Wednesday, August 20, 2014

London & Brussels 2014 {Day One}

I finished up a busy summer of teaching on August 9th, and on August 11th, I hightailed it to London!   As it happened, I had also held down the law practice on my own for the proceeding 10 work days, so I was especially ready to get some time away.  You know you want to really get away when you flee to another continent!


I decided at the beginning of the summer that I was London bound.  I didn't actually plan my trip and day-to-day activities until the week before I left, which is so unlike me, but it turned out to be a good trip.

I love London.  I studied over there in 1996, and returned for vacationing 1997 & 1998, so I got lots of commentary from people about why I wanted to go back again.  It's London, for crying out loud!  As Samuel Johnson wrote in 1777, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.".  It had been so long since I had been there, that I enjoyed seeing things again, or several things for the first time.  Plus I also visited Belgium for the first time.

I left on Monday, August 11th at 6:50 p.m.  I totally lucked out on the flight over.  I had reserved a window seat, but was so fortunate that nobody was seated in the middle seat.  

We arrived in London at about 9:20.  I got my bag, cleared customs, and headed down to the Heathrow Tube Station.  It is on the Piccadilly line, so I had decided to ride that straight to the Earl's Court stop, which was near my hotel.  


I chose to stay at The Hotel Indigo Kensington.  I didn't do a lot of research prior to booking my trip and deciding where to stay, but I knew the general things I wanted in a hotel:  a certain location in the city, proximity to a good tube stop (access to the District and Piccadilly lines), free wifi, an in-room safe, and air conditioning.  It turned out to be perfect (cool) weather while I was there, but I've sweated it out in London before, and I wasn't going to do that this time.  Hotel Indigo met all of those requirements, and more.  It is a boutique hotel that only has about 100 rooms.  The rooms have been remodeled recently, and the lobby and restaurant are under reno right now.  

Luckily, I was able to check in early.  I have no idea why I have no pictures of the outside of the hotel, but it was your typical combination of 3 mansions in Barkston Gardens. Here are some pictures of my room:
It seems each floor had it's own color scheme.  My room was on the 4th floor which was a green/blue color scheme.  Too bad I wasn't on the 3rd floor... it was hot pink!
My room was really small.  Which isn't uncommon for London, but I think that it was oddly arranged and smaller than some of the others at the hotel.  If I had not been a solo-traveler, I might have asked for a different room, but as it was, it was fine.





In the armoire, there was a space to hang a few clothes, a drawer, a shelf, and on the other side, a safe, a tea kettle, and a mini-fridge.
and FYI:  those crisps (chips), were super yum!
My room number was 401.  401 was in a weird little between area...
between the 3rd floor and the 4th floor.
These (above and below) are both cell phone snaps, but you can see that the 3rd floor was the "pink" floor, and how my room was all on it's own.
My room...
Looking out my door...

After checking in, unpacking, and showering, I headed out to take care of a little bit of business to make the rest of the trip go smoother, and also to do a little shopping.  First, I headed to Leicester Square to pick up a London Pass that I had purchased online, and also my theatre tickets for Saturday night.  Then I took the tube to Knightsbridge.  I walked down Brompton Road to eat at one of my favorite spots, Patisserie Valerie.  It was about 2:30 by that point, and I was starving!

After a quick bite, I went to Harrods.
I loved Harrods when I visited in the 1990's.  LOVED IT!
Now, not so much.  It has been fancied up too much, if that makes sense.
They have reduced the Food Hall, and some of the other areas to make too many high end boutiques inside.  I thought it lost a lot of the charm that it had before.
But they still got some of my money!

One of the additions since I was there last time, is the Laudree Boutique.
All the pastel colors just kill me!
Doesn't it look like a heavenly place?
Of course the macarons are delicious!
I took a cab to King's Road next.  King's Road was my 'hood back in '96.  I was shocked by how much it had changed!  I know that was many moons ago, but still!  I only recognized about 5% of the stuff there.  

Here was a shot that I took while walking down King's Road with my "brolly" peeking out. 
I tried really hard to buy some shoes at the LK Bennett outlet store on King's Road, but they only had one boring pair in my size :-(

I was pretty beat at that point, so I took a bus back to Earl's Court, where I stocked up on some groceries at the M&S Simply food that was at the end of my street.  I face-time with my Mom and Lola, and then went to bed early and got a good night's sleep.

