Travel Tuesday: Edinburgh, Scotland

In honor of Travel Tuesday… I bring you Edinburgh, Scotland! While studying abroad last spring, I had the absolute pleasure of venturing to this outstanding city as part of my backpacking to Scotland, Ireland, and London. When planning this trip my friends and I had no idea what to expect of Scotland; in fact, we had such little expectations that we only made room for a two night stay – out of a two week exploration. This was, by far, the biggest regret of our entire vacation. Not only is Edinburgh beautiful, historic, and the home of many Harry Potter characters, but it also has an incredible nightlife – perfect for those of us traveling at the age of 20! Take at look at the wonderful sights of Edinburgh and make sure to read my notes for traveling tips!

The gorgeous town! This picture definitely doesn’t do it justice, but make sure to take the FREE guided tours. They are filled with fun historical facts, give you complete tour of the city in one day, and we even went on a pub crawl with the same tour later the same night. Highly recommended!

This was the view from our hostel. While hostels may sound creepy they are the BEST way to meet people and definitely help you save money. We stayed at the Caledonian Backpackers – complete with a bar, free breakfast, internet and walking distance from the town center! 

For Harry Potter fans, like myself, you may recognize the name on this gravestone – Professor McGonagall! Many people do not know, but J.K. Rowling actually wrote her books at a coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

A snapshot from our haunted ghost tour – Edinburgh as a very spooky history! Definitely a fun way to spend our night and see more of the city! 

Yes, you can hike through/up this and we sure did! While burning the calories is great, the view from up top is even better! 

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Winter Guide To Chicago: ZooLights, Macy’s, Millenium Park & More!

Being at school for the past four years, I have always had exactly one month to visit all my favorite winter sights in Chicago, but with vacations and visiting friends and family, my to-do list was always left as that – something to-do. This year, I am permanently stationed in Chicago and determined to relish in every winter activity the windy city has to offer! Starting with….

The Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

While it may be too cold for many of the animals, it is not too cold for lights! Every winter, starting in December, the Lincoln Park Zoo transforms into Chicago’s very own North Pole – filled with colorful lights, Santa, cold-weather animals, live ice sculptures, holiday gifts, and warm drinks! Growing up in Chicago I frequented this park each year with my family, but this is also ideal for a date with your loved ones. And it’s FREE from 5- 9 PM!

Christkindl Market 

Inspired by the traditional Nuremburg Market in Germany, the Daley Plaza revamps itself into an open-air Christkindl Market each holiday season! From traditional German delicacies to unique holiday gifts this market is truly a One-Stop-German-Holiday-Shop. Now that I am old enough, I look forward to shopping for holiday ornaments while sipping traditional German Muddled Wine and chowing down the German classic – sausage! http://www.christkindlmarket.com/

Ice Skating in Millenium Park 

While it has been tradition in my family to go to the ZooLights and Christkindl Market, I have never experienced Ice Skating at Millenium Park and I feel as though I am truly missing out! And after doing my research I have just found out that it is FREE to skate and skate rental is only $10. http://explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/events/dca_tourism/mccormick_tribune0.html

Macys Holiday Extravaganza 

Christmas is just not complete without a trip to Marshall Fields – I mean Macy’s. While you may find yourself fighting off masses of people and waiting 3 + hours to sit down for brunch/lunch, the Macy’s Holiday Window Displays and the Walnut Room are two Christmas specials you will want to fit into your holiday traditions. http://www.visitmacyschicago.com/events-macys-holiday-celebrations.cfm

Christmas Around The World at The Museum of Science and Industry 

While I have only had the pleasure of going to this once, I still have the memories to this day! Every year, Museum of Science and Industry shifts into holiday gear with their Christmas Around The World Special where guests can explore the Christmas traditions and customs of different countries around the globe. Last time my family and I came here we were able to collect a selection of gorgeous ornaments that each represented a part of our heritage – Irish, Welsh, and Russian!

Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly date night or a night out with the family, Chicago has you covered this holiday season!

