to get the things I need.
Do you have any goals for July?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Monthly Favorites: July

Not surprisingly, this month's favorites were all purchased with my trip in mind.  So, without further ado…

Carlos by Carlos Santana Sandals –

One of my many quirks is that I'm not a sandal-person. Well, it's more like the only sandals I like are the impractical five inch stiletto heel ones. Obviously, I can't do any real sightseeing in that type of footwear unless I want to maim myself. I did want to find a comfortable pair of sandals for my vacation though, especially for niece. I found these gorgeous Kiara 2 Wedge Sandals at my shoe mecca--DSW. They have a gladiator-esque look to them and a small one and a half inch wedge, so I can walk around comfortably. I've gotten tons of compliments on them too. But what I love about these sandals is that they can be dressed up or down depending on my needs. At $39.99, these babies were a steal!

Covergirl LastBlast Fusion Mascara 

LastBlast Fusion is my old reliable when it comes to mascara. I've been wearing it for years now with no complaints, so when I realized I was running low, I went and bought a new tube. It gives your lashes volume and length and is buildable for those of us who have a flare for the dramatic. I love the applicator too which I feel is great for preventing the clumpy, cobwebby lash look.  

Eiffel Tower Journal –

It's a tradition for me to bring a journal on my trips so that I can chronicle everything as it happens. The Eiffel Tower motif was no coincidence, but the compact size means that I can slip it into my purse and carry it around with me. You can't believe how many comments I get when people see me jotting down notes in my journals when I'm abroad. I feel a bit like I'm carrying the torch of all those writers who spent time in Europe, scribbling down their great works. Hemingway, anyone? For me, there's nothing quite like writing. I love the feel of pen on paper and am more inspired by an empty notebook than a blank word document.

Forever 21 Gold Leaf Necklace –

This was a "just because" buy. I was in Forever 21 a few weekends ago and spotted this delicate leaf necklace and couldn't not buy it. It's the sort of piece that can add a touch of elegance to simple black top or add a little personality to something with a pattern. I love necklaces with long chains for that reason! They're just so versatile.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monthly Musings: July

I put my life in danger to take this photo. 

 I am deathly afraid of all things bee-like (bumblebees, bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets…), so the fact that I was anywhere near this little guy is an impressive feat in my book. Yes, I realize that I’m incredibly melodramatic, but I have literally climbed over picnic tables covered with food to get away from a bee. I wish I were kidding.

Onto this month’s musings!
  • Top 12 Pastry Shops in Paris –  It's probably no surprise that I was reading up about France leading up to my trip.  World of Wanderlust is one of my favorite travel blogs and, as luck would have it, 10 days before my trip a guide to pastry shops went live! I had already planned to visit Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, but I kept the others in mind too! Let's see how many of these dessert heavens I manage to visit!
  • 8 Tips for Hanging Art  One of my ambitions is to have one of those homes that looks like it came right out of magazine, so I'm always in the mood for interior design related posts.  Joanne of Cup of Jo gave some great tips for hanging art.  I'll definitely keep these tips in mind for future design projects.
  • Get Married by Your Late 20s If You'd Rather Not Get Divorced - An interesting article on how people who get married in their late 30s are now more likely to get divorced than those in their late 20s.  So, basically, if you marry too young, divorce, and if you marry too old, divorce.  Not great odds, America.
  • Finally, Photographic Evidence that Kit Harington Has Joined the Cast of Game of Thrones in Belfast - SPOILER ALERT: Jon Snow lives!  I was one of the many fan girls who wept over what appeared to be the demise of Jon Snow in the season finale of Game of Thrones, but there has been a lot of speculation as to whether he was actually dead.  Although Kit and show runners have said that Jon is gone, methinks they doth protest too much.  It seems like too much of a coincidence that he landed in Belfast just in time for next season's script read-through.  Is this the worst kept secret in TV history?  I hope so!
  • Amber Heard is More Complicated Than You Think - I've always liked Amber Heard, although I couldn't really put my finger on a reason.  This article, which appeared in July's edition of ELLE, made me like her even more. Johnny Depp slayer, free-spirit, and feminist--what's not to like?  Unfortunately, this link will only bring you to blurbs from the full article, but if your friend reads ELLE, steal borrow it!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Road to France Pt. VIII - Bon Voyage!

Au Revoir, USA! Bonjour, France!

The next few days will be a whirlwind as Mom and I get ready to fly off to Paris, but I’m bouncing off the walls over the prospect. Last minute shopping, packing, going to the airport!  It's so exciting! And isn't packing for a trip is always more fun than packing to come home? My room is currently a disaster area with luggage and clothing strewn everywhere, so it’ll be nice to get a bit more organized. I’m also looking forward to getting pampered tomorrow. Yay mani-pedis!

