the weekend list no. 60

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hello from amsterdam!

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I always like to start with my lows so that I can end on a positive note, so my low has been that my foot and valve have been hurting so bad! It’s definitely from all the walking on cobblestones in tight shoes, but yeah, they are feeling it for sure. I had to get a pair of sandals from H&M to wear for the second half of our trip, otherwise I’d be out on the streets in hotel slippers.

Where can I even begin with highs? This whole week has been a high. If I had to pick two, they’d be getting to open the doors to the Great Hall at the Harry Potter Studio Tour and when my hotel surprised me for my birthday with cake, fruit, and a box of chocolates. They really went all out to treat us the entire trip.

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This has been such an exciting week! We got to London last Saturday morning and spent the first half of the week there as you’ve seen on the blog and will continue to see into next week. Halfway through the week, we fly into Holland to spend the second half of our trip in Amsterdam. My heritage is Dutch and my family is very into being Dutch, so it’s been really amazing to be in the motherland, so to speak 😅

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I’m obsessed with Blair’s stripes on stripes.

Facialist Joanna Czech’s take on anti-aging and skin health.

I haven’t watched Game of Thrones since season three (not being smug about it, just saying), but this is so interesting.

Literally all I’ve watched for the past several weeks.

How painfully sweet.

This winter home in Provence is so dreamy.

Here’s an interesting article on using flower essences in your wellness routine.

Instead of going outside your comfort zone, how about expanding it?

How gorgeous are these beaded mules?

Okay, I’m dying to visit this part of Italy now.

Definitely going to set some of these health and wellness goals for the summer.

This home is stunning.

This is now 100% on my bucket list.

birthday cake in london + 27 things i want to do this year

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It’s still surreal to think that yesterday, I spent my birthday in London. For the past few years, I’ve had some pretty great birthday trips from D.C. to Palm Beach, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my birthday than by having cocktails and cake in London with some of my favorite people. On Monday night, the night before my actual birthday, we walked through quiet, beautiful Mayfair at twilight, the only ones on the street.

We took all the little winding side streets until we got to Sketch where we got a cozy table in the corner of The Glade. One of the first things we noticed was that everyone there was so beautiful, including the bartenders and staff. I ordered a Prosecco cocktail with champagne and had so much fun looking at our group’s reaction to the place because they had no idea what to expect coming in about how quirky Sketch is. I shared my cocktail with my friend who ordered this creamy strawberry concoction.

We walked through the pink room and into the famous bathroom which is stark white with rainbow lighted tiles in the ceiling and space age eggs with the toilets inside. Once you step inside the egg, you’re transported somewhere else because you no longer hear the bumping lounge music, but birdsong instead.

The after party was at the pub next door to the hotel. We had more Pimm’s and chips, very slightly glanced at the Man City game, and played darts in the corner where we met a fellow southerner from Atlanta by coincidence.

On my actual birthday, Tuesday, the 7th, we spent the bulk of our day living out my absolute dream at the Harry Potter Studio Tour! I had been dreaming of visiting forever and it could not have been better. I’ll have way more details on that in a blog post next week 😚

After the studio tour, we came back to London and had a little dinner, then picked up birthday dessert to eat in bed. When we got back to the room, we found that the hotel had sent up a piece of cake, fruit, and box of chocolates for me! So, there I am in that photo in all my glory, surrounded by sweets. The Marriott London Grosvenor Square really went above and beyond for us this entire trip, so I can’t recommend it enough.

Okay, now in honor of my 27th birthday, on to a list of 27 things I want to do this year…

27 Things I Want to Do This Year

1. Read 70 books.
Self-explanatory.

2. Take a weekend trip to Savannah.
I still can’t believe I’ve never been even though it’s only a couple hours away!

3. Shop vintage more often.
Both for aesthetic and for sustainability reasons.

4. Drive down to Palm Beach again.
I just couldn’t get enough of Palm Beach last birthday and am hoping to go again soon.

5. Invest in a Leonor Greyl boar bristle brush.
Either this or Mason Pearson.

6. Go tubing at the springs this summer.
And just more summer fun in general.

7. Volunteer.
I’ve loved all of the volunteer experience I’ve had in the past and really need to get back into it.

8. Open my first investment fund.
Excited about this one!

9. Actually dress up for Halloween.
We’ll see if I actually make this happen 😅

10. Add to my herb garden.
I want to add mint, lavender, and maybe even some vegetables.

11. Get back to using non-toxic shampoo and conditioner.
I’m thinking of either going back to Aveda or finally trying Rahua.

