Travel Series: London Town

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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” –Samuel Johnson

London is definitely one of those cities I will visit as many times as I can in my life. From the lively theatre scene in the West End to the cultural significance of Westminster to the grand tradition of afternoon tea, the sights and sounds of this historic city captivated my heart. Being an English major and a lifelong fan of British lit, I was truly inspired.

Like last week’s travel post on Paris, this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; instead I’ll be sharing specific insights, experiences, and things that I enjoyed. Also, in honor of the Royal Wedding this weekend, I will be sharing our visit to Windsor Castle, which is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married.

Theatre

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First of all, it had always been bucket list for me to see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (pictured above). We saw Much Ado About Nothing and absolutely loved it (for more info on this play, check out my first blog post).

A bit of advice: I studied quite a bit of Shakespeare in college, whereas my husband, who majored in the sciences, hadn’t been exposed to any Shakespeare since high school. So in order to prepare for the play, we read it together before our trip and also watched the Kenneth Branagh film adaptation. Since Elizabethan English is quite different from modern English, I highly recommend doing this, unless you’re a Shakespeare expert or quite familiar with the play you’re going to see.

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We also saw Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre and Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Both musicals are longtime favorites of mine. I admit that I cried at the end of Les Mis, despite that I know the story and songs very well. And though I’d seen Phantom live in the US on four previous occasions, it was an entirely new experience to sit under the famous chandelier when it drops.

We would’ve loved to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well, and even though we tried to buy tickets months and months in advance, they are so hard to get! However, we did have a magical (pun intended!) Harry Potter experience at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

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Growing up, I was a Harry Potter fanatic (hmmm where was my Hogwarts letter?). When each new installment was published, my parents would drive me at midnight to a nearby bookstore so I could be among the first to read the latest book (I would definitely be a Ravenclaw).

Anyway, visiting the gorgeous sets where the Harry Potter movies were filmed made me feel like I was ten years old again and seeing the movie for the very first time. They truly transport you to the Wizarding World and beautifully illustrate how the costumes, sets, and special effects make the magic come alive. Allow at least three hours here, especially because the line to get into the Great Hall, where the tour begins, can get quite long (even if you purchased tickets in advance like we did).

Pictured below is my husband staring up at the huge, intricate model of Hogwarts, which is what they used to film many of the panoramic shots of the castle.

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If you’re even a moderate fan of the Harry Potter universe, I still think you would enjoy this; if you’re like myself and are a Hermione-level expert of all things Harry Potter, then this is a must.

Westminster

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The area of Westminster includes the famous sites of Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

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In addition to watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, we were able to tour inside the State Rooms (no photos allowed inside, unfortunately). From late July through September you can purchase tickets for this tour. I’ve heard that the dates can vary slightly from year-to-year, based on the Queen’s summer travel plans (since it’s available to tour when she’s on holiday elsewhere). For more up-to-date info visit the Royal Collection Trust’s website.

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We purchased our Westminster Abbey tickets in advance and greatly enjoyed visiting this iconic church. When I was in college, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married there, and I remember staying up late to watch the beautiful ceremony and marvel at Kate’s stunning Alexander McQueen gown. I also very much enjoyed “Poet’s Corner,” where many renowned writers, poets, and playwrights have been buried or memorialized (Shakespeare, for example, has a monument there, though he was buried in his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon).

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The telephone booths in this area are also ideal for photo-ops!

Shopping at Harrods and Afternoon Tea

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Simply put, Harrods is shopping heaven. The exterior particularly dazzles at nighttime and beckons one inside to the opulent grandeur. Their gift shop is also a great spot to bring home souvenirs for yourself and for loved ones.

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My husband and I had afternoon tea at The Georgian, an elegant restaurant inside Harrods. I’ve always been more of a tea drinker than coffee, so this was a special treat for me (also: Pink champagne! Tea sandwiches! Pastries! Yay!). We booked our tea time on their website several days prior so we could get the exact time we wanted.

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Windsor

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This 11th century castle feels like something out of a fairy tale, and is one of the Queen’s official residences. We visited first thing in the morning when it opens and really enjoyed wandering the beautiful grounds and touring the State Apartments.

This Saturday Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married at Windsor inside St. George’s Chapel. I will definitely be staying up late to watch it on TV, and I can’t wait to see her wedding gown!

