MY BACHELORETTE WEEKEND RECAP!

Hello Guys!

So, how are y’all liking my frequent posts on the blog these days? If you are new here, I wanted to let you know that I now post at least once a week. I try to post something by Wednesday, but this week I am a little behind because I got married last week and a half! Will tell you more about it in a separate post. Today, I am going to specifically talk about one of the most awaited events of my entire life, and that is my bachelorette party!!!

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My bachelorette party was planned by one of my best friends / bridesmaid, Zap. Her and I have been friends for many, many, years and we were even roommates at one point. Even though Zap doesn’t live in Atlanta anymore, she still jumped at the opportunity to plan and throw this party for me. One of my other friends / MOH also helped with the planning as well, and I seriously cannot thank them both enough for going through all the hassle for me!

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Since we started the planning a little late in the game, the only time that worked for the majority of the people going was Labor Day weekend. Since it was also a holiday weekend, we decided to keep it local to make it easy for everyone, so that we don’t have to travel. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because I was in Vegas the week leading up to that weekend, and was traveling back to Atlanta on that Thursday and had Friday off. When I came back from Vegas, I was exhausted from the trip but the Friday at home allowed me the opportunity to spend time with my family before heading out again. The one-night instead of a two-night getaway, was also great because it gave me the time to be away with the girls, yet still have the remainder of the long weekend to spend it with R and Alden. Aren’t I such a good and responsible mother? =P

Anyway, the plan was for me to meet up with Zap and Atoosa on Saturday at a hotel in Brookhaven, where we were staying, and for us to have a pool day. When I arrived, it was just us three girls and the other ladies started coming in later that afternoon. We hung out at the pool for a couple of hours before heading back to the room to start getting ready for dinner and our night time activities. I forgot to mention that when I got to the room the first time, I was surprised to see the room decorated to fit the bachelorette theme with lingerie, party decor and party favors! Everyone got a plastic cup (which was convenient for our drinks) that included a “Hangover Kit” with goodies to help aide our potential morning discomfort from poor decisions made the night prior. I’ll have to say though that not none of us had to use this kit for what it was advertised for, but I’ll have to say, all the essentials were definitely useful for me the next day – Well done, Zap.

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After we freshened up for the night, we headed out to dinner. I decided to keep it casual at dinner and wore a white sleeveless body suit and a denim skirt and my favorite sandals this summer from Forever 21. Dinner was at BUA Thai Restaurant in Brookhaven and it was amazing! I had forgotten how good the restaurant was because I haven’t been there in a while. We had a nice-sized group of about 8 people. I had some sushi AND Thai of course, with some delicious lychee drinks. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel room for a couple rounds of bridal games.

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We played 4 games in total. One of the games was for me only and the other three were for the girls. I had to guess who purchased what lingerie for me, based on what I know about their styles and personalities. So, instead of buying lingerie that is random, they have to buy something that fits their personalities, so I can match it. I got all correct. Yay, me! The next game we played was, “Polish or Porn”. Zap read out names that could either be from a nail polish or from an actual porno movie, and the girls had to guess if it was Polish / Porn; Faby won this round. Next game we played was a question game where Zap had R & I answer questions separately before, and then we had the girls guess, and Zap read both our answers after. I think Diana won this game. The last game we played was another questions game, and it’s called “How Well Does He Know His Bride?”, where Zap had R answer a set of questions about me prior, and I had to guess his answers. The girls had to guess how many of these questions I would get right, and the closest number wins. Faby won this round! Btw, the last set of questions were hard!! Hahaha. I didn’t do too well.

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After games, we got into our sparkly dresses, and yes, that was the theme, and headed out to Lips in Buckhead. Lips is a drag show, and my gosh you guys, it was so much fun! There were a lot of people there with celebrations, which of course included other bachelorettes as well. While we were eating (again), there were performances by the drags and I made it rain on them. Haha. It’s actually not like a triple-X rated show or anything, but they do appreciate tips. Anyway, I, along with other bachelorettes got called on stage for a contest, and of course my clumsy self, made me lose instead of win. But, no one got anything, so hey.. I am okay with that!

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We headed back to the hotel after the show and since we got a later showtime, we got back late. We didn’t go anywhere else to party after that because we’re old and we’re lame. Haha. We just went back, washed up and just stayed up talking. That, to me was much more fun! Not everyone stayed over at the hotel, except for Zap, Atoosa, Faby & I. The next morning, we got up at 7 AM, and went to breakfast at Flying Biscuit. One of my friends didn’t get to join the activities the day before due to a conflict with another bachelorette party, but she came out to eat breakfast with us. Really enjoyed our time chit chatting and the food was amazing;; Flying Biscuit never disappoints!

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And…that was it! That was my bachelorette weekend with my girls. Although it was short, it definitely was very, very, sweet.

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Till next post!

xoxo

How To See The Grand Canyon In One Day

I am blessed that my work allows me to travel to new places pretty regularly. Even though my travels are spent working, short and long trips, it still is nice to be able to travel to parts of the country for research, supplier meetings, press checks, trainings, trade shows, and etc. I work for a company that I absolutely love, on a business that is both exciting and unique at the same time; I’ve learned so much in my 2 years there, more than I have ever learned in any of my jobs previously. Every year in August, the company that I work for hosts a distribution show in Las Vegas for our customers and partners. This show is always a nightmare because there’s so much work leading up to it, and when we finally get there,we are working the event for one whole week! It gets to be very exhausting, albeit fun at the same time.

