smile list: part one

Sometimes when things get so busy, and so stressful, and just a little bit overwhelming, all that you want to do is look at pretty pictures and focus on the things that make you smile.

I’ve been a little bit stressed out lately…which is why I felt the need to make this list! And also why I’m so sorry that I haven’t been very good at stopping by your blogs or writing you back in the last week. I’m slowly making up for lost time!


A balloon ride to Paris…just like the movie Up but to an even more romantic location. I want to go!


I’m going to have dreams about this dress. It’s like a fairy princess.


This might be my favorite color in the world. So pretty!


I might adopt this piggy as Riley’s new companion.


Watercolors and antique books. Love.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5



life



busy busy busy!

Things have been just a little bit busy around here to say the least! I am down to the last six days of my MBA EVER!

For now, I wanted to leave you with my favorite song from Luke Bryan’s new album, which actually came out today! For those of you country lovers, I’m SURE you know who Luke Bryan is. Only the cutest, funniest, most perfect of all the country singers. And for those of you that aren’t so sold on country? You will love this.

Up until my junior year of high school, I had never listened to a country song in my life. After going to a Kenny Chesney concert with my parents, I was instantly hooked. It IS possible to love Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and even 50 Cent while still loving country music. You just have to give it a try! : )

Luke Bryan’s Drunk On You

{via}



beholder



a justin bieber birthday

Thank you all so much for your sweet birthday wishes yesterday! I’m sure my 21st birthday was just a little bit tamer than most!

A big pancake breakfast with my family. Relaxing outside in the warm weather while reading Bethenny Frankel’s A Place of Yes. My eighth to last MBA class ever. A Justin Bieber-themed birthday, clad with these amazing party decorations:

And the highlight?

The THREE-HOUR finale of The Bachelorette! And she picked my guy! Yay!!!

Sounds pretty wild, huh?

Because I don’t drink – and have never had a sip of alcohol in my life (never will!) – this birthday wasn’t as big of a deal to me as it might be to most. I’m a little bit of a goody two shoes, and I have no plans to change! I’ve actually never even been to a traditional party. My version of a party is a group of girls getting manis/pedis and watching The Notebook with a few pounds of See’s candies.

My only experience in a bar atmosphere was in Hong Kong over my study abroad class this January…and my experience was so scarring that I ended up taking a taxi back to the hotel almost immediately (with two fellow MBAs in the back seat, extremely drunk, and all over each other) as I attempted to direct the Chinese taxi driver to our hotel. He couldn’t speak a word of English. I made it back to the hotel, put on my sweats, and had a blast dancing around the room to Britney Spears by myself. That’s me for you!

This birthday was no different – with my Britney Spears music, Justin Bieber birthday plates, and a big slab of cheesecake, it was the perfect 21st birthday and reflects exactly who I am.

Thank you all SO much for the birthday wishes!

XO Star



twenty-one

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”

{Source}



impossible



mba lesson of the week #13



england

Every time my family and I land in beautiful, clean Heathrow Airport, we breathe a deep sigh of relief. The accents. The people. The architecture. The greenery. Prince William. Need I say more?

This was probably our tenth or twelfth time visiting London – something that I am soo grateful for – and the allure of it never seems to fade. Just the train ride from the airport to Paddington Station was refreshing.

We historically have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental when in London – we had tried other hotels, but kept going back to what we called our “second home.” this trip, we ended up at the Four Seasons Park Lane, newly renovated and reopened, and it so far exceeded our expectations. It crossed my mind more than once to move right in and never leave the hotel.

Now we were only in London for two nights…so the not leaving the hotel thing wasn’t much of an option. We had to fully take advantage of our time in one of my favorite cities in the world.

We started our time in London at the steakhouse Gaucho, a trendy restaurant known for its Argentine steaks. The food was delicious, with a very high-end, hip, “cool” atmosphere. And for this crocheting, cooking, crafting, happiest-when-color-coding-my-sock-drawer granny in an (almost) twenty-one year-old body, I was not really in my element.

The next morning was much more my style. We had a great breakfast at a cafe near our hotel – we needed to eat up before our long day of antiquing ahead of us! My mom and I had grand visions for our trip to Portobello Road in the famed Notting Hill area. Have any of you seen the movie? I love Hugh Grant!

This was now our third time visiting Portobello Road and it was no less enjoyable. The stalls, the colors, the food, the smells, the goodies. Everything. I was in heaven.

There was even a store full of sewing machines. It was love.

We got some delicious chocolate-filled crepes, which had a little too much chocolate in them, even for such extreme chocolate lovers as my mom and I!