12. Learn more about improving blog SEO.
Something I really want to think about more.

13. Spend more time taking photos.
I want to take more purposeful excursions just for the sake of taking photos.

14. Spend more time at the beach.
Last summer, I went to the beach more than I had in a long time and want to keep that trend going.

15. Go to a beach outside of Florida.
It’s so crazy to me that I’ve never done this!

16. Go to a major, arena concert.
When I was in high school, I would go to so many concerts every year, I’d lose count but now, the last time I went to one was in the summer of 2014! That’ll change later this month. 💃

17. Finish watching every Audrey Hepburn film.
I’m very close without even really trying.

18. Organize my digital photo library.
God knows how much this needs to happen.

19. Go to the rock climbing gym.
This should be a fun way to be active and get into a newish hobby.

20. Make a photo book to commemorate this year’s Europe trip.
I’ve never actually made one of those little photo books for any of my trips, so it’ll be fun to do this.

21. Go to the farmer’s market more often.
There’s something so nice about buying your produce from the market instead of a grocery store.

22. Attend more cultural events.
In New York, I’d go to cultural events (the ballet, museums, Broadway shows) all the time and I miss it, so I want to make that more of a thing here.

23. Go to Disney Springs again around the holidays.
This is my favorite time to visit Disney Springs because of all the holiday decor and cozy shopping.

24. Incorporate a designated self-care day into my weekly schedule.
Right now, my self care routine is more scattered and I think it’d be nice to try having a specific time every week to do it.

25. Take a new workout class.
I’ve tried so many different workout classes, but I’m excited to try something totally different. I’m thinking aerial yoga.

26. Cook a big, themed feast.
This is something I love doing a couple times throughout the year, but especially during summer. I’ve done French, Southern, Mexican, and more. Not sure what my theme will be this year, but I know it’ll be good.

27. Take a pottery wheel class.
This is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile and I think this is the year to do it!

international travel: what's in my carry-on bags

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Happy Friday, everyone! So, tonight, we’re off to the airport heading to Europe for my birthday and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m working a little bit today, may half the day before getting everything ready to go and heading out. Over the years, I’ve come up with the perfect airplane outfit which I’ll show you in my post on Monday! But today, I’m sharing what’s in my big ‘ole carry-on bags.

Contrary to what I often see out there in the world, I’m not at all an over packer. It probably has to do with the fact that I lived so lean in New York, so I’ve become experienced with getting everything I need streamlined into one piece of carry-on luggage and the tote bag I use for my purse. So, here’s everything I pack to make sure I’m prepared specifically for a long haul, overnight flight.

Barrington Tote

1. Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
My favorite carry-on item has to be the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays. I rarely set foot on a plane without using a hydrating mask because the air is so dry and this is the perfect one because it goes on completely clear. See my full review here.

2. Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Another hydrating must have is a good hand cream and I love the hand salve from Kiehl’s. It’s super thick and hydrating, plus you can wash your hands three time without needing to reapply which is great since I tend to hand sanitize a lot while traveling.

3. Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner
The third facet of the hydration trifecta is a face mist and in the past, I typically have used the Mario Badescu spray. But this time, I’m using a toner from Indie Lee. I’ll spritz this on a couple times through the flight whenever I need a little refresher. Another great option is Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir.

4. Honest Beauty Makeup Wipes
text - I usually don’t use makeup wipes because they’re sort of wasteful, but I make an exception when I’m flying somewhere because they’re so much easier to pack than my giant bottle of Bioderma. As soon as I get to my seat on the plane, I take off all of my makeup and slather on my face mask.

5. Honest Company Anti-Bacterial Baby Wipes
As soon as I get to my seat, I start my routine by wiping everything down with an anti-bacterial wipe, from the seat and the armrests to the window and the tray. I like The Honest Company’s baby wipes because they’re pretty clean, much like the makeup wipes I mentioned above.

6. Zzzquil Capsules
For overnight flights, I keep a sleep aid on had in case I’m having trouble falling asleep. There are tons of options including Dramamine (which is for motion sickness but also good for sleep), Ambien (which I avoid), and natural choices like melatonin or even Nature’s Bounty Goodnight Lovely capsules with melatonin and hyaluronic acid. But I tend to opt for Zzzquil because it always works for me, whereas the natural options can be hit or miss, personally.

7. Apple Earbuds + Kreafunk Wireless Headphones
I carry two different headphones with me because I prefer using my wireless pair when I’m listening to something on my phone, but if I want to watch a movie on the seat screen, it requires pluggable earbuds.

