European Vacation - Stop 2, Paris

Paris, oh Paris, I don't even know where to begin. To say I fell in love with this city would be an understatement, but I'll start from the beginning.

The second stop on our European vacation was Paris. We were taking the Chunnel Train from London to Paris and by this time Margaret and I had mastered the Tube (metro/bus) system in London, so we packed up our bags and took the Tube to the train station. We got to Paris and we were a little overwhelmed so just like we did in London, we took a cab from the train station to our hotel, but this time it was much cheaper.
Once we had settled into our hotel we only had about half a day to explore, but it was my birthday and I was determined to celebrate in style. We took the metro (which was very easy to navigate just like in London) to the square near the Moulin Rouge.Our first stop was a Parisian bakery, where we enjoyed macaroons, and then we settled into a quaint cafe on the square for pizza, creme brulee and a glass of wine. We continued my birthday celebration at the bars nears the Moulin Rouge, where I met a really cute boy. I guess you can say I had a "French" kiss, in Paris, on my 25th birthday. What else did you expect from the City of Love?
We made an effort to pack every single tourist stop into our second day in Paris. We had a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, saw Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, and Lovelock bridge. We sat at a cafe and enjoyed crepes and wandered the streets just soaking up the architecture and beautiful scenery.

The architecture is amazing, and all of the buildings are so well preserved. I fell in love with the balconies, tress, and rivers that make up the scenery. I could spend weeks wandering that city and have put it at the top of my list for places I want to visit again, and soon.
So many people have warned me about Paris. Telling me things like "The French are so mean, they hate Americans!" or "If you don't speak French you're going to be lost." Well, I'm here to tell you that we didn't experience any of those stereotypes. The people were extremely friendly, and although Margaret and I only speak minimal French, everyone was more than willing to help us when we asked questions in our broken French/English. Don't let what you hear stop you from visiting Paris because I'm telling you, the city is magical. Paris, Je T'aime.
The final stop on our vacation was Rome...

European Vacation - Stop 1, London

My best friend and I just got back from one of the most amazing trips I’ve been on in my life. We took a week vacation and we traveled through Europe, visiting London, Paris and Rome. About a year ago we found a deal on Groupon that included airfare, transportation to each city, and hotels for each night.  Without thinking twice we booked it, but aside from those details we had no plan. We packed our backpacks and headed overseas, set on exploring the world.
The first stop was London. We flew all night from New York and made it to Heathrow Airport around 9 a.m. looking back on our trip we’ve come to the conclusion that we made one big mistake on our first day in each city. Our big mistake in London was taking a cab from Heathrow to our hotel. The metro system in London is super convenient, and cheap, but we were both too exhausted to try and figure out the route to our hotel. So we hopped in a cab which we seriously regretted doing after the total cost came out to be $140 dollars.
We spent that first half-day wandering around the area near our hotel, and had amazing Indian food for dinner, which many of you had recommended. The next day in London we made it our mission to visit all the big tourist spots. We saw Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, and walked around Oxford and Regents streets. My only regret was not going up the London Eye or in Westminster Abbey, but we just didn’t have time to do it all in one day.

That night Margaret found a hidden gem called Churchill Arms. It's a traditional pub with a Thai restaurant tucked in the back. If you're in London you have to eat dinner there, it was one of my favorite meals on our trip, plus the atmosphere is so unique!
I have two big observations from London. The first thing I noticed was how diverse the city is. There are people from all walks of life and all different backgrounds, but everyone seemed to blend together seamlessly. Being multicultural, I really appreciated that part of the city. The second thing I noticed was how well the men and women dressed. Everyone was so polished and posh. I fell in love with all the men in blazers, oxfords, and three piece suits. If only the men in America dressed as nice…
My mom went to college in London, so it was awesome to visit a city where she spent so much time when she was my age. She hasn’t been back since those days, and I think it would be so much fun to take a trip there together. My mom and I have always had this “soul sister” connection, and being in London I could feel just how similar she and I are, I totally understand why she loved the city.
After our two days in London we took a train to Paris...

25 Truths On My 25th Birthday

Today is my 25th birthday. I'm a quarter of a century old, and I'm not going to lie about it, I have been freaking out about this day.

In elementary school we were asked to write where we saw ourselves at 25. I of course said that I would be married, with two kids, a chocolate lab and a Ford Explorer. Instead, I'm single, childless and  celebrating my 25th birthday with my best friend in Europe. Which I think is way more awesome than any "adult version" of myself I could have ever dreamed up.

