Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Road Trip: Boston

In a week and a half, I'll be heading on a road trip to Boston. My fingers are crossed that the weather will be lovely and that the traffic will be sparse.

So far, all I have planned in my head is to go to Flour Bakery for a sticky bun and a homemade oreo and possibly a pub crawl. It's a city I've visited many times before so I'm hoping to also do some other interesting things, like maybe a museum.

But what I have pretty solidly planned are my outfits (courtesy Polyvore). Though, if it's rainy, I'll have to change things up.

boston road trip

Monday, May 28, 2012

Girly Post: Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

To celebrate the holiday, I did my nails in a festive way. Not really sure why these nails represent Memorial Day at all except the red and white, stripes and stars are pretty patriotic. And the heart is the love I have for those who lost their lives serving this country. But also, they do look fun and summery and isn't Memorial Day also the official start to the summer and the official day we can start wearing white? Though, that rule is kind of dumb and I break it all the time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us! Mine's starting in about 12 minutes since my office is closing early so we can all get a head start on our festivities.

Whether you're headed to the shore for some sun, barbecuing at home, or hitting up the mall for the pre-summer sales, know this: traffic is going to be a bitch this weekend. What's that mean? Plan accordingly and use the google maps traffic feature. You can even change the day and time to predict what the traffic might be like "in the future."
Enjoy your holiday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Girly Post: Beach Braid

I've seen this braid done a few ways but I like the way Refinery29 describes the method best, especially because the girl in the photos does her braid REALLY neatly. I think it's a look I'll rock when I'm in Provo for fancy dinners. After all, my hair will be lovely and wavy from swimming in the ocean all day.

It's a little complicated so the simplest way I can describe it is to say this:

Start a braid on one side of your head, the way you might start a french braid pigtail, and braid around your head, kind of like a crown. Drop one strand of the braid (on the side closer to your neck) as you pick up a strand (from the side closer to the tip of your head).

Or, to be a bit more detailed but also confusing, I might show you this diagram and say this:
looks like some weird science textbook diagram, doesn't it?

1. Start a braid on the left side of your head by taking a chunk of hair and separating it into three strands.
2. Braid the left strand over the middle so they've now switched positions.
3. Then the right strand over the new middle - that's one full plait.
4. & 5. You still have three strands but now each strand is in a new position so start over and do one more plait.
6. Now, braid the new left strand over the middle
7. but instead of braiding the right strand, grab a chunk of hair from the top of your head
8. and braid it over that right strand.
9. Now you will have four strands. DROP the left most strand and braid what is the new left strand over the middle strand.
10. Finish the plait by by braiding the right strand over the middle and repeat this pattern of plaiting and adding and dropping until you've made it around the crown of your head to the other side. Confused yet???

I don't do the double version, like Refinery29, but maybe I will in the future. Either way, it's a good way to keep hair out of your face and looks best if your hair has beachy waves.

Sorry for the bleached-out looking photos below. I wanted to take the photo in a bright light since my dark hair can make it difficult to see the detail of the braid. Also a tip for girls with dark hair - be careful of how you grab the strands from the top of your head because you can make it look like you have bald spots if you segregate the strands too "cleanly" since it exposes your scalp. If you're messier with how you grab hair to incorporate into the braid then the hair will overlap and that bald spot problem will not even be an issue. You can see some bits of my exposed scalp in my version - whoops.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Last Minute Deals

Expedia's last minute deals are pretty good. A little poking and prodding and you might find yourself a trip that's well under budget and they show weekend deals so you don't even have to take off work.

A weekend trip to Berlin for $600? San Juan for some sun? Orlando to check out Harry Potter world? Tempted - especially since I'm going to making a rather large deposit into my bank account today. Yes, my federal tax refund has finally arrived.