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What to Pack

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Red Top: Pleione (similar here and here) Black Ponte Pants: Jolt (similar)  Striped Shirt: H&M (similar)  Lace Top: Rose and Olive (similar here and here)  Trench Coat: Ellen Tracy (similar here and here)  Bag: Longchamp Small Le Pliage Tote  Scarf: Burberry (similarUmbrella: Burberry (same style, but in red)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

As I’ve mentioned in my previous travel posts, staying within a neutral color palette is my personal preference for packing versatile outfits. Adding a dash of color helps mix things up (red and maroon tones always look great with black, white, and beige, as illustrated above).

The other way to add interest to an outfit is with textures and prints (lace and stripes are classics). For London, I brought both my Burberry scarf and umbrella, as the iconic print evokes timeless British style. Given their cloudy, damp climate, a water-resistant trench coat is vital.

P.S. Just wanted to mention that I had such a wonderful time viewing the rare books and manuscripts at the British Library Treasures (they have a copy of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other historical texts). If you’re a bookworm like me, this was a real treat.

I didn’t discuss any of the London museums we’ve visited, but the British Museum and the National Gallery are especially stunning and overwhelming. If you enjoy history, give yourself as much time as you can at the British Museum in particular. It’s MASSIVE. Next time I would really like to spend longer there.

(The photo below was taken just a few blocks from the National Gallery. I couldn’t resist a picture with those beautiful flowers!)

Are you going to be tuning in to the Royal Wedding this weekend? Let me know in the comments! Hope you all have a great week!

Endless Light

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Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the moms out there! Doing a special post today to share last-minute gift ideas and what I’ll be wearing for an afternoon of lunching and shopping with my mom and my grandma! I’m so thankful to have them both in my life–they are truly strong, intelligent, and kind women, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

In keeping with the Paris theme this week from my travel series, I wanted to start out with a book recommendation. If your mom loves to curl up with a phenomenal book and enjoys historical fiction, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot Seewould make a wonderful gift. I mentioned in an earlier post that this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was on my spring reading list. I finished it recently, and there is so much to say about this moving story, I scarcely know where to start! I don’t want to give away the ending for anyone who has yet to read it, so instead I’ll share a quote, a major theme, and my overall impression.

“Color–that’s another thing people don’t expect. In her imaginations, in her dreams, everything has color… Bees are silver. The huge cypress trees she and her father pass on their morning walk are shimmering kaleidoscopes, each needle a polygon of light. Her father radiates a thousand colors, opal, strawberry red, deep russet, wild green… He glows sapphire when he sits over his work bench in the evenings, humming almost inaudibly as he works, the tip of his cigarette gleaming a prismatic blue.” 

The reason I chose this particular passage (especially when there are SO many gems to choose from) is because light is such a recurring theme in this novel; it truly is at the center of this World War II story, the thing that everything revolves around. Light is in the title, of course, but it’s also a constant presence.

Two big reasons for that have to do with the novel’s protagonists: Marie-Laure and Werner. Marie-Laure is a blind Parisian girl, who flees the City of Light with her father upon the German occupation of France. Even though she is physically incapable of seeing light, her mind imagines the world in the most vibrant of colors (as illustrated in the above quote). Throughout the novel, her intelligence, perception, and intuition make her notice things that others often don’t.

In contrast, Werner grows up facing a different kind of darkness. He’s a German orphan boy who grows up in a small coal-mining town, and in his early teens, he’s sent to a school that trains Nazi soldiers. The terrible darkness that he faces is the spread of Naziism in Germany and Europe, and the horrendous realities of World War II.

This novel spans the course of several decades and explores the darkness in this world– but also the ever-persisting light. It asks us to think about the things that can’t be seen literally, but still exist: love, strength, hope, bravery, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Doerr’s elegant writing style and mastery of metaphors paint the most vivid story that is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching. The contrast between his eloquent, graceful syntax and the dark subject matter is truly memorable and poignant.

Another Paris-inspired novel that I just delved into is Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. It was gifted to me by my mother-in-law, and the story’s premise captivated me instantly. It’s the tale of a man who owns a bookstore on a boat that sails on the Seine in Paris. He’s a literary doctor of sorts and prescribes specific books to those who are in need of them. I’m really excited to see where this charming story goes, and I’ll share a more detailed review in a future post when I finish reading it!

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Here are some more gift ideas for the moms in your lives!