Anyway, I do have some posts set up in my queue, so Bringing Up Brittany won’t be completely neglected in my absence. When I get back, you should expect plenty of travel photos and posts! I also plan to give the blog a bit of a face-lift as a belated six month-iversary present.

In the meantime though, check out my Instagram for some lovely on-the-go shots of Paris and Nice!

"A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life."
-Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Road to France Pt. VII - Travel Tech

Time for another travel-related post! Don’t hate me.

I don’t know about you, but even on vacation I have a ton of tech with me. I don’t like being completely disconnected, so I tend to bring more equipment with me than I probably should. So here are some of my tech must-haves.

Plug Adapters –

Plugs in the US don’t match those in Europe, so good luck trying to charge any of your gadgets without at least one of these. I bought plug adapters to save myself that frustration, and I get the most bang for my buck by buying these off Amazon. I bought these Type E/F adapters for a steal at 3 for $7.25. These work in Germany, France, and some other European countries, so they’re perfect for my needs.  

Camera Equipment

My trusty Nikon D3200 will be accompanying me on this trip, and she’ll be my most faithful companion, apart from my mother, obviously. But my DSLR needs a lot of TLC considering how much I’ll be using it. So I make sure to carry two ENEL14a rechargeable batteries and two 16GB SanDisk memory cards. This might seem like overkill, but I can’t think of what would be worse than missing a photo-op because of a dead battery or lack of memory. I’ll also be bringing my two camera lens because…why not?

Kindle Fire HDX

Except for that time I went to London while writing my senior thesis, I am against bringing my laptop on trips. Laptops are heavy and take up a lot of room, and I don’t want to be tempted to spend my time in my hotel room. With my Kindle though, I still get some connectivity without the temptation of sitting in front of my laptop for hours and hours. Plus, it’s great for reading books and magazines on the plane. This is like the one time when I’d ever promote e-book use.

iPhone –

Because who goes anywhere without their phone nowadays? I always get the global plan added by phone provider so that I can use my iPhone overseas which saves me a few bucks. I tend to rely only on data when I’m abroad though for sending quick messages through WhatsApp, uploading photos to Instagram, updating Facebook and Twitter, and the occasional glance at Google Maps. I really only send text messages in emergencies, and the same goes for calls.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Road to France Pt. VI - Travel Toiletries

With only 6 days until France, the only I can think about is my trip. This time next week, Mom and I will already be wandering the streets of Paris in an attempt to see everything I planned for Day 1. We’ll be exhausted, for sure, but I have a feeling that the excitement factor will fuel us for a bit. When that fails we’ll have to resort to our caffeine sources of choice. There’s so much to see in Paris that we really are hitting the ground running.

I apologize for anyone who’s tired of hearing about my trip, but the posts this week are all travel-related as I count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until lift off. Today’s post is all about some toiletries that I consider must haves for any trip.

Batiste Dry Shampoo  –

I did a lot of research (aka asked beauty bloggers on Twitter) on dry shampoos before buying this striped beauty. Everyone I spoke to said that Batiste is the best dry shampoo on the market, and I definitely agree. There’s no residue, and it has a light, refreshing scent that gives hair a bit of a boost. You just spray, comb it in, ad bam!  

Purell Hand Sanitizer

Whether you’re a germaphob or not, it’s always good to have some sanitizer in your bag. While being all touristy, I'll undoubtedly touch things that hundred (or even thousands) of other people have touched before me. Skeevy, right? That’s why I love Purell. It’s small enough to take on the plane, they have some great scents, and you can buy the bottles with these handy key-chains to make the sanitizer easy to carry.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes

I swear by these make-up remover wipes, so I was obviously going to bring a pack with me on the trip. I have sensitive skin, so I always have to be careful about what I put on it. I’ve never had any complaints with Neutrogena, and I know that my face is clean and fresh.

Skintimate Shaving Cream –

Summer vacations (especially to the French Rivera) means showing some skin, so my shaving cream will be close at hand. The size of this can is perfect for traveling, and it has a great berry scent.

Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunscreen

I burn very easily, so I don’t go on vacation without sunscreen. Painful sunburn can ruin a trip—trust me. Since I know that I’ll be spending more time in the sun than I usually do while exploring Paris and Nice, I won’t be going out without spraying myself down. What I love about Clearly Sheer is that my skin doesn’t feel sticky or heavy after I’ve applied it, even with makeup on.  Clearly Sheer is lightweight and still protective.