... Thinking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Girly Post: Reverse Headband Braid

I previously did a post on braiding a small chunk of my hair along my hairline kind of like a headband. This is kind of the opposite. I french braided all of my hair along the side of my head, closer to the nape of my neck and then taking the leftover hair and twisting it into a messy bun.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I LOVE flamingos. To be honest, I find birds a little scary but flamingos are pink! And the necks of two flamingos nuzzling each other form a heart! There's also the fact that my favorite DJ, Fedde le Grand, belongs to Flamingo Recordings (a Dutch house record label) and he produced a track called "Pink Bird," (youtube link).

Anyway, the point to this flamingo rant? There's a spot on North Caicos island called Flamingo Pond where thousands of flamingos just hang out so now I'm thinking about planning a day trip to North Caicos via ferry.

Flamingo Pond, North Caicos

The TCI ferry from Provo to North Caicos is really easy. The trip takes about half an hour and it's $25 per person one way (a bit cheaper for kids) and $40 for round trip. North and Middle Caicos need to be navigated via rental car (or a taxi, though that would be v. expensive) and the islands are big enough that cycling is only recommended for experts and super enthusiasts. Otherwise, you probably risk dying from exposure and heat exhaustion.

These islands are a bit more lush, since they receive the most rainfall, so they actually farm things here. If we decide to go, I'm going to stock up on mangoes, papayas, and maybe tomatoes. Apparently the tomatoes are really delicious. And of course, we'll head to the Flamingo Pond Overlook to spy on some cute pink birds. Can't forget to bring binoculars since they're a bit of a distance away usually.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shopping, Anglophile-Style

Union Jack tray from Ikea, $4.99, BÄRBAR line (not currently on the website)
I want to use it to serve tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream while speaking in a British accent.

... to be perfectly honest though, I'll probably just use it as a tray for knickknacks in my room to remind me of how much I miss London and how long it's been since I've been there! But TCI is a British territory, so that's almost the same thing, right?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Electronics on the Beach (Take 2)

With my upcoming trip to Provo, I've been doing a lot of research on underwater goodies like cameras and cases for my phone and money.

I've been looking at disposable underwater cameras.
Fujifilm Quick Snap Waterproof 35mm Single Use Camera 
It's a great idea because if it gets lost or stolen or damaged, who cares? It's cheap. I learned that lesson when our snorkeling photos from Hawaii were stolen (more specifically, the bag they were kept in was stolen). However, it does make me sad to think I might be losing precious memories and you never know if this camera is working or not. What if all of the photos you take are duds and then you spend a good $25 to get them developed? That's quite a waste of money... Hence, I'm thinking about my digital options.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Biking like a European

Inspired by the bikes with baskets that I saw in Holland, I did some internet research to find a nice wicker basket to hang off of the front of my new beach cruiser (single-speed, $99 sale at Target).

After lots of research and debating, I decided on the European Market Basket from Cynthia's Twigs. It even has "European" in the name! And the owner, Cynthia, started designing these baskets after ones that she saw in Holland - how fitting.

Here's what it looks like:
It has sturdy hooks that latch over the handlebars of most bikes and it's suited for dogs to ride around in. And it comes in a few different sizes to suit your needs (and the weight of your canine friends, if applicable). There's also a metal brace (for $11) you can get if you know you'll be carrying something heavy (like your 15+lb dog). And she also sells basket liners; there are tons of different fabrics to suit your personality. I actually talked to Cynthia via email and over the phone and she's really kind and accommodating. It was definitely a pleasure doing business with her.

Anyway, now that the warm weather is upon us, I'd love to cycle over to my local farmer's market and buy fresh vegetables and bread and pretend to be in the French countryside.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Provo - Transportation

Providenciales is a relatively small island but according to all the online travel sources, a car is recommended. My hotel is located on Grace Bay Beach (where most of the resorts are) and everything you might need (bike rentals, grocery store, restaurants) are within walking distance. However, there are notable restaurants and other beaches to explore farther away but I'm thinking about just renting a bike.

