February’s Reads

As you will see, I really branched out from my typical genre of books in the month of February. I have discovered an appreciation for both classic works of literature as well as romances set in the 1920s and 1930s. These books were so captivating that I finished most of them in a matter of a day or two.

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… And Why by Sady Doyle-

This book analyzes popular female “trainwrecks”, such as Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears, and questions why they are given this label. Doyle discusses how society is the reason for these women’s breakdowns and how we can stop this. She questions why men are idolized for the same actions that women are called crazy for. If you enjoy feminist or thought-provoking literature, give this one a read!

Book Review

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi-

I’m sure many of you have heard lots of reviews about this book. It has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. It accounts the life of a neurosurgeon who falls ill with cancer, taking you through his thoughts of life and death. I believe everyone should read books like this because they give you a deeper appreciation for what really matters. Kalanithi struggles between his illness overcoming him and his love for surgery, which is such a powerful message. Be prepared to cry!

When Breath Becomes Air review

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali-

This book was being displayed as a featured book in Daunt Books one day, so naturally I decided to pick it up. This bookstore always gives the best recommendations and has books with the prettiest covers. I’m not gonna lie, the cover is what really got me… and the sales lady’s endless praise for it, too. This book is not a typical read for me, being that I usually head towards business or psychology books, but I quickly fell in love with it. It follows a Turkish man who finds himself in Berlin, captivated by a beautiful woman in a painting. I won’t ruin the magic of the book but the characters do end up meeting. Maria, this woman in the painting, is a character I found a lot of myself within, which is probably why I am so fascinated with her. Her strong, complex character is reason enough to read this novel.

Madonna in a Fur Coat

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald-

A literary classic, I have been yearning to read this novel for awhile now. When I found it for only a few pounds in a bookstore in Old Street station, I knew it was finally time to read it. The first part consisted of the most magical, captivating pages. This part discussed Anthony’s fascination with Gloria and her youthful, free spirit. I have developed a deep love for the character of Gloria in her younger years. The rest of the novel follows the love story of these two characters and the changes in their lives relative to their own fortunes. I personally love the way Fitzgerald writes; there is something so poetic about his descriptions of people and events.

If you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them below! Check out January’s Reads and be sure to look out for March’s Reads, coming soon.

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Hidden Gem of London: Palm Vaults

I am a sucker for a place with a cute aesthetic and healthy, good-tasting food. Needless to say, Palm Vaults offers both of these, all in the heart of Hackney.

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The café truly is an Instagrammer’s heaven with the green plants hanging from the ceiling, marble tables, velvet couches, and pink accents. Not to mention the takeaway cups which are chic enough to include in your next #ootd post.

Palm Vault Dragonfruit Smoothie

My friend ordered the “Unleash the Dragon” smoothie which is undeniably the prettiest smoothie I have ever seen. It still amazes me how a fruit can produce a color as bright and vibrant as this one.

Palm Vault London

Palm Vaults is known for their endless selection of artisan lattes. Tumeric, violet, red velvet, blue moon tea, and charcoal are just a few options included in their menu. I ordered the red velvet latte and was surprised to taste a beet flavor. It turns out the pretty red color is acheived using the natural coloring of beets. While it is definitely an acquired taste, it makes me feel better knowing that I am not consuming artificial chemicals. The beet and mocha flavors surprisingly complement one another very well!

Palm Vault acai bowl

I ordered the “Pataya Bowl”, decorated with raspberries, coconut, blueberries, and goji berries. After seeing pictures of my favorite bloggers eating these bowls on tropical islands such as Hawaii and Australia, I had to have one. This bowl brought a little slice of the warm tropics to London, right before walking outside into the rain of course.

palm vault london

While I loved being in such a pretty atmosphere, with yummy food, places like this attract certain kinds of people. Of course I am not hating on us bloggers, being I am also that girl that has to rearrange the table to get the perfect picture of what I am about to consume, but it is also important to enjoy the moment you are living in.

Often at times we tend to only do things for the image that it portrays on social media. We all get caught up in capturing that perfect picture with the perfect lighting. While this is ok to do to a certain point, there comes a time when it’s necessary to put the camera or phone down and focus on what’s in front of you. Enjoy your delicious food. Enjoy the atmosphere you’re in. Most importantly, enjoy the time with the company that surrounds you.

The next time you go out to brunch or coffee with friends, spend the first 5 minutes rearranging your food and posting it all over social media. After, put the camera away. Put the phone away. Take the time to really talk to your friends and really taste your food. It is amazing how much more enjoyable life becomes when you shut out the digital world and embrace the present.

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The Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam- What to See, Eat, Do

I can officially say I have found the next European city that I long to live in. Amsterdam, you have my heart.

