The cold weather has me KILLING reading lately. I also have a weird obsession with checking off progress and books read on the Goodreads app. It’s also absolutely shocking how much you can read if you don’t watch TV! However, I did fall into a hole the past couple of weeks because I discovered Broadchurch on Netflix, which I HIGHLY recommend! I watched three seasons so fast!
Besides my recent Netflix binge, here are the other books I’ve read lately (some are from November and December). Also, leave a comment below on your favorite that I should check out! I love filling up my Goodreads “Want to Read” list!
Sisterhood, Everlasting by Ann Brashares
I love, love, love the Sisterhood of the Traveling books (and movies)! It took me forever to finally pick this up and read it and I honestly couldn’t put it down because I needed to know what happened. I *accidentally* spoiled the premise of the book thanks to Wikipedia but that’s why I had to read it. I suggest it if you enjoy the books and movies – it’s a feel-good book in a weird way and you’ll understand why I said “weird” if you read it. 🙂
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
I don’t even know what to really say about this book because it is really cray, like super disturbingly cray. If you get disgusted easily and can’t handle gore, I would not suggest this book. It has an absolutely mind-blowing story that I really hope is not a real thing in the world. This book might haunt you but because of that, I sorta liked it because it had so much depth, even though I didn’t really like that depth. If you enjoy crazy, murdery stuff with insane plot twists, this might be an interesting book for you.
Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived by Andrew Wilson
Hands down a fantastic read even if you aren’t into the history of the Titanic. I’m so glad I read this book. I’m obsessed with the Titanic and I’ve mostly read and seen information about the actual event and ship but not so much about the passengers but the stories they tell are extremely interesting.
Everything is Awful and Other Observations by Matt Bellassai
Matt is hilarious and you probably know him best from his weekly Buzzfeed videos “Wine About It”. This was a pretty quick read and I enjoyed it mostly because I like how he writes the way he talks. I could literally hear his voice in my head most of the time. I hope he writes another book in the future because he writes about his life so far but he was only like 25 or 26 when he wrote it, so he doesn’t have a ton of years of stories under his belt yet but the ones he had were still pretty good!
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
So it took me a little bit to figure out how I felt about this book. I randomly saw it on a reading list and it was available at the Library so I checked it out. I have to say that I finished it extremely fast because I was a little bored at times and just needed to know the end so I could move on to the next book. Looking back at the book now, though, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was because I keep thinking about. It’s about a married couple who set up an “arrangement” so I think you can guess where that is going! It’s probably a more interesting read for those who have been married for a long time.
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
Woof. So this book was interesting, to say the least, and that’s pretty much because I started reading it thinking it was a completely different book – ha! I thought it was about a mother and her son who get trapped in a zoo and wild animals escape or something like that. Well, it’s actually that they get stuck in a zoo and “killers” are on the loose but I will let you figure out what I mean by that on your own. I think the book could’ve been so much better but it just lacked description and storylines. If you can find Cliff Notes on it, I would just read that 🙂
I’m working on a couple books now: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish via listening on Audible and starting Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn! Stay tuned!
P.S. Look all of my former English teachers… I’m actually reading!!
With all of the health commercials flooding the TV because of the New Year, I felt like this story is very timely. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really feel the urge to be healthy at the beginning of the year because it’s flipping cold out and all I want to do is Netflix binge and eat to put more meat on the bones to stay warm.
But once it starts getting warmer and you can see sweet ole’ summer peeking its head around the corner that’s when I go into health overdrive and start getting motivated (too bad this doesn’t last long but that’s just another story in itself).
Well, one year, back in my college days, I wanted to get healthy for summer and look my best so what better way to do this than a cleanse! And not just any cleanse but the mother of all cleanses. The Master Cleanse.
Also known as the Lemonade Diet that Beyonce did back before her album Lemonade dropped and now I’m having an epiphany moment and wondering if this was part of her inspo for that album…
Most likely not but who knows!
Anyway, The Master Cleanse is simple and wreaks havoc on the body so why not do it? You drink “lemonade” aka Lemon squeezed into water, syrup (this is what sold me let’s be real) with Cayenne pepper. You can also drink herbal laxatives and mix in sea salt in either drink. Drink that and eat nothing for 10 days.
