England Recap – London

Hello and happy Monday! I hope y’all had a great weekend! Mine was pretty good – I got a lot done and was more productive than usual, so I came into this week already feeling accomplished and ready to go!

I’m back today to share the final recap of my amazing trip to England back in May. (I already talked about our awesome days in Cambridge and Hitchin/Letchworth earlier). We spent our last two days in London and it, just like the rest of the trip, was oh so wonderful! We originally planned on just taking 1 day in the big city, but on a whim we changed our plans and stayed an extra day and I’m really glad we did. It let us explore a little bit more, slow our pace, and really take in all the sights that we wanted to without feeling too rushed.

Here are some of the awesome things we saw and did.

Walked by Big Ben. I read that Big Ben would be under construction while we were there, and I was disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see the clock face… but we totally did!! What a happy surprise! We got to hear the clock ringing, which was great timing since its bongs are about to fall silent for 4 years during repairs. (Seriously, all the articles talk about Big Ben’s bongs and it is too fun to say).

Rode the London Eye. This was also a fun surprise! I knew that it was there and that it could be fun, but didn’t think that anybody else would want to take the time to do it. My dad suggested that we do it (and generously paid for all of us) and I’m SO glad we did! It was really neat to get a view of the city from so high (we could even see all the way to Buckingham Palace)! It was definitely worth the wait in line!

Visited Westminster Abbey. This was the coolest thing we saw in London by far! We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside (and I didn’t want to get kicked out…) but trust me, it was so worth the price to get it. There were so many famous dead people inside!!! And we got to see where Will and Kate were married! And the outside is so gorgeous, too… I mean, just look at it!

Saw Buckingham Palace. Just the outside. I do remember that we got a tour of the inside when I was little, but that wasn’t available at the time when we were back there. We saw the guards walking and just like everything, it is quite gorgeous! We also spent some time walking through St. James park which was absolutely lovely.

Went to the British Museum. We were only there for a few hours, but we saw SO MUCH COOL STUFF! Including lots of mummies, the Rosetta Stone, lots of art work, and more!

Saw other landmarks like Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. These were more “see and take a picture” places, so we didn’t spend too much time at either. But they were really neat to see!

Had afternoon tea. One of the things my mom wanted to do was have a traditional afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream. We picked a place that wasn’t too far of a walk and it was perfect! We ended up at the Dean Street Townhouse and the tea was warm and inviting, the scones were so delicious with the cream and jam, and my sister also got some finger sandwiches (she didn’t have a great lunch… no need to mention the place we went because nobody really enjoyed it.)

Explored Harrod’s. According to my parents, we used to stop at Harrod’s when we went into London because the kid’s floor had a Lego pit where me and my sister could play. This place is BONKERS, you guys! SO big! SO expensive! SO fancy! The food hall was INCREDIBLE! I got a doughssant (imagine a croissant deep friend and rolled in sugar…. I know….) and it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever eaten. Seriously.

Even though we “took it easy” and really didn’t see as much as we could have, I feel like we still saw and did a TON in our short time in London! I’m already itching to go back – there is so much more to see and do there!

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Back to School for Grown-Ups

Back to school time was always SO EXCITING when I was growing up! Yes it was kind of sad that summer was coming to an end, but there were so many great things to look forward to. Back to school shopping! Picking out the very important first day of school outfit (I still remember the green skirt I wore for the first day of my senior year of high school and I just thought I was the most adorable thing)! Calling your friends to make sure you got the same lunch period! Getting new school supplies!

Even though I haven’t been “back to school” for a few years now, I still get a little rush of excitement whenever August rolls around. I see the supplies and the planners in the aisles of Target and I just want to buy ALL OF IT! (I have banned myself from going to Target this month, btw, so at least I know I won’t be spending all my money there this month.) There are still so many fun things you can get as an adult to refresh your desk at work, and I wanted to share a few of my favorites!

Lily Pulitzer agenda | “get it girl” pencils | mint stapler
coffee mug | desk calendar | notepad
washi tape | phone holder | motivational pens

I didn’t have an agenda at all last year, but I am loving all the designs and covers out for 2018! I might have to break down and buy a small one that I can keep with me in my work bag… And I’m all about the motivational writing utensils! What’s your favorite thing you get when it’s “back to school”?

