Sunday Brunch at The Rusty Scupper

Sunday Brunch at The Rusty Scupper

Hello all! This past week my mom was in town visiting me and we had a great time walking all around the harbor and the city. But my favorite part was when we went to the Rusty Scupper restaurant for their Sunday brunch. Oh. My. Goodness. It was delicious. What makes this brunch special and by far the best brunch I’ve ever been to is that it’s all you can eat, has tons of fresh sea food, unlimited included drinks, a live jazz band, and a gorgeous view of the Baltimore Harbor. If that doesn’t grab your fancy then I don’t know what will. It certainly impressed me and my mom.

They have two seatings for the Sunday brunch buffet: one from 10:30-12:00 and another from 1:00 to 2:30. We went to the 1pm seating because we’re late risers. It’s $45 per person ($16 for children) but that includes the all-you-can-eat buffet and as many drinks as you can (responsibly) handle. If you’re interested, check out the menu here. That may seem like a lot of money for a brunch to some, but, personally, I definitely think it’s worth it.

I ate a ton and could have eaten more if my stomach would have allowed it. For my first round of food, I opted for a breakfast variety since I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I chose scrambled eggs, some bacon, chopped pineapple, a biscuit with strawberry jam, and some asparagus. I ate it all and delighted in it. My mom opted for a made-to-order omelet with cheese, spinach, and crab. It tried it, and it was amazing. We also both got a Bellini, which, surprise! was also fantastic.

Second round, mom and I decided to share since we knew we could not continue to consume so much food at that rate. We picked out a plate full of seafood including lots of oysters, tons of shrimp, and some salmon with a bagel. (We didn’t eat the bagel because it was a little too hard for us, but everything else was wonderful.) There was also a sangria ordered because we heard it was delicious (I tried it: it was).

Third time’s a charm right? Well for our third round, (I know, you’re probably wondering how we could continue to eat. I really don’t know what to tell you other than we had sheer perseverance and a desire to try a little of everything.) we went for the desserts. Luckily they were a nice petite size, otherwise I don’t think I would have managed to try them all. Mom and I opted to try the chocolate chip cookies (a classic), the mini creme brulees in espresso cups (adorable), a couple of fruit tart things (strawberry and lemon), two mini waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, and some more fruit. We ended our brunch experience with a coffee each and a last look at the harbor view, before we headed out to walk along the harbor ourselves.

Overall, I would highly reccommend if you’re ever in Baltimore on a Sunday and you’re looking for a magnificent dining experience, you should try out The Rusty Scupper. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and there’s something for everyone. Now, enjoy the photos if you don’t believe me! 🙂 (sorry there’s no photo of the breakfast foods… I was too hungry and devoured it all before photos could be taken haha)

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The seafood course (w/ bellini)
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The dessert course (w/ sangria)
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Mini waffles and fruit
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I saw a boat go by and thought the view was too good to pass up
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The amazing view from our seats
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Taken on the boat riding away from brunch

Ciao for now!

 

Fourth of July Fun

Fourth of July Fun

Yesterday was, of course, the Fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day! It’s a day full of patriotism, colors arrayed with red, white, and blue, and tons of fireworks. I had such a fun 4th of July this year because my mom and aunt came to visit me in Baltimore.

We walked around the city shopping, talking, and eating. Eventually, we ended up in Fell’s Point for lunch where we dined at Barcocina on the water. To start, we ordered an appetizer of crab guacamole and it was delicious. For our meals, we decided to order 3 different types of tacos (Korean Beef, Charred Lemon Fish, and Lamb Gyro) to split, because each taco order came with 3 tiny tacos, and we also split the Green Mango Quinoa Salad which I loved because of how refreshing it tasted on a 95 degree day.

By the time we made it back to the apartment, we were hot and ready to rest. But I got to work finishing up my patriotic dessert surprise: a yellow cake filled with spots of strawberry flavor and topped with cream cheese frosting and fruit. It’s an incredibly easy recipe, and I’ll be writing a post on how to make it if you want to try it out. It will be up on Sunday, so be sure to come back and check it out. It’s festive for the Fourth, but it’s good for just about any occasion.

By the time it was dark outside, we were rested and well fed. All that we were waiting for was the fireworks to go on at 9:30 over the Harbor. (What’s better than fireworks on the Fourth of July?) So we played some American jams while we were waiting on the balcony (Springsteen’s Born in the USA , Martina McBride’s Independence Day, and then the classics like the Star Spangled Banner etc.).

Finally we started to hear the thundering and crackling of fireworks, and we sprinted down near the lighthouse with everyone else to get a prime viewing spot. There’s something magical about a fireworks display because it’s as if nobody can be unhappy in the 15-20 minutes they’re bursting. It’s as if time stands still and that moment is an explosion of color and admiration. It was a great Fourth of July, and I want to share it with you all. Enjoy!

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Down at Fell’s Point
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My patriotic and delicious cake

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I hope you all had a good 4th of July… Ciao for now!

A bit of Baltimore

A bit of Baltimore

Hello everyone! For the past few weeks I have relocated to the beautiful Baltimore, Maryland for my internship at Girl’s Life Magazine. Basically, it’s a magazine aimed at pre-teen and teenaged girls that discusses beauty, fashion, relationships, health, and confidence. I was lucky enough to land the internship for six weeks this summer, and it’s been great so far! I get to do book reviews, pitch article ideas, write articles, and pretty much learn the ins and outs. It’s pretty cool!