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DIY Sunday

I don’t have my own apartment yet, but I am always looking for cute ways to spruce up my eventual home! And sometimes you just can’t find what you’re looking for in a store… So why not make it yourself? Every Sunday I will now be offering Do It Yourself tricks so you can make your home truly yours!

Today’s DIY Project: TEA LIGHTS

1. Find a doilie that fits your style.  Michaels has a great selection- just type Doily into the search box and shop away! http://www.michaels.com/

2. Blow up ballons. You can fill the balloon with as much air as you would like – depending on how big you would like your tea light. I prefer to use a medium size balloon.

3. Make a batch of Sugar Starch – the amount you make is dependent on how many tea lights you plan to make. I recommend making a lot and then throwing the extra out in the end.

Sugar Starch Recipe: 1/2 cup of Sugar and 2/3 cup of water… Boil for about 3 minutes. Cool slightly and dip doilies.

4. After dipping your doilie, wrap them around the balloon – covering with more starch if needed.

5. Let dry. When the doilies are completely dry, pop and remove the balloon!

These tea lights will be the perfect addition to your home and are so easy to do! Enjoy and make sure to check back next Sunday for another DIY trick! : )

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Maxine Salon Hosts Fashion-Forward Rent The Runway Event

Yesterday has to be the one day I absolutely regret not spending more time on my hair. I am apparently living in alternate world… One where my hair stays in perfect curls throughout a windy Chicago day; so I just sprayed a little Garnier and thought I was good to go. Why am I upset about my hair on this particular day? Well, because I was attending a Rent The Runway Event hosted by Maxine Salon and attended by the most fashionable ladies in Chicago- the Chicago Blogger Network gals! I truly had no idea what to expect of this event, but I can safely say it is one of the best events I have been to in Chicago. What truly made this an exceptional night for me was how shockingly friendly, outgoing, and interactive everyone was! It was an unforgettable night filled with exceptionally talented, fashion-forward, and intelligent people. As far as hair and wardrobes go, I will let the pictures speak for themselves….

How amazing do these ladies look?! Want the two dresses on the left.. Rent The Runway can make it happen! http://www.renttherunway.com/

As I mentioned before, the theme for the night was braids!

More braids! You will see a full pic of this below, but I loved, loved, loved this look. I am a huge fan of the messy bun or any up-do really and this just looks amazing! I wish I could do it at home, but I can’t; so I will have the amazingly talented Maxine Salon team do it for me soon – the holidays are upon us so I might be going sooner rather than later! http://maxinesalon.com/

I don’t know if they knew I was taking this photo- sorry! But how gorgeous do they look? I die for the black and red dress. And that is the same messy,braid, bun that is in the picture above… Looks amazing right?

There’s me (on the right w/ the fur vest. You can’t see them, but I’m wearing my new wedges from Lori’s Shoes. Love.) Note that my hair is not curly, but incredibly flat… Thanks Windy City! 

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All I Want For Christmas Is…

The past couple of years it has been incredibly difficult for me to figure out what I want for Christmas. Not that I have everything, but there was nothing I needed. This year, however, I find myself in quite the predicament! Problem #1: It seems that my college wardrobe is great for a night on the town, but completely unsatisfactory for work. Problem #2: After living in Tucson, Arizona for four years I now realize I have absolutely no winter clothes to keep me warm during the next 4 months. With these two problems at hand my Christmas list this year is extensive and expensive – sorry mom!
WISH LIST

MICHAEL Michael Kors long sleeve top
£310 – harveynichols.com

$165 – zappos.com

Tory Burch leather flat
$195 – bloomingdales.com

Timex brown watch
$60 – nordstrom.com

NARS Blush Orgasm
$27 – sephora.com

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser
£17 – liberty.co.uk

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Dose Market: The Holidose

This has been a very exciting weekend for me – I almost felt like a city girl! After spending Saturday night at the Lori’s Shoes Capsule Collection Launch Party I then ventured to another shopping event called Dose Market (http://dosemarket.com/). After reading about this market month after month in every Chicago publication, I just had to check it out for my self; so I got a friend to go with me and we spent the whole day exploring! This place is truly a one stop shop for any and everything you can’t find at your average mall. As a foodie, my favorite part was obviously the grub, but there were a ton of unique local shops that I grabbed business cards from and can’t wait to shop at when I need clothes, home goods, or thank you cards! Please try not to be too jealous when you check out these pics….

