Wednesday, June 29, 2011

London Bucket List

  1. Take a phone booth picture. The cheesier and more touristy it is, the better.
  2. Buy some sort of Royal Wedding memorabilia.  Again, the cheesier, the better.
  3. Have a traditional meal of fish and chips with a beer. It only counts if it's in a pub frequented by the locals.
  4. Visit Platform 9&3/4.
  5. Take a Beatles-esque picture on Abbey Road.
  6. Find out the real meaning behind Fergie's "London Bridge" song. Hahahaha just kidding.
  7. Eat a macaroon-or five-at Laduree in Harrod's. I've been told I have to try the caramel with salted butter, but I've also got my eye on the pistachio and Madagascar chocolate.
  8. See something Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice related. I would love to see her home, but it's a few hours outside of London, so I won't be able to, but I'll gladly settle for seeing something else about her and her works. Hopefully we'll stumble across something. (Edit: Oh my gosh. @Eonline just tweeted that Kate Middleton and Jane Austen come from the same bloodline. I'm seriously dying right now. I LOVE Jane Austen, and my obsession with the Windsors isn't exactly my best-kept secret. AH!)
  9. I have a very specific list of souvenirs to get, so I must stick to it.
  10. My boss wants me to take a picture with a guard, so I'll go ahead and put that on here. If I can get him to crack a smile- even better.
  11. Take a Phi Mu-fabulous picture with one of the lion statues in Trafalgar Square.
  12. Fake a British accent at least once. Not to be rude or be a "stupid American," though. Just because I love them and I'm so jealous of people who have them.
  13. Sneak a picture or two inside Westminster Abbey. Apparently taking pictures inside isn't allowed, but come on, how do you expect people to refrain from taking pictures? It's amazing! I'll just make sure my flash is off when I'm taking the picture from inside my purse.
  14. Have high tea. I know this probably won't happen, but how cool would that be?
  15. Oh, I've already thought of something else. Order a drink on the plane because on my last trip overseas, I wasn't old enough yet, and nothing says vacation like an airplane cocktail.
  16. Sing the beginning of One Republic's "Good Life" while at Piccadilly Circus.
That's all I can come up with right now, but I'll be sure to add more if I think of anything else. And don't worry, these are just my cheesy, touristy bucket list activities for London. I'm definitely going to see and do all of the big, important things.

Still, if you've been to London and have any words of advice about things to do, see, eat (or things to avoid), please let me know! Your input would be so helpful. Thanks!

Tuesday Night Brain Dump

  1. I went to a Mary Kay party tonight with my mom, and I'm so excited to report that I bought the MK skincare set. I've been really wanting to get into a great skin regiment, and, after getting the worst sunburn of my life this past weekend (yeah, we're not going to talk about it), I realized just how fragile my skin is and how much I want to look good and not like a piece of wrinkly leather when I'm older. I've always used cleansers and moisturizers, but they've always been drugstore brands, which work for me, but it was time to really take the plunge and start taking better care of myself (guess I can cross that off the list). I can't wait to try it out! I hope I love it and that it works for me, both now and in the future.
  2. I have about a million and five things to do before I leave for London on Saturday. I need to clean my room/bathroom, do laundry, pack (which is basically impossible for me), make sure I have everything I need, pack again because I can never decide on what to bring, and the list goes on and on. All of that, plus making sure I'm all caught up and in good shape to be out of the office for a week, is stressful. But, have I mentioned that I'm excited? Like, so so so excited. I can't wait. For real.
  3. Speaking of London, I started to make a bucket list of kind of offbeat, totally cheesy touristy things I want to do while I'm in London, but I can't decide if I should post it or not. Maybe I will. I mean, why not? I'm seeing and doing all of the big must-sees while I'm there. I might as well throw a little goofy in!
  4. I'm really upset I missed "Pretty Little Liars" tonight. I can't wait to watch it tomorrow!
  5. I may have found the perfect wedding song today while listening to Pandora. Just saying.
  6. I think all of the press and fabricated photos, articles, stories, etc. about Princess Diana's 50th birthday is disrespectful and really creepy. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check it out.
  7. My job is doing something really cool where we will donate to a different charity each month. We, the employees, suggest the charity we'd like to see benefit, and then we get people to vote for our particular charity through Facebook, etc. The charity with the most votes is the beneficiary for that month. Just a cool idea from a cool team that I'm happy to be a part of.
In the words of Kelly Raspberry, "that's all I've got. How'd you like that?"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Week- España, Part 6