One of the main reasons I took the internship (besides the obvious experience part) is because my grandparents live in Baltimore. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to spend time with them. As an added bonus,I didn’t need to rent a place to stay. Needless to say, the past few weeks have been pretty great, and now I’m on my own (my grandparents split their time between Baltimore and Italy) learning how to be an independent adult.

This past week I’ve discovered that I am capable of cooking delicious meals all by myself, and that I can function on my own. Overall, it’s been a real eye opening experience. I’ve taken a few photos of my surroundings (not many), and I thought I’d share the beauty of this city with all of you. Most of my time is spent in the Harbor area, but hopefully I’ll expand my experiences further outside this soon enough. So, without further ado, enjoy!

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Fell’s Point

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The Marina
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View from the mall
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View of the mall
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Right outside Power Plant Live

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Don’t worry, they’ll be more. Ciao for now!

Tampering with Tampa- What To Do If You’re Passing By

Tampering with Tampa- What To Do If You’re Passing By

If you saw my last blog post, you’ll know that I recently went on a cruise out of Tampa, FL and it was fantastic! This post will be dedicated to sharing a couple fun things to do in Tampa if you’re only there for a short time. If you’re waiting for a flight or you’re just passing through, there is a bunch of neat places to visit in Tampa.

The Florida Aquarium 

If you like the water and all things sea life, I suggest checking out the Florida Aquarium. My mom and I went for the morning before our afternoon flight and we spent an enjoyable and informative couple of hours exploring. Here’s a tip: it’s cheaper to buy tickets online than in person. I used my iPhone to go on the aquarium’s website and bought the eTickets online for a few bucks less than if we had bought them at the ticket counter. We arrived right as it was opening since the aquarium is about 100 feet away from where our cruise docked, so the place was pretty empty.

What’s also great and convenient is that they stored our luggage for us so we could walk around unencumbered. We spent the first forty-five minutes looking around the gift shop and watching two 15 minute short 4D films. The first movie was about sea creatures and we were spattered with bubbles and misted with water as we watched. It was pretty cool. There was about 10 minutes in between the films so we sat outside in the sun and just enjoyed the day while we chatted. The second little short film was a sequel-type film to Happy Feet and the little theater was filled with a bunch of mothers and their toddlers. It was cute.

Then we walked around and saw some stingrays, which I got to touch, a seahorse, and other cool sea creatures. They were feeding the sharks and other big fish as we sat down to look in the large tank, and we learned what they all ate, and in which part of the tank their specific feeding area was. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was field trip day for the entire Florida school system and tons of groups of children began flooding the aquarium.

We took that as a sign that 2 hours was enough time to spend at the aquarium, and we scooted on out. It was around lunch time when we left and my mom had looked up a celebrated restaurant for us to try in the historic Ybor city part of Tampa. Even if you’re not hungry, this is a really neat part of Tampa to visit because it is where all the immigrants (mainly Cuban, Spanish, and Italian) went during the early 20th century, and it’s home to many old cigar factories. Mainly, Ybor City is just a really cool place to visit. it has a bunch of bars and restaurants to entertain you for a couple of hours if you’re passing through.

The Columbia Restaurant

We took an Uber from the aquarium to The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, and it was as if the restaurant took up the whole block it was such an impressive place. Once inside, I felt like I had entered an aristocratic 20th century house. They, like the aquarium, were good enough to store our suitcases. The waiting area is like a foyer in a beautiful home with dark wood and lovely artwork. The restaurant itself is composed of a number of rooms, each with its own kind of theme. The room we were seated in was large and bright with beautiful chandeliers, old timey artwork, and a loft area above on the side with more seating options. All of the waiters are dressed in fancy dress: black jackets and pants with dark bow ties over crisp white shirts.

It was a wonderful atmosphere and one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve eaten in. The food was to die for as well! I ordered The Original Cuban sandwich with a cup of  the Spanish Bean Soup. The sandwich was delicious but the soup was my favorite. It was so tasty and flavorful that I wished I had ordered a whole bowl. We ordered empanadas as an appetizer and they were served piping hot and yummy!

For dessert, I ordered hot fruity tea that was filled with flavor, and my mom and I split an order of churros. The churros were so good we ate them all. They came with 3 dipping sauces: chocolate (my favorite), caramel, and berry.  Overall, the meal was amazing, and I would recommend anyone who wants to enjoy a delicious meal in a classy establishment visit the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. (They have other locations in Tampa as well, but this is the original.)

To digest our food after that heavenly but hefty meal, mom and I took a walk down the street, reading the history of Ybor City on the signs posted on the street. By the time we reached the end, it was time to head to the airport and end what was a wonderful Spring Break. If we’d had more time, maybe we would have gone to the beach, to the Busch Gardens, to the zoo, or visited one of the many museums that Tampa has to offer. I guess that just means I’ll have to go back!

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Ciao for now!

Cruising through Spring Break

Cruising through Spring Break

 

I have never been on a typical “spring break” during my college career. Granted, I am only a sophomore so this was really only my second Spring Break. Last year, I decided to stay at home with my family in the cold New England weather. It was definitely a nice break from my academic schedule, but I did feel like the cold weather was never-ending. This year, I was lucky enough to go on a cruise to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico… with my mom. I know you’re probably thinking it’s strange that a college student would want to go on Spring Break with her mom, but I honestly loved it! My mom is so much fun and I love doing things with her. So, I counted down the days until we would set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

By the time March 2 rolled around, I was ready to get on that plane and head to Tampa, FL for a five-day sun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, the weather in the East was not ready to let me go. By the time I got home from school, most of my friends’ flights had been cancelled due to the nor’easter, so my mom and I were crossing our fingers that our flight would leave as scheduled. I guess we didn’t cross them tight enough, though, because our 6:55 flight was canceled at 2:30. Now, we were a little worried because the cruise set sail from Tampa the next day and if we couldn’t fly there, we would miss it.