Now before you completely shake your head at me let me start off by saying I did a ton of research before I attempted to completely starve my body of any nutrients needed to survive. I watched Youtube videos, read reviews, and even bought a book about it! Side note: reading some reviews should’ve turned me away because I’m pretty sure these people feeling all weightless and euphoric was their body shutting down and on the verge of death. But I was determined at this point. I also hadn’t completely lost my mind and just start drinking this stuff one Day 1, you need to first ween your body off of food (naturally) and that in itself is 3 days of masterminding.
I started by removing any processed food and basically ate tuna and that was it. I ate something else but can’t think of it because this fiasco was about 7 years ago but a head’s up, where this story is going it’s helpful to know that I wasn’t replenishing my body with one of the most basic nutrients a human body needs: Water. Sure, I was drinking water but nothing more than what I normally would. I also realize that you are probably supposed to take some weird, black market vitamins that I never even bothered to look into.
I headed to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on my torture devices for the next 10 days: Lemons, lots of lemons, organic “Grade B” syrup, and cayenne. To this day, I still wonder if the cashier knew what I was doing and prayed for me to make it out alive.
The first 2 “wean-off-of-solid-food-you’re-crazy” days weren’t terrible probably because I had completely brainwashed myself at this point that I was doing this cleanse and there was no backing out now. Here’s where the story starts to get good:
Okay, I got this as I said to myself which is something you tell yourself when you totally do not got this.
Day 3 is absolutely no solid food and just drinking freshly squeezed orange which tastes like pure sugar after the 2 days of eating barely nothing. I did find that Juice Stop had the best fresh squeezed orange juice btw.
So it was a Friday or Saturday night and I think and everyone had left school for summer break so there wasn’t a party I could miss (thank gawd) so I went to a Red Box, rented a couple movies to keep myself from thinking about food and GUESS WHAT ONE OF THE MOVIES I RENTED WAS?
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
WTF. I blame the lack of solid nutrients in making me completely insane. I don’t typically torture myself I swear.
So just as you would’ve guessed, that night sucked. But as I got all my little supplies laid out for the coming morning and made my first cup of laxative tea, I felt a sense of excitement basically because I wanted to know what the heck that “lemonade” was really going to taste like. I think I did make a small batch that night just to taste and it was not that good. “Oh well, it must just be because I made a small batch and not the right amount”, I told myself. Yeah right, girlfriend.
Day 4, Morning of Lemonade Day 1:
(About to get TMI) I woke up that morning around 7 am and felt a huge urge to go potty and I’ll let you do the math on that one.
I’m feeling a little crappy, light-headed, you know, those types of things.
Then it happens.
I black out and start shaking and in my head, I know exactly what was going on but couldn’t control it: I was having a seizure.
NO bikini is worth a seizure!! What have I done to myself?!!
Luckily, I survived. The Master Cleanse Gods rid of me and knew I couldn’t handle the suffering of Beyonce’s diet. I didn’t continue with the cleanse (finally, coming to the little senses I had left). After the seizure, I was extremely tired so I drank some water and went back to sleep. I woke up a couple hours later and drank more water and was careful to not just introduce junk food back into my destroyed temple. I ended up surviving and I can say that I felt pretty light and amazing. Minus feeling the diet grim reaper upon me during the seizure, I felt pretty cleansed if you will.
So here’s what I recommend if you decide to conquer the Master Cleanse…
Don’t Do it.
I could have just ate “clean” and drink water and green tea and would’ve gotten the same effect minus a seizure.
Remember on Friday night when I said this “new” blog will contain things I love like history? Well, saddle on up, folks. Here’s the first installment! It’s about my most precious history lesson of all time: The Titanic. It is zero secret to my friends and family that I’m obsessed with the Titanic. Sure, it started because of a certain Leo and Kate but grew into a real-life weird craze. Just wait till I get to the post about our European Titanic adventures. It’s epic.
But I wanted to keep the first “History Bit” simple and easy. You might even know about this already!
Did you know that before James Cameron wrote his amazing hit of a movie, the first film based on the tragic event was released just a month after the sinking? A MONTH.
It gets even wilder. The actress? Dorothy Gibson, a Titanic survivor, who played herself and even wore the same dress that she did the night of April 14, 1912.
Dorothy Gibson was a silent film actress who sailed the Titanic with her mother, Pauline. She was playing bridge with others and had just gotten ready to go back to her stateroom when the Titanic struck the iceberg. She, of course, was able to get on a lifeboat with her mother and survived.
