Inside My Dorm

Ah the college dorm, the dreaded small dingy confined space barely large enough to fit that twin XL bed, let alone a girl’s wardrobe.  Decorating a dorm proves to be an oddly exiting challenge that students look forward to, including myself, at the beginning of each year.  There is something strangely satisfying about figuring out how to fit everything and “hacking” the space you are given.  Thankfully, this year as a sophomore, I was able to get a single room that, while still small, gave me ample space to decorate and customize to my heart’s content.  Last year, I was cramped into a room with two other girls and, although hard, it helped me figure out how to make the most of my space.  I swear by companies like Pottery Barn (PB teen has a specific dorm brand), Bed Bath and Beyond, and Etsy to find solutions for storage that are cute and minimize the clutter because, as you probably can tell by this blog, I love clothes (and shoes and jewelry and accessories).  So how do I manage this year?  Read below to see how I transformed my space to be comfortable, personal and practical! 🙂

To stay organized, I separated by dorm into different sections based on purpose.  I have my mini fridge (and freezer!) near the entrance in the little foyer on top of a storage unit for my snacks and kitchen ware.  My kettle, cups and mugs are all on top of the fridge making what I like to call my “vertical kitchen”.  Further inside the room, I have my wardrobe across from my “little sitting area”, my bed area with storage underneath, and then my desk area where I store all of my toiletries, jewelry,  makeup, and school supplies.

My Bed:

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I tried to keep the decor neat around my bed and stuck with a constant color scheme throughout my room.  The base is all light soft pink, and then I have a lot of navy, gold (including rose gold), black and white which all come together to contrast each other.  The floral lights are from PB Teen.  The little pinup board and monogram are customized from Etsy which is the place to go for custom decor at a decent price.  The dog painting is actually my dog and she’s right below an art piece representing my state, letting me have a little piece of home on display.  I got the The Breakfast at Tiffany’s picture from Art.com which is a fabulous place to get art at a reasonable price.  I know it’s super cliché but I love Andrey Hepburn and classic movies, plus the picture goes well with my overall theme.  The rose gold dots are from Umbra, a company that specializes in sleek modern home decor all at a very cheap price.

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You can never have enough pillows, especially in college when your bed doesn’t have a headboard.  I have yet another monogram on a pillow from Etsy (I love the cursive look and the personalization of them).  Two of the other pillows are from Lily Home, another from Kate Spade (it’s a Jane Austen quote since I love classic english lit), and a fun sequined pillow that is more for my own entertainment than practicality.  My bedspread is called Whimsical Waves from PB Teen.  I made sure to have a neutral solid spread, so I could go all out with pillows and other fun patterned accessories.

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As a storage hack, I have a special rail (PB Teen) that hangs under my bed to store my vests and light jackets.  It also shields the junk that I have under my bed such as my suitcases and boxes, so nobody has to see the cluttered mess underneath.  The little ottoman is from Bed Bath and Beyond and it also stores clothes.  It doubles as both a seat and a step stole making it absolutely awesome.

My sitting area:

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My favorite part of the room is the little make shift seating area I created.  The tapestry, which takes up the majority of the wall, is from Society 6, a great site specializing in funky affordable decor specifically for young people.  Tapestries are great since they transform a space with little to no effort on your part.  I honestly couldn’t resist having a pink and purple Prada Marfa sign in my room!  The seat and lamp are both from target, while the truck is from PB Teen.  The truck was a bit of an investment, but is multi-purposeful as both stylish storage and furniture for my room.

My Desk:

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I admit that my desk is a bit cluttered, but that’s partly because it serves so many functions.  The acrylic makeup container stores all of my hair and makeup supplies, along with lotions and perfumes.  I separate that with my jewelry which I have stored with a hanger from The Container Store and a small pottery and wire earring holder.  I use my desk as a vanity, so I have a nice foldable mirror from PB Teen that takes up limited space.  I’m a total Harry Potter nerd, so yes I have all of the books lined on the shelf, and as extra decor, I have the leather-bound version of two of my favorite classic books which mount my piggy bank.  Yes, I have a Chanel inspired piggy bank, judge away.  I taped up perfume campaign ads that Sephora sent me to add a little something to the area’s wall, and because I honestly had no idea what to do with them…

My Curtains:

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Over my window, I put up a white and gold curtain that hides the ugly vent and window sill.  To make my bed look a little cozier, and honestly more bed-like because dorm beds are so basic, I draped layered curtains behind and above the bed with hooks.  The drapery creates a canopy illusion and makes the room much more colorful while serving as decor for the overall bed space.