We made our way to our two favorite stores in London, conveniently located in Notting Hill: Cath Kidston and Shabby Chic. Ladies, if you are ever in London, promise me that you will visit Cath Kidston! And if you are ever in Santa Monica, New York City, or London, you would LOVE Shabby Chic.

Here are a few pictures of Cath Kidston. I was snapping pictures left and right, absolutely in love with everything there!

Here are a few pictures from Shabby Chic. It is my favorite decorating style!

More than anything, I just loved walking around the cute little streets of Notting Hill, stopping by cafes for treats as we went about our shopping excursion.

It was amazing girl time. And I feel so lucky to have had this experience.

After meeting up with the boys later in the day, we spent the rest of our time in London shopping as a family and ended our time in London with a yummy sushi dinner at Nobu.

It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip.

Thank you SO much for following along!

London, England

Where to Stay

There are so many amazing hotels in London – it’s hard to go wrong! After this vacation, the Four Seasons Park Lane definitely moved to first place in my rankings. It is an incredible hotel – absolutely immaculate, designed to every last detail, and stunningly decorated. The service is incredible, with some of the nicest concierges we had ever met. Everyone, from the doormen to the waiters, have smiles on their faces. And while we only ate one meal at hotel, our breakfast on the day we were leaving was incredible.

Where to Eat

Again, it’s hard to go wrong in London! We love trying out new cafes in London, but our go-to staples are definitely Knightsbridge Cafe for breakfast (try their hot chocolate – you won’t regret it!) and Nobu for dinner. And the dessert counter at Harrod’s is a must!

What to Do

There are enough things to do and see in London to fill an entire blog post! Hopefully I’ll be able to pull something together soon. 🙂



greece

Now is probably one of the most interesting times to visit Greece, as the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and in a state of intense rioting. Our hotel happened to be across the street from both the Parliament building and Constitution Square where all of the riots were taking place – let’s just say it made for quite an interesting experience!

I’m not sure if you can see from this picture, but there were signs hanging outside of the Parliament building with the CEO of Goldman Sachs and the head of the IMF…and in between the signs was a row of nooses. It was pretty intense. And a little bit scary!

Luckily there was riot control to keep things from getting too rowdy!

After arriving in Athens and having dinner at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant (with views of the Acropolis nonetheless!), we sleepily made our way back to the room…and noticed that the crowds outside the window had more than doubled in size. In our corner room overlooking the riots, we had front row tickets to what looked like a parade of rioters.

The next morning, we were met with an amazing breakfast buffet – and a view of the Parthenon!

…and later a visit to the Parthenon and Acropolis!

It was quite a hike getting to the top of the Parthenon…and with lots of patches of slippery marble (I had a few close calls!)…but the instant we made it to the top, it was worth it. The Parthenon itself is an incredible monument. It was breathtaking. I found it hard to believe that it was built in 432 BCE!

Even more than that, I was in love with the view of Athens. You truly could see every bit of the city, from the ocean to the mountains, and it was in that moment that I fell in love with Greece. While the historical aspect was incredible, I was such a fan of the culture, the people, the food (of course!) and the landscape.

We spent the rest of our time in Athens enjoying the city and the food…including my $1.50 Greek gyro for dinner! I loved my time in Greece, however short it may have been, and can’t wait to plan a trip to go back and visit the islands!

Athens, Greece

Where to Stay

My family stayed at the Grand Hotel Bretagne, located in the center of the city, directly across the street from the Parliament building and Constitution Square. And if that’s not enough of a sight, most of the rooms have views of the Parthenon and Acropolis as well! The rooms, while somewhat small, are incredibly furnished and very luxurious.

What to Do

The Parthenon and Acropolis are a must when you are in Athens. While I always recommend hiring a tour guide so that you can hear more about culture and current events, I did not feel the tour guide at the Parthenon was necessary. If you plan to visit more sites than just the Parthenon, then I would highly recommend a guide. As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, my favorite part about traveling is learning about the culture and getting a feel for the city. For this reason, I was very happy with my time spent walking around Athens – seeing the neighborhoods, the shopping, and the local restaurants. If we had a little more time in Athens, I would have loved to take a day-trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion – a temple directly overlooking the water located about 40 miles outside of Athens.

Where to Eat

The hotel’s breakfast buffet is fabulous – and free for all hotel guests! The hotel’s rooftop restaurant is always a wonderful place to dine. In Greece, we felt comfortable enough to eat outside of the hotel, and there are dozens of adorable cafes surrounding the hotel that I would highly recommend exploring. That’s where I found my $1.50 gyro!

Next Stop: London, England!



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