Saved From the Titanic was released on May 16, 1912. Gibson was having an affair with the film’s producer so it may have been an easy persuasion for her to sign onto the silent film. She signed up just a few days after being rescued by RMS Carpathia. She was also co-writer, which makes sense because they needed her to fill the word-less script with memories and an account of what happened on the Titanic and the night a month earlier. The movie was filmed in Fort Lee, New York on an empty ship in the New York Harbor.
It was said that Gibson would burst into tears several times during takes, obviously still traumatized by the event.
The film completed in a week and was ten minutes in length. Of course, the film had quite a few critics that believed the film was in poor taste, especially being released so soon after but it also had many raving reviews.
Dorothy quit acting shortly after the Saved From the Titanic. Ready for a crazy extra history bit? She moved to Paris and became a Nazi sympathizer and allegedly a spy. WUT. Yeah, this is true. She was later jailed as an anti-Fascist agitator. She then escaped but then died of a heart attack in 1946.
I hope you liked my first little history bit! I have so much more coming your way!!!
“Do you even know your password?” – Things my blog just told me logging in to write this.
I have been spinning ideas of what I want to do with this thing the past few months. Then my Bluehost bill auto-subscribed for another year and my domain renewal was up so now I gotta keep this thing to get my money’s worth!
I’ve had a major writer’s block if that’s even what you would call it. I’ve really probably just been spending more time watching T-vizzle. Whoops! But, the crappy thing about having a blog is that you feel like you need to conform to some type of topic and create content that is likely to be shared and make your pictures match the same aesthetic and cross-promote your posts on social media channels. Bleh sounds great if that was your full-time job.
I still want to write and share, though! But my favorite posts are personal stories and sharing things that I love and want to talk to other people about. So I decided that’s what I’m gonna do! Because I’m a millennial and enjoy talking about myself *flips hair*
JK. sorta. I really do enjoy talking so imagine what it’s like when I start typing away. OHH BOY! So that’s what you’ll get here from here on out. Not a blogger trying to purposely monetize a website and make a gazillion dollars (although, I’ll take it). You’ll just get posts I want to talk about, which a quick forewarn might include history posts and a 500-word essay on a movie I like.
YAS. Another Europe blog post! I read this article recently and was like, omg I wish I would have known #3. Picture this: Two little Americans (Brandon and I) both carrying massive duffle bags in the busy London “tube” (that’s train system in London terms) and standing on an escalator that’s for real about 200 feet long. Terrifying, right?
It gets worse.
We’re lugging about 35 pounds of our stuff AND THEN people start budging us while walking up the escalator. Like, what the heck man? I’m about to fall to my death here if you knock me over.
Come to find out, it’s a thing. You’re supposed to stand on the right side so people can walk up the left on an escalator that’s about two feet wide. Sounds stupid, huh? IT IS. So be careful on that.
1. DON’T BLOCK THE ESCALATORS
So, that’s number one. Don’t even think of standing in the middle, the left, or slightly into the middle. Still unsure how you can properly position luggage without breaking this rule. If anyone has a trick, please, fill me in.
2. YOUR MIXED DRINK COMES IN TWO
Now, this was a delightful surprise. They are so classy across the pond that when you order a mixed drink you get the alcohol on the rocks and the mix still in the glass bottle! I guess I’m too used to Barry’s $2 Fireball shots, but this made me feel ultra clazzy. It happened in Ireland too! The only downfall to this is that I did feel a bit gypped on the amount of alcohol I received because of this.
3. DON’T TREAT YOUR COINS LIKE PENNIES
Save them and don’t forget to use them! Their coins (AKA pence) are worth more than what we’re used to in The States. We kept forgetting to use them and we had about £6 worth of coins! That’s not a lot, I know, but seems like a ton when you’re used to your coins all creating a whopping $1.13. Also, the paper cash is actually called “notes”.
4. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU PAY
This is GENIUS. I actually despise the U.S. for not doing this once we came back home but over there the price you see listed is actually what you pay. The tax is already wrapped into the price tag, so you don’t have to worry about not knowing the exact amount of cash you need. Beware, though, I feel like it made me buy things easier because, to me, it looked cheap because of the currency difference and the fact that it’s the entire price up front. For example, an awesome souvenir would be £10 which seems like $10 to me but it’s actually almost $13! Which is not bad, but it’s totally deceiving.