Does your mom have a favorite perfume? My mom loves the original Juicy Couture scent (pictured above), and my brother and I take turns replenishing her stash for her birthdays and holidays. My grandma and I both adore Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, and I know a lot of ladies who really enjoy this fresh, floral scent.

My mom is a big coffee drinker, so my brother and I often give her adorable mugs! I love getting mugs at TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Target, and I’ve linked some great options (the following mugs from Target are online and available in store at select locations: “Monogrammed Floral,” “Mama Needs Some Coffee,” and “Mom’s the Boss“).

My mom and I are huge fans of the candles from Bath and Body Works. Our all-time favorite is the Mahogany Teakwood candle and is perfect for those who love woodsy scents. Yet lately a candle we’ve been loving is their Watermelon Lemonade–it’s a yummy, fruity scent that’s perfect for spring and summer!

Another great gift idea (or to wear yourself to brunch, or shopping, or on vacation!) is a striped dress. I love black-and-white stripes because it’s such a timeless color combo (I own several because they’re so versatile–knee length, maxi, jumpsuit, long-sleeve, sleeveless, etc). There are so many silhouettes out there for a variety of tastes and personal styles. The one I’m wearing was a TJ Maxx find (have you guys noticed yet how much I love TJ Maxx?), so I’ve linked some stylish options that are all currently on sale.

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Panama Hat: J. Crew  Striped Dress: Monteau (great striped options all on sale: here, here, here, and herePurse: Chanel Classic Flap (similar structure/style here and hereMules: Topshop (similar here and hereWatch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similarSunglasses: Chanel (similar) Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

For this particular look, I paired my striped dress with a classic Panama hat (mine is from J. Crew and is a constant warm weather companion). I also wore a pair of mules that are by Topshop and are a recent purchase from Nordstrom Rack (I linked some comparable styles). I’m so happy mules are trendy again! My sunglasses I’ve had for awhile and are Chanel, so I’ve linked a similarly shaped option.

Continuing the Parisian theme this week, my Chanel classic flap bag was purchased at the flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon (which Gabrielle Chanel first opened in 1918). It’s such a timeless and elegant style and has been a dream bag of mine for many years. I’ve also linked some fabulous black purses with a similar structure and aesthetic to the Chanel classic flap.

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Happy Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating the moms, grandmas, step-moms, mothers-in-law, and honorary moms in your lives. My mom and my grandma are such sources of light and love in my life, and I truly cherish the time I get to spend with them (below: one of my favorite pictures of the three of us from my wedding).

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Travel Series: Paris, Je T’aime

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All trains are going to Paris! My favorite sign in all the world is located in the train station near Versailles. As Audrey Hepburn famously once said, “Paris is always a good idea,” and I’m inclined to agree. The City of Light has a certain irresistible magic, from the historic sights and art, to the incomparable fashion and exquisite cuisine.

Paris has so much to offer–countless books, films, and songs have been written about this iconic city, and it would be near-impossible to cover it all in a single blog post. As I mentioned in my previous travel post, this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; instead I’ll be sharing specific insights, experiences, and things that I enjoyed. Since there is so much to see and do in Paris, I’ll be breaking this post into two sections: sights and shopping/fashion.

Sights

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It’s hard to capture in words or even pictures what it’s like to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower. Though it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, I was always a bit afraid that once I finally saw it with my own eyes, it would somehow be less than I imagined it to be. But truthfully, my fears were quite unfounded. I felt blissfully overwhelmed beneath the massive structure, as it stood tall and proud against the vibrant blue sky.

58 Tour Eiffel

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River Cruise on the Seine

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Our first day in Paris was my birthday and my darling husband surprised me with dinner on the Tower at 58 Tour Eiffel, followed by a river cruise on the Seine. I highly recommend both–though make sure you give yourself plenty of time for dinner, as it’s multiple courses.

We hit it off with the sweet couple at the table next to us, who was celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Somewhere between the champagne and dessert and coffee, we completely lost track of time and missed our boat! Thankfully we could just wait half an hour and go on the next one–though I must admit there was something kind of romantic about dashing from the Tower to the Seine at sunset in a desperate attempt to catch our boat!

Arc de Triomphe

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One blustery afternoon we climbed the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and were greeted with a gorgeous, panoramic view of Paris. It was also the perfect vantage point to see the roundabout within which the Arc is located and the twelve streets that sprawl from it.

