Paris/Reykjavik Video

Do you ever dream that your life is a movie? Maybe I’m just a particular breed of Romantic/Drama Queen, but when I was younger I used to fantasize about accepting my Academy Award for Best Actress for my role as Sarah Haase, Witty and Lovable Middle Child. I didn’t realize until after we were married, that Joel would be the creative genius behind my starring role. I love that he finds me so a-muse-ing.

Maybe I’m biased (with just a hint of narcissistic) because my husband made it, but I could watch this video of my good side traipsing around Paris and Reykjavik all day. The colors are gorgeous (enhanced by Joel!), the music is perfectly timed (thanks, Joel!), and you can hardly see the croissant food baby I’m hiding throughout (great camera angles, babe!). Crank up the volume and enjoy! Or don’t! We don’t care! BYEEEE.

 

p.s. Parisians LOVE Daft Punk.

Reykjavik Street Art

Since we’re on the subject of street art anyway, let’s take the appreciation for colorful walls and murals across the pond… Back to Reykjavik, Iceland; a city that looks like the inside of a psychedelic kaleidoscope!

I mentioned before that when we went to Iceland last month, we didn’t venture far out of Reykjavik. Which is fine, because holy color explosion, it’s a vividly chromatic feast for your eyeballs. Hue won’t be disappointed (color pun, I’ll stop talking now)…

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you ain’t got no alibi

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don’t be fooled like I was, this is NOT a real cat.

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Whether it’s the outside of a bakery, the inside of a parking garage, or the entrance to the Punk Rock Museum, those talented Icelandic artists won’t leave you hanging when it comes to all things colorful. If you find yourself needing to kill some time on a stopover in Iceland, but you don’t want to spend a small fortune on excursions, just go for a wall crawl. And while you’re out and about, spend $4 on an Icelandic hot dog, just don’t ask what it’s made of…

Pro tip: pay $8 and go up to the top of That One Church to scope out the nearby street art.

 

Pittsburgh Street Art

There is a hefty handful of really cool gals in Blog World/Instagram Land who have perfected the art of Wall Crawling. Although it may sound silly to some people, I believe that street art makes our world a better (i.e. more colorful) place, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my way of thinking. Imagine you’re walking down the street and after seeing nothing but bland buildings one after the other, you look up and see a mural that sticks out like a sore, beautiful thumb. You can’t help but smile and appreciate the fact that there is art running wild in the real world, not stuck in a museum with a partition and no flash photography.

As far as cataloging murals around the country goes.. Jen has San Antonio, Bianca has Austin, Rosemary has Philly, Baltimore, LA, Vegas, and D.C. totally covered, but what about Pittsburgh?! Yinz guyz know we got cool murals n’at?! Technically, someone already made an extremely detailed website with the addresses of literally every single mural in town, but I thought I’d add to it by making an Instagram account (@PittsburghMurals) for the same thing… just because it didn’t exist.

Actual murals aside, finding a wall to have my picture taken in front of that is a solid color and coordinates with my outfit is not only my specialty, but what I get asked most about via email or direct messaging on IG. So Anyway, these are a few of my favorite walls:

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Best Mural In Town, 5482 Penn Ave
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Lavender Wall, Highland and Penn intersection
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YELLOW AF WALL, Gas Station where Butler and Penn Ave intersect
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Pink Wall, Hamilton Ave
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Chartreuse + Gray color block wall, Liberty Ave and Main St
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Swoops There It Is Wall, Smallman St and 29th
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Green Stuff Wall, Butler and 57th
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RIP Skull Mural (it has since been painted over)
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Cool Wall On The Way To Kish House, Address Forgotten

 

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Rainbow Crosswalk, Ellsworth Ave

Even if you’re not a blogger who favors ridiculously colorful photos to accompany your posts, murals could still be part of your life. My DIY/Travel Blogging friends, Sarah and Nick, took their engagement photos in front of Pittsburgh’s Pink Wall and how cute would it be to find the best blue wall for a photo shoot with your newborn baby boy?! Whatever the occasion, there’s probably a wall for you!

