Category Archives: Lifestyle

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.

 

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

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.

Paris: Stay There, Eat That

I don’t think anyone realizes how much input my husband puts into this blog. He’s not just the photographer/videographer, he’s an idea man as well. When we had our weekly content meeting last week, he suggested one of the topics for this very post. The conversation went like this:

JOEL (sitting on couch after work): “You should write a post about Paris next week.”

ME (walking up the stairs en route to bathroom): “What about Paris specifically? I have a lot of posts in mind.”

JOEL: “The food. Talk about the food in Paris…. I’m hungry. What should we make for dinner?”

FINE, JOEL. I GUESS I’LL TALK ABOUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS EVER: FOOD. But first…

The Paris of Joel and Sarah Blumer’s future is centered around the Four Seasons, Michelin Starred restaurants, and shopping at Christian Louboutin. It’ll be just like in that Bruno Mars song: “shopping sprees in Paris, everyday 24 karats”. The Paris of our present, however, is more along the lines of a pleasant hotel or Airbnb, cheap eats, and window shopping at the Christian Louboutin store (because shopping sprees in Paris would equal everyday 24 carrots because that’s all we’d be able to afford to eat). Although the future version sounds great, I wholeheartedly LOOOOOVE how we see Paris now!

This was, technically, the third time Joel and I have been to Paris (remember the first and second time?) and I make sure to casually bring that fact up in conversation as much as possible (yet somehow I’m not the most pretentious person I know). It’s a city that outdoes itself every time we see it. Paris really is the epitome of everything charming and beautiful.

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Normally, we’d pick Airbnb for accommodations in any city for more than 3 nights, but Hotel Panache was not only too cute, but way too much of a steal to pass up! At just over $100 per night, we got a room on the top floor with the best views of the 9th Arrondissement.

Boutique hotels combine the unique and charismatic elements that you’d get with an Airbnb with the simplicity and ease you’d get with a hotel. Win/win.

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With a sweet and knowledgable staff ready to drop recommendations about whatever tickles your Parisian fancy, Hotel Panache really has it all! Instead of pillow mints, you can expect fortune cookies with something funny written inside; Joel’s said “never make eye contact with another person while eating a banana”.

One thing you should know is that one of the toiletries provided by the hotel is body lotion NOT hair conditioner…. the label was in French and I made the mistake of assuming it was the latter, which will explain why my hair might start to look funky in a lot of our vacation photos.

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Fine. I guess we can talk about food now…

At home, we try to stick to a diet of mostly “plant-based” meals. When we do eat meat, it’s usually turkey, chicken, and fish and almost never beef or pork. In France though, that way of munching goes out the window. Not that it’s hard to find amazing vegetarian options in Paris, we just didn’t want to. We’re on vacation, damn it!

Before we went to Paris the first time around, I did a ton of research and asked people we knew who had been where the best cafés were, only to find out that when you’re on the streets of Paris, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a cute café. The hypothetical rock you’re throwing will probably bounce off of one cafe and hit two more before it slows down.

To save some dough whilst in Paris, we only ate at cafés, brasseries, pâtisseries, and my personal favorite: crêperies. These are all especially great options if you feel awkward making dinner reservations in a foreign country (we rarely go to places where reservations are needed stateside anyway). Just go in, find a seat, eat and enjoy! 

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A lot of cafés in Paris are not only charming, but come with so much cool history too! Le Consulat in Montmarte happens to be where Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec used to all go to have a drink and shoot the shit, artist style. And Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole (located right by Notre Dame) was established in 1512, making it one of the oldest buildings still remaining in Paris! Just look at that wisteria growing, hiding it from the prying eyes of most tourists! C’est vraiment magnifique!

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Can we give a shout out to “mixte” plates, real quick?! It doesn’t get much better than a big plate of various meats and cheeses (sometimes with a side of pickles!) served with warm bread and washed down with cold beer. We ordered them a couple of times not really knowing what kind of meat or cheese we’d get specifically, but they never disappointed.

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For burgers in Paris, Mamie Burger is THE BEST (also conveniently located right outside of our hotel)! If you don’t want to be an asshole or an “américain stupide,” be sure to order your burger medium. Yes, there will be blood, but it’ll be worth it. Trust me.

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I can’t look at the pictures below without drooling. The street food in Paris is so. freaking. good. My last meal in France was a gyro with spicy cheese sauce that I ate at 10 p.m. and had the worst heartburn from, but couldn’t get enough of! The pizza and garlic knots were also so very tasty.

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We Blumers are all very big fans of Belgian beers. Belgium is France’s adorable northern neighbor, so drinking a good Belgian beer in France is as easy to do as going anywhere in the U.S. and drinking a Bud Light or any other trash beer. Hooray! We also had a few cocktails and a few bottles of wine because, like I said before, vacation.

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Ah, crêpes. The quintessential king of all street food in Paris. Try one with butter and sugar or Nutella and strawberries! Whatever you get on them and wherever you get them from, you’ll be satisfied by crêpes. I have so many photos on my phone of just crêpes. I love crêpes. crêpes. crêpes. crêpes.

Say crêpes one more time…

Crêpes.