8. Sigvaris Compression Calf Sleeves
It’s super important to ensure proper blood circulation in your legs and that’s especially true when flying because you have such limited mobility. For long flights, I always wear my Sigvaris compression calf sleeves. I have the black ones because, although they are usually hidden under my leggings, I can wear them with shorts and they look more sporty than medical.

9. Swell Bottle
I love, love, love my Swell bottle and they’re so good for travel because they truly keep your water cold all day long even if they’re left in a hot car. My particular bottle is a Liberty print which is very fitting for London, right? So, I’ll bring my empty bottle with me through security then fill it up at a water station or, if there is’t one, at a Starbucks or airport café.

10. Trtl Pillow
I don’t know what to say about this one. Some people think it looks silly, I think it looks sort of like a scarf. But regardless, this thing is so comfortable and the only neck pillow I’ve found that works for me!

11. RX Bars + Other Snacks
These are so great for travel because they’re small but mighty. I personally prefer the berry variations (especially blueberry). I get all of my other snacks from Trader Joe’s. Things like fresh and freeze dried fruit, organic string cheese, Inner Peas, and individual trail mix packets.

12. Truffle Pouch Necessities
I absolutely adore my Truffle pouches for air travel because they’re cute, they’re clear, and they keep everything super organized so that I can just reach into my bag and know where to find important things. In my larger pouch, I keep the skincare products I’ll use on the plane and then in the smaller one, I store my passport, Global Entry card, phone charger, and boarding pass if for some reason it is printed out. Side note, these are really easy to clean! I spilled nail polish in my large tote and thought I was done for, but with some soapy water and polish remover, it looks like new again.

13. Sleep Mask
I’ve packed one of my cute themed sleep masks that came with a pair of pajamas (I have a drawer full of these) to block out any light in the cabin overnight. If you can, I highly suggest getting the Slip silk eye mask.

14. Book
I used to be the girl who lugged multiple books and magazines in her carry-on bag and was miserable hauling it through the terminal, only to end up listening to a podcast anyway. So, I’ve finally relented and have started taking a magazine instead! However, since this trip involves two long flights, I’m also packing a book which happens to be presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg’s new memoir.

15. Cashmere Socks
I believe that you can’t honestly reach peak cozy without a pair of warm socks to slip on when you get to your seat. Who wants to sleep in their shoes?!

Carry-On Luggage

1. Away Packing Cubes
I love using these packing cubes (I have them in the color ‘sand’) to keep things separated and organized in my luggage and everything easy to find without having to dig through. This set comes with four different shapes/sizes. Within and outside of the cubes, I use the KonMari folding method to ensure maximized use of space. When you get to your hotel or Airbnb, simply lift the cubes out of your luggage and straight into the dresser drawers.

2. Makeup Bag
I carry a few essentials with my in my tote but the rest of my makeup goes into my luggage inside a little organizer. I try to pare down what I take with me to only the essentials that I’ll need for whatever I’m doing on the trip. In this case, I have my Anastasia Brow Wiz, Burt’s Bees Mascara, Tarte blush, a Nars red lipstick, and Maybelline brown eyeliner. Things like my RMS Uncover Up concealer and Fresh lip balms are in my tote bag because I use them all day long.

3. Dual Voltage Curling Iron
When I’m at home, I use my trusted Hot Tools curling iron but it isn’t dual voltage. I like to be safe with things like that, so I have a Conair dual voltage ceramic curling iron (1 1/4 inch) to take abroad with me. It’s super affordable and works really, really well for the price. I highly recommend it to anyone who travels abroad or even if you just need a good curling iron that’s well priced.

4. Reusable Straws
It might sound a little extra to bring along your own reusable straws but I hate plastic straws and my bamboo ones are small and easily packable, so why not? I’ll put one or two in my bag when I go out for the day and use them at restaurants so that I’m not wasting plastic.

5. Skincare Routine
And finally, my full skincare routine. Like I said, I keep things like makeup wipes, Jet Lag mask, and face mist in my large Truffle pouch but the rest of the routine is packed away in my luggage. Like makeup, I pare things down and only take the essentials like a cleanser and a moisturizer (in my case, rosehip or almond oil). I’ve got a really good trick too! Instead of packing leaky shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, go out and buy a bar of soap (I recommend Dr. Bronner’s peppermint bar soap) that can work as all three. Keep in mind, not all bar soaps can double as shampoo but Dr. Bronner’s can, as well as this and Lush has shampoo bars too.

book report: april 2019

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Where in the world did April go? Heading into May, I’m doing well with my reading goals for the year. I read six books this month, one being a reread. Next month, I’m traveling and likely won’t get as much reading done but luckily, the summer is coming and I’ll be able to catch up then. What are y’all reading right now? Anything good lately?