Here's a map so you can get a context for the size of the island (customized with spots I want to remember):

The most popular bike rental outfit that kept popping up on my searches is Scooter Bob's, which is located in the Turtle Cove Marina. The rates online say $20/day or $15/day if you rent for 3 or more days. However, I emailed them to ask a few questions and the person who responded to me said $15/day or $10/day for 3 or more days. Either way, the rates are pretty reasonable (although in some places, like Maui, you can rent a car for that much!). They also provide locks but I read somewhere that there aren't many places to secure your bike on the island so you have to be careful.

The other rental place I found is Caicos Cyclery. Their rates are a little bit steeper - $25/day, $22.50/day for 3 or more days, $20/day for 7 days, 30% off for 8 or more days. But they provide you with a lock and a helmet, which is nice, and it's in the Grace Bay area.

The reason why bike rental is so much more tempting than car rental (which averages $60/day from what I've found from my personal research) is because I've read that the native drivers are v. aggressive, parking can be difficult to find, and the biggest reason is that they drive on the left side of the road and I don't think I want to have to worry about that during a relaxing holiday. Oh, and even though they drive on the left, most cars are imported from the U.S. so the driver's side is still the left... so I guess you'd learn how to drive like a mailman?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

HOORAY! My next tropical holiday to the island of Providenciales has been booked. I actually ended up doing all of my research rather impulsively in the span of a few hours and then booked right away. I booked a vacation package (hotel + flight) through Expedia for about $1000 per person for 7 nights at a resort, which I think is a fantastic deal.

The breakdown was something like $450 per person for the flight and $1100 total for the room, which is about $158/night. Considering the fact that the normal rate for our hotel, Royal West Indies Resort, is $230/night, I'd say that's pretty awesome. And hopefully, the rates I paid already include any resort fees. This particular hotel appealed to me because 1) each room has a kitchenette (microwave, toaster oven, refrigerator) or a full kitchen, at a cost of course, 2) complimentary bicycles for guests to borrow, and 3) it's located right on the beach. Plus, the pool looks lovely and it got great reviews.
I used the explore option on Kayak to figure out where I wanted to go. There were a lot of islands that looked tempting (Aruba, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, etc.) but what drew me to TCI was how tiny it looked. Tiny island to me means it'll be easier to explore and that means it'll be a more relaxing trip since I tend to stress out over how I'll be able to see everything there is to see when I go on holiday. Plus, the currency is the USD, they speak English, the beaches are amazing, and it's one of the safest islands in the Caribbean with a v. low crime rate.

I'm excited to snorkel, maybe horseback ride on the beach, and get a lovely glowing tan.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Girly Post: Polka Dot Nails

Easy spring-y/summery nails: polka dots! I think polka dots are great for a beach-y holiday or maybe a south of France biking and picnicking hoiday?

As always, you'll need a base coat and top coat - two MUSTS for me. In addition, you'll need a base color and a second color for your polka dots. Last item you'll need is a toothpick, preferably one with a pointy end and a flat end - not one with two pointy ends.

I decided I wanted smurf blue nails with white polka dots. I used Essie's Coat Azure as the base blue and then used the white french tip polish from Rimmel for the dots. I should also mention that I love QUICK DRY top coats. It hardens in two minutes and there's less risk of smudging and more importantly less risk of staining your clothes or furniture when you accidentally smack your hand into something.
Start with the base coat then however many coats of base color you want. I like a nice opaque solid color so I did two thick layers. Then, using the flat side of the toothpick, I dipped it in the white and filled in a few random dots here and there on each nail.
Next, using the pointy end of the toothpick, I went and filled in the negative space with a few more tiny dots. I like the look of multiple sized dots but that's just my preference.
Then, I gave myself a few minutes of setting and drying time before applying the top coat. If you try and use top coat too soon, the white dots might not be set enough and you'll smear them so that you'll have a shooting star effect rather than crisp and pretty dots.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Istanbul: Day 7

Not much happened on our seventh day because our flight was at noon. We caught our final free breakfast at the hotel and then hopped on the tram back to the airport.

However, I did spend the last bit of cash I had on Chanel nail polish and Toblerone. God bless Duty-Free shops.
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