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?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy

I’ve been seeing ads and commercials for Revlon’s ColorStay Gel Envy collection everywhere for months and finally bought it last weekend. The concept of the collection is that it’s supposed to give you a salon-quality manicure at home. Honestly, my feelings are a mixed bag.

I’ll start with the good news because I like being optimistic.

The Gel Envy polish real does give you a lovely and vibrant color, and there are 38 shades for you to choose from. Not too shabby, right? There are few things that I love more than pink nails, so I went with “Royal Flush.” It’s a rich pinky-red with maybe a bit of fuchsia to giving it a bit of sass. I really loved and maybe have just found my vacation nail color!

I found the application super easy. The Gel Envy process has two-steps, the base + color coat and the Diamond Top Coat. The base + color coat is a thick, opaque formula, so I only needed one coat. And even with the one, my nails had a gorgeous, rich color to them. The Diamond Top Coat was just as effortless, and I’ve honestly never seen a top coat dry so fast! And the system has no UV component, which saves everyone some time and money.

Lastly, my nails did feel harder and stronger while wearing the polish.

And now for the bad news…

This is another one of those gel-like nail polish systems that promises long-wear and a high gloss shine. It did give a nice enough shine, but I wouldn’t call it long-lasting. It didn’t chip per se, but by Day 2 I was already seeing some tip-wear on multiple fingers. It hadn’t even been 48 hours and I felt like I needed a touch-up. I wasn’t impressed. To its credit though, it’s Day 5 and there isn’t any flaking or major chipping going on yet.

The price is a bit of a turn-off too, at least initially. You need to buy both the base + color coat and the Diamond Top Coat, and each bottle is about $7.99 a pop. They do sell “starter kits” that have one bottle of color and one of the top coat, and that seems to be the way to go in order to save a few dollars for us penny pinchers.

Lastly, the thought the Diamond Top Coat had a funny smell, stranger even than other polishes I’ve tried over the years. Thankfully, since this system dries quickly the smell doesn’t linger.

The truth is that this is not a gel manicure. It’s gel-like so the results aren’t going to be the same. So, there are some pros and cons about the system, but I really do love the lush colors. And now that I have the Diamond Top Coat, I might try experimenting with other shades to see if they last a bit longer. The tip-wear did sour me a bit though, not going to lie.

Has anyone else tried ColorStay Gel Envy? What did you think about it?

*This post is not in collaboration with Maybelline, and the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Month, New Goals: July

Although June was less hectic than May, I still managed to fail at accomplishing most of my goals this month. The weekends were uncommonly rainy, and I spent large chunks of the weekends creating my itinerary and bemoaning just how broke I was this June. But on a happy note, July promises to be an exciting month for me! I’ll be jetting off to France for my vacation at the end of the month with Mom, first of all. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since last September when I decided I’d be going to France, so the anticipation has been steadily building. This month is the start getting my Summer Fridays, meaning my office will close at 1PM. 

How was your June?

Finish reading The Secret History. Nope, sadly.  I am still around page 50 and haven't actually picked it up since early June.  My friend loaned me The Anatomy of Story, so I've been reading through that, and I've also spent my train rides writing or listening to the insanity that is Greece's economic problems.  I'm really hoping to get to the book this month, but who knows?  Maybe I'll end up reading it on the plane ride.  Granted, I had planned on sleeping and reading the second book in the Outlander Series.  Hmm.  Too many books and so little time.  
Workout my abs and arms daily. Ish. This little routine lasted all of a week before I got bored (read: lazy) and stopped. Oops.
Go on an excursion. I fail.  Okay, so this wasn't completely my fault.  We've been rained out for the last couple of weekends which makes trips into the city depressing.  There are puddles the size of the Atlantic Ocean at every intersection, umbrellas are useless if there's even the slightest of breezes, and you risk getting splashed a la rom-com by a car.  Jerks.
Start finalizing my itinerary for France.  Not only did I start it, I finished it! After spending four weekends in front of my Streetwise Map of Paris, Google Maps, and my Fodor's Travel Guides, I have managed to create a 16 page itinerary for my 10 day trip.  Everything that I want to see is on there, and I think I'll have time to just do some aimless wandering too.


  • Duolingo Review or Die.  With my trip just around the corner, it's time to buckle down and get some serious French review under my belt.  I know I won't be fluent, but it would nice for me to be able to say a few things in French and be understood (not mocked for my horrible American accented French).
  • Get some reading done. I'm not going to say I want to finish a book because I have a habit of failing to do any reading when I put it on my list of goals.  Instead, I hope to just read for fun and read whatever I like.  Books, magazines, blogs...anything goes.
  • Buy the last of my advance tickets. I only have a couple of advance tickets left to buy this month, but it will be nice to have that part of trip preparations out of the way.  I think I have to buy tickets for the Tower of London and the catacombs which comes to about $50.  Not bad considering we've been buying $150 worth of tickets and tours each month since April.  
  • French Trip. It's here!  It's finally here!  We'll be jetting off to Paris on the 26th and won't be back until August 5th.  While we're there we'll get to see Paris, London, Nice, Provence, and Monaco.  It's a lot to pack into 10 days, and I'll probably need a vacation to recover from my vacation, but it will totally be worth it.
  • Make a blog queue. I don't want my blog to go without updates while I'm on my trip, so my goal is to schedule some posts for when I'm away.  I need to get down to business and brainstorm some post ideas so I can start working on creating comment.
Do you have any goals for July?