España, Part 1
España, Part 2
España, Part 3
España, Part 4
España, Part 5

In exactly one week from today, I will be boarding a plane to London!!! I am so excited, especially since London has always been at the top of my list of places to travel to.

I also realized that with one week left before my next European adventure, it is long past the time I should have finished blogging about my last one. So, here it is: the last of my December vacation in Spain.

On the last day of our trip, which happened to be New Year's Eve, we drove to Ronda, one of the oldest cities in the Andalucia region of Spain. Ronda is absolutely breathtaking! So much of the old city is still there and intact, but it blends seamlessly with the new area. In my mind, Ronda is exactly what I had pictured Spain would look like.

As the birthplace of bull fighting, Ronda is a popular tourist town, but it's not busy and crowded like you would expect it to be. In fact, it's very peaceful and it seems like a great place to visit if you're looking for a relaxing vacation in a place with a rich history and culture.

We spent our time walking around the city, winding in and out of leather shops, and finally made our way to Puente Nuevo, the bridge separating Old Ronda from New Ronda. I think the view speaks for itself! I could not get over how beautiful it was!

Later that night, we enjoyed a delicious meal of traditional paella and wine to celebrate New Year's Eve and the end of an amazing trip! Bright and early the next morning, we packed up and headed to the airport.

Luckily, I'm only a week away from setting foot on European ground again!

Monday, June 20, 2011

June Daybook

FOR TODAY
Outside my window...
is an overcast, hot, humid evening. It's getting ready to storm.

I am thinking...
about nothing and everything. I have stuff on my mind, but I'm not thinking or worrying about anything in particular. Just content, I guess.

I am thankful...
for a steady, reliable job that is in my field and allows me to do what I love and am good at, while still giving me the opportunity to develop my skills and learn new ones.

From the learning rooms...
is NOTHING! My summer class starts on July 9.

In the kitchen...
is my stepmom making Moroccan chicken for dinner. I might go in there once this is done and actually try to learn how to cook something.

I am wearing...
black Nike shorts with mint green trim and a hot pink Phi Mu t-shirt. It's a good look.

I am creating...
nothing, at the moment. My goal for this summer was to learn how to cook and blog about it. I've been on summer break for a month now, and I have nothing to show for it. I need to get on the ball!

I am going...
to dinner with two of my best friends tomorrow!

I am wondering...
if I'll actually go to bed early tonight like I'd love to.

I am reading...
"The Help." It's so good.

I am hoping...
that the next two weeks until I go to London fly by.

I am looking forward to...
London!!!

I am hearing...
an episode of "How I Met Your Mother." I wish I had watched this show from the beginning. I don't watch it regularly, but it always makes me laugh when I happen to catch it.

Around the house...
is feeling like home. I'm all moved back in and in a routine.

I am pondering...
what I'm going to do after I graduate in December. I'm not actively concerned about it, at the moment. It's just always something that's in the back of my mind.

One of my favorite things...
is having something to look forward to. Right now, I'm lucky enough to have several things coming up.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Work, dinner with my friends, and more work

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Friends for 10 years
IMG_4531

To join in the daybook fun, visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

España, Part 5

España, Part 1
España, Part 2
España, Part 3
España, Part 4

With today being exactly two weeks until I'm on a plane to London, it's far past the time that I should have finished up posting about my amazing trip to Spain.