Sainte-Chapelle

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There were several things in Paris that surprised me. The first is that I preferred Sainte-Chapelle to Notre Dame. Of course they’re dramatically different in size and style, yet we visited these churches back to back on the same day. As such, it was impossible for me not to compare them. Though far smaller than Notre Dame, I fell in love with the elaborate stained glass and gilded grandeur of Sainte-Chapelle.

The Louvre

The second thing I was a bit surprised by is how underwhelmed I was by the Mona Lisa. Though I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ve seen quite a bit of art over the years on our travels. Masses of people are crowded in the room to see the Mona Lisa because it’s such a famous work, and honestly? It was just okay. It’s a must-see if you’ve never been, of course, but there were so many other pieces in the Louvre that I enjoyed far more (such as Raphael’s La Belle Jardinière, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Apollo Gallery–all pictured above).

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We visited the Louvre on a Wednesday, during their extended evening hours, which I definitely recommend because it’s way less crowded (and look how the lights of the pyramids glow during twilight!). You can actually get close to the more popular works without having to wait very long. I loved wandering through the Louvre and can’t wait to go back, as it’s one of those gigantic museums that you could truly spend days and days in.

Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie

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The third thing is something that I was very pleasantly surprised by: how much I adored Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie. Monet spent the last thirty years of his life painting this exquisite work, and he designed the curved rooms that they’re housed in himself. I could’ve spent hours sitting before these tranquil, ethereal images.

Versailles

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Simply put, the palace of Versailles was beyond my wildest dreams. I had never quite fathomed how truly vast the palace and grounds are until we tried to walk it all in the pouring rain!

After the beautiful palace tour, it was unfortunately raining buckets when we exited to explore the expansive grounds. Despite being Oregonians who are quite accustomed to the rain, once our boots and “water-proof” jackets were soaked through, we decided to call it a day. I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t make it out to the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette often resided there), but we were sopping wet and quite miserable.

On our next trip we will be a little more flexible with our schedule and hopefully be able to visit Versailles on the sunniest day that we’re there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from travel, it’s that something will invariably happen that is out of your control (inclement weather, holiday closures, strikes, renovations, etc.), but you have to make the most of it and do the best you can. As the French say, “C’est la vie!”

Shopping and Fashion

Chanel

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Something that was bucket list for me was shopping at the Chanel Flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon. Gabrielle Chanel first opened this location in 1918, and it had long been my dream to purchase the Chanel classic flap in the black caviar leather. Fun fact: this location is the only Chanel boutique in the world whose shopping bags are white with a black font (normally it’s the opposite: black shopping bag with white font).

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We also enjoyed perusing the Champs-Élysées. We had lunch at Fouquet’s next door to Louis Vuitton (by far the biggest Vuitton store I’ve ever seen!). The food here was excellent (I had the steak-frites), and the terrace seating was an ideal spot for people-watching on this famous boulevard.

Ladurée

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We also stopped at Ladurée for tea and dessert; not only were the macarons incredible, this famous sweet shop was absolutely beautiful. If you like macarons and pastries, this decadent place is a must (they also have multiple locations in the US!).

Christian Dior Exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

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Another fashion highlight for me was visiting the Christian Dior Exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs that celebrated the 70 years since the renowned fashion house began. Seeing the evolution of Dior over the years was incredible; being so close to some of these elaborate dresses, you truly could see the immense craftsmanship and detail that goes into making couture designs. Unfortunately this exhibition was for a limited time and ended in January of 2018.

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What to Pack

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Beret: H&M  (similar) Striped Shirt: H&M (similarGray Topcoat: Zara (similar here and here)  Bag: Chanel (similar here and here)  Striped Dress: Monteau (similar here and here)  Lace Top: Rose and Olive (similar here and hereSunglasses: Chanel (similarWatch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar)

Of course this would vary depending what time of year you visit, but above is a sample of what I would pack (most of these items I did in fact bring on our trip). As I’ve said before, it’s easier when traveling to stick with a neutral color palette. Choosing pieces that have a variety of textures or prints helps add interest and detail (such as lace and stripes), yet staying within a classic palette makes it easy to mix and match.

The gray wool beret in the top left corner I recently purchased from H&M–I definitely regret not buying one in Paris! I saw so many girls wearing berets there, and I wish I had purchased one. Ah well–next time!

The Chanel classic flap pictured above is my beloved purchase from Paris. I linked some lovely similar options that have a comparable structure and shape.