So there, my little cozy temporary home…

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5 Takeaways and Trends from last month’s Fashion Week

Here I am, better late than never, to recap last month’s fashion weeks (last month, I know…).  I don’t know about you, but I always find it super entertaining to go through slides from the fashion shows and gawk at the sometimes overwhelming over-the-top outfits.  Other times, I’m stricken by the sheer beauty of the designer grab; the most carefully crafted articles of clothing made in the industry.  For this year’s Spring 2019 fall fashion weeks, everything from New York to Paris was bold and bright, fresh and fun.  Come spring, expect eye popping vibrant trends that we can only dream about on dreary fall days.  What I liked most about everything?  The sheer variety in styles; some classic like Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary show (was literally obsessed), and some crazy over the top like Rodarte’s creepy graveyard show during NYFW.  Certain looks stand out as notable including these 5 trends below.

  1. Ruffles and Lace
    • All about texture!  These avant-garde frilly looks are totally influenced by Victorian era fashion, and I am all for it!  Behind retro, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana at MFW both showed high neck-lined layered pieces, while Erdem at LFW spared no expense in showcasing a Victorian by-gone era.  Modest, but stated, these kind of looks can be super fun when worn fearlessly.  Florals really embody ruffles which make for perfect summer time outfits. 

  2. Understated Tan
    • I am all about neutrals, and others seem to agree!  Stella McCarthy at LFW and Max Mara at MFW both had tan dominate shows and it proved to be simple and bold.  McCarthy and Ferragamo also showed oversized blazers which are super popular (and practical) right now.  I’m obsessed with this nautical Hermès look since it is understated, yet classy.  Bright colors are great in the spring, but neutrals always work too!
  3. Feathers Galore
    • Faux fur has been dominate the last couple of years in the realm of textures, and now we have feathers to add to the growing trend of “go big or go home” outfits.  While the former shows no sign of slowing down, feathers are a much lighter alternative that can easily be worn during the warmer months.  During NYFW, Oscar de la Renta made white feathers look effortlessly elegant, while Tom Ford contrasted them with black.  Marc Jacobs took a bold path with color, pairing two hot trends together on the runway.
  4. Strong Solid Colors
    • Who doesn’t like a big blast of color?  In a total contrast to some other major designers, both Chanel and Valentino, among others, showed bright hues that put a twist on both brands’ usual styles.  Chanel, at PFW, opted to bring their usual tweeds to the beach, giving them fun summery colors that we can all definitely get behind.  And for Valentino, red was seldom in Milan.  Instead, orange and neons made a statement.  It might be hard to think of warm colors now with winter almost upon us (East coast, why so cold?), but it’s comforting to think of wearing anything bright next year!
  5. Polka Dots
    • Black and white dots make for a classic statement and Celine, under a new creative director, brought forth the traditional pattern in new and funky ways for Paris Fashion Week.  Other dot expressions were seen with designers like Chloé and Givenchy at PFW, the later whom expressed dots through netting (another popular trend).  Along with other bold patterns, expects polka dots to bring the fun come spring!

Go Good Uncle!

Meet Good Uncle, the new food delivery start-up taking select colleges on the east coast by storm.   The company is more generous than any friendly relative, as they will become your new best friend- a bff that specializes in simply bringing you food, on demand.  Good Uncle started at Syracuse by two ambitious students who were determined on elevating the college dining scene.  Just this year, they launched on 5 different college campus while being headquartered in New York City.  The idea is similar to Uber Eats, but with no delivery fee since the food is all created by Good Uncle through their Michelin starred food mastermind, Erik Battes.  They then transport it to one of their many handy delivery spots around the campuses with their super cool fancy food truck-like trucks.  Magical- right?

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Currently, Good Uncle is only at Colgate, Syracuse, Cornell, Lehigh and UMaryland, but they hope to expand in the near future (that future is very near given their popularity).  While you might not be at one of those schools, or might not even be in school, Good Uncle could come to you, and you will then, thanks to me, be in the know (ahead of the game, on the next big thing!).  Their food is simply delicious, and definitely beats most food found in college dining halls.  It ranges from very healthy options of salad and rice bowls to hangover-cure like foods such as the BBQ plater and the bacon, egg, and cheese brunch sandwich.  There’s a wide range which makes it easy for everyone to find something to suit their every desire.  Their menu changes monthly, ensuring that nobody gets tired of their extensive menu.  With that absent delivery fee, the prices are very reasonable for “to-go”-like food.  For a college student’s budget, it is cheaper than eating out at most places with dinners ranging from 7-12 dollars.

So you go to Colgate or any of the other schools that have Good Uncle?  Here is what I most recommend.

Tofu and Mushroom Bowl with the Mediterranean Fresh Fix Toppings:

Healthy and trendy, you can’t go wrong with one of Good Uncle’s bowls.  The tofu bowl is great for vegetarians and vegans since good tofu is often hard to come by in college.  It’s all on a bed of quinoa, and you have the choice of what kind of toppings/salad you want with the bowl.  I’m obsessed with the Mediterranean toppings which I get for both the tofu and the chicken bowl.  It’s the classic fixings of hummus, tzatziki, pita chips, feta, cucumber and tomato, along with a serving of arugula salad.