England Recap: Cambridge

I’m back with more from my big epic adventure in England!! I wrote a few days ago about what we did in Hitchin and Letchworth, and today I’ll be showing a ton of pictures from the day we spent in Cambridge!

One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell from our time in England (and one that I sadly don’t remember for myself because I just wasn’t old enough) is that on a Saturday when my mom needed a morning alone to get things done or run errands or just not have small children hanging on her at all times, my dad would take me and my sister to the train station, we’d hop on the train, and we’d ride all the way to Cambridge. Once there, we would cross the station, get on the return train, and ride it all the way back home. So while we were back in England, we wanted to take this train ride together once again.

But this time, we actually got off the train and explored Cambridge, which might have been my favorite day of the trip! Everything there was so old and seemed so important and historic and it was so dreamy just to be walking around there for part of a day – I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live there or go to school there and have that be the backdrop for your life for YEARS!

We did a lot of walking around and had a great lunch at a restaurant in town, but one of the coolest things we saw was the chapel in King’s College. My mom made it a point for us to see that, and I’m so glad that she insisted! It was just unbelievable. So grand, and so intricate, and so gorgeous, the pictures don’t even do it justice!

I’d have to say that my favorite part of the whole day was when we took a punting tour down the river and along the college backs. I saw online that it would be a possibility and I knew that we just HAD TO DO IT!!!! It was cold and my brother-in-law kept getting dripped on, but it was so amazing!! It took about an hour to go along on the tour and our guide told us all about the colleges, stories about famous students, facts about the history and the architecture, and it was all just so informative and interesting and beautiful.

We also lost the pole in the water for a few minutes, but another boat helped us out!

Even though it was chilly and grey the entire time we were there, I just had the BEST time in Cambridge! I could honestly have spent our entire trip there and have been very happy (but I’m glad we didn’t and got to do everything else that we did!) There was just so much to see and do and we only barely scratched the surface. If I ever get to go back to England, you’d better believe I’ll be going back to Cambridge!

 

I Tried Rent the Runway and it was AWESOME

Like most people with internet access, I’m sure you’ve heard of the company Rent the Runway (RTR as I’ve been calling it lately). If not, let me explain what it is! It’s an online shop where you rent higher-end dresses and accessories (and some separates, too) instead of buying them. It’s such a fun concept! So instead of spending $600 buying the perfect dress you’ll only wear once, you spend $50 renting it for 4 or 8 days.

I wanted to find something fun and fancy to wear to my friend Jen’s rehearsal dinner, but was having a hard time finding something I liked enough at the store, that fit well, and that wasn’t WAY out of my budget. I didn’t feel like anything in my closet was nice enough, and shopping was wearing me out. Then, I remembered that my friend Allison had been looking at RTR for a dress to wear to the wedding, and so I hopped online and started looking, too!

There were SO MANY GREAT DRESSES to choose from! My favorite part of their concept is that you get to order a backup size absolutely FREE! And the customers leave great and helpful reviews and pictures, so you can better know just what size (and backup size) you should order. For example, one of the dresses I picked, according to reviews, tended to run a bit big, so I knew to order a size down.

I ended up renting 2 dresses because they were having a special, and I am in love with BOTH of them – I really didn’t want to send them back!!!

Here is what I rented to wear to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I loved the lace stripes, and it was so elegant and perfect for the dinner. It fit like a dream and was the perfect length.

I paired it with a big turquoise statement necklace and felt so beautiful that night! (Also I’m just now realizing that I didn’t actually take any pictures that night… so this will have to do. And honestly I just wanted to get a picture of the sick braid I did, so let’s all appreciate that, too, haha.)

Because of the special they were running (rent two for the price of one) I went ahead and ordered another dress to wear for the after party after the wedding reception ended. I loved my bridesmaid dress, but it was floor length and didn’t have much give, so I wanted something that would be easier to dance in. I picked this gorgeous pink Kate Spade dress with a GIANT bow in the back and it was perfect!!!

I got to dance the night away in comfort and style and of course I spent half of the evening going around and making sure everyone saw the gorgeous bow on the back! It’s not in my budget to buy a $450 Kate Spade dress, so it was REALLY fun to get to wear one for a night, for basically no money at all!