This Friday I’ll be wearing some of these same pieces and doing a special post for Mother’s Day Weekend: outfit ideas for brunch with the moms in your life, great last-minute gifts, Paris-themed book recommendations, and a selection of my favorite black-and-white striped dresses that are currently on sale.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to hear in the comments what you guys enjoy doing in Paris or what you hope to one day do there!

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P.S. One of our favorite restaurants was Au Père Louis. It was close to our hotel in the Latin Quarter, and if you’re ever in that area I highly recommend it! It’s a charming little place with AMAZING food.

Travel Series: The Beauty of Barcelona

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Tomorrow we will do beautiful things.” –Antoni Gaudí

It’s the first week of May, and, as promised, I’m starting my travel series. I’m kicking it off with one of my favorite cities in the world: Barcelona!

A little context first: with this series I plan on sharing my favorite cities and sites, recommendations from personal experiences, what to pack, and where I can’t wait to go back! Though I’ve checked quite a few places off my personal travel bucket list, there are still many places that I dream of going or places that I hope to visit again and again. I’m so grateful that my husband loves to travel as much as I do, and it’s something that we’ve made a priority in our life together.

Know that I’ll still be talking fashion, style, and some literature throughout this series, but within the parameters of that particular post’s travel destination. This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; instead I’ll be sharing specific insights, experiences, and things that I enjoyed. For the month of May I plan on sharing some of my favorite spots in Europe. In June, I plan on doing a local travel guide of Portland and surrounding areas (such as coastal destinations and Mt. Hood), and I also plan on covering two additional US cities (more on that later).

So without further ado… Barcelona.

The picture above is of Gaudí’s stunning Park Güell, with its gingerbread-house-style buildings and panoramic views of the city and coastline. I loved Gaudí’s whimsical architecture (Catalan Modernism) and wandering through this truly unique park.

I recommend buying tickets for the park at least a day in advance. On our first day in Barcelona we stopped by the park (without tickets) and would have had to wait all afternoon to get in (they assign you a specific time slot based on availability). So we ended up rearranging our plans and buying tickets for the following day.

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As much as I enjoyed the park, I was in awe of Gaudí’s lifelong project, the Sagrada Familia. We’ve been to St. Peter’s, Notre Dame, and Westminster Abbey–all of which are beautiful with their own styles and historical significances. However, that being said, the Sagrada Familia is my personal favorite. Despite that this church has been under construction since 1882 and has yet to be completed, this stunning basilica has this ethereal, dreamlike quality that quite simply captivated me. Even though there are cranes towering above the spires, I loved the intricate facades, the Gothic influences, and the immense stained glass.

I also was struck by the fact that in Gaudí’s own lifetime, not even one-quarter of the project was finished. It’s bittersweet that he could never see it completed, but also inspiring that he contributed to such a lasting legacy. Allegedly, the church will be completed by 2026, which would mark the 100-year anniversary of Gaudí’s death. We hope to return one day to see it in all its finished glory.

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Something that was particularly special for my husband, who has played soccer since childhood and played in college as well, was the chance to see FC Barcelona play at the famous Camp Nou, which is Europe’s largest soccer stadium. This stadium is massive and the energy was truly electric; we also got to see Lionel Messi (one of the best players in the world!) score a hat trick.

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As for hotel accommodations, we stayed at the Hotel Jazz, a lovely modern hotel in the heart of the city. Our room was spacious and had a great balcony, with a gorgeous view of the Barcelona skyline (shown below). We also very much enjoyed the rooftop pool and bar!

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The hotel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Ramblas, a famous street that has restaurants, florists, shops, and is great for people-watching. One of my favorite drinks is Sangria (a Spanish classic!), and my husband and I enjoyed cocktails and tapas on the Ramblas and watching the hustle and bustle of this iconic promenade.

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For each destination in this travel series, I want to provide a sample of what I packed. As illustrated below, I like to stay within a certain color palette when traveling because it maximizes outfit options without overpacking! Black, white, stripes, and a dash of red accents were perfect for our trip to Barcelona. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Longchamp Le Pliage totes are so convenient for travel. They’re durable, water-resistant, and fold flat if you need to pack them into a suitcase.