5. IT MIGHT BE WEIRD TO ORDER SHOTS
Okay, take this one with a grain of salt but I was alerted about this before going to Europe and apparently (I could be totally wrong here) shots aren’t as common as they are in the U.S., especially what we’re used to good ole’ Nebraska. We never ordered a shot from a pub while abroad because it never felt like we were supposed to and I didn’t see anyone else getting them. Gotta say, we never had a hangover either. Wonder if that had anything to do with it… :smirk:
Don’t let this stop you, though! I’m sure it goes DOWN in the hostels!
6. THERE ARE A LOT OF TOURISTS AND YOU’RE ANOTHER ONE
I mean, this is a complete duh! but for real, it is crazy packed with tourists. We went in April which isn’t necessarily a slow time if they even have those, but it’s not the busy season. The thing about this though is that you really need to plan out where you’re going and when because there will be a ton of tourists like you thinking the same thing. The early bird totally gets the worm on the hot spots in London.
One other thing: Being from The U.S. I did feel like people would look at us when they would hear us talk (WE HAVE ACCENTS AND I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THAT DISCOVERY). Sometimes when we were sitting at a restaurant I noticed people looking at us but then I thought, ya know what? I practically stare if I hear a British accent in Nebraska. So I get it. There was only one time that I felt like being from The States was a bad thing when I could hear someone in a bar loudly talking about how crappy America is, which I don’t believe but I felt like “hey man, I’m mad about the U.S. stuff you’re talking about too…” So it felt pretty crappy, but that only happened once. I’ve heard similar stories from friends traveling in other places but other than that everyone is really friendly! Even in London, I never felt that “snobby” vibe. It was actually quite the opposite!
7. THE FOOD MIGHT SOUND WEIRD
And I know travelers to the U.S. think the same thing about us! There were some weird things, though. Like the fact that french fries, ahem, I mean chips, came with the steak and I know that isn’t weird but how it was presented was by the steak basking on top of the fries which seems like a meal someone just threw together without even thinking. I also discovered gas station (without the gas) pre-made sandwiches made of tuna AND CORN. Hell yes. I loved this combo. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of that one myself. Also, they have some brands that are the same as they are in the U.S. but have different names. Like Lays potato chips and this isn’t food, but they have “T.K. Maxx” instead of T.J. Maxx and it’s totally the same store!
When you’re eating and order a soda, that’s gonna cost ya more than it does over here and oh, want water? You’re going to have to specify that you want “tap”, they will automatically assume you want bottled and remember the difference between still water and sparkling. I hate sparkling water and we accidentally bought it so many times because it’s right next to the still bottled water. It was pretty annoying. Why they so fancy?
In conclusion on the food topic, the food was on another level from what I’m used to, it was SO good! Loved every bit of it and those fish and chips really are somethin’ delicious.
I almost forgot to mention the meaning behind “Mind the gap”! It was a saying over the intercom on the train when there would be a gap between the tracks and the platform and omg one time, the gap was like a straight up foot and a half! Not sure how we survived that. I even hoisted up my big ole’ duffle bag across it!
*Please note: I’ve only traveled to London once in my life so my opinion is one to take lightly. I could be totally wrong about some of the things I mentioned. If you’ve been there, you already know, but if you haven’t you should probably go book your plane ticket ASAP!
The Szen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change by Gary Szenderski was honestly unlike any other book I’ve read before, minus the Chicken Soup for the Soul books because it was similar to that! Szen Zone is basically just a bunch of short stories each put together for one purpose – to make you think and feel inspired. At first, I started reading the book from front to back then quickly realized you didn’t need to do that! Just search for a topic you want to feel inspiration or motivation in (i.e. productivity, work life, improving life, and more) and then read one of the dozen or so stories. Each story is short, only a couple or few paragraphs, so it’s a handy little book to keep on hand anywhere you might need a quick positive boost!
The best part is after each short story there’s a “Szenippet” (ha, get it?) for a recap of what you should reflect on after reading that specific story. I love this book, I can tell I’ll be keeping it around for probably ever because there are so many stories you could keep re-reading them over and over again! This should be a bookshelf staple… So many great mini nuggets of inspo! Here are a few of my faves:
“Willpower is desire in motion.”
“Selective memory is our best weapon in fighting failure.”
“The wink of a single thought holds the power to illuminate our path. One single, elegant, clear-minded thought is all we need to change our world.”