Man, I need to get better about taking full length pictures with other people…. 🙂

If you haven’t tried Rent the Runway yet, I HIGHLY recommend it!! It was so easy and so fun, and they send your dresses in a garment bag that already includes your return shipping label (and it’s free to ship them back!) The site always has a discount for first time renters, too, so you don’t have anything to lose! You can sort items by size, date needed, color, formality, price, designer – you’re basically guaranteed to find a great dress!

England Recap: Hitchin and Letchworth

Ok. It’s only been 3 months, but it’s finally time for me to do a recap of my trip to England aka the best trip ever. So get ready for LOTS of pictures, a little recap of my favorite things we saw and did, and then even more pictures. Like, so many pictures. We just had the best time and there are so many cool things I want to share!

And again, since it’s been 3 whole months, let me give a quick reminder of why we took this epic trip. My family and I used to live in England when I was little (for my dad’s job) and I haven’t been back since we moved 23 years ago. We wanted to take a family trip down memory lane while we were all able to make it and while my dad was still up for making the long trek. He remembers EVERYTHING and we wanted to get his memories, his stories, and his company on the trip. I was so excited to go back and see what I would remember! I was 1 when we moved there and 6 when we moved back to the states, so I don’t actually remember a lot. It was great to see some familiar things and put a visual to some of the stories I’ve heard from my parents over the years.

To start, I’m going to share our time in Hitchin and Letchworth. We stayed at an AirBnB in Hitchin and it was perfect (we actually lived in Letchworth back in the day, but there were no AirBnBs available there and Hitchin is just one town over)! It was within walking distance to a few restaurants, we were able to walk into and explore town center, and we could also walk to the train station when we needed to go elsewhere.

I would also just like to mention real quick that my brother-in-law “volunteered” (was pretty much forced) to drive a GIANT van through the TINY streets of rural England, and he was a CHAMP. Not one ding or scratch or death – and I don’t think he relaxed until we returned the rental after a few days.

The town center was SO cute and exactly what you’d imagine to be in a cute little town in England. My mom said it was similar to what she remembered but obviously 20+ years had gone by so some of the stores were different and there were a few newer areas she didn’t recognize.

Going back to Letchworth was so surreal. The bulk of my England memories happened in this little garden city and it was so special to be back there with my family. We got to see the houses that we lived in, and they look (basically) exactly the same! Some of the greenery was different, but everything looked just like it did in my memory.

 

We walked around the streets where we used to live, and saw some of our old favorite places. The post office where we used to walk to get a treat, the school field where we used to play, the cow pasture where we used to pet the cows (which is now a housing development, btw), and the hotel where we would walk around back and play on the playground. My dad said that it was the ORIGINAL playground equipment that we used to play on 25 years ago, and it definitely looked like it. It seemed a lot newer and nicer when we would go back in the 90s!

During our time in Hitchin and Letchworth, we also popped over to Old Warden to look at the thatched cottages. My mom said that they look exactly the same as the last time we saw them, and they were so unique! I wouldn’t be upset if I got to live in one of those cute little houses. Not upset at all. My very best friend Kelsey just happened to ALSO be on a trip to England with her hubby, so we got to meet up with them! Kelsey and I met at school in England, so it was REALLY special to get to be back with her at the place where our friendship started 25 years ago.

One of the coolest things we got to do on this part of the trip was getting to go on a tour of the Chicksands Priory. This was an AMAZING get, since the Priory is on an RAF military base, and the building is only open to the public (for pre-scheduled tours) twice a month. This let us get on the base, which is where we all went to school and my dad worked, and we got to see the inside of this very old, historic building. (It was built back around 1150 and housed monks and nuns.)

We even got a special tour of the grounds that most people don’t get to see which was so beautiful – the tour guide was thrilled to learn that we lived on the base in the 90s and all of the workers loved hearing my dad’s stories of his time on the base.

Had enough pictures yet?!?! I thought so – I’ll share more of our amazing trip later (mainly our day in Cambridge and 2 days in London) but it was so fun to look back on these pictures again. I’m not sure if/when I’ll get to go back, but I’m so glad that I was there with my family once again!