22 July 2014

Mediterranean Travels, Part 1: Barcelona

Those of you who follow me on Instagram couldn't have missed that I was off having some serious European adventures last month! Since I've neglected posting about my personal life lately and this trip was the most exciting thing I've done in a long time,  I thought I'd share some of my travel photos on the blog. Brandon's parents took our immediate family on this trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. We flew to Barcelona and from there embarked on a cruise to Venice.

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Barcelona: We ended up having very little time to explore Barcelona. We arrived there in the afternoon, feeling exhausted from our travels and greasy from going on day 3 wearing the same clothes. Our plan was to check into the hotel, take a shower and a nap, and go out exploring that night. But upon check-in, we learned that we had to board our cruise ship the next morning at 10AM, when it had been our understanding that we had the full following day to explore the city. Upon realizing that we had only hours to see this city we'd heard so many people claim was their favorite in all of Europe, I definitely panicked a little bit. We quickly discussed our options and picked Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia and strolling Las Ramblas as our top priorities. And off we went into a taxi, with only excitement as our fuel!

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I'm a serious fan of Antonio Gaudi's work, yet somehow seeing La Sagrada Familia in person still managed to exceed my expectations! I could spend hours mesmerized by the unique details of the exterior alone. Seeing a modern cathedral that has been under construction for over a century is beyond inspirational and reminiscent of Europe's great Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals. So rarely in our time does an artist begin a work knowing that it will not be complete in his or her lifetime. The idea of creating something that is bigger than ourselves-- something to think about! 

Anyways, wishing we could linger for longer but aware of our time constraint, we hopped into another taxi bound for Plaça de Catalunya. From there we began our stroll down Las Ramblas-- a beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian mall connecting Plaça de Catalunya to Christopher Columbus Monument near the harbor.

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One highlight along Las Ramblas was La Boqueria Market. Barcelona is known for its lively and colorful food markets, and this large one is the perfect place to stop and wander the aisles, sampling fruit juices and tapas. I could not even handle all of the giant ham hocks hanging everywhere! One thing we observed during our short stay in Barcelona is that these people love their jamón! (And apparently so does my husband.)

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Another highlight was stumbling across Plaça Reial after getting ice cream on a random side street. Next time I'm in Barcelona, I'm for sure stopping in this beautiful square for a glass of sangria with a side of people watching!

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At about this point, exhaustion began to wear on us, so we ate dinner and headed back to our hotel at around the time most people seemed to be just going out for the evening. As much as I'd like to go back in time and stay out past midnight, I must say that I slept gloriously that night. The next morning, we packed up our bags once again and ate a delicious Spanish breakfast at our hotel. Why aren't there more excuses in life to eat churros with chocolate sauce for breakfast?? (This is a real question.) 

This last photo is me sitting on my hotel windowsill in Barcelona, longing to come back soon and tour the Picasso Museum where we had to cancel our reservations. And see more Gaudi designs, and explore the harbor area that I've heard is so beautiful. And eat more churros. *Sigh* One day!

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Barcelona is a city I'd looked forward to seeing but always heard such mixed reviews about. Some say it's a beautiful city to get lost in, and some say you're lucky to get out of there without being pick pocketed. In the little time we spent there, I honestly didn't experience anything that felt sketchy. The taxi drivers were extremely friendly and pretended to be impressed with my limited knowledge of Spanish. My best attempt to sum up the overall vibe I got from Barcelona-- Paris meets Mexico City. (Does that make sense?) It honestly doesn't rank in my favorite European cities, but it was unlike anywhere else I've ever been, and I'd love to go back someday! But for now, we were on our way to France...

Have any of you spent time in Barcelona? What were your highlights?

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04 June 2014

Father's Day 2014 Gift Guide

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Father's Day is already right around the corner on June 15th! The gift guides I post on this blog are almost always inspired by the people in my own life. When brainstorming for this one, I focused on my dad and my father-in-law. Both spend the majority of their time working hard and making sacrifices to help provide their families with the best lives possible. Since most dads spend so much time working, I think it's a great idea to give them gifts that inspire them to take a break and simply enjoy themselves! My dad loves to cook and spend time working in his garden, so when brainstorming for gifts, these hobbies are a great place to start. Below you'll find some of my favorite picks for Father's Day gifts this year:

Find more of my Father's Day gift ideas on my Keep! 
Hope you all enjoy a fabulous Father's Day and spend some quality time with the dads in your life!

xoxo, Bri

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05 May 2014

Mother's Day 2014 Gift Guide

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When it comes to gifts, I tend to procrastinate, not because I've forgotten the holiday, but because of my enthusiastic love for gifting. I find myself overthinking until I have too many options-- then my indecisiveness sets in, and before I know it, the holiday is less than a week away and I've got nothing! I didn't plan on posting a Mother's Day gift guide this year (when my old computer died, my outdated version of Photoshop went with it, so until I can save up to replace it, I lack the technology to create the fun little layouts I love to make for gift guides.) Yet as I sit here this May the fifth, narrowing down the gift options for the mothers in my life, I thought I'd share some of the options I've discovered through endless searching and perhaps help my fellow procrastinators out there. (Please say you're out there!

For those of us who have been so blessed, our mothers are our cheerleaders, our comforters, the first people to believe in us, and as we grow older, our closest friends and confidants. Whenever I have an excuse to do so, I love surprising my mom with gifts of things she'd never buy herself. Whether a small token of appreciation or a surprising splurge, our mothers, mothers-in-law, and grandmothers are just so fun to shop for! Below you can find some of my favorite Mother's Day gift picks this year:

To my fellow procrastinators: best of luck in your gift hunt and pssst... online shoppers- some web sites (like Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tory Burch, and Terrain) are offering complimentary expedited shipping to make sure your gifts arrive in time for the weekend! 

Wishing you all the happiest Mother's Day!

xoxo, Bri

25 April 2014

H&M Conscious, Spring 2014

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Lately, sustainable style is trending and I don't think anyone would argue that it's not a good thing. This month H&M released a collection made entirely from sustainable fabrics and focused on creating a more sustainable future in fashion. At the risk of sounding snobbish, I was once an avid H&M shopper, but as I've grown older, I've converted from a fast fashion addict to a conscious seeker of quality and substance. In my high school and college days, I would wander into an H&M or a Forever 21 and want everything in sight, but these days, everything on their racks screams "cheap, cheap, cheap!" rather than "chic, chic, chic!" As much as it pains me sometimes to shop in a higher price bracket, I think that if we value our money, when we spend it, we should ask what it's supporting and pause for a moment to question: "Where do my clothes come from?" To some it may be just a sweater, but is it ethical? Will it last? Fashion should not be disposable.

In H&M's new Conscious collection, the brand is making a respectable effort to get very specific. Items in the collection (ranging in price from $7.95 for a jersey tank top to $199 for a pleated leather skirt) are crafted from organic cotton, Lyocell (cellulose-based), organic hemp, vegetable-tanned leather, organic mulberry silk, and recycled polyester. Honestly, I'm not very informed on the manufacturing details of this collection, so I can't personally attest to it being 100% ethical and sustainable, but I do feel that  H&M deserves to be applauded for moving fast fashion in this direction! (And can I say how much I'm dying for that leather skirt??) 

Below are some of my other picks from the collection: 

xoxo, Bri


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