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Pastries in Paris are an art form. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s a fact. Macarons (NOT Macaroons, there’s a difference, okay?!), croissants, croissants aux amandes, pain au chocolat, eclairs, etc… each one is better than the next. It might literally be impossible to eat a bad pastry in France. Just sayin’.

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Ugh, crap. Now I’m drooling again…

Mrs. Steel Yo POPS

I know where your brain is going. No, I’m not referring to your “Pops” as in your father! I’m talking about “Pops” as in POPSICLES!

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I met up with my friend Jadie for lunch today and we both had our toddlers with us. If any of you have kids, you know going to a restaurant with kids that isn’t a Chick-Fil-A is a huge stress. There is only a certain amount of time a kid can handle coloring on the same paper with only a 2-color crayon choice. If you add on a popular restaurant during lunch hours, you’re looking at spending a good 45-60min. For a toddler, that time is an eternity.

Not too much time passes before bribes are made and 2 magical words slowly exit your lips. “I C E – C R E A M”. Bam. Automatic 5-10 minutes of decent behavior added to your meal.

I’m not one to not follow through with a promise. After we left the restaurant, we looked up nearby ice cream shops and came across Steel City Pops around the corner. Jadie and I were both immediately impressed with the atmosphere and vibe of the shop. Steel City specializes in gourmet Mexican Paletas, commonly known as “pops”. As I was struggling to decide on the perfect flavor, I asked the cashier about the company. She told me the story of how it was started by a husband and father from Alabama who followed his dreams to own a restaurant. Today, that 1 restaurant has turned into over 20 locations and continuing to spread through the United States.

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Finally, I made my decision. Are you ready? Might want to loosen your belt buckle and let out that top button on your pants. Cookies & Cream Cookie Pop dipped in dark chocolate, drizzled with fresh caramel and toasted coconut, and dredged with sea salt. I can get pretty vocal when I eat something satisfying and to be clear, I was NOT silent. Treating yourself once in a while is a must. Do yourself a FLAVOR and don’t waste that “treat” on something that won’t fully satisfy you. Take the plunge and go for it all. Your heart will thank you… but your slim fitted jeans might react a little differently.

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All in all, if you’ve never had a paleta, I encourage you to try one out. Follow your heart.

 

 

Ice Ice Iceland

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When Joel and I were in the beginning stages of planning our latest European rendezvous, my mom called me and in a typical “mom fashion” asked about a bajillion questions about our upcoming trip. Of the questions, there was one particular, two-parter that made me LOL. After inquiring where exactly Iceland is located, my goofball mom added “and what IS Iceland exactly? like, what’s its deal?”

As far as replies go, I could have said anything from “it’s this cool little country that was made by volcanoes” or “it’s where the Vikings settled”. I definitely should have sent my mom a link to the History of Iceland on Wikipedia because it’s fascinating, but instead I said “remember that weirdo who wore the swan dress to the Oscars? She’s from Iceland.” (disclaimer: Bjork is awesome and “weirdo” is always a term of endearment in my book)

These map screenshots show the location of Iceland in relation to other places, mom:

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I didn’t know much about Iceland until recently. My curiosity in the country began when my blogger friends went in 2015, and it grew from there. We now know quite a few people who have been (my artist friend, Courtney, got married on a cliffside in Iceland)! Even after visiting, our interest in Iceland hasn’t piqued! We definitely left a lot to explore for next time, so it’s great that it is soooo cheap to get there…

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Hey WOW Air!

Yes, the getting there is cheap… once you’re there, though, “cheap” pretty much ceases to exist, but for good reason. Iceland depends on tourism (your country would too if you couldn’t grow anything because your “soil” is actually just volcanic rock). Also, almost all of the food you eat in Iceland has to be shipped over from elsewhere (with the exception of seafood), so you can expect to pay more for it.

We heard from friends that Iceland is expensive, but didn’t realize how expensive until we got there. Try not yelling “$25 for a medium pizza from Domino’s?” or “OMFG IT’S $17 FOR ONE DRINK AT THIS BAR” the first time you see it. But don’t forget about how much money you saved getting there, okay?! And it’s for sure worth it to visit Iceland, you just have to figure out which way is right for you…

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3 WAYS TO SEE ICELAND

  1. The Layover– using an Icelandic airline to get to other European countries will save you money AND you’ll be contributing to the Icelandic economy. You’ll just be a big dummy if you don’t leave the airport.
  2. The Stopover– you can have your herring and eat it too! This is the option we chose because if you’re going to be stopping at the airport in Iceland anyway, you might as well stay a night or two! That’s plenty of time to explore Reykjavik and do at least one excursion. And you can save some money on food by eating your complimentary hotel breakfast, Icelandic hot dogs, and Domino’s.
  3. The Stop, Drop (your bags), and Stay Over– My brother, Brennan, made Iceland his sole destination and spent a week exploring the entire country. His photos are AMAZING. He really explored the crap out of Iceland! Even though our time there overlapped by a day, we weren’t even mad when he didn’t attempt to hang out as he was so busy climbing glaciers and getting blown by geysers.

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Reykjavik is such a cool city!

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It’s nice, too, because if you do get tired of being in the city, just walk along the coastline and before you know it, you stop hearing the cars honking and it’s nothing but beautiful mountains ahead of you.

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We can’t wait to go back to Iceland, rent a car, and road trip the whole dang thang.