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Pesto Parmasan Pasta:

Good Uncle really nails the pasta thing which we will all be thankful for when winter comes around (Aka comfort food season).  The pesto pasta really hits the spot since they throw in copious amounts of sauce along with a generous serving of melted parmesan cheese.  Tasty, yes, and comforting!

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Seasonal Açai Bowl:

Ahh the food of the moment (and of instagram), Good Uncle makes it easy to keep up with the trends.  Who wouldn’t want an açai bowl delivered on demand?  It’s simple, but delicious and makes for a great addition to brunch.  The vividly purple base is topped with fruit and granola, and has shredded coconut and almonds mixed into it.  Unfortunately, the açai bowl is only available on weekends, but that might be for the best (we probably don’t need an açai bowl everyday!).

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich:

A good buffalo chicken sandwich for me is the ultimate guilty pleasure, and Good Uncle doesn’t let me down with their October special.  The chicken is topped with oozy buffalo cheddar cheese and a blue cheese dressing.  The bun is a nice soft brioche bun that is sweet enough to pair perfectly with the spicy chicken.

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Grilled Chicken Tenders:

Probably Good Uncle’s smartest creation, these chicken tenders are both extremely tasty and healthy.  Instead of being deep fried, the chicken is seasoned in a mix of flavorful herbs and grilled to perfection, ready to be eaten with a delicious dipping sauce.  The sauces are a highlight since they have a variety to choose from, each unique and amazing.  I recommend getting a couple to dunk the chicken into although the chicken is good enough on its own.

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To read and find out more about Good Uncle, visit my article for Spoon University here!

Fall Fashion Guide

Hey guys!  So I’m back at school which means less exciting adventures, but I’ll still have time to write.  September is probably the biggest month in fashion which means there is plenty to write about and so much to be excited about.  It is also a complicated time since you have to try to seamlessly transition between seasons from loose and light summer clothes to fall layers, but it is always super exciting to put boots back on.  This year, patterns are going to be the “it” trend with plaid and florals taking center stage.  The 90s are also, for better or for worse, making a comeback (hello fanny packs:) which is contributing to the raise of a sort of “ugly fashion” moment.  What ever you might think, these 5 trends are definitely emerging to be big this season, so go out, get in the know and shop (potentially?)!

  1. Western Boots, booties, and cowboy style
    • It’s time to embrace our inner cowboy as the American west is inspiring big trends this season.  Go all out with full-on cowboy boots, or create a more subtle look with popular booties.  I have a pair of white cowboy booties which I try to fearlessly wear with any kind of cute dress to create a bold and confident look.  Western-inspired fringe is a popular look now with jeans, bags and belts.  It might sound tacky, but if worn in contrast to more contemporary clothes, it can look super cool.
  2. Belt Bags (the “classy” fanny pack)
    • Probably the most controversial trend of the moment, but also the most popular (thank you Gucci).  Fanny packs have rebranded themselves to be “belt bags” because people don’t want the shame associated with owning a fanny pack (but they are nearly the same thing).  However, the concept has been upgraded to having nearly every big name designer having one this season.  They have also been made more versatile as you can now wear them cross-shouldered or literally attached to your belt or pants.
  3. Plaid, by itself or with other prints
    • I know I write about plaid and tartan a lot, but that’s because I love it!  As a total plaid guru, it has been super exciting walking into stores to see plaid everywhere.  I can totally embrasse it now with it being so big.  The classic black and grey suiting plaid is having a huge moment, but so is bright colored plaids which evoke 90s vibes and cater to a more avant-garde crowd.

       

  4. Big Knits
    • We’re falling quickly into fall and you know what that means: sweater weather!  This year, large oversized chunky knits are taking center stage with bright colors and patterns designed to make a statement.  Opt to stray away from the traditional cozy fall colors for something a little more happy, yet comfortable in the knit and size.
  5. Fringed and Flared Jeans
    • Skinny jeans aren’t dead, but slowly, other styles are coming onto the scene.  Fall is the perfect time to wear cute statement jeans to complete an outfit since boots don’t need to be in the picture.  Slightly flared jeans look great with booties and mules, while fringed and asymmetrical jeans pair perfectly with a fun pair of sneakers.  The amount of cool jeans style out there right now is enormous making jean shopping fun and different.