More exciting adventures were ahead on Day Two.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My favorite holiday {AKA: The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale}

My favorite holiday started earlier this month (the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale), and I can't believe that I'm just now getting around to blogging about it!  I'll blame summer school...that, combined with a busy lawyering schedule, and it's been kicking my butt.

But I'm here talking about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale now, even thought there are only a few more days left to shop it.  Honestly, this year, I didn't see a ton that I thought I couldn't live without (maybe that's due to my upcoming vacation, where I know I will find tons of things I want to spend money on).

I shop in stages.  Free shipping at Nordstrom makes that super easy to do.  I go through and order a little bit at a time.  Then I like to go in store to make decisions about shoes, because these days, you can never be sure what size you are going to wear in different brands (I seem to vary from a 9.5 to an 11, depending on brands).    And, as usual, I use the Nordstrom Anniversary sale as an opportunity for my mom to start Birthday and Christmas shopping for me!

Here's what I (or my mom) have purchased from the sale:

I had my Mom buy me my yearly supply of Spanx (always a Christmas present)...

I got two of these shower caps (one was in a different pattern).  I got one myself and had Santa pick one up for my Christmas stocking, so that I could keep one in my bathroom, and keep one in my travel bag.


I fell in LOVE with these Nike shoes.  Have you ever tried the Nike Free?  They are so light weight that I felt like I wasn't even wearing shoes, and for this girl who prefers to be barefoot at all times, I love that!  And HELLO?   Leopard!
They came in another color which initially I tried on, but I decided that the black/grey would go with more things.  But the pink are so cute!  If I were rich, or wore tennis shoes more often, I would have definitely gotten both pairs!


I had my mom get me these boots for my birthday...
I actually got the last pair in a store in my size, and they had to be shipped from Anchorage, Alaska.  I'm a little on the fence about how they fit.  So they aren't 100% a keeper...I'm stilly trying them on and contemplating, but they are super cute.

I got my mom one of these cardigan's for Christmas (I asked if she wanted it, so it's not a surprise I'm spilling here).  These were a super popular item and sold out during pre-sale.

I got one of these maybe 4 years ago.  I love mine.  It's the greatest.  They are still available for purchase, just not for the sale price, which is a bummer, but in my opinion, they are worth every bit of their original $90 price!  I thought about getting another one, but mine is still in great shape after many washings.  

PSA time here:  If you are a nordstrom card holder, you can shop during the pre-sale.  The hot items often sell out during this phase, so if you aren't a card holder, become one before next year's sale!  You can either do a credit card or a debit style card.  Plus you get points for everything you buy during there year, and when you get enough, they send you a $20 Nordstrom Note.  Another tip:  if you do this in store when you are spending some money anyway, you usually end up getting a $20 Note just for taking out the card.  So total WIN!

If you are wanting to start your Christmas shopping early, I'd recommend these Barefoot Dreams blankets, which are on sale.  I think they would be a great gift for just about anyone.  I imagine that they wear and wash as well as the cardigan.  I've been coveting one, but I have a new Vera Bradley blanket, so that's deterred me from making the purchase.


If there is a baby that you need to buy a gift for, they have super cute baby ones on sale

So do tell....have you hit up the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?  Any super cute items I missed?

Friday, June 27, 2014

{Confessions of a Product Junkie}....Curly Hair Products Update

Hello blog readers!  It's been a awhile!  I have just completed my 3rd week of a 5 week summer term where I am teaching 2 classes, which equates to being away from everything for approximately 20 hours a week between Monday-Thursday.  Couple that with my law practice, and well, that's where I've been for the last bit.  I think I have some exciting adventures to share this summer, so don't go anywhere!

Today, I'm giving up update on my hair.  Not that any of you care about MY hair, but if anyone has curly, wavy, or even knows someone with either of those types of hair, hopefully this post can help you too!

I wrote last summer about my own personal hair product apocalypse when most of my go-to products were discontinued and I was forced to find something that would work for my curly hair.  It's definitely been an example of where "one door closes, another door opens" or "all things happen for a reason" (or insert your preferred cliche here).  You may recall that I decided to go all in, and embrace the Deva Curl system.  I had never been a "system" girl, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

Today I thought I would give you an update on my thoughts after approximately one year with Deva Curl...