This past weekend my cousin Natasha and I ventured on a train from London to Amsterdam. When you first exit the station you see the beautiful Amstel river in front of you and a path buzzing with bicycles. Even knowing that it is the most bike-friendly capital in the world, I was still shocked by just how many bikers there really were!

Amsterdam is a fairly small city, making it perfect for only a day and a half long trip. Surprisingly, we were able to do most of the things we wanted to, although I would be happy to aimlessly walk along the canals for days.

To See…

Amsterdam canal

Yes, the canals are just as breathtakingly beautiful in person as they are in the pictures. There is something about each street being lined with water that makes the city like a fairytale land. I know I am happiest when I am by the water, so it makes perfect sense that Amsterdam is the happiest city in the world! I suggest enjoying a cup of coffee or tea and sitting along the edge (or if you’re scared of water, on one of the bridges).

Amsterdam tulip market

If you are a flower lover like myself, you must visit the Bloemenmarkt, a flower market floating on one of the canals. They display the most beautiful blooming tulips you will ever see. While I unfortunately didn’t get the oppurtunity to make it to the Dutch countryside for the tulip fields, this was a great alternative.

Amsterdam flower market

My favorite shop was one of the last ones in the market. The ceiling is adorned with delicate bouquets of pastel-colored flowers. If I live in Amsterdam someday my apartment will always be flourishing with an assortment of flowers from this market.

Iamsterdamn sign

The I amsterdam sign has to be the most Instagrammed spot in the city. While I think the sign is quite touristy and overrated, I still recommend visiting the surrounding area. The sign is located by a bunch of beautiful museums, this stunning fountain, and a luscious green park.

To Eat…

Coming to Amsterdam I was most excited to eat the waffles; and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. The first thing I ate after setting foot in the city was some stroopwafels. These are a traditional Dutch dessert consisting of two thin waffles with a layer of gooey caramel in between. They are addicting, beware!

stroop

While the stroopwafels are an amazing treat, my favorite thing I ate in Amsterdam had to be the Milka chocolate-covered waffle. Milka chocolate alone tastes amazing, so just imagine adding a warm waffle and homemade whipped cream to the mix. I’m surprised I remember it as well as I do being that I devoured it in a matter of minutes. Waffle shops are everywhere in the city, and in my opinion, all equally as yummy.

GG's brunch boat Amsterdam

Hands down my favorite part of the trip (even if you include the part where Natasha spilled an entire mimosa on me), G’s Brunch Boat is a must-do while in Amsterdam. Not only is the food amazing, but you get an extensive 2-hour tour of the canals. My cousin and I were huge fans of the music they played- everything from Rihanna to modern remixes to throwback songs, the playlist was on point.

Amsterdam pancakes

Another traditional Dutch food that I had to try while in the Netherlands was poffertjes, or as I like to call them, mini pancakes. You can order these fluffy pieces of goodness with all sorts of toppings like bananas, strawberries, nutella, or whipped cream. I always opt for the simple cinnamon and sugar. Just like the waffles, you can find Dutch pancake houses all over the city. Be sure to stop in one for a sweet snack!

If you are looking for a nice lunch spot with a stunning view of the canal, check out Schreierstoren (or VOC Café). It is right by the train station, making it a convenient choice for your pre or post travels. I even ate next to an adorable Doodle named Cookie which was a huge bonus in my book!

For dinner be sure to check out A Fusion, a Japanese restaurant conveniently located by the Red Light District. If you are looking for something outside all of the bustle of the city center, try Mexico Boulevard for some yummy mexican food and a great service experience.

To Do…

You can’t go to Amsterdam without exploring some of its deep history. I recommend paying a visit to the Anne Frank House. The stories that have been created in the house are tragic but powerful. Visiting the house and experiencing the exhibit makes you really think about life and what is important. As Otto Frank once said, “To build a future, you have to know the past” (1967). This should be reason enough to pay this piece of history a visit. Be sure to buy your tickets online beforehand so you don’t have to wait in line.

Anne Frank House cafe

The café at the end of the exhibit is a beautiful place to have a cup of coffee or enjoy lunch. Light floods into the all-glass walls, making it a brilliant space to work or enjoy with friends. The far side of the café overlooks the canals, giving you a picture-perfect view.

fashion blogger amsterdam

After touring the Anne Frank House, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum. This is the one museum in Amsterdam that I knew I had to visit. If you didn’t know, Van Gogh was actually born in the Netherlands, and you can see this inspiration in some of his pieces.

I have always admired Van Gogh’s artwork and his passion (or madness) for the work he created. The museum walks you through the story of his life and the different paintings which he made in different periods of his life. It is mind-blowing just how many pieces of his they have and just how different a lot of them are from the typical Van Gogh pieces that we are used to seeing.