My team and I normally fly in on Sunday, so we are there ready to rock and roll early Monday morning, but as always, I like to fly in a little bit early (usually an early AM flight), so I can do some sightseeing. Last year I flew in early Sunday morning, and managed to do a little pool day at the hotel before meeting up with my colleagues that very night for dinner. This year, I decided to fly in on Saturday instead because I wanted to see the deserts outside of Las Vegas and to see the Grand Canyons. I managed to convince one of my coworkers to come with me, so we both flew in together on Saturday, and got on our little mini vacation to the Grand Canyons that weekend.. and here I am, about to tell you all about it.

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Before I left, I did some research on the topic to ensure I make the most out of my 1-day trip. I came across this blog post by Indiana Jo, and the author shared some really good tips on how to make the best out of your 1-day trip to the Canyons.  However, I didn’t manage to do everything on the list because I also wanted to squeeze in a trip to Hoover Dam on the way back to Las Vegas, and I also wanted to visit my dear friend, whom I’ve known since 2005, since she now lives in Vegas too. So, in retrospect, my 1-day Canyon trip was more like a half-a day trip instead, which meant I had to improvise and make my very own list of things to see and do while I was out there this year.

In N Out

It is not at all surprising (to me) that my very first item on the to-do list is to go find an In N Out Burger. It is essentially the Chick-Fil-A of the West, which means it is just a regular fast food joint that serves pretty good burgers instead of chicken sandwiches and shoe string fries versus waffle fries. Their menu selection is very small, but behold, there is such a thing as the secret menu. I am a pretty straightforward eater, and got something off their standard menu, but I did get a little add-on from the secret menu as well. I ended up getting a Double Double Animal Style with french fries. Yum! We got there at a pretty good timing (11 AM), right when they opened, and right before the lunch rush. Phew!

Scenic Drive | Overlook Stops

I’ll have to admit that one of the best things on the drive out to the South Rim (read below to see why I chose this Rim), is the scenic drive. I didn’t realize how gorgeous it was going to be until we started driving. If you love the desert, you will find it absolutely beautiful out there! The multiple elevation points make it even more breathtaking because you get to see valleys after valleys and mountains after mountains.. all made from sand and rocks!

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I was quite the speedy driver, which meant I’m always driving in the fast lane. With that, I missed some really pretty scenic points because I couldn’t get on the exit ramp soon enough since I was always zooming through. So, please slow down so you don’t miss these lookout points like I did. On the way back to Vegas though, we managed to stop by one lookout point near Lake Mead, and it was beautiful! Not as gorgeous as on the way out of Vegas but still really nice.

How do you know which rim to visit?

When you decide to go to the Grand Canyons, there are 4 different rims / sides to choose from. There’s the North & South Rim, and Grand Canyon East & West.

The best rim for Las Vegas visitors is the West rim because it is closer to get to (a 45 minute drive), and it is known for the skywalk bridge. I didn’t choose this rim because it doesn’t seem like it offers a lot of viewpoints, therefore I decided to skip it. I do wish to go visit this rim one day and try out the skywalk eventually with R, because I’ll admit, it does look pretty cool. From their website, it looks like you can do other things here as well such as go zip lining, visit the Hualapai settlement and much more.

I chose to visit the South rim which is further to get to because it is in Arizona (about a 3.5 hour drive from Vegas), because I wanted to get the true Grand Canyon experience. The South Rim is the popular rim because it is where most movies are filmed, photos are taken, because it offers more than a dozen viewpoints. The South Rim also offers several trails that you can hike to see more of the Canyons while you are there. I thought that initially we will have time to hike the Bright Angel Trail, but even though it was a shorter trail, we didn’t have time to do that as well. I hope to come back with R and Alden one day so we can see more of this beauty.

Where To Stay?

There are several options as to where you can stay when visiting the South Rim. After my hours of research, I found 4 places that you can choose from ranging from furthest to nearest.

  1. Flagstaff, AZ
  2. Williams, AZ
  3. Tusayan, AZ
  4. Grand Canyon National Park

We chose to stay in Williams, AZ because Flagstaff was too far by my definition, even though it is only 30 minutes further from Williams. If you want to save more on hotels, going furthest will help you get to a pretty inexpensive hotel that are not as quite shady. Williams is a cute town about 49 miles away from the park, and it is situated near the historic route 66 highway. Because we traveled there during monsoon season (yes, there’s such a thing), it was raining when we got there and it was really cold. We didn’t get to walk around the town square, even though they have cute little shops and restaurants / bars, because it was raining and because we were tired. After arriving, we stayed in the hotel for about 1.5 hours while I do school work and then we headed out to dinner at South Rim Beer & Wine Garage. We got back to our hotel early and went to bed at 8:30 PM which was perfect because it was right around my bedtime anyways, on Eastern time. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express; Standard hotel, nice clean rooms and friendly staff.

Grand Canyon Park 

My short experience at Grand Canyon Park was unbelievable. We woke up early at 3:30 AM to make time for the 1-hour drive, in time to catch day break. It was freezing that morning! When we got there, there were already people gathered up at Mather’s Point waiting to see the sun come out. As soon as I parked the car, we jumped out and quickly huddled, along with a few others. I heard nothing but shuffling feet, whispering and saw nothing but some light from the horizon peaking. As soon as the sun came out, we were literally gasping. What a sight to see! We were there for about 2 hours and eventually left at 7 AM. It was hard to leave but we felt very fulfilled. Hope R and I can come here again sometime next year. It was really inexpensive to visit the park. We only had to pay $25 for the entrance fee. More info here.