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Floral Skirt: J. Crew Factory (similar here and hereBlack Top: Lush (similar here)  Red Top: Pleione (similar hereBlack Ponte Pants: Jolt (similar hereStriped Top: H&M (similar here)  Scarf: FC Barcelona (similar here)  Tote:Longchamp Small Le Pliage  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

Barcelona is one of those places I instantly felt at home and truly can’t wait to return. Not only is the city very charming with its eclectic architecture and romantic atmosphere, the people themselves are so kind and welcoming.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

No Such Thing

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“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” –Oscar Wilde

It’s been a hectic week so I’m keeping things simple and sharing this beloved quote by literary master Oscar Wilde, a quote that I’ve lived by ever since I first heard it. These words also relate to why I started this blog: having a space where I could explore my love of fashion and literature–where I could share what I love to wear and the countless things that literature continues to teach me.

Wilde is asserting that the notion of being “overdressed or overeducated” is impossible. Wear what you want, dress how you please–and whether others might consider it “overdressed” doesn’t matter. Fashion is a form of self-expression and an outward manifestation of individuality. I always aim to wear what makes me happy and confident.

I mentioned in a previous post that I believe in being a lifelong learner. As much as I loved school and college, I wholeheartedly believe that knowledge can be found in so many places–in travel, in people we meet, in life experiences, in books, in art… The list is truly endless. So being overeducated? No such thing.

In a way, this quote also asserts the concept of being your own person–that no matter what people may say about you (whether it be overdressed, overeducated, or a thousand other things), you are only defined by the opinions of others if you allow yourself to be.

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Kimono: Band of Gypsies (similar here, here, and here)  Tank: Paris Sunday (similar here)  Jeans: Lucky (similar here)  Boots:Blondo  Purse:Prada  Necklaces:6th Borough Boutique  Sunglasses:Ray-Ban  Slip Dress (shown below): Topshop (similar here and here)  Heels: Breckelle’s (similar here) Lip Color:Primrose by Smashbox

Today I’m sharing how to wear a statement piece (this lovely floral kimono by Band of Gypsies!) for two different occasions: casual or dressy. The above casual look was perfect for a breezy afternoon in downtown Portland with my sister. The easy layers were stylish yet comfortable. Spring weather is so temperamental here in Oregon; while it was warm in the sunshine, the wind often picked up, and I was glad to have something covering my shoulders! This particular kimono I bought at TJ Maxx recently, so I’ve linked some similar options.

I love partnering with 6th Borough Boutique; their gold necklaces layer together so beautifully and add that extra chic detail to both the casual look and the dressy version (shown below).

To elevate this outfit for a dressier occasion, I simply swapped out the jeans, tank, and boots with a little black slip dress from Topshop. I also wore a classic pair of ankle-strap heels that were a Nordstrom Rack find from last year, and I kept my necklaces and sunglasses the same.

Statement pieces like this floral kimono are so versatile because they effortlessly go from casual to dressy. Such items are also ideal for travel because they can be worn for a variety of situations. This is especially useful for someone like me, a notorious over-packer!

Speaking of travel: as we head into summer vacation season, for the months of May and June I’ll be doing a travel series—places I’ve been, favorite cities and sites, recommendations, what to pack, and where I can’t wait to go back!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Golden Hours

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Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I’m sharing a short Frost poem this week, but don’t assume that its brevity makes it simplistic. These brief lines are filled with beautiful symbolism about youth, life, and the impermanence of things.

In the first five lines Frost asserts that the beautiful golden colors we see in nature are fleeting; I’m instantly reminded of the gorgeous oranges we see during fall here in Oregon, or the bright yellow tulips currently in bloom in my yard.

Yet I also think that he’s not only discussing nature–these images are metaphors for youth and time. Just as the hardest shade for nature to hold onto is gold, the blissful, golden days of childhood have that same quickness, that same elusiveness. He then mentions the Garden of Eden and how that paradise didn’t last forever either, much in the way that the sun rises, ending the beauty of first morning light.

And the last line–the poem’s title, the summary of it all–is that nothing precious can remain as it is. That’s part of why spring is so beautiful and childhood is so special. In Oregon, for example, we so cherish our sunny days because we get months of constant rain. Some things can’t last, and that’s precisely what makes them meaningful–truly what makes life itself meaningful. After all, if we could live forever or flowers could always bloom, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much, for we couldn’t grasp the true effect of time.

Remember those beautiful pink flowers from my post several weeks ago? Already falling off the bush and wilting! But, on the bright side, at least that means we’re heading towards summer.