Vondelpark Amsterdam spring time

This is Vondelpark, the park located by the Van Gogh Museum and Iamsterdam sign,  which I mentioned earlier. If you are as lucky as we were and are blessed with sunny days, spend an hour or two in the park. The energy of the locals here is contagious; kids are running around and people are playing fetch with their dogs. You could even bring some cheese (which Amsterdam is actually known for!) and champagne to the park and have a small picnic!

I am already counting down the days until I can visit this city again… or move there, if I’m lucky. It is so much more than everyone makes it out to be. Experience it for yourself and let me know what you think! Look out for an Art Guide to Amsterdam, coming soon. Until then, follow me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures of this beautiful city.

January’s Reads

I know, I know. This post is a month delayed… but I promise, I have been keeping true to my New Year’s Resolution! I have happily read a new book every week and am learning something new every day. Here is what I read during the month of January:

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St. Marks is Dead by Aba Calhoun-

We all know I love New York City; that is no secret. As Carry Bradshaw once said, “If you only get one great love, New York may just be mine”. When I first saw this book I was instantly intrigued. Some of my fondest memories from my freshman year of college occurred on St. Marks Place. I wanted to learn the deep history behind a street that meant so much to me. The book walks through the colonization of New York City and how the neighborhood changes throughout the decades. It includes personal stories from residents of the street, making the book personal and real. If you love the history of music, art, or New York City, then I highly recommend picking this book up. It even includes vintage photographs!

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Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil-

Some of you may have just read that title and cringed. Ew, math!? Why would I want to read about math? Personally, I love math, but you do not have to enjoy crunching numbers to appreciate this book. O’Neil dives deep into how today’s algorithms favor the wealthy and hurt the middle class. She touches on subjects like college admission and bank loans, describing how these systems work against the typical American. The book is definitely eye-opening; It makes you think how it is even possible to escape this embedded discrimination.

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb-

This book has to be my least favorite of all I read during January. I have had this book for quite awhile, maybe two years. Every time I reached to read it I ended up returning it to the growing stack of books in my bedroom. Taleb is a philosopher by nature so the entire book is quite lyrical, making it one big tangent and hard to follow. While there were chapters that really made me wonder how the world works, and reflect on my own experiences, I found myself lost for quite a majority of it. Also, I may have been a bit bitter that he kept stating the uselessness of statistics, a subject I quite enjoy!

The Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford-

I have a large fascination with robots being that I want to pursue data science in the future. I was initially attracted to this book by the bright, animated cover. Whoever said “don’t judge a book by its cover” clearly never walked around a bookstore filled with the most beautiful books. This book goes into a detailed discussion about how technology is projected to ruin our economical system. Ford dives into each upcoming innovation and how that particular one will destroy opportunities for the middle class. He then provides what he believes to be a solution for the accelerated pace of technology. If you love technology as much as I do, and are amazed by what scientists are creating in the world, give this book a read!

If you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them below! Look out for February’s Reads, coming soon.

Shoreditch Street Style

Shoreditch is the coolest place in London to live; I will take that statement with me to the grave. Being a fashion and art lover, the environment really spurs so much creativity. Every time you walk down the street you notice a new painting or music poster on the exposed brick buildings. There is constantly something that inspires me with a new idea.

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Maybe it’s just me being crazy, but I think I’ve gotten a lot cooler since moving to Shoreditch. The neighborhood openly accepts the most artsy form of yourself, which I love. I can where whatever I want to wear without being looked at twice (unless your outfit is just so cool it requires a few extra glances). Everyone is always expressing themselves and simply living their lives. If you have a new idea or a creative soul, this is the only place to pursue it.

London street style

Staying true to my own style, I love to take business-like pieces and pair them with more eclectic, hip accessories. I took this rather fancy silk blouse and paired it with my new favorite Topshop jeans and Asos rose gold loafers. The cold and rainy weather clearly hasn’t stopped me from sporting my favorite pair of shoes.

London fashion blogger

I have been wearing a lot more blue since being in London, and I can’t help but think if the weather is what is inspiring this new wardrobe change. It really is as gloomy as everyone says it is (although this was shot on a super sunny day, of course)! Luckily, living in Shoreditch, there is always a colorful art mural just around the corner to brighten my day.

London fashion blogger

Fashion and art are two topics which can be interpreted in many different ways. We all see different things as forms of art and different styles as “fashion-forward”. Living in London has reinforced this viewpoint of mine more than ever. There are so many different parts of the city, each with different kinds of people, restaurants, and architectural styles. There truly is a neighborhood that is meant for everyone.

London street style

I am lucky enough to live in the neighborhood that fits me the best. Shoreditch is for the so-called “hipsters”. Kensington is for the posh museum-goers. Camden is for the eclectic, edgy character. Westminster is for the tourists…

london fashion blogger

The next time you are looking for a unique source of inspiration, explore a new area- whether it is a small street just a few minutes from you or a completely unknown neighborhood. You never know what you will find and how it will inspire you.

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Photos by Colton.