Hoover Dam 

Our last stop before heading back into the city was the Hoover Dam. We did not do the guided tour because by the time we got there it was close to lunch time and we were already getting tired. We spent only about 30 minutes at the dam. We didn’t have to pay for parking because we were there for a short while and we decided not to park in the covered garage, but instead opted for the open parking spaces; They are scattered evenly around the dam area which was nice. Hoover Dam was such a cool experience – If I get to visit again, I’d probably want to do the tour to learn more about the history and take the elevators down but if I asked R, he’d say, “Why don’t you just Google?” – He does have a point!

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I know that this is probably not the best way to see all there is to see out on the West coast but I had a very fulfilling trip. Even though I was exhausted, I felt refreshed and ready to rock and roll at the show after my short little trip. Sometimes, you just have to take that extra 10 minute, 1 hour or 1 day and go do something you don’t normally do. I swear it will do you so much good inside!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

xoxo

Makeup As Seen On Instagram – Is It Worth The Hype?

Okay, so I am by no means an expert at makeup but it has been quite a while since I jumped on the Instagram/Youtube bandwagon on current makeup trends. I have seen these products being promoted like crazy on Instagram and I am not going to lie, they have definitely enticed and influenced me into trying these products out for myself.

Now that I am 30 (GASP) years old, I am finding my way into the minimal less-is-more makeup look. I am actually not loving the crazy made-up makeup looks on Instagram and although the videos are fun to watch, I have come across some ladies IRL who wear too much makeup, and they just do not do it for me. I do still love the contour, and the highlight and the shimmer, but I am not big in the colored eye makeup trend anymore. Not that I hate it; I am just not in that phase particularly because I have lost touch on applying colored shadows and I just don’t have the time.

The kind of look I am into these days is, as mentioned above, the natural, less-is-more, glowy look. I still love my colored lipsticks, but you will rarely find me in colored shadow because I just don’t have the time for it. So, with that in mind, last weekend at Sephora, I went hunting for makeup products to achieve that glowy /glossy trend all over the internet. Stick around below to see what I like and what I feel is meh and not worth the money.

Farsali Rose Gold Elixir – Sephora $54 (Doubles as skincare)

I went to two different Sephoras to find the rose gold elixir and when I found it, I was beyond excited. I have watched so many videos on this product by many makeup gurus and so far, it has a pretty good rep. I contemplated on buying this or the Unicorn Essence because the latter is actually the more popular product, but in the end, I  am glad I got the Rose Gold elixir because it better fit my needs.

I am still learning ways on how to use this product but so far, I have used it just as a face oil for night times (skip moisturizer), and my skin literally sucks this up! Now, I use it with my foundation so I get that dewy, glowy look, and it just feels more amazing. You can also use it after your moisturizer as a primer for your makeup. This product does not have a sticky formula, it has an a-ok scent (almost citrusy) and it has real 14k gold specks in it, which actually is not gimmicky, but serves a purpose as well.

The product is expensive but I think that it can go a long way, and definitely worth the money. So, yes I recommend you to try it out!

If i were asked to change one thing about it, is to adjust the scent. It’s not overpowering but it does linger on and I am just not a fan of that especially if you use it on its own. If you mix it in with a foundation however, it does go away.

Did you know? Farsali beauty (pronounced FAR-SAH-LI), is a makeup company that was founded by a guy named Sal Ali who developed this product and company after his wife, Farah Dhukai. Farah is a very popular beauty Youtuber (whom actually I never knew about), and he dedicated this product and company to her, because this is such a passion of hers and he himself came from a product development/brand management background. Ain’t that both sweet & smart?

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Setting Powder – Sephora $30

I wanted to get a setting powder for my makeup because as I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of contour and highlight in my makeup routine, and setting is key in finishing the look. However, I came into the store intending to buy a product to bake my concealer, and I think this powder is not meant for that (Told you I am not that great with makeup). I’ll have to remember for next time that if I want to bake my makeup I need to get a looser formula because this is in a compact-like type of product. It is somewhat dusty, but it doesn’t give me the powder effect I was looking for. Maybe I need to watch videos on how to use this product properly, to get better ideas.

This powder came with a brush which was nice and I really loved the packaging. The reason why and how I ended up getting this is because I wanted to get something from the brand Tarte. Instead of getting the famous concealer, I decided to get something else because I hate it when things are advertised so much – Makes me wonder the validity of the product, or are people just buying it because everyone is?

Do I recommend? Neutral. It is alright and does serve it’s purpose but if you’re looking to bake, this won’t really do it for you. I think the price is pretty steep too.

Random point not related to Tarte – I am not a fan of KatVonD; Not because she doesn’t have a great product line but because I personally don’t support her lifestyle. I think that the whole goth/satanism thing that she has going on with her husband is very, very, creepy. Just my honest opinion and nothing else. Anyone else feels this way?

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick – Sephora $25

On the quest to perfecting my contour game, I wanted to get a cream stick for my contour since I normally only use powders. I got the Fenty Beauty Match Stix in the color Mocha, and so far I like it. I think the product is great, it doesn’t wear off and this product comes in so many different shades, but I am not happy with my contouring technique – Which I know, totally unrelated to the product.

