Dublin Photo Diary

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We've been back for a little over a week now, and I still find myself longing for those rainy Dublin days. Our days were filled with stuffing our faces with Nandos, road trips through the countryside,  laughing with friends, hiking up cliff sides, and taking one too many trips to Boots.  Until next time Dublin...

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A Chronic Over-Packer's Guide to Packing Light

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In just three short days, I will be on my way to Dublin.

Hell. Yes.

With my travel plans quickly approaching, I have found myself attempting what I once deemed impossible, packing a suitcase that weighs less than 50 pounds. Prior to this trip, my past packing endeavors went somewhat like this: throw as much shit as I possible could into my suitcase (what I deemed to be the bare essentials), weigh my suitcase, somehow find out how to remove 20 pounds of necessities from my luggage. This process would sometimes last for days, until the scale finally hit that magic number, 50.0 lbs. However for this trip, I have decided to employ different tactics. Rather than facing my flight check in with anxiety, and struggling to lift my suitcase onto the airline's scale, I have decided to--brace yourselves--pack light.

In fairness, my definition of packing light may vary from the majority of the population. But hey, it is definitely a step in the right direction. After completing my first round of packing (because yes, it is a process that takes several attempts to get perfect), my suitcase came in at a minuscule 38 pounds.  Here's how I did it.

1. Plan out possible outfits ahead of time.  This was a tip I frequently heard, but never actually attempted.  Before I began packing for Dublin, I thought of the activities I had planned for the trip: shopping on Grafton street, having some pints at a pub, watching the Liverpool match, seeing the new Inbetweeners movie, having some pints at a pub, eating my favorite omelette at my favorite brunch place, taking a day trip to Howth, having some pints at a pub.  After compiling this list, I tried to lay out different outfits that I could see myself wearing to these various scenarios.  Much to my surprise, this tactic worked!

2. Layer, layer, layer.    The weather in Ireland is unpredictable, which can create a packing nightmare.  Will I need shorts, or a winter jacket?  The answer---maybe both.  I have found that the best way to prepare for this challenging climate is to layer appropriately.  Tee shirt, under chambray button-down, under leather jacket.  Throw on a pair of jeans and some trusty boots and you are ready to tackle the day, whatever type of weather Ireland decides to throw at you.

3. Dont' underestimate comfort.  I always have a tendency to pack for my most exciting events while I'm away, the events that I want to look my best for.  However, what about that rainy day that you spend inside having a Breaking Bad marathon and eating your weight in curry, rice, and chips?  Trust me, it is just as important to plan for these days.

4. Versatility is key.   This may be the most essential tip of them all.  Pieces that can transition you from day to night, that can be worn in a variety of scenarios, that you will without a doubt wear more than once on your travels, these are the pieces you want to devote your suitcase to.  The same tee shirt and jeans that I wore for a day of shopping can easily be worn to the pub later that night.  Just throw on a statement necklace, switch out the Converse for some boots and you are good to go.  

5.  Don't be afraid to pack less than 10 pairs of shoes.  This was the most difficult part of the whole process for me.  The fact that there will only be 5 pairs of shoes in my suitcase is a true accomplishment.  It leads me to believe that, although I was once a chronic over-packer, there may be hope for the future.

An Ode To Boots

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Boots.  How I love thee (the UK drugstore, not the shoe.  Although I do love the shoe.  But that's a love story for another day).  A bit of backstory.

Over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to find myself on the other side of the Atlantic quite a few times.  My long distance relationship found me exploring the streets of Dublin every few months.  While almost every aspect of being in a long distance relationship sucked tremendously, one thing most certainly did not--the opportunity to travel.  One fateful day, while wandering down Grafton street, I stumbled into Boots in search of cough drops.  And I never looked back.

To say my obsession with Boots has grown over the past few years is a vast understatement.  There's just something about it--the superior selections, the incredible products, the high quality.  My love of all things Boots was further fueled by the quantity of UK beauty bloggers topping my YouTube subscriptions.  Needless to say, shopping at Boots has become a part of my ritual every time I am lucky enough to find myself in Ireland.

And the best part of it all, I just so happen to be heading to Ireland in the very near future.  11 days in the future to be exact.  It goes without saying that I have been editing and adding to my Boots wish list for weeks (it is completely normal to plan your travel budget around the drugstore beauty products you want to purchase, right?).  The photo above is what I took home with me on my last Boots adventure.  Here is my current wish list, which is growing by the minute. I might not be able to afford to buy groceries this week, but that is a sacrifice I may just be willing to make.

1. Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer--loved the formula and light reflecting properties of this foundation.  I really feel like this would be amazing for concealing those dark under eye circles when I just can't manage to get those 8 hours of sleep.

2. Tanya Burr Lipgloss--I love Tanya, and have been enviously watching YouTubers slather on these amazing shades for far too long.  I will definitely be picking up a few shades of these beauties.

3. Burjois Happy Light Concealer--because a girl can never have too many light reflecting concealers.  I also loved what the Burjois foundation I bought on my last trip did to my skin.  Blended flawlessly and look incredibly natural.

4. Soap & Glory Solar Powder--love Soap & Glory as a brand.  I have not yet really tried their makeup products, only their bath/body items, which I have loved.  Excited to give this one a go.

5. Rimmel Eyeliner in bronze--As a girl that wears eyeliner nearly every day, I am all about testing new shades and formulas.  I have seen this bad boy in action in a handful of tutorials, and feel the need to add it to my collection.

6. Burjois Healthy Balance Compact Powder--another Burjois face product.  I am looking to expand my powder horizon beyond Rimmel's Stay Matte.

7. Real Techniques brushes--the more I can get my hands on, the better.

8. Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker--I mean with a name that clever, how can I not?

9. Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer--to repurchase or not to repurchase, that is the question.

10. Barry M Nail Gel in elderberry--The perfect purpley/grey color.  Yes please.

Surviving the Two Week Detox: Week 2

Monday, August 4, 2014

I made it out alive!  I currently write to you from the other side of 14 days of clean eating, and damn it feels good.  Not going to lie, it got pretty tough towards the end.  It wasn't so much the type of food that got to me, it was more the lack of freedom of choice in the plan.  I mean sometimes, the menu for the day just didn't suit my mood, or more accurately my stomach's mood.  Nevertheless, I stayed strong and powered through every last day.  So 14 days later, these are my final thoughts and learnings.

Dinner Tastes Better When Your Husband Prepares It

My husband bakes a mean chickpea.  I mean just look at that!  I am one lucky girl.  Honestly these chickpeas were incredible.  Mixed with veggies, the next day on a salad,  just delicious.  Definitely planning on making these again this week, or rather asking my husband the make them again (the man has a true talent).

Veggie Chili is the Best Chili

I can't say that this was a new revelation.  But I can say that I have a new go to chili recipe.  Actually I guess I can't say that, considering I didn't have an old go to chili recipe and in fact had never once made chili before this two week detox.  I guess what I can say is that I definitely plan on consuming this chili again in the near future.

Buzzfeed Can't Add
Day 10: Use 1/4 of an avocado
Day 11: Use 1/2 of an avocado
Day 12: Use 1/4 of an avocado
Day 13: Use your remaining 1/4 of an avocado

.....??  Why Buzzfeed? Why?

Do Not Fear the Sweet and Savory Omelette

(Also do not fear the above image.  Flipping an apple omelette is damn hard.)
Apples in an omelette.  An unconventional combination indeed.  But surprisingly good. And filling.  Now that is what I like to call a win-win.

Breakfast is Better When It's Purple

Or maybe it's just prettier to look at.  Either way, a smoothie for breakfast is just a great thing.  And those extra 5 minutes I get to spend sipping my morning coffee while scrolling through my Instagram feed are priceless.

It's OK to Have a Small Piece of Ice Cream Cake on your Grandfather's 80th Birthday

That is right Buzzfeed.  I simply could not resist.  Let's just get one thing straight, I will never be the type of girl who turns down a piece of ice cream cake.  Especially on such a momentous occasion.  And no two week detox is ever going to change that.

How to Live Next Door to MAC and Not Go Bankrupt

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One of the best things about my apartment in Philadelphia is its prime location.  Amazing restaurants, cute cafes, fun bars, Free People, all literally steps away.  City living at its best.

Although all of these conveniences are great, nothing can compare to my next door neighbor.  Glamorous, inviting, chic, entertaining--and I always leave with a smile on my face.  MAC.  That's right. I live directly next door to MAC (Literally next door.  I am not exaggerating here).

A makeup maven's dream, a twenty-something who is trying to save up money to travel the world's nightmare.  As I consider myself to fall into both of these categories, I have found myself in a bit of a tricky situation.

Avoidance didn't work.  The more that I tried to stay away from the store the more it pulled me in.  Over the past few months, I have found that my best plan of attack is to enter MAC with a very strict game plan: know what I intend to purchase, quickly grab what I intend to purchase, frantically pay for what I intend to purchase, and bolt out of the store.  Where I seem to run into trouble is when the flawless employees start tempting me with lip glosses and eyeshadows that suddenly seem essential to my very survival.