Everything I Learned from Working in Clothing Retail

This summer, I was fortunate enough to work at a high-end independent boutique to broaden my resume while helping people with what I truly love, fashion.  It was a great experience: a fun one, but also an educational one.  Not only did I learn the ins and outs of customer service, marketing merchandise, and buying, but I also learned a lot about how I personally view shopping.  Globally, retail has been struggling for years due to the rise of online shopping.  The few “brick and mortar” stores that are thriving embody the concept of “fast fashion”, a notion that is also destroying the independent small store.  Younger generations, which includes me, look solely for convenience because we have been raised to believe that everything we could possibly want is available, always, just one click away.  I admit to contributing to much of this behavior, but after working a summer in retail, I have decided to change some habits.  Here are 5 things that I learned:

 

  1. Shoppers, especially those who are older than me, take a long time to contemplate items before purchasing them.
    • As I mentioned, my generation tends to be lazy and thus, impulsive.  When I shop, I don’t always take the time to try everything on since I’m lazy.  Even if I don’t love the item, I’ll still buy it if I think I like it right in the moment at the store.  I do examine prices, but not as much as I should since I’m impulsive with my purchases.  At the store I worked at, seldom would anyone not try anything on, and customers would always ask me my opinions.  They took their time to decide before purchasing what they were trying on.  Granted, the store’s expensive, so people will have to decide whether or not a purchase is worth it, but this common practice is something that my generation lacks.  I realized that I need to shop smarter in order to both save money and space in my overflowing closet.Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 6.04.40 PM.png
  2.  Trying on items is essential to making smart purchases
    • This continues with what I was saying above, but when you try items on before buying them, you automatically look for all of the flaws in the clothing.  Mentally, you will buy the clothes that fit “perfectly”.  Online shopping doesn’t allow you to do this which ultimately wastes money in the long run since you’ll end up buying “imperfect” clothes.  This is a significant flaw of online shopping which I’m only just now realizing.
  3. The rudest customers are the ones that try on a ton of clothes and don’t hang any of them up in the fitting room
    • While I wouldn’t say I’m really guilty of this, I had no idea how rude it truly is until working in retail.  It’s a total pain to pick up clothes, especially when customers end up not even buying anything.  That is obviously totally ok, but if you’re not going to buy anything, at least be nice about it.  Moral of the story: I now know to always pick up and put back any un-purchased clothes on hangers because it really is the difference between a pleasant customer and a difficult one.  Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 6.16.15 PM.png
  4. Small businesses are essential to the economy as a whole, including the retail market
    • I have always found it sad when stores close, but after having experienced everything that goes into running a small independent business, they really need to be valued.  The particular store that I worked at prides itself on a being a fashionable head-to-toe retailer.  The experience that you get in there is unlike any chain store, especially any kind of fast-fashion store. The store tries hard to support small scale up-and-coming designers, in addition to brands that are more ethically manufactured ( ie. made in the USA, or other developed European countries).  The freedom of the owners and buyers of the small business allows them to do this which then, in turn, fuels the industry from the ground-up.  More than ever before, I will try to buy smaller brands since they are truly the backbone of the economy.  Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 6.12.31 PM.png
  5. Customers value small businesses more than you’d think
    • While retail is definitely in trouble, I didn’t realize how there are people out there that do go out of their way to shop small and local.  At the store I was at, customers would come in just to request special orders for something they saw online, knowing that we would be able to get it through wholesale and, thus, make a profit.  It surprised me that people would do that since ordering online is the much more convient option.  However, it did make me see that retail has hope, and that people do value it.  It also, frankly, made me feel lazy about both my shopping habits, and my generation’s.

5 Of My Favorite Products To Get You Through The End Of Summer

I have never really written a post about products and cosmetics, but I figured why not?  I’m a big Sephora fan, and I’m also always on the lookout to try new things, whether it be hair products, skin products, or makeup.  The summer heat and sun get to be rough on your body (that’s not to say that winter weather isn’t), so here are 5 new beauty products that I’ve been trying this summer that I totally 100% recommend.

*I am not being promoted for any of these suggestions

  1. Buddy Scrub Coffee Body Scrub

We all love drinking our morning coffee, but did you know that coffee, and to a larger extent caffeine, has skin health benefits when used externally.  In fact, coffee is proven to help reduce cellulite and promote smoother shinier skin.  This Buddy Scrub is the perfect product to use in order to get that “summer bod”.  Just lather and scrub your body a couple times a week and you’ll have yourself smooth and healthy skin.  The scrub is totally natural, vegan, and cruelty-free with no harmful products or ingredients you can’t pronounce.  It smells amazing too!

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Buy it here through Anthropology for $18

2.  The Pocket Palette, one-use make-up kits

The Pocket Palette is a start-up company that created these mini makeup kits for on-the-go travel and disposal.  Each palette contains a single portion of BB cream or foundation, a single portion of lipstick that doubles as rouge, and a single-use mascara brush.  The palette is tiny and can easily fit inside any pocket, purse or container making them super easy to carry with you.  I have used my pocket palette for overnight trips when I don’t feel like lugging a large makeup kit around and for after events such as golf where I need to quickly cleanup and make myself look presentable before dinner.  After use, you simply throw the kit away, and the makeup is great quality and very versatile.