Looking for more inspiring reads? Here are a few others I LOVE:
If anyone knows Sheryl, you know what a real treat it was to experience her in her natural element in Viva Las Vegas. For a quick backstory, my mom’s perfect night is going to play keno and maybe even end up at the casino *GASP*. Scandalous that one. The best part is, she doesn’t drink and spends at tops $40 a night. She might correct me on this but seriously she plays on $20 for hours at a slot machine. She also thrives on the free pop you receive. Oh, that wild woman.
Anyway, I knew going to Vegas with my mom would be entertaining. She lets me do my own thang (drink *cough*) and she just goes off on her own little adventures. Sheryl ended up at the pool almost every morning before us youngins were even awake. She walked miles up and down the strip searching for her next “lucky slot” and enjoyed grabbing an ice cold Coke from the nearest McDonald’s. Things would be so much simpler if we just did Vegas like Sheryl, I swear. While we felt like near death on the plane ride home she was excited and full of energy.
Her most entertaining evening was at Ellis Island; it was a match made in gamble heaven. Not only did she find her “lucky slot”, she also discovered a CHEAP and delicious steak for dinner. She was on FIRE. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion or what but we about peed our pants laughing at her. To give you some context here, we were finally seated at a table to eat but Sheryl was nowhere to be found so we just waited for about 10 minutes. Finally, I went on the hunt for her and found her right outside of the restaurant on that lucky slot. She wasn’t done playing yet and brushed me away and said order whenever, she’ll be there soon. Ohhh kay, Sheryl, jeez.
Finally, she arrived with guns blazing. I swear, if you didn’t know her, you would have thought she was drunk! But nope, just high on Ellis Island and winning. She couldn’t stop talking about her new Ellis Island rewards card and that slot machine. Then came the steak and omg, you would have thought it was her 21st Birthday. The woman was loving life.
Oh, she also got back to her hotel room at the same time or later than us every night! She was unstoppable!
If Sheryl was to write this post and give you her recommendations on the best places to go, I think this is what she would say…
Ellis Island, DUH
This is actually a total crowd pleaser. We go here every trip. It’s cheap, fun, great food, and… THEY HAVE KARAOKE!!! If you go, tell them that Sheryl sent you. I’m sure they know who she is – she’s one of the top fans for sure.
One of the best places to bet on horses! One thing Sheryl taught me at a tender age was how to box those exactas and win those trifectas!
This is where Sheryl played roulette for the first time and WON! They also have beer pong. It’s located right in the Linq area.
You can also grab a refreshing, cold frozen Bailey’s. Even Sheryl had one!
This was a place Sheryl wanted to take us through (I had never been in) so we HAD TO GO. Then, when we got there the hidden surprise of a real lion was gone. Sheryl was pretty disappointed in that. Here she is asking security where the heck that lion went : joy:
This is where Sheryl stayed (and so did we one night). They have a pretty nice Keno setup and the rooms are pretty nice!!
We love this place! Sheryl did too! Had one of her two alcoholic beverages of the trip there!
Fremont Street / Golden Nugget
I better throw this up on Sheryl’s list because she has stayed here before and really loved it!
I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other gems but maybe if we get lucky enough one day, Sheryl will highlight her Vegas favorites on this blog! Also, feel free to check out my Twitter account for the best of Sheryl in Vegas!
I feel like I’m taking on a lot to even begin writing this post. Once I got back home from our England and Ireland trip I quickly realized that London is probably my favorite city in the whole world. This is no shocker considering I’ve been obsessed with it since I could remember. I used to have aspirations of attending Oxford (get out of your laughs out now…) and I proudly hung the U.K. flag in my bedroom. I also watched What a Girl Wantsreligiously one summer and decided I would live that London life one day.
So it’s not a shocker that I feel like I’m unqualified to even write this post because I barely skimmed the surface of everything you can do in London. I’m already getting ready to book that plane ticket back there so I can go to all the places I didn’t have time for! I’m going to share with you what we did do along with other things we were told about but didn’t have the time to try! I’m also including all of the tips I learned along the way!
The London Tower
This is No. 1 for a reason. It was my favorite stop on our Day Tour of London and now I’m completely obsessed with the Tudor family. I just finished the book Three Sisters, Three Queens and if you’re into scandals (who isn’t?), I highly suggest reading up on this royal family. Everyone is familiar with King Henry VIII…well this is the place where he beheaded a couple of his wives. It’s a pretty spooky place. If it wasn’t a sunny day and full of tourists I’m not sure how long I would’ve lasted on the London Tower grounds.