Look at all the people mingling, shopping, and enjoying their Sunday afternoon! Beware: The smell is absolutely intoxicating; so make sure you come hungry. 

If you’re 21+ you will receive a drink ticket. There’s nothing like a free cocktail to start the morning off right! I do not remember what was in this fizzy, gin, holiday drink, but I can safely say I enjoyed every sip… Thank you Death’s Door Spirits (http://deathsdoorspirits.com/)

After finishing our drink and shopping, it was time for some Honey Butter Fried Chicken (http://www.honeybutter.com/). I apologize for the half-eaten picture. It just looked and smelled so good that I completely forgot to take a picture until half -way through! I do not usually go for the drumstick, but OMG this was the best tasting chicken I have ever had. The outside was perfectly crispy and the honey butter makes for the ideal sweet and salty combo. Please, if you ever come across this chicken, make sure to buy one or you will regret it! 

These are not your average, pre-packaged pop tarts! Oozing with rich, creamy, sugary goodness they were a tempting treat after my fried chicken feast; along with everything at the Truffle.Truffle table! (http://www.truffletruffle.com/). 

Their motto doesn’t lie, this is definitely the place where sweet and savory meet! Salted Caramel (http://shop.saltedcaramel.net/) was passing out samples of their Salted Caramel Cocoa and I was hooked at first sip. This is the ultimate hot chocolate, maybe even better than the famous frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity. Rich and creamy with the perfect ratio of caramel, chocolate, and salt… I had to be able to make my own at home! 

Sarah holding our savory pork & cilantro dumplings from Urban Belly (http://urbanbellychicago.com/)! The intoxicating scent I mentioned earlier… I think Urban Belly was the culprit. If I hadn’t already spent all my money on fried chicken and sugar I would have invested in their sauce, which I unfortunately forget the name of. 

There were also a plethora of shops I didn’t get to snag pictures of. Dinner Party Shop was a fantastic little shop dedicated to vintage home goods – at a great price too! I fell in love with a great set of 6 glass juice cups. Another great shop was Artpentry or the Gentleman’s Boombox (http://artpentry.blogspot.com/2010/03/gentlemans-boombox.html) – what a creative concept! They actually build speakers out of vintage suitcases. The perfect gift for that musician in your life!

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Lori’s Shoes Capsule Collection Launch Party

Yesterday I had the pleasure of mingling with Chicago’s chicest ladies and gentlemen at the unveiling of Lori’s Shoes’ first-ever Capsule Collection, http://www.lorisshoes.com/. Upon walking in, it was clear that Lori’s Shoes does not only keep women up-to-date with the latest and greatest fashion trends, but they know how to throw a great party! With my glass of champagne in hand (yes, there was champagne, macaroons, cheese and crackers… everything you could wish for while shopping and I did not hold back on indulging!) I was definitely inspired to start trying on some shoes- and we all know that when the shoe fits it’s hard not to purchase; especially when they look like these…

If you can get a close enough look, this poster captures all the fabulous shoes in the Lori’s Capsule Collection! 

This is one of my favorite shoes of the collection! I love the bow and the color is just a little bit darker than the average nude pump! 

Just another angle! I love this color too! 

I tired these on while I was at Lori’s and they were AMAZING! True to size, incredibly comfortable, and I just love, love, love the colors! They would be the perfect way to dress up a pair of jeans! 

Take your pick… Would you chose the purple and green or the red and black? 

After swooning over the Capsule Collection I had to come back to the reality of my tight budget, which lead me to purchase these black wedges – such a bargain! They are beyond comfortable and the perfect addition to my winter wardrobe. These will look great with a pair of tights and a dress or with everything! 

Living in the suburbs it’s hard for me to get downtown, but I am definitely glad I made the trip for this event! I have so many new shoes to add to my Christmas list and I was able to reunite with an old friend from high school, which is always a blast. I hope to see him again very soon and I also hope my mom pays attention to my Christmas list this year!

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