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Buy them here in sets of 3 or 10 ranging from $12 to $35

3.  Tarte Mermaid Glitter Gel

Glitter is having a major moment right now thanks to the growing popularity of music festivals and festival fashion.  This gel-like body glitter is just the thing to get you festival-ready for all those instagram pictures.  It isn’t an eye shadow like other glitter products.  Instead, the liquid gel dries on to the skin, keeping it in place anywhere on the body.  Not only does the glitter work great against skin, but the jar is super fun and aesthetic.

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You can find it here from Sephora for $18

4.  Too Faced Hangoverx Replenishing Face Primer

This primer doubles wonderfully as a face moisturizer since it restores and helps contain moisture in the skin.  As the name suggests, it’s ideal for hangovers, but also any activity where your skin looses moisture such as working out and sun exposure. For those long summer days outside, this works as the perfect remedy making skin supple, smooth and lively.  As a bonus, Hangoverx has no shine or oily effects which is much appreciated when it comes to a good everyday primer and “lotion”.

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Buy it here at Sephora for $34

5.  OUAI Sun of a Beach Ombré Spray

Ever tried the old trick of squeezing lemon in your hair to make it lighter?  And it kind of works? Temporarily.  Well, OUAI has come up with a product based off of the classic lemon hack, but works stronger and stays longer.  Sun of a Beach Spray lightly bleaches the hair in a healthy way that doesn’t dry the hair out.  It smells nice and has little texture.  And, it actually really works!  The spray gives you a summer sun-kissed look which we all want while still looking very natural and healthy.

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Buy it here from Sephora for $24

*Pro Tip:  As I mentioned, I swear by Sephora.com since I love their loyalty program. Living in a rural area means that I need to order most of my products online, and Sephora is amazing for that.  I pay $10 a year to get free shipping which saves a lot of money in the long run, plus I get free samples which are great for travel, loyalty points for free awards, a birthday gift, and special deals that include a lot more free samples/minis.  It’s a fabulous program especially for college students.

Your Guide to Scottish Cuisine (What and Where to Eat)

My trip to Scotland brought me all over the country which allowed me to experience a wide range of cuisine and foods.  Scottish food is underrated.  People seem to associate the “only” quality British cuisine with London, and while London is a huge culinary capital, Scotland is overlooked, especially as they provide so much industry and agriculture to the foodie world.  Take smoked salmon: the delicacy is a favorite in much of the world.  The best smoked salmon?  Scottish smoked salmon, fished straight out of the North Sea and prepared to perfection.  I recommend eating all that you can if you find yourself in Scotland.  And that isn’t all.  Scotland is known for its meats and game, along with cheeses, seafood and hearty breakfasts.  If you want to know exactly what foods to try, check out my post for Spoon University here! 

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Great places to try across Scotland:

Luigi’s (Dornoch, Scotland):  Dornoch is a tiny town up in the Highlands with a world famous golf course that attracts people from all over.  The best restaurant in the town is Luigi’s which is an excellent Scottish/Italian/seafood restaurant serving fresh oysters, lobster, and pasta.  The seafood here is amazingly fresh, and this is definitely the place to try fabulous North Sea oysters (which are, by there way, delicious).

-Boath House (Nairn, Scotland):  Boath House is a hidden gem; slightly off the beaten path, but wonderfully rewarding.  It has a very Scottish menu with most ingredients coming from the estate or nearby farms.  Everything taste extremely fresh and high quality.  The duck was one of my favorite dishes that I tried in Scotland since it was prepared perfectly and served with amazing foie gras.  The smoked salmon is also a thing of beauty.  Boath House is considered one of the top restaurants in Scotland outside of a major city and it is easy to see why.  It’s a great find and a great experience.

Scran and Scallie (Edinburgh, Scotland):  I talked more about this restaurant and the next one mentioned in my previous post about Edinburgh, but it’s worth mentioning them again due to their impeccably high quality Scottish food.  Scran and Scallie is where I tried haggis, a momentous occasion, and it is also where I had these dedacant savory pies.  You have to try haggis at some point, and a gastropub is the perfect place since they prepare in a gourmet fashion.  Scottish savory pies are really delicious in the most comforting of comfort food ways.

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The Wedgwood (Edinburgh, Scotland):  The Wedgwood is one of the top restaurants in Edinburgh, but what makes it really great is that they make an effort to serve true Scottish cuisine in a gourmet setting.  Ingredients include foraged mushrooms, Douglas fir pine, venison, pigeon, and sea spaghetti.  They put on the ultimate display of Scottish food to showcase the potential it holds.