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Top: J. Crew  Jeans: Vigoss (similar here and here)  Boots: Blondo  Bag: Chanel (similarly-sized black totes herehere, and here)

The coming week promises warmer temps and festive spring attire, but until then, I’ve been wearing some favorite basics during this transitional weather (in Oregon that means clouds, sun, rain, repeat–sometimes all in the same hour!).

My top is from J. Crew and currently on sale on their website for under $15! It’s soft and breathable and is a great layering piece for those cooler spring days. J. Crew has such quality staples, and they last season after season.

My jeans are Vigoss and I’ve had them for awhile, but I found some really similar options by the same brand on Nordstrom Rack’s website. I’ve been wearing these Blondo ankle boots nonstop lately–the pointy-toe adds a little edge, and the shiny leather has broken in so well!

The Chanel Medallion Tote I’ve had for a long time and is a beloved piece of mine. It’s a smaller tote that still carries everything I need for day-to-day. I love the shape, the iconic quilting, and the gold medallion zipper. When it comes to handbags, like a lot of bloggers and fashion editors, I’m more willing to invest in a classic style from a high-end brand because I know it will withstand the test of time. And it’s no secret that Chanel bags are my favorite! I linked some similarly-sized black totes in a variety of price points (since Chanel stopped producing the Medallion Tote around 2012, you would nowadays only be able to find it on eBay or in vintage/consignment shops).

Looking forward to sunshine here the next few days! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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April Showers and Wallflowers

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“And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen. I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening…. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”

–From The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

We drove down to my alma mater over the weekend to watch my younger sister compete in the Oregon Relays. It was a gray, blustery Saturday, but the University of Oregon campus is especially lovely during spring, and I always enjoy seeing the places I used to frequent–the beautiful Knight Library, my old dorm at Barnhart, and great local cafes where I would meet up with my best friend. Some buildings are new, some restaurants have closed, but the feeling I get when I walk around campus is much the same.

I always loved school–maybe it’s cliche but I loved being surrounded by knowledge and the people in pursuit of it. I personally believe in being a lifelong learner and that knowledge can be gained in so many places and experiences (not just in books or universities). But for me, there was something special about college–not only was I figuring out what I wanted in life and who I wanted to be, I was also fortunate enough to study a subject I truly enjoyed.

Walking around campus usually makes me pretty wistful, and this Chbosky passage came to mind. It’s one I often come back to, even though I first read this novel when I was a junior in high school. It’s a perceptive, coming-of-age story of a boy named Charlie, who is something of a wallflower (hence the title), and the people he meets who end up changing his life for the better.

I love this quote in particular because it’s ageless–it doesn’t just apply to sixteen or seventeen year olds. The experiences we have now will all be stories one day, stories we recall with our old college friends or stories we tell our kids around a campfire. It also eloquently describes this modern notion of “living in the moment”–particularly being present in a way we were when we were younger, when an experience was fresh and brand new.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a single moment making you feel infinite–you’re well aware that the moment will pass and will become part of that story you tell, but for a second? For just a second, that moment is all that you have.

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Hat: Portland Gear  Vest: Nike (similar here and here)  Sweater: H&M (similar here and here)  Jeans: Hudson  Boots: Blondo  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster  Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs (almost identical option here)

We’ve had downpours, drizzles, and wind these past few weeks, and I dressed accordingly over the weekend, knowing that we’d be outside for much of it. If you can’t tell by now, I love black and white outfits–whether dressy or casual–and this look kept me cozy and comfortable while we watched my sister compete.

My black cap is from Portland Gear, a wonderful local company that makes hats, apparel, and souvenirs. My black puffy vest is Nike; only one size was left in this same style, so I also linked some similar options as well (also, fun fact for those of you who don’t know: Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, is a University of Oregon alumni). My striped sweater I purchased recently from H&M during their spring sale, and I found comparable styles (linked above). My distressed black jeans are by Hudson, my black pointy boots are by Blondo, and my sunglasses are my favorite Ray-Bans.

My black crossbody purse I’ve had for several years and is Marc by Marc Jacobs. Since 2016 the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand was combined with Marc Jacobs Collection (all items since that time have been under the label “Marc Jacobs”). That being said, I was able to find a Marc Jacobs purse almost identical in style to the one I have, and it’s on sale for under $70 on Nordstrom Rack’s website!

The flowers are in bloom but the weather hasn’t quite yet gotten the memo. Hoping for more sun in the days to come! Have a great week everyone, thank you for stopping by!

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