The next stop on our agenda was...wait for it...Tangier, Morocco. I could not even wrap my head around the fact that I would be spending the day in Africa. How cool is that?!

We started off the day bright and early when the tour bus picked up at our hotel. We drove for a little while before boarding the biggest ferry I had ever seen to get across the water into Tangier. I was relieved when I saw how big and nice the ferry was because my family has a unfortunate history of sea sickness.

Boy, was my relief premature.

I've never felt movement like that in my life. It was like in one of those movies when an epidemic breaks out and everyone falls ill at once. All around me, passengers started grabbing sickness bags and running to the bathroom. It was terrible. My brother and I weren't okay, but we managed to pull it together. My poor parents, on the other hand? Well, that's another story.

We somehow survived that ordeal, got off the ferry, and then had to go through very lenient customs to get into Tangier. I was very disappointed that the customs worker didn't stamp my passport. I've made it my new goal to get as many stamps as possible. (I've been to Gibraltar, Morocco, Canada, and Mexico twice, and my passport hasn't been stamped for any of them, which kills me.) Immediately after we got through customs, our tour guide met us, loaded us on the bus, and we began our tour.

I have to admit that being in Morocco made me nervous. It's not somewhere I'd want to be alone or without a tour guide, and as thrilled as I was to be there, I was thankful for our tour bus and locals that were there to stay with us and show us around. The bus tour took us through the wealthier areas of the city, where many foreign government officials live, the downtown area where all of the businesses, schools, and city life is, and finally took us down to the coast. It was so beautiful! Our tour guide explained that this particular coastline is the Barbary Coast and that Morocco is right between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. While we were stopped, some locals selling camel rides came by. I've never been so close to a camel before. They're huge!

Then we got back on the bus and went to an area of the city called the Kabsa. This is a very poor area where most of the locals live. This area was exactly what I pictured the city to look like. Not to be stereotypical, but it's exactly how many Middle Eastern cities are portrayed in movies. In fact, this particular area was used in one of the Bourne trilogy movies when Matt Damon's character is jumping from roof to roof.

We walked through the Kasba as a group, and we were instantly approached by so many locals trying to sell us various handmade goods, spices, etc. It was a little intimidating since many of the vendors came right up to us and didn't seem to understand the meaning of the word "no," but I never felt unsafe. We made our way to the center of the area and stopped for lunch. The restaurant we ate at was beautiful inside! It was decorated in rich fabrics and colors, had live music, and was delicious. You could tell it was very authentic. I think the chefs really held back for the tour group, serving us chicken, cous cous, soup, and a sweet baklava-like dessert. I think the food was authentic, but I'm certain that the food most Moroccans eat is more flavorful and exotic.

After lunch, we were taken to a large indoor market selling huge, ornate, handmade rugs and carpets, as well as leather goods, and other small handmade goods. We spent some time looking around, and I almost bought myself a light tan leather satchel, but I decided against it in the end. We toured through more of the Kasba, passing spice markets, seeing exhibits on things like smelling salts and oils, poultry killing and preparing, and beautiful woven scarfs and bags. Once the tour was over, we were taken back to the bus and headed back to Spain on the ferry. The ride back was much smoother and more pleasant.

The day in Morocco was probably the most interesting of our trip. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go there and fully took advantage of it, but I'm not sure that I'd ever go back. I just can't believe I was in Moracco...in Africa!



Next stop: Ronda

Wedding Weekends

I had the pleasure of attending two weddings over the past two weekends.

Two weeks ago, I jetted off to St. Louis to celebrate the marriage of one of my best friends, Anna, to her groom, Brennen. Anna and Brennen got engaged 3 years ago, so this wedding was a long time coming, and I was so excited when Anna asked me to be one of her bridesmaids! I had never been to a wedding before (well, my parents each got remarried and I went to the wedding of a family friend when I was 8, so that's not exactly true), so I was so excited to see one my best friends get married and thrilled to stand up next to her and be there for the little details of her big day.