Tail end (Dundee, Scotland):  You cannot go to Scotland without having fish and chips (unless you’re vegetarian, of course), and although the classic dish can be found in any pub, I recommend seeking out more contemporary chip shops that specialize in locally sustainable fish.  Tail end in Dundee does just that.  They take great pride in their “handsome halibut” and their delicious homemade tartar sauce.  The place is cute and trendy, making it the perfect spot to enjoy true Scottish seafood.

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-The Drouthy Cobbler (Elgin, Scotland):  Another mandatory experience in Scotland is going to a pub.  They are everywhere, but it can be a little difficult to a find a really good one that truly cares about the food they serve.  The Drouthy Cobbler is a little known hidden place in the small town of Elgin.  You can’t even access it from the main road, finding it instead in a little alley way.  The atmosphere is quaint and trendy but still feels pub-like and they serve solid Scottish food like smoked trout and salmon, sausage rolls, and bangers and mash.

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How to Spend 48 Fabulous Hours in Edinburgh Scotland

Hi there!  I just recently returned from a 10 day trip to Scotland where I pretty much road tripped from the Highlands all the way down to Edinburgh.  The whole journey was amazing, and I felt like I was really able to see the whole country.  However, more on that later (look out for a Scottish food post!).  One of my favorite places that I spent time in was the last place, Edinburgh which is a surprisingly bustling metropolitan center full of history and culture.  The last weekend was spent there, and although I definitely could have spent at least another day exploring the city, I was able to pack a lot in those two wonderful days.IMG_7297

Edinburgh isn’t very big in size and population compared to other landmark European cities, but the number of noteworthy sights, neighborhoods, and, quite frankly, tourists make the city feel larger than it is.  It takes on the vibe of a smaller and slightly less stylish London that is easier to walk around and harder to get lost in.  I arrived late in the afternoon on Friday having just played golf nearby.  The immediate cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city center, where my hotel was, made me realize that this place was different from the rest of Scotland.  Our hotel was very modern and stylish, as one would expect from a nice city hotel.

For dinner that first night, I ventured across town to the neighborhood of Stockbridge which is a hip high-end area bustling with coffee shops and gastropubs.  I went to a recommended restaurant called Scran and Scallie.  Nothing in Edinburgh is that far away, so my taxi ride to Stockbridge was an easy ten minutes and it easily paved the way for a light walk back to my hotel.  Scran and Scallie is a very popular gastropub serving traditional Scottish fare in a gourmet manner.  The clientele is young and fun, echoed by the quirky takes on traditional Scottish decor.  The menu appears very traditional with practically any pub fare you can think of available (meat pies, haggis, fish and chips), as well as some more contemporary options.  My Dad and I both opted for classic British entries, while I tried a Scottish specialty and he had an elevated Caesar salad for starters.  My haggis appetizer was a bit risky since I had never tried it before, but it was really good (the texture is oddly comparable to falafel) and I felt as though I was truly embracing the culture.  Our pies (mine was a seafood pie and he had a steak and ale pie) were deliciously comforting and really hit the spot after a day of golf in the rain.  The seafood pie, in particular, eluded flavor with salmon, cod, and shrimp mixed in with mashed potatoes.  Scran and Scallie is really the perfect place to indulge in local cuisine prepared beautifully in a fun atmosphere.

 

The walk back from Stockbridge was surprisingly easy and very pleasant.  The city feels very safe at night, and it is super cool to see all the sights and buildings lit up.  The famous hilltop castle that overlooks the city gleams brightly in a slightly eerie manner to the bopping crowd below.  Back at the hotel, my dad and I went to go check out Bar 1, 1 Square, and although my dad felt a little out-of-place, I found the Bar to be super trendy and cute.  They specialize in fancy schmancy gin and tonics (the hippest drink if there ever was one), as suppose to the traditional scotch collection that is found in most Scottish bars (more my dad’s cup of tea).

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Saturday was an early morning since there is so much to see and explore.  After a breakfast of Scottish smoked salmon (literally the best stuff ever) and black pudding (which is surprisingly delicious), I walked up castle hill which is a super cool walk to use my prepaid online ticket to Edinburgh Castle at 9:30.  On the way, there was a cute little farmer’s market that, if I was a local, I would totally be shopping at.  The castle is admittedly a tad touristy and you have to arrive right when it opens to beat the big buses, but it offers great views of the city and has a very interesting history.  I recommend going straight to the crown jewels exhibit since that line gets long very quickly and it’s probably one of the more impressive parts of the castle.  The castle takes about 2 hours, depending on the crowds, but you can totally condense it and choose to see less or more.

 

Tourist central of Edinburgh is the Royal Mile which you are fed directly into from the exit of the castle.  At first, the crowds are a little overwhelming but they filter out, and if you ignore all the street performers and touristy shops, the wide street is definitely worthwhile to walk down.  St. Giles Cathedral is a highlight and a must-see.  The Cathedral is huge and full of beautiful stain glass windows.  The tall blue ceiling is enough to take your breath away.  Farther down the mile, the crowds disperse and it’s fun to look around the admire the buildings and spirals.  The street finishes at the Holyrood Palace which is an official residence of the Queen.  It is fun to tour the palace and check out the old Holyrood Cathedral ruins since the place is rooted deeply in history.