Luckily, my dad is a fast thinker and a very smart man, and he suggested that since we were only about 30 minutes from the airport we should just drive there to find another flight. This turned out to be the perfect idea because, although my mom had called the airport/airline and was told there was nothing they could do other than refund out ticket, we eventually found another flight to Tampa early the next morning. (Shout out to Miranda at the Southwest terminal at Bradley Airport because you were fantastic and helped us make our cruise!)

*Flying Tip: If your flight is cancelled and you are close to an airport, I suggest you go to that airport and speak with the people at the airline. Face-to-face contact is more likely to get you booked on another flight than simply calling on the phone because they get tons of calls from frantic flyers. Plus, if you are friendly while at the same time asking if there’s “anything at all they can do,” they will be more willing to try to accommodate you.*

Day 1- Travel and Ship Day

So, early Saturday morning my mom and I set off for Tampa and boarded our cruise. It was so amazing to be on board the ship because there was so much to explore and it was so sunny and warm. We started by looking around and centered on the beautiful atrium in the center of the ship. We sat on a beautiful couch at a little bar and just admired all the details of the boat. Then we decided we should take advantage of the sun, so we changed into the swimsuits we packed in our carry-ons (since you don’t get your luggage until after the ship is about to leave), and lay on the deck chairs. After an hour or so, we realized how hungry we were, so we headed to the buffet and gawked at all the options we could choose from. There was so much food that I think we may have over-indulged that first meal. But it was all too good to pass up.

Around 3:00 we decided to rest for a little bit to recover from our travels and to digest all the food we had just consumed. My mom had decided to get us a room with a balcony, which we’d never done before, and when we entered out cabin we immediately knew it would be worth the extra money. Even thought the balcony was small, it made the room seem so much bigger and added a less claustrophobic feel to the room. Plus, it was nice to sit out there and feel the breeze brush through my hair as I watched the water. Since, we were tired, though, we decided to wait to try out the balcony and instead took a nice little nap. We were awoken by the loudspeaker declaring that everyone needed to head to their prescribed deck for the safety practice. This took no more than 20 minutes, and then we walked around exploring the ship some more.

By the time we were ready for our dinner reservation, our hunger had returned. We opted for the sit-down dinner every night because it was nice to get a bit more dressed up and to be in a restaurant environment for our last meal of the day. My mom requested a window table, and the host graciously accommodated us. So as we ate our food, we were able to watch the sun set over the crashing waves. Overall, it was a perfect atmosphere. After we ate, my mom and I went to a show at the ship’s theater. The performer was a stand up comic, and he was pretty funny. By the time the show was over at around 10:30pm, both my mom and I were ready to turn in. This first day was a long and active one. The beds in the cabin are pretty comfortable and I could not really feel the rocking of the ship as I lay down. I would say Day 1 was a success!

Day 2- Ship Day

Sunday was a day at sea and a very relaxing one at that. The day started with my mom bringing me a cup of tea and a banana to eat on the balcony. Not a bad way to wake up! Then we went for a hearty breakfast at the buffet. We brought our food to a table near one of the huge windows and ate while we watched the sea go by. I have to say, this is my new favorite way to enjoy food. Then we walked around and came across a clothing sale the ship was having and picked out some cute T-shirts and an adorable beach cover-up.  Then we decided to take advantage of the sunny day and went to the front of the ship to catch some rays. I was a bit burned from the day before, so I found a chair in the shade.

After a while, we went back to the buffet for lunch, then tried out the adult-only pool area. This area was covered with huge windows above so that it was warmer but also incredibly bright with sunlight. The pool itself was pretty warm surprisingly and not very  crowded- the perfect swimming atmosphere. By the time I dried off a couple hours later, my mom and I decided that it was tea time. Luckily, right there in the adult area was a little cafe where we ordered some pastries and then made ourselves a cup of tea each. We took our afternoon treat over to the little tables and sat facing the sea as we sipped and snacked. Then we retired to the room for a post-tea rest. I ended up on the balcony just watching water and listening to music. It really was a perfect afternoon.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner: 7:00. That night was fancy night, so we dressed up more than we normally would- dresses, jewelry, and bright lipstick. The food was delicious as usual, and we took our time to fully enjoy the meal. Around 9:00, we went to see another show at the theater; this time it was a cabaret-style musical. The performers were very good and they all had beautiful voices. After the show, we decided to go to bed early because the next day we had to wake up early. We only had from 8:00 am to 3:00pm at Grand Cayman and we wanted to make the most of it.

Day 3- Grand Cayman Island

The day started early as I sat on the balcony enjoying the tea my mother had brought me and watched as the sun rose over the horizon. Then we got a quick buffet breakfast and got ready to disembark into the Cayman Islands. We took a smaller boat to the shore and then found a taxi to take us to the Calico Jack’s at the Seven Mile Beach (which, fun fact, is NOT 7 miles). We then rented 2 beach chairs with umbrellas for $20 and set up our little slice of heaven. I have to say, I have never seen water so clear and so blue before. It was astonishing! So as I dipped my toes into the crystal clear water, my mom set up the mini speaker we had brought and played some chill beach tunes.