I think I said “wall” too many times and now it doesn’t sound like a real word anymore.  GOTTA GO. BYEEE.

Cheap Dates: Paris Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty big fans of frugality around here. Is it just me, or do I keep talking about how we’re trying to pinch pennies while simultaneous livin’ it up? Okay maybe it was just this post where I mentioned saving money while visiting one of the most luxurious cities in the world, but that’s how Joel and I are most of the time. Well, that’s how Joel is and how I’m learning to be (adulting is hard sometimes). We have a weekly budget that we stick to as well as a travel budget where we dump any extra cash we get from babysitting (me) or leftover per diem (Joel).

Even though 95% of the time you’ll find the two of us being a boring old married couple at home, on our couch, with our cats, binge watching something (rn it’s Rick and Morty), we still like to do fun stuff with the remaining 5%. I think that it is important in a marriage to date your spouse. Dates are great, right?! Especially when you’re already married to the guy and you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs or whether or not he’s going to murder you when you go home with him! See? Great!

I started this new “Cheap Date” category on here because dates are fun and, according to my husband, so is saving money. For the first installment, I thought I’d talk about how we went on super cheap Parisian date while we were in Paris last month.

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Did you know you can eat a fancy dinner on a boat on the Seine? Did you also know that a lot of people say it’s overpriced and overrated? We opted for the cheap-o version. We dressed up hella fancy on our last night in town, took the metro down to Pont D’Alma where we hopped on a 1 hour river cruise via Bateaux Mouches. When all of the tourists wearing cargo shorts pushed and shoved to get a good seat at the top of the boat, Joel and I high tailed it to the side where we could be all alone. We bought champagne. We snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other the whole time. It was perfect. We didn’t need a fancy, expensive dinner because we knew we’d get crepes on our way back to the hotel.

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Side note: since 2009, I haven’t been able to get on a boat without this song getting stuck in my head. Not complaining, it’s awesome.

“We drinking Santana champ, cause it’s so crisp…”

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12 Euros for boat tickets, 20 for champagne + plastic flutes, a few more for late night crepes compared to 99 per person for shitty cruise food? Yes, please! Cheap dates for the win! BOO YA.

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On the next installment of Cheap Dates, we see if our marriage can withstand All You Can Eat Appetizers… See ya then!

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Dress/Storets, Earrings/Amazon

Top French Sayings To Know In Paris

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Fact: a little bit of an effort to speak the local language will go a long way in a foreign country. I mean, that makes total sense, right? To give you some perspective, imagine you’re in your hometown and a stranger comes up to you and starts speaking a language you only kind of understand. You’d be like “yo, I took Mandarin in high school, but I don’t understand this specific dialect… English? Maybe?”

I’ve heard stories of Americans going abroad and just assuming everyone speaks English, but you know what they say about people who assume, right? Don’t make an ass of yourself, learn the bare minimum of a new language to at least skate by without annoying everyone you meet! The effort goes a long way, especially in France. Hence why this post you’re reading has come to fruition: it’s not just me blabbing, it’s actually useful (I even included links to youtube pronunciation videos)!

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French Phrases You Should Know In Paris:

  1. Bonjour/Bonsoir“- GREET. EVERYONE. OR YOU’RE BEING RUDE. Okay, greet everyone you encounter in businesses (the hotel concierge, taxi/uber drivers, the coffee shop barista, the boutique employee, the checkout guy at the grocery store, etc). Don’t greet strangers on the street or you’re being a creepy American weirdo (the beautiful French person doesn’t give a shit if you like her scarf). Bonjour means “good day,” so when evening rolls along, be sure to change your greeting to bonsoir (apparently 6 p.m. is a safe time to make the switch).
  2. S’il Vous Plait/Merci“- Please and thank you. Because manners are important, duh.
  3. Pardon“- Manners, remember? If you’re thinking “excuse moi” is the acceptable version of “excuse me,” well you’re wrong.. It’s not your fault, “excuse moi” just translates closer to “sorry” than “pardon me”.
  4. Apres vous“- We’ve all done that awkward hold-the-door tango, right? Gesturing and saying “after you” in French will get you into the building much faster.
  5. L’addition, s’il vous plait“- This is probably the most useful thing you’ll learn to say en Francais because once you’ve been given your food at a restaurant, your waiter will probably leave you alone until you’re ready to pay. When you do grab his or her attention, asking for the bill in French is sure to get you a smile of appreciation.
  6. D’accord“- Okay! Look at you being all agreeable!
  7. Au revoir“- Much like greeting, it’s important to say your goodbyes as well. Too bad I can’t say “au revoir” without wanting to yell “SHOSHANNNAAAAA” after… you know, because of Inglorious Basterds? Oh, just me then…
  8. Parlez vous Anglais?“- Sometimes the answer is “no,” so it’s much more polite to ask people if they speak English than to assume that they do.

I was going to include “puis-je épater votre chien?” but the answer to “may I pet your dog” is always “non” anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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Yes I took French in high school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t butcher this beautiful language when it comes out of my mouth. I’d say that in Paris it’s okay if your pronunciation isn’t perfection, and that a little effort goes a long way. Even my husband (who has never spoken a lick of French and actually kept accidentally saying “hola” the first time we were in Paris) had these few phrases on lock down and used them everyday!

It’s also a good idea to have the Google Translate App downloaded and ready to use. You know, just in case the one person who doesn’t speak English at all happens to be the pharmacist you’re trying to buy laxatives from. That’s not something you want to mime out. Trust me.

SPA Day

Ahhhhh a day at the Spa! What more could one ask for after an exhausting day of traveling? When going to Reykjavik from Paris last month, we made sure to hop on a shuttle bus outside of the Keflavik airport and head straight for The Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s very own geothermal spa. A tourist trap for sure, but soooo worth it.

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I’ve never been to a spa before. Sure, I’ve had spa-like treatments such as manicures, pedicures, massages, and even a deep cleansing facial when I was in The Netherlands; but I’ve never had the luxury of dedicating an entire day to The Spa.

And as for my husband, well, his only knowledge of spas is as follows:

*”What is this word ‘spa’? I feel like you’re starting to say a word, but you’re not finishing it. Are you trying to say ‘SPAghetti’? ARE YOU TAKING ME FOR A SPAGHETTI DAY?!”

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Chances are, if you’ve looked into visiting Iceland at all, The Blue Lagoon is on your radar. Perhaps you’ve seen photos of the milky blue/green water on Instagram or Pinterest (if not, you can read more about one of the 25 Wonders of the World here and gawk at some photos here). Knowing that we were only going to be able to do one excursion with our limited time in Iceland, we chose the Blue Lagoon over the Golden Circle, the Northern Lights, Game of Thrones Film Locations, Silfra Fissure, and whale watching solely because of its convenience to get to from the airport en route to Reykjavik. Plus, we’re saving all of those awesome things for next time.

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Daisy Sunglasses/Oui Fresh, Waterproof Phone Lanyards/Amazon

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When I booked our entrance tickets (WHICH YOU HAVE TO DO IN ADVANCE!), I was sent an email that reiterated everything I’d found out about the Blue Lagoon on my own along with some added answers to questions I didn’t even have. Now that I’ve “been there done that,” I thought I’d write down some of these tips as well as a few I learned along the way. Hopefully these will be helpful to anyone wanting to visit the Blue Lagoon in the future.