 

After the mile, I, being a die-hard Harry Potter fan, wanted to check out some notable Harry Potter sites in the city, notably Victoria Street and the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the first couple books.  I grabbed a quick lunch at a little cafe and continued to venture across town back towards the castle, but, this time, instead of walking up the mile, I walked on the edge of old town which is bordered by a valley with the train station underneath.  The views from there are great and there is a park that lines the street.  Victoria Street is the most “aesthetic” street of Edinburgh and claims to be the most photographed.  It is also the street that JK Rowling based “Diagon Alley” after, and really looks like it is out of a movie.  The shops are super fun along the curved street too! I then made the pilgrimage to Elephant House which calls itself the “birthplace of Harry Potter” to take some pictures, and I also photographed “Tom Riddle’s grave” in the nearby Grey Friar’s graveyard (creepy I know).

 

By this time, it was already mid-afternoon, so I ventured over to New Town to walk around and shop.  A highlight of New Town is the Scott Monument and park, a huge gothic steeple that distinguishes itself from the Edinburgh skyline.  Dedicated to the author and thinker Sir Walter Scott, visitors have the ability to climb the monument which I opted not to do since I wanted to get over to the shops.  I enjoyed a couple of hours shopping at British and European shores (including Topshop, Zara, and Harvey Nichols, a fabulous British luxury department store) while also in search of a quilt, being the cliché tourist that I am.  Shopping around Edinburgh is delightful, and there is a surplus of great stores that are harder to find in the US.

 

For my second night in Edinburgh, I went to Wedgwood Restaurant which is a widely considered one of the best in the city complete with a Michelin star and four rosettes.  That being said, the restaurant is nice and simple with a modern atmosphere that isn’t at all stuffy.  The food is centered around local game and seafood with very Scottish ingredients prepared in an elevated manner.  I had a douglas fir smoked salmon dish and an interesting savory bread pudding which was to die for.  My dad had a seaweed vongole pasta starter which was very unique and venison with haggis for his entry.  The highlight of this special meal was the very sticky toffee pudding, a celebrated Scottish dessert and a must try for anyone traveling to Scotland.  Wedgwood is a great restaurant located conveniently on the Royal Mile where you really get to appreciate Scottish produce and fine cuisine.

 

That wrapped up my stay in Edinburgh as I had a 10 am flight the next day.  Overall, I found the city to be delightful and could have definitely spent another day there.  Alas, I was able to squeeze in a lot while I was there.  Highly recommend exploring this city for yourself, even if it is only for 48 hours.

Much Ado About Juice

In the world of health food trends, nothing is as prevalent, albeit slightly controversial than fresh pressed juices (I’m talking the kale and spinach filled, array of colors kind).  The craze started a while back and has remarkably stayed relevant as social media and different fad diets have influenced the world of juice.  Whether it be an occasional over-priced boujee juice with friends or an intensive juice cleanse, juicing shows no sign of slowing down and I am all for it (which is exactly why I’m writing this post declaring my love for juice).

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You might ask yourselves, what exactly does juicing do and are there actually any health benefits?  Well you see, I’m a picky eater when it comes to both fruits and vegetables.  I either love the food in question or hate it.  But, for some texture degrading reason, liquidizing produces makes a world of difference for my taste buds.  Raw carrots are too much of a pain to eat, but slush them up and throw them in a blender and I’ll drink it straight up (literally).  In other cases, putting broccoli (my nemesis) in a press with ginger, fruit, and cucumber completely disguises the otherwise nasty (sorry broccoli fans) taste.  Yes, some of the health benefits are potentially lost but, with high-pressure technology, most high-end juice companies manage to maintain the majority of health benefits of fruits and vegetables in the liquid form, hence why good juices are usually pretty expensive.