Jergens Ultra Healing Moisturizer

This is pretty self-explanatory, but I love this little bottle of Jergens.  It's the perfect travel size!  Planes always leave my skin feeling dry and chapped, so I like to have lotion handy.  And since my legs will probably be bare for most of the trip, I don't want to be walking around with ashy limbs.  Not cute.

Tide To Go Pen

For those less than graceful moments when I inevitably drop something on my clothes. Just a little dab of this, and I can usually prevent stains. I also keep one of these in my purse for everyday use and in my desk at work. It's good to be Girl Scout sorts of prepared.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summertime Faves: Stone Fruit Smoothie

I didn’t actually know that they were called stone fruits until a conversation with a co-worker last week, but apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries all fall under the category. Basically, if it has a pit, it’s a stone fruit. Summertime is when these soft and juicy bad boys are in season, but only for like the months of July and August. They are one of the many things that mean summer has arrived, for me anyway. That and fireflies, cookouts, and the errant firework a neighborhood boy might set off in the dead of night.

Anyway, my mother bought a ton of stone fruits last weekend, and they got those creative juices flowing! I couldn't resist the temptation of combining some of them to make a smoothie with my Nutribullet. As a mentioned way back when I started Bringing Up Brittany, my parents got me a Nutribullet for my birthday, and I've been hooked on smoothies ever since. I've used stone fruits in other recipes but never combined them, so I was very interested to see if this would turn out incredibly well or horrifyingly awful. Since it turned out to be delicious though, I thought I'd share the recipe!

Stone Fruit Smoothie

You’ll Need…

1 peach, pitted and roughly chopped 
1 nectarine, pitted and roughly chopped
1 cup of cherries, pitted
1 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 banana, peeled

And the Steps…

Add all ingredients to Nutribullet (or blender) and blend until liquid is the desirable thickness. I usually blend for a little under a minute.


After washing my hands so that I didn't look like I'd murdered somebody (cherry juice looks freakishly like blood...), it was time to try my concoction. It was like drinking a cup of sunshine, I kid you not. I had that sweetness I love from ripe stone fruits but a subtle tartness from the black cherries. This is certainly a recipe I'm going to have to try again before the fruits are out of season!

It was really an easy treat to make and so incredibly refreshing, even at room temperature. But you could probably chill the fruits or add ice on a particular hot day to cool you off.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Massive Sweet Tooth

As much as I try to eat healthfully, I have a massive sweet tooth that can easily derail the best of intentions. Even when I’m on a diet, I know that I have to make allowances for at least one sweet treat a day so that I stick with it. I’ve never been good at the whole cold turkey thing.

My sweet tooth has certainly gotten the best of me of late though, so I thought that I’d share some of my favorite candies (of the moment) with you.

Nips –

I love caramel. Like love, love. The sort of love where if it were a person I’d marry it. So when I discovered Nips a few months back, I had found my candy nirvana. Nips are hard candies but pack the rich, somewhat sticky flavor of caramel that I love. They have a bunch of flavors, but the plain caramel is my favorite.

Sour Patch Kids –

I’ve loved these bad boys since I can remember. I’ve always had a soft spot for gummies (pun intended), but what I love about Sour Patch Kids is that they have the sour sugar on the outside that gives way to the sweet, fruit flavored gummy underneath. I eat these things until my tongue goes raw sometimes.

Sour Patch Kids Gum –

I love the Sour Patch Kids gum for a lot of the same reasons that I love the original gummy candies. Stride has done a great job at packing the same great flavor into a stick of gum. Cherry is by far my favorite. My only complaint is that I finish the pack of gum way too quickly.

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites –

This is one of my movie theatre candies, and I actually bought this box when I went to see Jurassic World. It reminds me so much of being a kid and eating the cookie dough off the spoons and licking it from bowls, minus the mess.

Haribo Gummy Bears –

Haribo are the only gummy bears I’ll ever eat, and I always have to have a bag with me when I go to see a movie. I honestly don’t know what the real appeal, but I do know that this is my feel good candy. If I’ve had a bad day, Haribo Gold-Bears are what I want.

What are your favorite candies?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Life as a Boomerang Kid

When I graduated from Cornell in May 2012, I had to move back home. I was unemployed (and wouldn’t land my first full-time job until the following March), and I was (and still am) about 100k in debt. That’s 100k with 5 zeros.