After a little while, I ventured into the gorgeous water for a refreshingly cool swim. My mom had gotten us both snorkel gear (from Amazon) before our trip, so I got to try out snorkeling for the first time and I was not disappointed. I saw tiny little fish and lovely sea life. After a while, I went back to the chairs and it was my mom’s turn to venture into the water. By the time noon rolled around, we were ready for food. My mom went to Calico Jack’s and came back with yummy snacks and some margaritas. It was a fantastic lunch not only because of the food and drinks but because of the absolutely amazing atmosphere which we ate in.

When we finished eating, we stayed at the beach for another half an hour and then decided to head back to the main area. We took a taxi from the beach to the town area and walked around all the shops for a bit. On the cruise, we had gone to a jewelry show the day before and Amanda, the shopping cruise director, had given everyone a huge coupon book and flyers for a bunch of free/ discounted jewelry at each location. So, mom and I went to Effie to collect our free necklace, upgraded to a necklace and earrings set for $10, and then went to Diamonds International to claim our free charm bracelet and charms. One of the cool things about cruises is the free stuff you can claim, and I definitely came back laden with more jewelry than I boarded with. We went into other cute touristy stores as well and got a couple of tee shirts and hats. While we were wandering, we came across a rogue rooster just casually walking alongside us. What a strange and comical sight.

At 2:00, we headed back to the ship so we wouldn’t get left behind when the boat left at 3:00. Back on board, we rested until dinner time. I read more of my book from the beach that day (The Help by Kathryn Stockett if anyone is wondering). We had dinner as usual and then frequented another show. There’s a pattern in our nighttime activities, if you’ve noticed haha.

After the show, around 10:15, there was a really entertaining music and dance in the atrium area. It was 70s night so they played a bunch of ABBA songs and 70s music while simultaneously doing old-school dances. Everyone was crowded around the dance floor and up above in the seating areas on every floor overlooking the atrium. Mom and I were on the 8th floor looking down and singing and dancing along. It was such a lively atmosphere that we were pretty sad when it ended. But we were also tired, so we went back to the cabin for a good night’s rest.

Day 4- Cozumel, Mexico

As usual, the day began with a big buffet breakfast, but since we docked a bit later I got to sleep in for a little longer and was able to see as we pulled into the dock. Mom and I had decided the night before that we were going to begin our adventure in Cozumel with the shopping tour headed by Amanda. This allowed us to go with a group in a free taxi to the center of the city where we were dropped off at Diamond’s International. Here, we received another free charm for our bracelets.

Then we again went to Effie and got another free necklace, this time in a different color, and my mom bought herself a nice birthday present from there. What was nice about going with Amanda, though, was that we could purchase nice jewelry, leave it at the store with our name and cabin number, and then Amanda would come and pick up everyone’s jewelry to deliver it safely back aboard ship. This was great because mom and I did not want to bring the nice new jewelry to the beach with us just in case something were to happen to it. Because of this perk, we didn’t have to worry about anything. After the jewelry stores, we went to the typical tourist stores and bought a couple more T-shirts and souvenirs. At Viva Mexico! they had a free tequila tasting which was something fun mom and I tried.

When shopping had tired us out, we decided to take a taxi to Chankanaab, the beach. Once there, we had to pay to get in, and then we went to lunch at one of the restaurants. What’s cool about Chankanaab is that there are so many things to do; you can go swimming with turtles, snorkeling, and so much more. We were pretty boring people so we just went to the beach and snorkeled on our own. Even just doing this was a lot of fun though! I found a hammock to lie in and read while mom went snorkeling and vice versa. At this beach, there were a lot more fish and a much deeper area of water to explore. There were constantly waiters coming around asking if we wanted anything to drink, so at one point we each ordered a local beer. We left after a couple of hours and headed back to the port.

However, there was so much to do at the port that we ended up staying there for another hour. We got a couple of knick knacks at a touristy shop and then, oh and THEN, we came across the most fun place I’ve experienced: Senor Frog’s Cozumel! (From what I hear, they have these in many locations.) Let me tell you, this was an atmosphere fit for college students on Spring Break, which is probably why there were so many college kids there. They had great music playing, wild waiters, and lots of drinks to choose from. Mom and I ended up ordering 2 Bahama Mamas and while we were waiting for them to arrive, a  waitress came around with shots 2 for $5 so of course we indulged.

Then our drinks came… in the tallest thinnest cup I’ve ever seen. We got to keep both the shot glasses and the tall glass as souvenirs. Our table was right next to water and overall, the atmosphere in this place was so much fun! After we went back to the ship, we got ready for dinner, ate, and then went back to the room to watch a movie and call it an early night.

Day 5- Sea Day

Because this was our last full day, mom and I decided to take advantage of some of the amenities on the ship. We woke up late and had a calm and filling breakfast from, you guessed it, the buffet. At 11:00, we had an appointment at the spa. I had never had a massage before, so I was excited. I got the 75 minute full body massage and facial; both were amazing. The spa service on Royal Caribbean was excellent- the people were friendly and the atmosphere was so calming.

By the time we were done, it was almost 1:00, and it had started to rain. This meant we were pretty much confined to inside activities unless we wanted to get soaked. So, instead of laying out in the sun as we had planned, we went for lunch. After, we walked around the ship a bit and happened upon a Billy Joel “impersonator” in the atrium area. I absolutely LOVE Billy Joel so I was eager to stay and listen. I got some water and stood up top on one of the balconies as I listened to this guy play the piano and sing like Billy Joel, and I softly sang along.