Tom picked me up from the airport on Wednesday, and we got to spend the day together (which was absolutely wonderful, as always) before I met up with my friend, Lindsay, to meet the girls to go out for Anna's bachelorette party. We spent the evening out in St. Louis and Illinois going to dinner, Bailey's Chocolate Bar for dessert, and out dancing at a country bar. It was such a fun way to catch up with my friends and give Anna one last fling before she became a Mrs!

Thursday was filled with wedding events, specifically the bridal luncheon and rehearsal dinner. The luncheon was at a lovely little cafe in St. Louis, and everything was just adorable. I had never really heard of a bridal luncheon before, but it was so nice to just be able to sit and talk get to know the other bridesmaids better and spend some time with Anna. If I'm able to, I think I'd like to do something similar when I get married. After going back to Lindsay's house and relaxing for a few hours, it was time to get ready for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal at the church was the first time the entire wedding party was together, and I was excited to see the groomsmen, most of whom I'm close friends with. The rehearsal was nice, and the dinner was a lot of fun. The groom's family hosted the dinner at Square One Brewery in downtown St. Louis, and I loved it. The floor was open to anyone who wanted to toast the couple, and I have to admit that I teared up during many of them.

Friday was wedding day! Lindsay and I arrived at the church at 10:00 on Friday morning with the other bridesmaids, and we spent a few hours hanging out, talking, dancing, and getting ready. Around 2:30, we headed to Forest Park to take pictures with Anna. It was SO hot outside, but we were all excited and the photographer worked quickly. After pictures, we headed back to the church, freshened up, spent a few minutes with a very nervous Anna, and lined up to walk down the aisle at 5:00.

I was nervous to walk down the aisle, so I can't imagine how Anna was feeling. Brennen and Anna chose not to see each other before the ceremony, so I paid special attention to the look on Brennen's face as Anna was walking towards him. He looked so, so happy, and proud, and I love that he cried. The ceremony was beautiful, and I know it was everything they wanted.

After the ceremony, the bridal party and families stuck around for pictures and then headed over the The Hill area of STL for the reception. The reception was so much fun! Great band, dancing, good food, open bar, friends, the perfect date: what could be better!? I loved dancing with Tom and getting to see so many of my Mizzou friends at the same time! The new Mr. and Mrs. left the reception around 11:00 and set off for their honeymoon in South Carolina the next morning.

I spent the rest of the weekend soaking up every minute with Boyfriend. I love when we're together, plain and simple. Everything is just...right. We spent a lot of time just talking and enjoying each other's company, and we went on a super date to see the new X-Men movie, HuHot, Coldstone, and Top Ten Wines. Like always, we squeeze a lot into just a few days together, but I always leave our time together that much happier, that much more confident in us and our relationship, and that much more in love.

----------

Last week, I headed to Blue Goose Cantina in Addison after work to meet up with a bunch of my Phi Mu sisters for Pali's bachelorette party! I was so excited to see everyone because everyone, including two of my best friends, Jill and Sherbs, were in town from Missouri for the wedding. It had been several months since I had seen my sisters, and I couldn't have asked for a better time! We had dinner, watched Pali open up her lingerie, and then headed to Sherlock's bar in Addison.

My best friend and pledge daughter, Whitney, got into town from Houston on Friday afternoon, and we had fun getting ready for the wedding together. We headed to the Cotton Mill in McKinney for the wedding around 5:30 and waited for the ceremony to start. The venue was beautiful! I've lived in Dallas almost my whole life, and I had never heard of this place. The ceremony took place outside and was short, sweet, and very representative of the couple's relationship and personalities.

After they were announced Mr. and Mrs., we headed inside for dinner and dancing. The reception was beautiful and everything, from the invitations, to the guest book, to the centerpieces, to the cake, followed a lovebird theme. Pali put a lot of thought into every detail of the wedding, and it showed. After dinner, toasts, and cake (delicious and beautiful cake) cutting, the Phi Mu girls hit the dance floor. Let me tell you, we brought the party. We had a blast dancing, talking, and just catching up after so much time apart.