Needless to say, there was no way that I could afford to rent a cardboard box, let alone an apartment in New York City. What I pay in student loans each month is around what most people pay in rent, and publishing pays next to nothing. Seriously, we don’t work in publishing for the money. Living with my parents when I’m in my mid-twenties certainly has its ups and downs, so I thought I’d start a blog series on living in my childhood home when I’m no longer a child. I think it’s something that other millennials can relate to, especially when recent statistics say that one in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. 

Guess what they call us. The boomerang kids.

So here is the first installment of my survival guide.

Tip #1

Respect is the only way to survive, and it goes both ways.

The fact of the matter is that when you’re away at school you get very used to not having to answer to anyone. You come and go as you please, you stay out super late, and you invite strangers to stay the night (or they invite you). 

Moving back home is definitely an adjustment for everyone. My parents had to realize that I was an adult, so they couldn’t police my comings and goings or tell me how to lead my life. I had to realize that living at home was a privilege— not a guarantee—and that I still had to respect the fact that my parents were genuinely concerned about my well-being and didn’t stop being my parents because I had graduated from college.

That meant extending the courtesy of letting them know when I was leaving the house or if I’d be out super late (or not coming home at all). I still try to respect their household rules and try to contribute (even if that just means unloading the dishwasher from time to time). When I started showing them the respect that was due, they left me to my own devices. It’s made for a much more peaceful living environment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Downton Abbey Inspired Haul

Since the season finale of Downton Abbey, I’ve been pining for the next—and sadly, the last—season of the hit television show. I love historical dramas. I love the historical component (which isn’t typically that accurate), I love the world building, and I love the costumes. From gowns to hats to pieces of jewelry, the costume department on Downton does an incredible job at bring the 1920s to life.

Lady Rose MacClare (played by the stunning Lily James) definitely has some of my favorite costumes on the show. She’s youthful and bubbly but still elegant and sophisticated. One of my favorite accessories of hers are her hats and headbands, all of which add a hint of drama.

So, when I was out shopping for my “vacation wardrobe” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a couple Rose MacClare inspired headwear. The two headbands—one a gold braid and the other an ornate silver design—were fished out of the clearance section at DSW. I didn’t spend more than $5 on either of them which I thought was a steal! I have to admit that I felt a bit like a princess when I tried on the silver one. And we all deserve to feel like royalty every now and again, don’t we?

I’m looking forward to trying out the headbands while I’m in France, but I’m also toying with an idea of doing a post on styling with them. Thoughts? We’ll see if I’m that inspired though.

The earrings were another Downton Abbey-inspired purchase, although far less obvious. I loved the fact that the earrings have this long, thin chain which reminded me of a bit of fringe. I bought them at New York and Company during their Fourth of July sale as a door-buster. How could I resist them?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summertime Faves: Mint Iced Tea

One of the many (and I mean many) reasons I look forward to summer—apart from the sun, the summer fashion, and summer Fridays at work—is the refreshing beverages. And I’m not just talking those of the alcoholic persuasion either. My all-time favorite summer drink is Mint Iced Tea. It’s something I grew up on, so it has a lot of pleasant associations for me: picking the fresh mint from my grandfather’s garden, sitting on the front porch with my grandmother, and even sipping a glass of iced tea after playing tag with my cousins.

So when I bought mint for my little herb garden earlier this summer, the one use I had in mind for my mint leaves was a nice, cold glass of Mint Iced Tea. And I thought I’d share my recipe! I like my iced teas sweet and not quite so tea-y, so if you like stronger brews or less sweetness I’ll provide a couple suggestions for you.

Mint Iced Tea

You’ll Need…

1 gallon of boiled water
4 tea bags
7-8 fresh mint leaves
¼ cup of lemon juice
8-10 tbsp. of sugar

And the Steps…

Boil a pot of hot water and steep 4 tea bags. Muddle (crush or “bruise”) 4-5 mint leaves and add to the pot. Leave the tea bags and mint leaves steeping in the boiled water until it has cooled to room temperature. I tend to do this early in the morning so it’s ready by afternoon, or I leave the tea to brew overnight. It’ll take several hours. When the water has reached room temperature, remove the tea bags and the mint leaves. Stir in sugar and lemon juice until both are fully incorporated, and transfer mixture from the pot to your pitcher. Muddle the remaining mint leaves and drop them into your pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled and serve over ice.

For those of you who like strong iced teas, I’d suggest adding a tea bag or two more than the above recipe. And depending on how sweet you like your teas, you may wish to use less sugar or maybe even a bit more. I’d suggest doing the sugar to taste though—this is just how I like mine.


There is seriously nothing more refreshing in my book! You can also experiment with different flavored teas, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to mine.

What's your favorite summertime drink?