I normally use my beauty sponge to blend it out, and it does blend but I feel like I am rubbing it off too much because then it comes out looking very faint (color). I want a deep contour but I don’t know how to achieve it just yet, so yeah I am a little frustrated. Well, time to watch more videos.

Do I recommend? Yes. The price is right, and it has such a nice usability experience. The formula is dewy and non-sticky, and it comes in many shades. Even though I can’t seem to get the deep contour that I want, it is not this product’s fault; More so mine because I can’t seem to perfect my technique. I just have to keep on practicing!

Did you know? This product has 90k loves on sephora.com? Fenty Beauty products are environmentally friendly & conscious. They do not test on animals, are vegan, paraben free and come on, it’s Rihanna’s baby! More reasons to love. My favorite GRWM video of Rihanna courtesy of Vogue, showing her 10 minute makeup routine. She is gorge!

Milk Makeup Face Gloss – Sephora $20

I’ll admit, this was an impulse buy but I have 100% zero remorse for this product. It was exactly what I was looking for in terms of a product to help me achieve that all around gloss without looking metallic. I think this product is so underrated, but it really deserves to be in a class of it’s own.

The gloss that I get from this product is exactly what I wanted in a “wet makeup” look. Most highlighters do give you that glow but for the most part, they look more metallic instead of dewy. Even though there’s some level of stickiness to the formula, it is not thick and gloopy, but instead it rubs into your skin very well.

This product is not meant to be worn with an all-over foundation look, because it is meant for the natural make-up free face. I would recommend applying it on places you would put your highlighter and by using a finger. A tiny amount goes a long way. One other thing I recommend is to wear your hair away or up from your face because it is just like lip gloss, when the wind blows, your hair can get stuck onto your face.

Do I recommend? 100% Yes. You guys, I love this thing. I use it all over my eyelids, on my cheeks, and even on my lips. So, so, glossy!

Milk makeup is also cruelty-free, vegan & paraben free. It’s a cool company with products for cool people. Simple makeup indeed.

Glossier Boy Brow Clear – Glossier.com $20

Story time.. I so wanted to love this product but sadly, I do not. It was very underwhelming and I think it only works for people with already big and bushy eyebrows. People with sparse eyebrows buy the tinted gels, but somehow theirs look way better than mine. I am not sure why.

The formula is pretty good. Unlike gel brows, which most of the time feel like gel, this feels more like a wax. It is very lightweight, which is nice because it doesn’t feel like you didn’t apply anything to your brows, it applies white but dries clear, but, it did not do anything for me at all. Sad face.

Do I recommend? Neutral. It only works with big bushy eyebrows and fine hair brows (not coarse like mine) and it is a product that is super hyped but not all that, according to me. You guys should try it out though.

Glossier Lip Gloss $10

I am a 200% a lip girl. I have so many lipsticks and lipglosses and I just keep buying them. So, I bought this lipgloss from Glossier because what did I say? I am super into this glossy makeup trend. Another reason why I got it is so that i get free shipping if I spend $30 (good marketing, Glossier). I actually think this product is OK.

I tried Milk Makeup’s face gloss on my lips and felt like I had a more glossy effect, but this one does it too. Applying this on the lips is more suitable because it does come with an applicator.

You can use this gloss over your lipstick but if you are like me, you can wear on it’s own because again, the no-makeup makeup look.

Beautycounter TintSkin Hydrating Foundation – Beautycounter.com $42

I came across this brand through two people; First, one of my friends who is a consultant and second, through one of my favorite Atlanta-based bloggers, Brittany of Loverly Grey (who also is a consultant). This brand is creating a new line of makeup that are not only cruelty-free, but without the use of harsh chemicals that are actually in a lot of makeup ingredients these days; Responsible makeup.

I told my friend that I am in this minimal makeup phase right now as I am investing a lot more money into skincare and upkeep, and I wanted to preserve everything I’ve done so far with a lot less makeup. I don’t have a lightweight foundation because if you know me, your girl is always into heavy foundation because she is not comfortable in her own skin.

With that, my friend recommended I try the hydrating tint skin foundation and I fell in love. It is lightweight and it does a great job at evening out my skintone without feeling cakey. It is now my perfect weekday foundation!

Do I recommend? YES. The price tag is pretty steep, but it is such a good product. I am curious to try more items in their product line in the future.

Beautycounter  Precision Liquid Eyeliner – Beautycounter.com $28

Have you guys ever had an experience with wearing liquid eyeliner only to find it stinging you after applying? My eye area is very sensitive so when my friend let me try their eyeliner, I was impressed. I love the small tiny precise applicator. It’s all I need to get that wing right.

Do I recommend? Why not? It’s responsible makeup, it’s beautiful and I also get to help my friend’s business!


I told you this was a big haul. If I had to pick the things I absolutely love, it’ll be the Farsali Rose Gold Elixir, the Milk Makeup Face Gloss, Glossier Lip Gloss & Beautycounter Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

xoxo

Things To Do In Amsterdam / Recap

Hey guys,

So, if you guys follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that I went across the pond for a quick-ish trip to the Netherlands early June. If you didn’t know I was away, well now you do.

R had to go on a work trip in Europe the last week of May (his company is based in Austria), and he surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. It was AWESOME! I did not want to come back and before I left the city, I found myself looking at neighborhoods in Amsterdam to live in, and schools we could send Alden to, and not to mention, complete step-by-steps on how to move there as an expatriate. I know, I know.. I’m extra.