A few days ago, I proudly left MAC with the exact two products I had planned to buy when I entered the store.  I even had to expertly turn down a lip gloss suggestion.  That is some will power right there.

So what products made the cut?  Patisserie and Teddy (a perfect nude/pink lipstick and gorgeous bronze/brown eyeliner, for those that are not fluent in MAC).

Reviews on both of these products will be up in a bit.  But I can say that after my first use of each, I am definitely happy with their addition to my makeup bag.

My top MAC products that I will continue to lust after for the moment are:

1. Mineralize Skin Finish Natural
2. Mineralize Skin Finish: Soft & Gentle
3. Cremesheen Lipstick: Shy Girl
4. 217 Blending Brush
5. All That Glitters eyeshadow

Thinking All That Glitters might be my next purchase. But I am going to try my hardest to resist this want.  Wish me luck.

Surviving the Two Week Detox: Week 1

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I have recently found myself on a bit of a fitness/health kick.  However, after 3 months of personal training appointments, spin classes, and gym sessions, I was disappointed to find myself, how should I put it--less ripped than I had anticipated.  I was looking to add something else into my routine, to hopefully start seeing some changes.  Naturally, I turned to everyone's favorite and most reliable health and fitness guru, Buzzfeed.

The plan seemed simple enough: two weeks of clean eating, recipes and shopping lists provided.  What really drew me to the plan was how it incorporated leftovers from each meal into the meals planned for the next day.  Because let's be honest, the last thing I was looking to do at 6AM before work was make a batch of quinoa for lunch.  Buzzfeed really put everything out there, what to prepare the night before, how to modify lunches to take on the go, basically making this thing as user friendly as possible.  I was sold.  (That and the fact that my friend tried it and lost 7 lbs. Not going to lie, that may have been the final push I needed to give this a go.)  

I think ultimately, I was sick of getting home at 7:30PM and having cereal for dinner.  I mean there is only so much Special K Chocolately Delight that one person should have to endure.

So armed with my week one shopping list, my reusable shopping bags (I can't face the judgement of going into Whole Foods without them. Also I love the environment, obviously), and my able bodied husband to help with the heavy lifting, I embarked on my first week of clean eating.  Here is what happened and what I learned (spoiler: I  survived it!)

I Consumed My First Green Smoothie

There is something about consuming kale in the form of a smoothie that has always seemed unappealing to me.  However day one of the detox hits you with the good stuff: liquid kale, the breakfast of champions.  I have to say--it was not what I expected.  I don't know if it was the frozen banana or the almond butter that did it, but I can now safely say that I enjoy drinking kale for breakfast. That is some serious growth right there people.

Shaved Asparagus is the New Lettuce

If you haven't tried shaved asparagus yet you aren't living life.  Maybe that's a bit extreme--I think I just mean that I really liked this salad.  Like a lot.  I can't say that I was exactly the most skilled shaver of asparagus (which is totally a thing).  But the end result was pretty amazing.  If you try nothing else from week one, try this.  You won't regret it.

Who Needs Tortillas When You Can Have Ridiculously Large Leaves of Cabbage?

Mango, chicken, and avocado tucked away in a big ass cabbage leaf.  And it was pretty great.  I must admit, me and cooked meats (I mean I guess also me and raw meats) do not always get along. However, this chicken really took me by surprise.  It did not taste too bird-like (I am the only one who hates when that happens?  Am I the only one who knows what I am talking about?  Most likely yes).  A healthy alternative for when that taco craving kicks in.  I would definitely make this one again.

Scallions Make the Best Omelette Ingredient

I love omelettes.  I could eat them for every meal of the day.  Scallions were an omelette filling that had never really been on my radar in the past.  I was not sure exactly how this combination was going to turn out.  To my surprise, it was delicious.  There was also some feta cheese thrown in there, which is always a good idea.

Fried Eggs & Lentils are a Match Made in Heaven

These lentils were out of this world.  Even my husband liked them--who lists skittles and beer among his favorite foods (what can I say, the guy has good taste).  The lentils were used in three different meals this week, and were fantastic in all of them.  This recipe initially called for salmon instead of fried eggs.  I personally am not the biggest seafood fan.  So I decided to substitute the fish with a protein used in a different meal.  So glad that I did. 

Overnight Oats are My New Best Friend

Easy, effortless, deliciousness in a mason jar. What more could a girl ask for in a breakfast food?

Chia Seeds are Only Intended for the Outrageously Wealthy

$10.99 for a bag?  Is that a joke? (spoiler: no it's not a joke.) 

Week two commences tomorrow.  And I am actually really looking forward to it.