Tip: Speaking of tourists, the place gets very, very busy. We even went during the off-season of tourism but it was on the weekend of Easter, which we quickly discovered they celebrate hardcore across the pond. Pretty much everyone has a long weekend and spends it with family. I would suggest getting there early (we went right after lunch) and getting in line for the Crown Jewels first. It seems like that is the place that fills up the quickest. We didn’t even get to see them because our tour guide said it would be at least a 45-minute wait, so we just explored all the other places.
But everything that we did see was amazing – the torture chamber, The White Tower, Ravens, it was all extremely interesting. It was hard to believe that the history you have been told happened on the same ground you were standing on.
The London Eye is sort of one of those things you have to do as a tourist. Now, I will say it’s not easy on your wallet and the entire experience only lasts about 30 minutes, but it’s pretty cool! If you’re trying to budget, I think you could skip it. If you’re going all out, then definitely add this to your list of things to do!
Tip: Book your ticket in advance online and take caution that the place gets extremely busy and it’s a very congested area when it does. It was one of those times that I actually didn’t like all the people. There were SO MANY people it was bit annoying. We ended up going on one of the last rides around 7:30 pm and it cleared out so much that I highly recommend going later if you’re not into crowds of people. See pic below.
One of Her Majesty’s homely abode… Buckingham Palace was so cool to see (even though I did feel like it was a bit smaller than I had anticipated, I for real thought it was Kensington Palace when we rolled up to it). We were supposed to go on the day that they did the Changing of the Guards (this is scheduled and doesn’t happen every day, so plan accordingly), but it ended up getting moved to the next day due to security. You know what, though? I think I liked it better the way that I saw Buckingham Palace because we went early in the morning around 8 am and there was barely anyone there! We could get all of the pics we wanted right up to the gate – which does not happen once the day gets going, that place gets really busy. Now, imagine it with the Changing of the Guards ceremony. Talk about a storm of people!
Tip: My tip here is like above, just get there early if you really want to spectate and maybe plan a different day to come back and watch the Changing of the Guards. I hear they play Katy Perry songs during it (seriously).
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Did you know that this is where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married at?! You can literally walk down the “aisle” like she did! St. Paul’s Cathedral is breathtaking, it’s huge and full of so much art and history. We went on a guided tour that we purchased through Viator, but you can also go by yourself and rent a listening guide and walk through St. Paul’s on your own.
Tip: My only tip for this is if you are interested in going during an actual service, you can! Just check their schedule and join a Sunday service or a special chorus performance, I think they have those often.
I loved Trafalgar Square, there is always so much stuff going on. We were there on Easter weekend and they were doing a free play for everyone. It’s a cool place to walk around and just hang out and admire all of the statues and architecture. If this tells you anything how cool it is; I had no idea we were in Trafalgar Square and I took like 150 pictures then realized where I was. There was so much to look at!
Tip: Grab some food and take it Trafalgar Square for a picnic!
Boat Ride on River Thames
This is an easy way to see a lot of London in a fun way! Pro tips: You can use your Oyster card ( the same card you use for the train system) on some of the boats and I *think* all boats have food and drinks aboard. One we went on even had an option to have afternoon tea!
Tip: Try to go with a tour guide if you can (Viator has options) because then they will be able to point places out to you and tell you more history.
This place completely took my breath away. I seriously felt like I had a spiritual awakening when viewing this masterpiece. It’s the grave to many extremely prominent humans who have graced this earth and it’s also a place where someone like Princess Diana has had her funeral held. I was standing in front of the door that they carried her coffin in and I remember watching that on TV when I was little. We were only able to view the outside, but it’s at the top of my list for the next London visit.
Tip: Go early! This is a busy tourist spot. The doors open at a different time each day, you can find the times here. The day we went, we were there around 8:45 – 9 am and there was hardly anyone around. Right around 9:15 I looked back at where we were and there was a huge line! It fills up quick, so I highly suggest going right when they open. It’s a place not to miss.
The Tower Bridge
This is a place we didn’t get to visit (only saw it from afar) but I hear it’s really cool! You can walk at the top and walk over glass to see below!