Schiphol airport, amsterdam airport

Before visiting Amsterdam, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into or what to expect really because even though it is a popular place, it wasn’t on my list of top places to visit. I have always seen pictures of Amsterdam but never really looked at them, but when I arrived there, I fell in love. I know I am using this “love” term very loosely when it comes to travel, but I am telling you that this time it is for real. My trip to Amsterdam was my first time ever in Europe. I’ve had a few layovers in Sweden, but I never got the chance to visit, so this trip was enlightening to me. So now,  I can finally say that I’ve been to Europe and as always I am thankful to R who always helps me check things off my bucket-list. Right babe? 😉

My post today is going to be about the beautiful and historical Amsterdam. What to do, what to see, what to eat and some other travel trips from a girl less-traveled, and that is me!

Historic Buildings & Architecture

Amsterdam is a historic city, so just understand that being there already is an experience in itself. This is coming from a girl who has never really lived in a place that has a lot of architectural history, so when it comes to traveling to places with a lot of what I’d like to call, “old-time charm”, it always catches me in a daze.

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First photo in Amsterdam taken by my friend from her hotel room balcony!
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I love the greens on the outer walls of this building.

amsterdam

 

I moved to the US in 2005 and I moved from the buzzing city life to a life on the beach in Florida. From there, I moved to Atlanta but I never lived downtown because I couldn’t justify paying high rent for an apartment and also because I have always worked outside the city center. With that said, I am now used to seeing the usual American suburban towns or neighborhoods that are typically newer built and most of the time, the buildings are all cookie-cutter and look exactly the same; You can be in any part of the country and still find yourself in a standard shopping plaza, which will house your typical grocery store, an urgent care, a nail salon, a couple fast casual restaurants, and a UPS store. Sometimes, you may get lucky with a Starbucks or a cool Mexican restaurant with an outdoor seating area, but most of the time, everything looks typically the same. So, as I was saying, being in Amsterdam itself was a cool experience to me because it was just charming and aesthetically pleasing.

 

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When exploring the city, you’ll notice that the rowed buildings tilt forward, lean to the side or even have gaps in between. It is because these rows / buildings were built on wooden piles since Amsterdam is a city built on water, and naturally after  hundreds of years, they deteriorate. When I think about this, it brings me back to the episode on How I Met Your Mother, when Lilly and Marshall bought their first condo and realized that their building was tilted. They found out by accident when they placed a ball on the floor and realized that the ball kept rolling to the other side of the room because the floors were not even, which drove Marshall crazy! Can you guys imagine living in a house like that?

 

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Museums & Experiences

To get a glimpse into what these homes look and feel like on the inside, you can head on over to the Anne Frank House Museum. I am so glad that we took advantage of this and visited the museum – It was such a humbling experience. The tour itself did not take very long; I want to say it was about 30 – 45 minutes. We got a later reservation on a Friday night at 8 PM since R didn’t come in until late afternoon from Austria, while I arrived early that morning. It felt late when we left the hotel to go to the Anne Frank House but the long summer days definitely helped because day time was much longer. (Side note: It did get pretty cold at night, so make sure to wear / bring a jacket).

Just to give you a background on Anne Frank if you haven’t yet read her diary, she was one of the million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust. Anne and her family lived behind a bookcase where her father used to work, in a place called the Secret Annex and during their hiding, Anne wrote in her diary almost daily for 2 years before they were found and brought to the concentration camps. I read her diary when I was younger and to be able to experience the crammed living quarters in which Anne lived in, was so humbling. I remember being there for only 30 – 45 minutes but I almost passed out due to claustrophobia; I cannot imagine what it would’ve been like to live there – My heart goes out to all the victims of the Holocaust.

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Entrance to the Secret Annex (Before they yelled at us for taking photos)
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My handsome

TIP: Buy your tickets in advance and and go for an early morning or a late evening time slot. We went to a late night one and it was less crowded but still there were many people and we got stuck in human-traffic in the house due to the volume and I thought I was going to pass out because.. claustrophobiaTickets

There are many other museums and experiences you can go to while in Amsterdam such as the Rijkmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum & the Heineken Experience, but we did not visit any of them because we’re not big fans of crowds. We actually tried to get tickets to visit the Van Gogh Museum but it was sold out for the weekend. See what happens when you fail to plan?

 

A photo under the arch at The Rijskmuseum
Babe, pics please
He was playing Young & Beautiful by Lana Del Rey
Me and my bestie!
The Pink House
It was National Best Friend Day

 

I AMSTERDAM sign

If you Google “Most photographed place in Amsterdam”, I am pretty sure you will come across the“I Amsterdam” sign, and visiting this is a no-brainer. It is free and it is located in front of the Rijksmuseum and near to the Heineken experience. It’s a pretty cool place just for a photo op but man, was it super packed! We got there sometime during noon and if I have to go back there again, I’ll probably opt to go in the morning or evening to stay away from the crowds. That way I can get more Insta-worthy shots.

 

The guy is checking us out
Some guy tried to get up here like R but they failed
R for .. ?

 

Rembrandtplein Square

Where to Stay?