BLUE LAGOON TIPS

  • the Silica/salt water combo is great for your skin, but terrible for your hair. It is recommended that you put conditioner in your hair before entering the water. I did that. I thought that because I doused my hair with the complimentary conditioner, it’d be fine if I got my hair wet in the lagoon because the conditioner would protect it. No. I ended up reapplying conditioner to my hair a couple of times, but because I dunked my whole head initially, my hair was still pretty gross for almost a week after. What you should do is apply conditioner then put your hair in a top knot and don’t get it wet at all.
  • if you wear glasses, don’t get them wet either because the water in the lagoon can ruin your lenses.
  • when I heard that it’s a rule that you have to take a communal shower before entering the lagoon, my prude self got a little nervous. It turns out, though, you don’t have to be naked in front of anyone if you don’t want to be. The locker rooms don’t have open showers, each one is in a stall so as long as you have a towel, you can keep it as private as you want to. Or not. You will still see a lot of naked people regardless.
  • DRINK WATER. No, really, do it. Grab a plastic cup from the swim up bar and regularly fill it from one of the water fountains around the lagoon. If you’re in a giant hot tub for 3+ hours and you’re not drinking water, you will get dehydrated. Joel and I didn’t realize until it was too late that we should have been drinking much more water.
  • you can buy a waterproof lanyard for your phone at the swim up bar for $30, or buy two on Amazon beforehand for $11. We also saw some people holding their iPhones in their hands with no case whatsoever while in the water. Make the right choice, dummy.
  • go to the Blue Lagoon from the airport, but not on your way to the airport. Maybe the thought of relaxing at the spa sounds like a great way to spend the hours preceding a long flight, but it might also make you rush through the experience. Plus, it took me like 20 minutes just to get my leggings back on after I got out of the water. On travel day, ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • book it all in advance- admission and transportation. It’ll make your life so much easier.
  • of the four different options, the “comfort package” is the best deal (you get a towel, your first drink free, and an algae mask- don’t need much else!)
  • wear sunscreen.
  • make friends! We met some really cool people from all over the world while swimming around the lagoon.

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Definitely don’t skip the Blue Lagoon just because it’s touristy. There’s something pleasant about being in a giant hot tub filled with strangers….

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*No spaghetti served or allowed inside of the Blue Lagoon.

The Subtle Art of “Being Extra”

I should preface this by stating how NOT “with it” I am. Do I know the cool new jams on the radio? No because I only listen to my downloaded 80s rock, The Lonely Island, and NPR. I only ever hear about the new Bruno Mars songs when I hang out with Christina. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a festival of any kind, unless, do church festivals count? I sure as hell have never referred to anything as “on fleek,” and I, like, just now found out what “Netlfix and Chill” actually means (which, btw, is so dumb. I JUST WANT TO WATCH NETFLIX. AND CHILL. NO SEXUAL INNUENDO).

All that being said, the new term”being Extra” is something I totally get and am 100% with.

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If you haven’t figured out (using context clues and the photos posted) what being extra could possibly mean, I’ll give you the low down. Urban Dictionary defines Extra as “over the top; excessive, dramatic behavior; when you have to be better and overly go up and beyond for unnecessary reasons”.

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Being Extra resonates with me, but out of necessity for my self esteem and only when in reference to how I dress on weekends. You see, 5 days out of the week I don’t fix my hair, only put on minimal makeup, and solely wear yoga pants. I clearly do not have an office job (livin’ that #NANNYLIFE) and although I could put a little more effort into my weekday beauty/getting dressed routine, the hour and a half I have in the mornings is much better spent sipping my coffee and watching the news (or whatever guilty pleasure show I watch sans husband).  Plus, I feel like if I’m not already dressed to exercise, it’s so much harder to motivate myself to do so after work.

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When the weekend hits though…

I make sure my nails are painted, my hair extensions are clipped in and styled, my outfit is over the top and loud, my shoes get me closer to God (the ones I’m wearing in these photos make me 6 feet tall, NBD), and I pile on the mascara by the pound. Bam! EXTRA!

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Top & Pants/Target, Glasses/Annie Gogglyn, Cat Purse/SheIn

In my case, “being extra,” like guac at Chipotle, is a treat for myself. It’s not that hard to go from zero to Extra! Extra! Read all about it: “Sarah Put Clothes With No Random Stains On Today,” and it’s something that I look forward to doing even if I have nowhere to go. If you need me, I’ll be at home being extra for Joel and our cats… BYEEE.

a blog BY ladies FOR ladies