When this was over, mom and I met up and we went back to the room to rest, because doing nothing all day really tires a girl out. It stopped raining late in the afternoon, so we went out on the balcony for a bit and enjoyed our last night on the water. Then we went for dinner and I enjoyed every morsel of food. I do have to say the food on board the ship was excellent every time I ate… which was a lot!

When dinner was over, we went to the 7:00 final show at the theater. It was a fun performance, and the end was very much ABBA heavy. The performers dressed up as the iconic group and the band played a bunch of their songs as the singers belted out a mixture of Dancing Queen, Mama Mia, and more. At the end, all of the performers came out on stage, took a bow, and said what country they were from. Then, almost the whole staff of the ship, or representatives from each department, came onstage to applause from the audience to show our gratitude. One thing that’s neat about Royal Caribbean is that its staff are from all over the world. After the show, we packed up and went to bed.

The next, and last, day on the cruise mom and I set out to enjoy the buffet and the sun for one last time. By the time it was our time to disembark, we had taken our last stroll around the ship and said farewell to our Caribbean cruise. It was a wonderful five days that I wish would never end.

Ciao for now!

My Favorite Beauty Products for Travel

My Favorite Beauty Products for Travel

I’m going to be honest, I’m not a beauty guru so my knowledge about makeup and beauty is limited. But I know enough to know what’s good and what’s bad (at least in my own terms). These are all inexpensive beauty products, with most of them coming from CVS or Target, but some are nicer pricier products I’ve received as gifts. Now that that is out of the way, here we go!

I tend to go for lighter makeup when I’m traveling just because my skin is sensitive and adjusts weirdly to new places that I go. And, a lot of the places I go are beachy, so I don’t wear a lot of makeup anyways. But, when I do like to get all glam for a night out or a nice dinner, these are some of my travel go to products (FYI the links go directly to the product I’ve listed if you want to check it out):

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM for normal to dry skin ($16.49 at Ulta)

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My skin varies from normal to dry and this moisturizer definitely makes me feel like my skin is being nourished. It is a little heavy but it’s not that noticeable and it helps my makeup go on easily. I love that there is sunscreen in this moisturizer because on vacation I am usually outside in sunny places and I have very pale skin so it’s good to know I’m protected. There is also a version without SPF 30 if you don’t want the sunscreen. I’m not going to lie, it does smell a bit like sunscreen, but it’ll go away after a few minutes, and I think the benefits outweigh the cons for this product. I’m left with soft protected skin.

Maybelline BB Cream in shade 110 Light/Medium (($6.69 at Target)

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I love this product for beauty vacays because it’s incredibly light and is essentially a tinted moisturizer. I have problem skin and this BB Cream does a nice job of getting rid of the redness and problem spots for a few hours. It also has SPF 30 so I don’t have to worry about my very pale skin getting damaged by the sun.

Maybelline Master Conceal concealer in shade 20 Light ($7.99 at Target)

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As I’ve previously said, I have issues with my skin so it’s nice to know that I can rely on this concealer to help me manage my blemishes. I’ve gotten more confidant in my skin as I’ve grown older, but there are times, especially on vacation when I’m taking a lot of photos, when I get self-conscious of my skin. Master Conceal helps me cover up some of these blemishes so I look stellar in my vacation photos.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve ($7.58 at Amazon)

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I. Love. This. So. Much. I started using this product as simply a lip balm but soon realized it is so much more. It can be used for almost any beauty need. If you’re interested in this product and want to know a few of the many ways it can be used (like eyebrow tamer and eye makeup remover) check out this article from Bustle. Needless to say, it is the perfect travel beauty product because of its many uses.

Mary Kay Kind Heart baked cheek powder ($18 at Mary Kay)

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This is such a beautiful not only because of the presentation, but also because it has a bit of a shimmer when applied. A shimmery blush is perfect for a vacation where I want to give the appearance of a summery glow even if I don’t actually have one. Plus, it’s a light coral that doesn’t stand out too much, giving me just a subtle rosiness to my cheeks. Overall, it’s a lovely look for a sunny vacay.

Sephora colorful wink-it felt liner – waterproof ($14 at Sephora)

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I like this eyeliner because it is really easy to apply and make eyeliner look good when applied. We all know how hard it is to get that perfect winged look, but this felt tip liner is essentially a pen, so it’s so simple to get a nice eye look. In addition, it’s waterproof meaning that during your vacation you can take a dip in the water without worrying about your makeup running. It also lasts a long time and stays looking amazing even after an hour siesta (speaking from experience).

Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara (sample) ($12 at Too Faced)

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I know everyone has been raving about this mascara for a while so I’m here to concur with them! This mascara really does make my lashes look super long and voluminous without feeling extra heavy. I like the sample size for travel because it lasts long enough for a trip about 2 weeks and is the perfect packing size.

Lotus Elixir No.4 perfume ($12 at Anthropologie)

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This rollerball perfume is about the size of my palm and smells amazing. According to its description on the Anthropologie website it is “a focus-inducing blend of hawthorn greens, mint, white lily, rose and violet (FLORAL).” I love it mainly for the strong impression it gives off without being overpowering. It’s not your typical floral scent, it’s almost dark (if that makes sense). It lasts a while and is the perfect size for traveling since it’s only 0.2 oz.

Bed Head ROCKAHOLIC Dirty Secret dry shampoo 2.5 oz ($10 at Ulta)

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I got this as a giveaway from the club HerCampus that I am a part of at college, so I did not pay for this product. (I write for the HerCampus site if you want to check out any of my articles- sorry, shameless plug.) But, I like Bed Head products and I got it for free so I decided to try it out. I ended up loving it because it a) smells good and b) makes my hair look good as new. Those are basically the only criteria I have for dry shampoo. Some others that I’ve tried do not get rid of my greasy hair which, ya know, is a pretty important factor of a good dry shampoo. This is a nice travel size as well so I’ve taken to bringing it on trips so that after an especially hot day, I just spray this in my hair and I’m ready for a night out.