I loved the Rembrandtplein area, which is also where we chose to stay while in Amsterdam. I didn’t think that we purposely planned to get a hotel outside of the Centraal area, but it was nice that we did because Amsterdam Centraal was a zoo (I told you we have an aversion to crowds). We stayed on Linnaeustraat, which was a streetcar away to the shopping and nightlife district in Rembrandt square and it could have not been more perfect place to stay in. From a location standpoint, I was able to travel from Schiphol airport by myself to our hotel, and by just one train. (Muiderpoort station). After I got off the train, I walked about 2 blocks down to Linnaeustraat street and the hotel was right there to my left. Our hotel also had easy access to the streetcars, which was definitely a plus as well.

 

The cleanest & neatest our room ever was
SO COZY
How do they know we like shoes?
The wall art in Feeya’s room

The Manor Amsterdam  – Read my review on TripAdvisor.

Where to shop?

I didn’t go crazy with shopping in Amsterdam but I did buy a few things. I felt like the H&M there was much better than the ones here in the States. Even their Zara was better too – Well, duh.. Europe. Another store that I loved exploring was Primark. I get it guys. Things are very affordable there, and they had literally anything and everything for everyone there! And, should I mention once again that they are cheap? I bought a cute skirt from there, a crop top, a sweater for Alden, and R got himself a backpack that he now uses for work. Of course, Ryan and I hit-up H&M too. I loved that their H&M store has a HOME section!! Wish I lived there!

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Strolling in Rembrandt Square in the rain

Night scene

I forgot to mention that one of my best friends from high school met up with us while we were there in Amsterdam and we had such a BLAST. Feeya made the trip even more better because of her craziness and positive energy. It was natural that the three of us, hit up a club in Amsterdam. This was of course, my idea. I love dancing! Even if I am no good at it. I do admit that I only like to go for a short time because I go to bed so early these days. The club we went to was Club Escape, and it was AWESOME. Awesome because, there is a legit light show in the main room, and indoor smoking is not allowed (Thank god! – There are smoking rooms provided indoors though for you smokers) – and like any big clubs, there are several rooms you can go to that play different types of music. For some reason, we ended up in the hip hop room and we soon found out that they LOVE to play throwback music. We thought it was a throwback night or something until we went to another club the next night and the playlist there was almost identical to the one in Escape. Hysterical. They were bumping to Ignition by R. Kelly. I thought I was back in the early 2000s.

Another thing that we did while we were there, was that we went to the Icebar. It was a-ok. I thought it was going to be a bar made from ice that people go to for fun (which it was) but it was more of an attraction versus an actual hang-out spot. Oh, and one last mention, the red light district! It was very surprising to see how clean the district was. There were so many people (sorry I keep bringing up crowds.. I hate crowds) and I didn’t feel creeped out at all!

 

Waiting for our “cruise” to start at the Ice Bar

 

Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt

Also near Rembrandt square, you will find the famous Bloemenmarkt, which is a floating flower market. I really wanted to go see their tulip gardens outside the city center but we were not in season for it, therefore did not get to experience it. However, if you love flowers, you should definitely check out the floating market. They had all types of beautiful blooms there in varying colors and they were just so pretty! Did you know that Netherlands is one of the biggest countries that export seeds and flowers to other countries? I didn’t buy any because I was traveling, but sigh.. I wish I did!

 

Look at the roof! Oh, and R! =)
A girl & flowers
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Outside view of the Bloemenmarkt

 

Find a Windmill – De Gooyer

Another thing that was on our list was to find a windmill. There are not many of them scattered through the city but R was able to find one! The one that we went to is the De Gooyer windmill which is one of the oldest windmills in the Netherlands.

 

This is the photo for your computer desktop
R & Mush
We were here!

 

Ride A Bike 

I know that it is intimidating to ride a bike in Amsterdam but it is by far, the BEST way to get around over there. R and I made the mistake of not going on the bike the first couple of days we were there, but when we finally did, we got to see so much more! Even though the streetcar/ tram is convenient, there’s just more waiting on that versus just hopping on the bike and walking around to get to places. I felt like the bike there is way better than my bike here, and even though it isn’t a typical road bike, it felt effortless all around. Just beware of other bikers though; They’re pretty aggressive and they are not afraid to cuss you out! Also, don’t be afraid of getting hit by buses and trams or cars because technically, they have to stop for you. So, what are you waiting for? Get on that bike!

 

I swear my face looked like that the entire time, and R is screaming “Look at the road!”
Love you, mean it
Ryan likes this pic

 

TIP: Rent your bikes from your hotel. It was so easy to drop it off right then and there and not having to worry about traveling to a rental place to drop it off at the end of your long exhausting day. The bikes we rented came with locks too, which was convenient. You will be a pro at finding places to park your bike and if you are cycling in a shopping district, you’d come across the famous “No bike zone” stickers that they place in alleyways, etc. So fun!

 

Babe, I don’t think we can ride our bikes here
When you give me the GPS, we end up lost

 

Go To Local Parks

Because of our choice in mode of transportation above, we got to see so much more and do more things without feeling super exhausted. We were very lucky also that the weather was cooperating with us as well. On one of our afternoons there, we went to a local park not too far away from our hotel and it was the cutest sight! Over there, we saw many locals with families bring their kids out to play, there was an ice-cream man selling ice cream from his bike and in the gazebo, there was a group of older men and women who were dancing and enjoying a salsa & cha-cha session with their peers. It was a picturesque day!

 

There were no mosquitoes or bugs out here!
I love us
Clearly we love us too
Asian gang sign
Seriously, the cutest sight!