Tip: Schedule your visit and book online ahead of time, this was partly why we weren’t able to visit because we couldn’t get in!
Visit London’s Oldest Wine Bar: Gordon’s
This was a place recommended to us by a friend and I’m so glad we were told about this gem! Grabbing a bottle of wine, or half (you can buy half a bottle!) then sitting outside on the large patio or if you’re lucky, find a spot in the inside, it’s an old cave-looking place. You’ll feel like you’re going back in time there. It’s fairly priced too, a glass is around 5 pounds and snacks are reasonable as well.
Tip: It gets pretty busy around 6 pm during the weekdays because of everyone getting off work and grabbing a drink. We went around this time and it was so busy that we had to make a makeshift table out of a lawn chair…
British Museum & National Gallery Art Museum
Sadly, this is one place that we tried to go to but the line was about 2 miles long (okay, that might be exaggerating just a tad) but it was so busy. The next time we’re in London, I’m waking up bright and early and getting my butt in line. This museum holds some of the most fascinating and rare things in the world – including the Rosetta Stone. This place is huge too, you probably won’t be able to see everything so map out your plan ahead of time.
Tip: All museums in London are free – YAY! They do, however, have tours and special events that you can pay to see and are usually still cheap!
Even though we were bummed about not being able to go to the British Museum, we just headed to the next museum we could find. That’s the beauty of them having free admission! You can go to all of them without spending a dime! We ended up walking through the National Gallery art museum, which did NOT disappoint! We saw art by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Leonardo, Monet, among many others.
London Olympic Stadium Tour
For all you Olympic fanatics, this one is for you! You can still visit the grounds of the 2012 Summer Olympics! The stadium is now home to West Ham United soccer team and the tour is a little focused on them but they do a great job of focusing on the Olympics too. The tour was so great, it’s a self-guided tour with a mobile device and headphones to listen to different parts of the stadium to highlight Olympic moments and to explain what it’s used for now.
Tip: For any swimmer fans, you can visit the pool but it’s not part of the stadium tour. The pool is just a short walk from the stadium and it’s now a rec center and gym so you’ll have to pay just 1 pound to get in and see it. They also have little peddling boats outside too! There’s randomly a lot to do around there and there’s a huge outdoor shopping center close by too.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter
First, I just want to say one thing: If you are not a fan of Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter. This is still worth a visit. This tour was everything I thought it would be and MORE! I’ve visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando so I expected it to be similar but a bit on steroids. Well, it is! But even more intense than that! The tour will give you props galore (including major props like the house on Privet Drive, parts of the castle, and more). You will quickly see how much intricate detail the design team put into everything. Even books that will go unnoticed on stage have every detail imaginable. Another cool part: This is the same studio where the movies were actually filmed at too!
You could spend so many hours at this place. Just when you think you’re done with the tour you walk into a brand new section of the place. It’s amazing!
Tip: The Studio Tour is actually in Watford, so it’s about a 30-min train ride outside of London. You can book your train ticket in advance and once you get there, they have a Harry Potter double-decker bus to pick you up for a few pounds and it will bring you back.
This place feels like the Europen Times Square! There’s a ton of shops and places to eat here. We spent an evening walking around here and then ate at Masala Zone, a popular Indian restaurant in London.
Who doesn’t love a thoughtful gift?! I like giving gifts on those random occasions when someone hits a milestone or begins a new life change. With graduations happening left and right and people getting hitched all ’round, there’s a lot of people moving away from home. Here are some of my fave gift ideas!
1. A Cute Notebook
Moving to a new city is a new chapter in someone’s life so why not give them a beautiful place to write about it at?
I’m not so sure it’s a secret that I loved my high school experience (BTW, I won the “Most Likely to Show Up to the 50 Year Reunion” award), so when I attended my nephew’s high school graduation I couldn’t help but get emotional. Not just emotional because my cheesy Aunt side was showing, but because this is such an amazing time in these graduates’ lives and they have so much ahead of them! Next year is my 10-year reunion (SAY WHAT) and man, how much things have changed! it’s weird to realize how fast life moves. 2017 doesn’t sound bad until I realize 2007 was 10 years ago. That’s a little unsettling, not gonna lie. But of course, what comes with age is… wiseness. HA! JK but I can tell you that I’ve learned a thing or two since graduating high school in 2008. Here’s what I would tell myself back then if I could…
“A lot of things that matter to you right now will not matter later.”