I'm excited about 25, and looking forward to all the exciting experiences I have yet to live. I've learned a lot in this first quarter of a century, and wanted to share some of it with y'all...
1. Your age should not define when you hit those milestones in your life, like when to get married, when to have kids etc. We are all different, so our paths will all look a little different.
2. Friends. It's about quality, not quantity.
3. You are never "stuck" in life, you will always have options. (wisdom from my dad)
4. Don't be afraid to dream big. Reach for the moon because even if you miss you'll still land among the stars.
5. Don't be afraid to take a chance. The biggest risks usually offer the biggest rewards.
6. Forgiving yourself is so important. Don't ever think a mistake you've made is too big to forgive.
7. People think about you a lot less often than you think, so quit worrying about it.
8. Don't cling to a relationship that doesn't work because of fear. You will feel way more lonely with the wrong person than you will by yourself.
10. Find a career mentor. Someone who isn't a friend or family member, who you can talk about your goals and visions, someone who understands the industry. This will make all the difference in your work life.
11. Your family is crazy, but guess what? So are you.
12. You need to learn who you are alone before you're committed to someone else. It took me roughly 24 years to learn this. I'm still figuring out who I am daily, but I've never felt more comfortable in my own skin.
13. You're never too old to start chasing a new dream. If you're worried about how much time it will take, don't. That time will pass regardless.
14. A sincere smile (and some lipstick) will always be your best accessory. (wisdom from my grandma)
15. Be present. I'm still working on this daily, but I'm inspired by how well my mom can do this.
16. Life is about relationships. Wether it be family, friends, or in your career. 
17. You need to know what brings you peace, what restores you. For me it's hot tea, a beautiful sunset, the trees, and going home. 
18. Life is hard, and there will be moments of sadness. Don't be afraid to let people help you through the hard times.
19. Treat others with kindness, because you are no better than anyone else.
20. Love yourself.
21. There's a big world out there. Try to think of the big picture when you find yourself worried or upset about the small things.
22. Not getting exactly what we want is hard, but each day I see how some of my biggest disappointments have been some of my biggest blessings. There's always a greater plan.
23. Don't be in such a rush to get to the next point in your life. Stop and appreciate where you are now, because once you turn the page on this chapter it won't ever be the same.
24. It's okay to not feel like an adult. I imagined myself a lot more "grown up" by 25, but I've learned that I'll spend the rest of my life "growing up".
25. If all else fails, lean on God. He's the rock that will always be there.

Loving Lately: Beauty Products, Round 2.

Y'all, I cannot get enough beauty products lately. I've become borderline obsessed. After spending a week at the race track in Daytona, wandering the isles of Sephora sounded heavenly, so that's exactly what I did. I'm surrounded by men all day at work, and while I love talking about football and race cars with them, every now and then I totally enjoy being a girly girl.

I have five more beauty favorites to share with you since my last "loving lately" post, and you'll notice that Ole Henriksen is back twice. Check out my list and let me know what you think. Have y'all tried any of these?
1. L'Occitane Amande Delicious Hands: This winter has been harsh, so the two beauty products I won't leave the house without are hand cream and lip balm. This cream from L'Occitane is MAR-VE-LOUS. It's thick which relieves my dry hands, but soaks in quickly and doesn't leave a greasy residue. The scent is a mixture of almond, shea butter, and rosemary, mmmmmmm heavenly.

2. Ole Henriksen Aloe Vera Deep Cleanser: I was having major skin issues about three weeks ago, so I started looking for a cleanser that would help with my breakouts and oily face, without further irritating my skin. I've been using this cleanser and it's really helped. It's gentle but still leaves my face feeling clean and refreshed.

3. Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub: I've been using this scrub twice a week and I love the way my skin feels after. It scrubs away my dry winter skin and leaves my face glowing. It's a bit more rough than others I've used, which I love, but if you have sensitive skin I would recommend trying a sample first. 

4. MAC Turquatic Rollerball: This scent is fun. If you're not into strong scents, it might be a bit much, but I think it's perfect for spring and summer. I love the fact that it comes in a rollerball, I leave it in my purse and it's been a great "go-to" if I'm meeting friends or going out after work.

5. Benefit Hoola Bronzer: I know this bronzer has been around FOR.E.VER. but I love it. I wear bronzer almost daily, but I don't think shimmery bronzers work for every occasion, that's why I love Hoola. It has a matte finish that won't leave you looking like you're wearing a ton of makeup and the color is light enough for winter, but can easily be built up to wear during the summer months too.
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