 

Coffee Shops

Of course I had to add this to the list. If you like to engage in recreational marijuana activities, there are obviously plenty of coffee shops to go to. I hated the smell but you kind of get used to the smell after a while. I walked in one coffee shop and I was very surprised to see that it is actually very clean and systematic. They also do not serve alcohol there; Just coffee and other beverages instead. It definitely was an interesting experience. Sorry, no pictures =) I’m disappointed I didn’t take photos of the coffee shops from the outside!

Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

As always, when visiting a new place, we always like to search for rooftop restaurants or bars because the view is always just so scenic from the top of a building. We went to a bar in Volkshotel, which I believe was a hotel R wanted to get us to stay in at first but had no availability, and it was so quirky and fun. This bar also had a spa in one of their top floor levels too; Super interesting! We were there in time to watch the sunset (9-ish PM), and it was all around just good feels. Loved it!

 

Locals galore
Sunset vibes
We fit in, therefore we should move here
Indoor portion of the rooftop bar
A little bubbly can’t hurt nobody

 

Eat, Eat, Eat

I could not explain how well fed I am while I was in the Netherlands. They have some really nice restaurants that are equally diverse. I remembered one of our best meals was actually had was on our last dinner there at an Indian restaurant. It was BEYOND amazing. Enjoy my food snaps as follows.

 

Tempo Doeloe Indonesian Restaurant – Anthony Bourdain has dined here before!
Two Asian girls looking for Asian food
This was actually Feeya’s lunch one day
Facetiming Alden & Mom

 

And, more food…

 

The best Indian food!
I love me some Shrimp Gambas
He spoils me with food
My homemade veggie gnocchi. So good!
R’s Fish

 

And more…

 

At Cafe Spargo by our hotel
They like their tuna with kechup

Italian

Salmon Capraccio

Coffee break
Open faced tuna sandwich

 

With all of that said…

There you have my full list of things that I recommend doing/seeing in Amsterdam; I am sure there are more than these things you can do over there, and perhaps we get to back to experience more things but for a short trip, we definitely had a pretty fulfilling vacation there. We enjoyed Amsterdam so much that we skipped our plan on the last day to visit Brussels, Belgium, and spent another day there instead. Even though it was an opportunity missed, I am sure there will be plenty of next times for us in the future.

This is the longest time I have spent writing and crafting a travel post so I hope you enjoyed it!!

Like my clogs?
R imitating my poses
Last night at the neighborhood Cafe. Their playlist that night was super right on!
We’re going to miss this place!

 

xoxo

On Cloud Williams

I have been meaning to share with you all some wedding updates as you may know that R & I are finally tying the knot (with an actual wedding) this October! We are less than 4 weeks away to one of the biggest days of our lives and we seriously cannot wait! Wedding planning has been pretty easy going at first but everything picked up in the last two months, so it definitely has been very hectic too.

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We chose to get married in October because we both wanted a fall wedding since the weather will be tolerable and nice here in Atlanta. October 12th seems to be the perfect date because we are getting married on a Friday (to cut costs since most venue are twice the price for Saturday weddings), and I think it works out really well because the 13th is my late-daddy’s birthday.

Initially, we wanted to have a destination wedding, but that didn’t pan out, so for the longest time we wanted to get married in Savannah, GA. However, the venues that we liked there were no longer doing weddings and it would’ve been too much to coordinate especially with getting our families there since they are coming from out-of-state, so we decided to get married here in Atlanta itself.

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We are having a very small wedding with about 75 guests only. Our ceremony will be outdoors in a beautiful garden and our reception will be indoors in a glass ball-room, which essentially is a ballroom with ceiling high windows that overlooks the lush gardens outside. Our venue is perfect because it is romantic, intimate, has an indoor-outdoor feel, and is strategically located. Our venue is doing most of the decor planning for us as well as catering, so that is a huge relief. They will also provide the servers, security, clean-up crew and a wedding coordinator so we don’t have to worry about that operational logistics day-off. We get to customize & personalize our decor with them (which I am so excited to see how it turns out), and we also have flexibility to do our welcome table decor and some other miscellaneous things that is not included in their services as well. Can’t wait for the big reveal.

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Just to give you an idea of a “theme” for our wedding, we don’t actually have one but if you need to know, the vision I have for this wedding is a glam romance affair. My colors are neutrals with ivory, white, blush pink & champagne. I wanted the soft colors because I think that you can never go wrong with those classics. I think that the variation in pinks that I have throughout the decor, attire, etc. will be nice because I didn’t want a matchy-matchy wedding; Having the variations will add some richness and character to the overall feel. I am hoping we nail this because I will be disappointed if they don’t.

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We will also have a very small wedding party with 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls and Alden our ring-bearer. Let’s hope Alden naps the day of and doesn’t throw a tantrum in the processional. To read-up on my girls who will be standing with me, go to our website here.

Anyways, this is about how far I will share with you so far, but just know how much I can’t wait for this day! What do you all think of our engagement photos? They are captured by the most talented, Michael Yang and his site is here.

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October 12th can’t come sooner!

xoxo

 

 

Debunking Parenting Myths

Parenting is a topic that can be near and dear to someone’s heart but also bring a lot of mixed-feelings to a lot of people. I feel like there are two types of people in the world; 1) The one who wants to have a child/children, and 2) The ones who do not. I do not prefer one over the other because let’s face it, each human being is unique and has their own journey through life; Not everyone is going to live thorough the same exact story twice, so if they decide to have or not to have children, that is completely up to them. For me however, I chose the parenting route because I just cannot fathom a life without having a child/children. I’ve dreamed about being a mom since I can even remember and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have my sweet baby; I thank God each day for this wonderful blessing.