Advanced Clinicals Tea Tree Oil 1.8 fl. oz ($11.55 Amazon)
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I’m not going to lie, I found this at Marshall’s for about $5 when trying to find a cheaper replacement for my other tea tree oil. I got this by chance because I liked how big the size was for the price it was. I use tea tree oil on my blemishes after I take my makeup off, cleanse, and tone my face because I have found that it will diminish or prevent acne. I absolutely live by tea tree oil since it essentially saves my face which is why I need to have it when I travel. After a day of my face full of sunscreen and makeup, tea tree oil does wonders. Luckily, this is a nice size and it comes with a dropper so I don’t end up using too much or pouring half the bottle out when I’m just trying to get a tiny dot. Highly highly recommend tea tree oil to anyone with blemish prone skin.

I hope you enjoyed this beauty review and if you want more just let me know in the comments. Question of the week: What is your favorite beauty/ makeup product for travel and why?

Ciao for now!

Tips for Packing the Perfect Suitcase

Tips for Packing the Perfect Suitcase

Figuring out how to pack everything you want on a trip can be difficult. There are probably so many things you want to bring and very little suitcase space. Believe me, I know the struggle. I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life, so I think I’ve finally figured out how to make it all work. If you’re interested to find out how I do it, check out this post!

Optimize Suitcase Space

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I have been lucky enough to travel a lot in my young life, but what’s always been hard is trying to fit everything I want to bring on my trip into a suitcase. Over the years, I’ve tried various techniques to stuff my bag to the brim. A couple of years ago however, I stumbled upon the perfect packing trick that helps me fit WAY more clothes into my small suitcase than I ever could in the past. Want to know what it was?

ROLLING! Yes, by rolling my clothes instead of folding them I am able to fit twice as many outfit options for my trip. This is incredibly helpful because I always want to bring more clothes than I know I could ever wear. All you have to do is fold your shirts in half and then roll from the top going down into a tight cylindrical shape then place it into the corner of your bag. Repeat this all the way across your suitcase and then add more levels as you begin to stack the clothes on top of one another. It’s also great because it doesn’t really wrinkle your clothes the way folding them does.

For shoes, I like to make them fit in like a puzzle which mostly means placing them at opposite angles from each other. For longer boots, try tucking one of the boots inside the other so that once its in, it looks like one boot with heels at each end. For sneakers, if you places them shoelace size down, you won’t get your clothes dirty.

Want this duffel bag? Find it here for a great price!

Toiletries

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When packing toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, face wash, makeup, lotion etc. you don’t have to splurge on buying new travel size products. Instead, head over to your local dollar store or Amazon and pick up a couple small travel size bottles. Then you can fill them up with the products you already have at home. Some bottles even come with a suction on the side so that you can stick it to the wall of your shower. They’re useful not only because you don’t have to buy a bunch of new products, but you can also reuse the bottles for any and all trips in the future, making them a sound investment.

Jewelry

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We all know the struggle of tangled jewelry on trips, so instead of putting all of your necklaces and bracelets together, put them in plastic wrap to avoid them moving around. This is easy and you probably have plastic wrap in your home anyways. You can also use tissue paper, putting a piece around each piece of jewelry.

You can also put rings inside of old pill boxes. In fact, pill boxes are great for a lot of things, like any generic medicine (ibuprofen) or actual medications you take, as well as pairs of earrings, hair ties, and any other small necessities you want to bring.

Carry-On

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My carry-on is my life-line when I travel, and I usually use something like a Longchamp bag because it is big enough to fit my belongings but small enough to put under my seat. I pack what I think I’ll need if my suitcase is lost or doesn’t arrive for some reason. So, with this in mind, I always make sure to pack an extra pair of underwear, socks, and some leggings. Along with these necessities I like to have a book, my chargers, a notebook and pen, some face wipes, a bit of travel sized makeup (mascara, lip balm, and BB Cream), and an empty water bottle.

Because this is a bunch of stuff, I like to use some different things to organize my bag. For the clothing items, I try to pick a cute little makeup bag because the clothing items are small enough that they’ll fit and they will be discreet in a bag seemingly for makeup. Chargers can go into either a plastic bag or another makeup type bag depending on how big they are. The face wipes and travel size makeup I like to put into a smaller makeup bag that can fit in the pocket of my carry on. This gives me easy access to lip balm and moisturizer when the flight dries out my skin. The empty water bottle is useful because, as most people know, you’re not allowed to bring liquids more than 3 fluid ounces through security. But, if you have an empty water bottle, you can fill it up in the water fountains once past security and won’t have to buy the pricey airport plastic water bottles.

I hope these tips helped, and if you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comment section. I’m always looking for new travel hacks!

Ciao for now!

Hangin at the Langham

Hangin at the Langham

December

For the past two years, my mom and I have taken a yearly trip into Boston the week before my finals at college. It’s a really nice tradition that we’ve started and very generous of my mom to do this for me. Last year, we stayed at The Taj in Boston which was lovely and beautiful. This year, however my mom booked us a night at The Langham in Boston. Because it was around Christmas time everything was decorated in such a festive way, with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. The room was quite spacious as well, with two queen beds, a little sitting area, and a nice sized bathroom. The window was on of my favorite parts of the room because it was slightly slanted and had a gorgeous velvet curtain to cover it.