Before Pali and Ben made their grand exit, the Phi Mu girls formed a circle around Pali and sang "Linger," a Phi Mu sisterhood song, to her in honor of her wedding day. There was not a dry eye in the circle once we finished. It was such a beautiful moment and the highlight of the night. I'm looking forward to my sisters singing to me at my own wedding.

Then, all of the guests waved Pali and Ben off with sparklers, and they set off for their amazing honeymoon in Belize the next morning.

I was lucky enough to have Jill, Sherbs, and Whitney stay with me that night after the wedding, and we stayed up until almost 5:00 am just talking and laughing. Although we don't get to see each other often, we are always able to pick up right where we left off like no time has passed at all. If that's not a mark of a strong, lasting friendship, then I don't know what is.

The next morning, the four of us went to breakfast, and then had to take Sherbs to the airport. Whitney, Jill, and I went to the mall and walked around for a while and saw "Bridesmaids," which is very fitting since Jill and I will be standing next to Whitney when she gets married next June! Then, we went back to my house and just hung out until Whitney had to hit the road to go back to Houston. Jill and I spent the rest of the night just talking and catching up on a few episodes of "Glee" (which ended the season amazingly, by the way).

The next day, my family and I decided to show Jill around Dallas since she had never been to the lone star state before. We started our tour at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. Although the Mavs were playing that game of the finals in Miami that night (which they WON, and became the CHAMPS!!!), Victory Plaza was super busy with everyone setting up for the big watch party. We then went to Dealey Plaza to see where JFK was assassinated. I'm fascinated by the Kennedys, and so is Jill, so we were excited to go to the Sixth Floor Museum. I had been to the museum when I was much younger, but I don't remember it.

After our Dallas adventures, we went out for a huge barbecue dinner before taking Jill to the airport. As always, saying goodbye was tough, but I know we'll see each other again soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I've never been a numbers person...

...But just for fun and in honor of my blogiversary a few days ago, I thought I'd take a look at some of the stats about my blog from the past year. And yes, I'm totally copying Ashley over at Ashley Getting Dressed. She gets full credit for this idea.

First commenter: Katie from Live Originally (Pretty sure she left that comment before Live Originally existed, though :] )
First troll: On this post-Hey, I guess it was a nice anonymous comment, at least.
Most viewed post: This post, and I'm really not sure why. It has 1,148 views, and my post with the next highest number of views has 110. Something doesn't seem right...
Biggest traffic source: Besides Twitter and Facebook, The Simple Woman's Daybook is the biggest traffic source directing to my blog.
Busiest month: February of 2011
Slowest month: March of 2011
Largest number of posts in one month: 23 in February of 2011
Least amount of posts in one month: Besides this month (which I won't count since it just started), June of 2010 with only 3 posts
Most popular keyword search: sara aisenberg
Number of "theme posts" (Wish List Wednesday, Bits of My Weekend, 30 Day Photo Challenge, A&A Thursday, etc.): 91
Most used label: Link
Pageviews today: 11
Pageviews yesterday: 19
Pageviews last month: 564
Pageviews of all time: 11,789
Countries my blog has been viewed in: United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, Slovenia, Iran, Denmark, Brazil

That's all I can think of right now. I think this is interesting, but I'm sure not everyone else does. Nevertheless, thanks for bearing with me! I'll have more exciting stuff up in the next few days!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blogiversary

Happy one year anniversary, Little Bloggy!

I'm so, so grateful for you. I'm so grateful I hit publish one year ago today and started this adventure.

You were there for me for a lot of big things during the past year, during the time I needed an outlet for my thoughts more than ever before.

You've held my thoughts about everything: transferring, love, college, traveling, work, and a million more things...just life and lots of growth.

Because of you, I've been lead to some pretty fantastic opportunities.

Thanks for a good year, Bloggy. I'm looking forward to many more.
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