HERE ARE MY GO TO PRODUCTS

{shampoo}
Deva Curl Low-Poo
They also have a No-Poo, which I enjoy the smell of better than Low-Poo, but I like the small bit of lather that the Low-Poo gives you, which is missing from the No-Poo.

{conditioner}
Deva Curl One Condition
Like most curly haired people, dry hair can be a problem for me.  My hair lady thinks my hair has been in its best condition ever since I started using Deva Curl.  I haven't purchased or used any of their more deep conditioning treatments, because it hasn't been necessary, but keep in mind they are out there.

{styling product while wet}
Deva Curl Ultra Defining Gel
A huge change from my before Deva Curl days...I only use one (ONE!) styling product while my hair is wet.  That may not be a big deal for you people who don't have to tame the beast that is curly hair, but take my word for it, this is a BIG DEAL!.  I use Ultra Defining Gel.  I have also tried a sample of a spray product that I liked too.  But I got this one first, it works, so I'm sticking with it.

{styling product when dry}
Deva Curl Styling Cream
Again, I only use one styling product once my hair is dry!

{hairspray}
Deva Curl makes hair sprays, but I haven't ever tried it.  I still use the same hairspray I have used since 5th Grade!  So I guess I haven't totally adopted the system.

{other products}

I starting using the Microfiber towel.  
This is highly recommended by "experts" because it is suppose to keep hair from frizzing.  I have the Deva Curl towel, but have also bought cheaper ones at places like Tuesday Morning (in the kitchen towel section).  

I really was curious about the Deva Curl Hair Dryer, but never $160 curious

Then they came out with just the diffuser, which at $45 was much more pocket book friendly. 
While it looks like a giant Shrek hand, and is a little different to get used to, 
I do think that I like it a lot.

Finally, the last "ingredient" into my year long experiment is a Silk pillowcase.  Again, this is suppose to help with frizzing issues.  I see a huge difference on my second day hair (and maybe even third day on occasions!).  I ordered this Spasilk one off of Amazon.  It is pretty inexpensive, and has held up well.


Note:  Do not confuse Satin pillowcases with Silk Pillowcases.  Satin is easier to find at all the major stores.  Silk is a little harder to find (thus my order from Amazon).  Satin can actually make the frizzing worse, not better!


HERE IS MY PROCESS

(1) Shampoo & Condition in the shower.
(2) I comb out my hair when I get out of the shower, clip it up with a big clip, and then usually put on my makeup.
(3) I then lean over the sink and re-wet my hair with COLD water.  I get it soaking wet.  I squeeze out a lot of the moisture, but still leave it pretty wet (it would still be dripping at this point).
(4) I add the gel, and then use my microfiber towel to kind of scrunch and squeeze out some of the excess water.
(5) I dry my hair with the diffuser.  I dry my hair until it is completely dry (a little controversial in the curly world, but it works for me).
(6) I use the style cream
(7) I spray it with hair spray.

I think that you have to find what works for your hair, but I do think starting with hair that is too dry can be a problem, and I would think this is a universal problem. 

MY DEVA CURL REVIEW

I have really liked my year long venture into the Deva Curl world.  I think for the most part I have had pretty good hair days (more good than bad, so that's what really counts).  I also love that my hair has been in good condition.  

I have had some friends try it and they only had slightly wavy hair, but it has given them really good results too.

I find myself wanting to recommend Deva Curl to people all the time!  But I bite my tongue because how do you really say "Um, you know what would really make you hair look tons better?  Deva Curl!".

{note:  this is NOT a paid sponsor ad by Deva Curl, but oh how I wish it was!  I could use some free Deva Curl!}

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Emily Giffin Book Signing {2014}

Every couple of years, Emily Giffin writes a new book, and I attend her book signing in Dallas.  This year, it was at the University Park Library.  It was a nice venue for an author talk and book signing, and really much more enjoyable than it was at Barnes & Noble.

Emily always give out buttons for her book events...


If you haven't read any of Emily's books..... what are you waiting for?!?  Start at the beginning and work your way through them all:

Something Borrowed
Something Blue
Baby Proof
Love the One You're With
Heart of the Matter
Where We Belong
The One & Only


Vanity Fair has described her as the modern day Jane Austen...



In an effort not to give too much away about The One & Only, here is the blurb from Emily's website which describes the book

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
 
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

 

2009 sweet cheeky designs sweet cheeky designs

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