This is the most important piece to the growing up puzzle and everyone who has been out of school for awhile knows it. That boy that you think is everything right now is not. You’re going to meet so many people in your lifetime and you’re only at the beginning, especially if you’re heading off to college. You’re about to experience four more years that you think will be similar to high school but it’s actually the high school experience completely on steroids. Oh, and you have to learn how to live on your own, even when that means all you can afford to eat sometimes is bread and soda. True story, one of my college roommates can attest to this.
To think about how much I grew in just college alone is amazing. Then you tack on a few more years and it’s crazy to think about how much you cared about something before and now you’ve forgotten all about it. Like those times you lay awake at night thinking your life is over because you don’t know what you want to do when you grow up. Life will guide you where you need to be and you will be okay no matter what happens, I can promise you that.
“Don’t let money stop you but be wise about finances.”
Here I am… 9 years later… with a lot of student loan debt. Do I regret taking out these loans so I could attend college? Absolutely not. But I do wish I would’ve worked more in college and saved money to help pay for my loans.
To all of the kids graduating high school: If you want to attend a four-year university, then do it…but I would also advise you to help your parents wherever you can and start saving for things that you can pay for now like books, rent, school supplies, etc. For me, I wanted the complete college experience, but for some, money comes first. Maybe you choose a more affordable path, then work your way up to paying for it instead of accruing the debt. Post-high school grad life is different for everyone. I wish I would’ve tried harder to help my parents pay for things. If I would’ve, I might be on a 5-year plan or under instead of a 10+ year plan. Think of it this way, the quicker you get rid of those loans, the faster you can travel the world or buy your dream house.
Side note: Don’t let money hold you back from doing things, though. For example, I technically couldn’t afford spring break trips in college but I still went and I wouldn’t trade that for anything!
Last side note: I regret one thing from college and that’s not studying abroad. I tried to my final year but couldn’t pull the money together and my grades weren’t good enough for scholarships. I’ll always think about what could have been. Please don’t be like me if you want to travel the world!
“Parties are fun but decent grades are cool too.”
I know this will be different for everyone, but I had quite a bit of fun in college if ya know what I mean ;). I do, however, I wish that I would’ve balanced my social life out with my academics a little better. I had grades that suffered, not as a direct result of going out, but I didn’t prioritize studies as high as social events most of the time. I did graduate and that’s all that matters, though I did stumble along the way a few times with some rocky classes.
I also didn’t understand how different college studies would be from high school. Before entering college, I honestly never really studied for a test, minus once or twice, so I didn’t have a previous strong skillset to work off. It especially doesn’t help that I’m not the most studious human ever, either. I wish I would’ve tried harder right away to learn how to be a better student. Now, I’m almost 27 and I can finally say that I truly enjoy reading and learning. Definitely took a little longer than others to gain that grounding and that’s okay – it’s who I am, but if you’re going into college now, try harder and know that school is V. important, not to mention you could lose a lot of money if you fail a class. One time I figured out how much each class cost me and that was terrifying.
“Adopt healthy habits NOW”
One of the life-changing things that happened to me when I went off to college was learning how to be healthy. I had only been a pescatarian for a year when I started college and was still learning how to eat nutritionally because apparently eating pasta and Little Debbies didn’t suffice. If you’re attending a university and living on campus, adopting a healthy lifestyle couldn’t be easier at that time. You have food prepared for you every day (you just have to make the healthy choices of what you eat) and you have a free gym or rec available to you at all times. Also, take advantage of the intramurals if you’re interested! They are a ton of fun and an easy way to keep yourself movin’!
I still think the healthiest I’ve ever been was my freshman year of college. People try and tell you about the “freshman 15” but you can easily banish that myth!
“Take advantage of summers!”
If you’re going to school to become a teacher, this probably won’t apply to you, but if you’re like me, you can kiss summer vacation goodbye after college! Summer is already a great time to be alive, but if you’re graduating high school right now, take advantage of the fact that this might be the last time EVER that you have nothing to worry about school-wise. You might have more summers like this in college if you don’t take summer classes, but seriously, have fun and do all the things you never had time for in the summer. You won’t regret it.
I did take a summer class almost every year and that was a great decision for me and I highly suggest it for other college students! Summer classes are much more laid back and you only have to worry about one or two classes at a time – which is awesome.