Being a parent changes your life completely – I agree to that statement. But, a lot of people associate change  in this context as something negative when it actually is not. In fact, although my life has changed, I feel like it has changed for the better – and more! I am a better human now, with better habits, and it is all because of this new level of responsibility that I have. I feel like I just cannot fail my son.

With that said, I am going to debunk some “parenting myths” because I just need to clear the air out a little bit..

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  • I am not ready financially
    • Yes, there is some truth to that and yes it will pose a financial constraint if you are not capable of working, disabled or for other undisclosed reasons but it is also not unreasonable. I still cannot understand why child care is so expensive here in the States, but on the flip side, I do understand why it is expensive. How do we manage? It comes down to laying out priorities and working in that order. You have to find something that will work for you, and it will work out. We should be grateful that there are a lot options here in the US for various type of childcare services and even child supplies – The options are really endless for every type of budget you’re in. At the end of the day, it really comes down to choosing what fits you and your family’s lifestyle. If you have to sacrifice that weekly dinner date out, there are many other things you can do  at home instead – And those are sometimes the best dates you’ll ever have!

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  • I like my freedom
    • This is a topic that I hear about most often. Most people don’t realize that when two people decide to be parents, they are committed to that process. Same as if the two people are committed to being with each other for the rest of their lives in marriage. When you set your heart to one thing, you will most likely be committed to it for as long as you wish. Take for example, your job. Although having a child isn’t quite the same as you landing your dream job, (you can’t just quit), but humans are actually born to be nurturing souls, which simply means, no one would just “quit” from being a parent. No matter how bad of a person he/she is, they just won’t. With that said, freedom is subjective when it comes to discussing parenting because yes, a parent can still live a “free” life even with their big responsibilities. That is why finding a partner you can trust and count on is at the utmost importance – And even if you are single, I’ve seen single moms do it all – You will find your network, your tribe who would be willing to help you out. Listen, the hard part about being a parent is not within the first 3 years of their life. The hard part is really making sure they grow up to become good humans. Once they are out of their toddler years, you will feel a lot more “freedom” – trust me, but the biggest freedom you’ll feel is when you see that little boy or girl you raised grow up into respectable, polite and smart humans because of you.

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  • I’m not adult enough
    • Who says that being a parent is boring?! Well, actually..a lot of people do and.. parents are also guilty of doing this themselves!!! Listen, this is a PSA. Parenting does not – I repeat – does not, have to be boring. It is what you make of it! People don’t live in the dark ages anymore. If anything, humans are encouraged to live their lives fullest to their desires – The world we live in does not have to be restrictive anymore. Thankfully, we live in a country that supports a very diverse society, so really, becoming parents shouldn’t cost you losing your mind from a boring life. Just seeing your child discover the world with your own eyes is very amusing! You will splash each other with water, play in the rain, snow and sand, you will teach them how to say Mummy, Daddy & their names, and you will even tell them to stop throwing rocks at you – Is that boring?

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  • I am not ready to lose myself
    • Ok, so there are some truth in this one. There is an actual fear coming from people who are afraid of losing themselves in the process of becoming a parent. It is true that when the baby comes, it is very hard to focus on yourself. But, there is beauty in chaos. For me, I feel like I have never been in better shape, until now which is post-baby. I may no longer have a stretch-mark free belly, but I am in the fittest form I have ever been. When you give birth, it is very easy to feel unlike yourself. Even Beyonce said it in her song “Mine”, “I’m not feeling like myself since this baby”, but you have to give yourself some credit, some time and a whole lotta love. Do something for yourself once a week, once a month, once in three months.. but promise that it is your own time. For me, as much as I hate working out, I actually feel so much better when I do. I also like to express myself through making videos, writing, and taking pictures. I look forward to the times I have at nights after I put Alden down to sleep to catch-up on my shows, paint my nails and talk to Ryan. When I do those things, I feel like I am a better parent. So to those of you who “feels bad” for leaving your child behind for an hour to go workout or get your nails done.. your child will be ok. Do it for you, come back feeling refreshed and then do the damn thing and be the best mom you can be to your kiddo.

Parenting has their ups and downs and it is very different from one to the other, but it is so much fun! Sometimes I can’t believe that I am a mother because I feel like I am such a kid at heart and I do not know the answers to everything, but my answer to everything is actually Alden. He is in his “terrific twos” right now which can be awesome and can be tiring – Especially when you’re juggling work, school, and personal life.. But the cuddles, the “mymy”, the “No!!” and the “Morning mama”.. is so so worth it. 

 

*I do not own some of these images

 

 

 

Weekends are for Wide Brimmed Fedoras and Mimosas

First of all, I wanted to tell you guys something. THANK GOD for allergy medicine! I have not taken allergy meds for two years because I was pregnant and nursing, so being able to take some again is just revolutionary! I feel like I can function as a human being all over again.

R is away traveling for work and this time he is gone for 10 days. The first couple of days after he leaves is always okay but I am missing him a lot right now because we haven’t been able to talk to each other as much on the phone since he is 6 hours ahead of me. Oh well, can’t wait to see him next week!

Continue reading “Weekends are for Wide Brimmed Fedoras and Mimosas”