After we checked in, put our belongings in the room and rested a bit, my mom and I decided we should venture out into the 13 degree Boston weather and explore the city on out way to dinner. But, while I may live in Boston most of the year, I am not the best at navigating the city. I was able to take us from the hotel to Quincy Market, which we looked around at, but from there I was lost. We eventually just started walking in the direction that we believed the North End to be in. My mom had found a nice restaurant for us to eat at in the North and this is where our adventure began. It was a chilly walk in heels for both of us, but we were so excited to be hanging out to care that the wind was whipping our hair all around our faces. A twenty minute walk later and some sore feet and we had made it to the restaurant, Antico Forno.

After walking through the door, there was a velvet curtain we had to walk through to get into the restaurant and once through we were greeted with a rush of warm air and a smile from one of the hostesses. It was pretty busy in there, but since there were only two of us we were seated within ten minutes, which is very quick for a popular North End restaurant on a Friday night. At our table, we looked around and admired the crackling fireplace and warm lighting that surrounded us. Once our server came over, we ordered some drinks (wine for mom, water with lemon for me), and were given complimentary bread that was amazing. We ordered some calamari for an appetizer which was delicious and we ended up finishing all of it before our meals even arrived, as well as all the bread we were given. For dinner, I ordered the Linguini al Frutti di Mare which is essentially pasta with seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari). My mom ordered the Linguini con Puttanesca. We eat devoured as much of our pasta as we could because it was delicious! I unfortunately could not finish all of it since I’d eaten all that bread and calamari, so I got the rest of it wrapped up to go and brought it back to the hotel.

Once we finished dinner, my mom and I took the scenic route back to the hotel, stopping by the winter market outside Government Center. It’s essentially a little circle of wooden stalls that sell all sorts of homemade things. For example, some sell homemade hats and scarves, others sell soaps and perfumes, more sell handcrafted jewelry, and others sell food. It’s a cute little place to look around spend some time listening to live music. Although, since it was around 8 o’clock by this point and pretty cold out, we didn’t stay long. From the market, we walked back to the Langham where we put on our bathing suits and headed to the pool and hot tub for a nice relaxing night dip. The pool closed at 10, so we stayed from 9:00-9:30, during which time there were only two other people there and the hot tub really warmed me up from the cold winter air. After we left the pool area, we went into the sauna to dry off for about five minutes, and then we walked back to our room.

When we got to the room, it was a nice surprise to see some chocolates on the pillow along with the weather forecast for the next day on a pretty little card under the chocolates. After each taking a shower in the spacious bathroom, we spent the rest of the night watching Hallmark Christmas movies on TV and chatting. The next morning, we decided to have afternoon tea as a brunch. So at noon, we walked down to the lobby and into the dining area where we were seated on a couch and presented with a tea menu and our options. I had the peach tea which was nice and refreshing, while my mom went with the classic Earl Grey. There were three courses: tiny sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and mini desserts. Everything was so good and filling that I had to take the rest of the little cakes to go. Below I’ll show some photos of the different foods we were served, along with the tea (although the scones were so tempting that I didn’t get to take a photo before devouring them). While we sat and enjoyed this amazing experience, it was snowing outside, so we watched out of the large window as the snowflakes drifted down from the sky and landed heavily in the street. The snow covered the city in a blanket of quiet and white. It was quite a pretty sight to see as I sat sipping tea and eating  tiny cucumber sandwiches.

Unfortunately, after tea it was time to leave my beautiful respite from school work. We checked out of the hotel and my mom drove me back to school. I brought a piece of my night with me though in the form of the leftover pasta and the tiny tea desserts. Overall, I have to say that the staff at the Langham were quite friendly and the atmosphere was very nice and festive. The only issue we  had was that we were told we did not need to make a reservation for afternoon tea when we asked at check-in, but the next day when we arrived all the tables had been booked, so we were seated on the couch. It worked out well since we liked sitting at the couch, but we would have made a reservation had we known. Also, if anyone out there loves chocolate as much as I do and has the time that I did not have, there is a chocolate buffet at the Langham where you can eat as much chocolate as you like. And if you’re worried about all those extra calories, they have a nice gym to workout in. I thoroughly enjoyed my little vacation with my mom out in Boston and at the Langham, and I would recommend the hotel for those with a sweet tooth and a liking for nice atmospheres.

 

Leave a comment of your favorite spot in Boston!

Ciao for now!

 

Cape Cod-da Go Back

Cape Cod-da Go Back

Over the summer, I got the opportunity to stay with my friend and her family at their house in Cape Cod (Orleans) for a few days. While there, we rode bikes around the town, ate at restaurants like The Lobster Claw, went into Provincetown, and of course we went to the beach. We also bought matching sweatshirts at the store Cuffy’s because how else were we supposed to remember this trip?? I got to climb the Pilgrim Monument and Museum in Provincetown which had an incredible view from the top. In addition, we walked around Provincetown looking in all the lovely shops and buying candy from the many candy shops. It’s such a vibrant town bustling with activity. There were neat little decorations all over the town, such as sunflowers placed in glass and stone and drag queens rolling around in bathtubs dressed as Old Hollywood women. I loved it there.