The Scoop on Juice Cleanses:  Controversial and definitely not for everyone, but juice cleanses or juice fasts are a great way to reset your diet and lifestyle while enjoying the many benefits of juices.  Juice cleanses involve drinking 6-8 freshly pressed juices for 1 to 5 days in order to pack your body with vitamins and nutrients.  It’s ideal to spend a couple of days before and after the fast to start phasing out large amounts of foods and unclean foods.  I, for instance, try to cut out all sweets, most carbs and large amounts of meat.  This helps make the cleanse easier on the stomach and makes it more efficient.  By fasting, you also give your digestive system a rest, allowing it to flush out any leftover toxins (you have to go to the bathroom a lot!) and reboot.  It’s ideal to do a cleanse after a vacation or a period of eating poorly since it truly does allow the body to restart.  After cleansing, I always feel very refreshed and energized.  The day after, I feel like I can do anything, and I won’t have any cravings for junk food!  The cleanse, as a bonus, helps get rid of sugar cravings which are great for people like me who constantly want sweets.  A juice cleanse is probably not ideal for intense athletes or anyone who needs a sufficient amount of food since you don’t intake anything near the daily recommended amount of calories.  With that being said, it is great for people who strive to live a wholestically healthy lifestyle.
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Juice Cafes:  The other week, I was vacationing in St. Michaels Maryland and discovered a new cafe that makes fresh juices, coffee, and lemonade in a cool, hip and relaxing cafe environment (think indy coffee shop but with juice).  Agave Arts and Juicing Company is super cute, and really promotes a healthy lifestyle.  The lounge area of the shop is filled with art and decor, making it perfect for that Instagram game (really what juice is about tbh).  This kind of place is becoming more common as Americans and young Americans especially become even more health conscious, following trends and innovative on how our culture looks at food.  Other companies offer a more to-go strategy to sell their juices as is the case with Minneapolis’s Juice So Good.  They have a couple of shops around the city, but the most convenient of them is inside a grocery store in a way that a Starbucks would be, offering fresh juices to-go and easy pick-up for cleanses.  It’s a great healthy alternative for a delicious pick-me-up.

 

Newest (and Sweetest) Minneapolis Summer Hotspots (as seen all over Instagram)

New food places nowadays have Instagram to thank (or not to thank) for making their businesses go viral, literally.  While visual presentation has always played a big role in the appeal and popularity of food, social media has moved its importance to sky heights, making it crucial for “popular” food joints to make, for lack of a better word, beautiful food.  Food trends are also more prevalent than ever thanks to the rise of social media, especially Instagram stories since everyone wants to prove and brag to the world that they eat well and some-what healthy.  As for trendy Instagram-worthy places in the Minneapolis area, two new places stand out as being the definition of this; cool, hip, and delicious.

MNice Cream (NE Minneapolis):  The name might be cheesy, but MNice Cream is the new “It” ice cream spot for the summer.  Serving up crazy over the top soft serve creations, the original food truck and shop inside a northeast warehouse has been gathering quite the line.  The concept is classic and simple.  You order either vanilla, chocolate, or vegan/dairy-free soft serve, then choose a creation (a mixture of toppings) from the menu or create your own masterpiece.  The toppings are over the top (think eatable glitter, churros, and homemade donuts, along with the traditional and every variety of candy), and you have the option to get a colorful cone and/or a flower which is purely for the Instagram aesthetic.  The homemade soft serve itself is really delicious as it is perfectly creamy and flavorful, but the toppings truly make the place an experience, one that is perfect for a hot sunny Minneapolis day.

Above are some examples of amazing creations at MNice Cream brought to you from their Instagram.

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My MNice cone was the dirty worms creation (oreo, gummy worms, chocolate sauce, and sparkles) with an added churro donut and flower on a waffle cone.

Nautical Bowls (Minnetonka):  On the other side of the health spectrum (or at least we hope) is Nautical Bowls, a concept cafe that solely sells acai and such bowls which, if you live under an Instagram-less rock, are breakfast-like parfaits with a base of acai sorbet.  While this might sound sweet, the bowls are more like a tangy super thick smoothie topped with fruit, nuts, and seeds.  At Nautical Bowls (the name is derived from being near Lake Minnetonka), you have the option to create your own (see a trend?) or order from a couple of pre-designed creations.  Acai isn’t the only base available.  In fact, it’s probably the least exciting.  There are 5 options which you can choose multiple of per bowl: the classic acai (deep purple), pitaya (beautifully pink dragonfruit), matcha (green tea), coconut with activated charcoal (a deep grey color), and chia seed pudding.  Once you choose your base which is arguably the most exciting part, you choose 4+ toppings.  They have a huge variety of “superfoods” such as bee pollen, goji berries, hemp hearts, in addition to fresh fruit and butters such as peanut butter and almond butter.  The result is a colorful bowl chock full of nutrients and yumminess.  The experience is literally amazing, as the taste of the bowls is super unique and satisfying.

Above are two bowls that a friend and I ordered at Nautical Bowls.  I had a base of pitaya, coconut and chia seeds with banana, strawberry, bee pollen and coconut on top.  I was in heaven.  My friend had a similar thing, but with acai instead of chia seeds.  The colors were so vibrant.

The cute interior of Nautical Bowl is supposed to reflect a nautical theme which feels really fresh and cheerful.  It might seem kind of random, but if you were boating on the lake, the shop would be a perfect place to stop by after!

Don’t wait, and adventure to these spots for the amazing food and photos waiting to happen!  It will be totally #instaworthy!