Total Progress: 22/70

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (A)
Okay, so this is a reread for me. I first read it a few years ago on a flight to Paris and it was seriously the best way to pass the time (besides watching and falling asleep to the beautiful movie “Once”)! I read it again last month for two reasons: 1) Ashley Brooke chose it for her March book club pick and 2) I’m heading to London next month and this book is really good inspiration. If you haven’t read it yet, please do! It’s a story very loosely inspired by Kate & Will’s romance except in this version, the girl is American (plus many other differences). Not only is the plot interesting, but the writers developed the most entertaining characters that feel so real, I actually think about them even when I’m not reading the book. Plus, a sequel is coming soon!

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger (B+)
This story was so not what I expected! Not in a bad way, but in a wow, I didn’t expect that twist and that twist and THAT twist way. It reminded me of when I read “No Exit” earlier this year because the action just kept going until the end, although it didn’t give me nearly as much anxiety as “No Exit” did! 😅 So, the story is kind of Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider. The host and crew of an exploration/conspiracy TV show set off to find a mysterious cave that no one believes exists. What they end up finding is super unexpected and things get super crazy in the second half. I wouldn’t say this was a heart pounding thriller, but it was a book I definitely couldn’t put down and I’m excited that he’s writing a follow up.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (A)
This is a classic that I’ve been studying for awhile now and I genuinely hope that every human should read it. The four agreements are life changing. Following these four principles will improve your life, I guarantee it and I feel like they’re just what our world needs at the moment.

Star Power: A Simple Guide to Astrology for the Modern Mystic by Vanessa Montgomery (A)
This is a great little astrology guide that’s helpful when reading your birth chart. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it other than if you’re interested in analyzing your astrological birth chart, this is a great go-to. Plus, it’s super aesthetically pleasing.

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (B+)
Immediately after I finished this book, I saw an article about how it’s being turned into a Netflix miniseries which I think could be really cool! Karin Slaughter’s books are always ones that I can’t seem to put down. This story is about a woman and her mother who find themselves in the middle of a shooting at their local mall. Surprising everyone, the woman’s mother jumps into action and handles the situation with military like precision. This leads the woman to delve into her mother’s past to find out why she was able to do that. It’s less of a violent story than some of Karin Slaughter’s other books and more of a mystery/thriller, which I really liked.

So, Here’s The Thing… by Alyssa Mastromonaco (B)
I’m a huge fan of Alyssa’s. She’s the former White House deputy chief of staff under Barack Obama and I absolutely adored her first book which was essentially a book of anecdotes from her life in politics and in the Obama administration. Seriously, so good. Read it now! Her second book is more focused around growing up and her life after the White House. To be honest, I liked it a little less. It’s nothing against her at all because she’s still my fave, but the anecdotes just didn’t speak to me as much as the ones in the first book did.

my recipe for iced blueberry cake + saturday at the farmer's market

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Happy Thursday! This past weekend, we went to the farmer’s market in Winter Park to smell the flowers and get some fresh blueberries to make what I call my Iced Blueberry Summer Camp Cake. When I was a kid, I went to summer camp pretty much every summer. For a few years in late elementary school and early middle school, I went to overnight camp in the mountains in Kentucky. The camp served this iced blueberry cake that I loved so much, my mom actually emailed the camp at the end of summer to get the recipe.

I don’t think we have the recipe anymore, so I’ve set out to replicate it! I’m going to keep playing around to see what I can do with it, but for now, this is the recipe I like!

iced blueberry summer camp cake

For Cake

1 1/4 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon ACV
1/2 cup whipped aquafaba
8 tbsp softened vegan butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

For Icing
1/4 cup almond milK
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a sheet cake pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper. Sprinkle lightly with flour.

  2. Create vegan buttermilk. In a measuring cup, combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Whisk and let sit until it curdles.

  3. In a medium bowl, drain a can of chickpeas to collect the liquid (aquafaba). Use a hand mixer for about a minute to make the aquafaba foamy.

  4. In a large bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, and sugar. Beat until fluffy then add vanilla extract to combine. On low speed, add vegan buttermilk mixture, then flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.

  5. Fold in blueberries (add more or less depending on your taste).

  6. Pour mixture into sheet cake pan and bake for 35 minutes.

  7. For the icing, combine almond milk and vanilla in a small saucepan and heat until warm. Add confectioners’ sugar and whisk until combined.

  8. Pour the glaze over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven (this is not what you’d usually do in baking, but I’m using the Texas Sheet Cake method).

  9. Let cake cook in the refrigerator and enjoy!