And of course we went to the beach because that’s what you do in Cape Cod during the summer. The day we arrived, we rode bikes there. It was overcast so we just parked our bikes and walked along the shore admiring the vast expanse of the ocean. As the waves rolled up, we felt the cold water lap at our toes. By the time we biked back, our feet were freezing and covered in sand; it was great. The next time we went back it was also cloudy but the tide was low and we could walk really far out, so we did. We looked across so far that we could just make out Provincetown and the Monument. We also saw tiny little crabs scuttling along the sand in the water. Our last day in Cape Cod was luckily very sunny, so we went to the beach in the morning. The water was so cold that my teeth started chattering, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump and ride the huge waves coming at me. After ten minutes, I adjusted to the water and the waves. I was knocked down quite a bit, but I did manage to ride a couple all the way to shore after some coaching from my friend Allison.

We rounded out our day and the trip at The Red Barn where we ate pizza and played mini golf. Overall, the trip was really nice, filled with adventures with my friend and exploring the Cape Cod surroundings. There was so much to do, like visit the Monument and explore Provincetown, while also providing a calm respite from activity at the beach. Cape Cod has something for every type of person, and I thouroughly enjoyed visiting.

Catch a glimpse of my experience through these photos:

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The Monument
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View from the doors of the Monument
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View from top of the Monument
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Another view from top of the Monument

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The colorful stones and glass the sunflowers are placed in

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Ciao for now!

Ischia, Italy: An Island Like No Other

Ischia, Italy: An Island Like No Other

I love the island of Ischia because it holds so many memories for me. Situated next to Capri, this island of Ischia is a beautiful Italian haven filled with lots of color, beautiful sea views, and friendly people. I’ve stayed on the island maybe3 or 4 times and I love it more each time I go. This past summer, I was lucky enough to continue my Italian exploration after Venice by going to Ischia for another 2 weeks. The big occasion for this was that my grandparents, who live on the island for half of the year, were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary! (I know, that is a LONG time.)

My mom, the clever woman she is, booked us an apartment right on the water. This meant that our large terrace looked out onto the beach and across the Mediterranean. We could see Mount Vesuvius, hear the crashing of the waves, and as soon as we arrived, we could see all our family down on the beach. So of course, my brother and I put our suitcases on our respective bunks (because our room had a bunk bed), changed into our bathing suits, and met everyone down on the beach.

That night all 15 or so of us met for dinner at a lovely restaurant and everyone ordered pizza. It was really nice to see all of my family and laugh with my younger cousins. And, that’s basically what we did for most of the week: went to the beach for the day then went for dinner at night. There’s nothing better than living in a bathing suit every day and swimming in the cool Mediterranean Sea looking at the beautiful views all around you. It’s convenient too, because the beach has a restaurant if ever I got hungry or thirsty.

Friday July 7 was the day of my grandparents’ 50th Wedding party. We went to the beach as normal in the morning, but we left earlier than usual so we could all get ready. We had to be at the church around 18:00. I wore a white sleeveless dress with a cinched waist that went down to just above my knees, silver dangling earrings, and black heeled sandals. Once we got to the church, we watched the renewal of vows and I got to participate in the ceremony along with some other members of my family. It was lovely.

After the church ceremony, we all walked to the restaurant where the reception was being held. It was right across from the beach and had an amazing view of the sea just as the sun was setting. There was a musician who played beautiful Italian songs, people gave speeches and toasts, we ate too much, we laughed too much. It was a fantastic night filled with lots of love and the best family I could ask for. Per Italian style, we didn’t leave until 1 or 2 in the morning, by which point I was exhausted.

For the next week, we did pretty much the same as the week before: beach and swim every day. Although night time varied; we explored the island. We got gelato every night of course, but not always from the same place; we ate at different restaurants, saw different musicians, walked different streets. For an island, there is so much to do. One night we walked to my grandparent’s house on the other side of the island and ate a fabulous meal prepared by my Nonna. One of our last days on the island, we changed up our routine and went to the spa beach. It’s pretty expensive which is why we only go one day, but it is worth it. It has various levels of outdoor lounging, along with heated pools with waterfalls, a restaurant with a view to die for, and stairs that walk right into the sea. And once in the sea, there are floating chairs to lay in and docks to jump off of. It’s one of my favorite places on the island.

Unfortunately, our time on Ischia couldn’t last forever. So after doing some last minute shopping at the island’s many stores, we finally arrived at our last day. Weirdly enough, there was a fire in Napoli which we could see from our terrace, but the smoke made it seem like Vesuvius was smoking. That was an exciting 5 minutes where we thought perhaps we’d be the next Pompeii. Luckily, our flight wasn’t until noon the next day though, so we stayed the night in Napoli and got to experience the joys of the city where my family is from. We ate delicious food at a restaurant right on the marina, so that I twirled my pasta with one hand and tried not to touch the boat next to me with the other. After dinner, we walked around the streets of the busy city simply people watching and getting gelato before heading back to get a good night’s rest.

The next day, we packed up and ate our last meal at a restaurant a few feet from our hotel. It was a great way to leave Italy, with a view of a castle on the water and pasta in my mouth.

Here are some of the photos from Ischia and Napoli:

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View from our terrace
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Just a casual walk down the street
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View as we walked to my grandparent’s house

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View from the street
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This was taken from my table at the restaurant reception
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At the spa beach
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When we thought the smoke was coming from Vesuvius (you can see it in the distance)
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This is the view of Naples from the boat to get there
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View from our hotel room in Naples (this is one of my favorite photos)
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Another view from our hotel room (and also another fave photo)
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Me and my bro taking a sibling pic
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The boat(s) right next to me at dinner- taken at the dinner table
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View of Naples at night from the sidewalk near the Castle

If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to leave them below!

Ciao for now!