Category Archives: Real Talk

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.

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.

The Trip

If you’ve been following me around on Instagram, talking to my mom, or are my friend IRL, then chances are… you totally already know that Joel and I spent last week traipsing around Paris and Reykjavik, Iceland. I can’t speak for myself, but my dear husband has been in serious need of a vacation. Not only had Joel been working hard, 10 hour days for the weeks leading up to our trip, but homeboy hasn’t taken any vacation days since our honeymoon last May (whereas I’ve had plenty of time off and have gotten to go here, here, and here).

When we learned that WOW! Airlines was opening up shop in Pittsburgh, we decided to take a trip back to one of our favorite places, Paris, as well as check out Iceland, you know, while we were “in the neighborhood”.

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Sometimes you just have to take a time out from real life to eat (meat and cheese), drink (alcohol!), and be married.

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Although I’m the last person I know “in need of” a vacation, I’ve been in such a creative slump lately that I wanted to take this amazing travel opportunity to gather material to write about while spending quality time with my hot, nerdy guy. I can say with the utmost confidence that I accomplished all that I set out to do! *high five*

I can hardly believe how much inspiration I got from merely a week away from home! From people watching in Paris, to learning how to correctly pronounce “Reykjavik” from local Icelanders, I made sure to take lots of notes in my travel journal and have quite a few blog posts lined up for the next few weeks. As an added plus for me, it is clearly stated in clause 16b of our (unwritten) marriage contract that Joel has to be my personal photographer until the end of time (HA! Got ’em!), so you can expect a lot of cool photos to accompany each post. And before you start feeling sorry for Joel, or making over/under bets about how many times I said “babe, like, take my picture in front of the Eiffel Tower”, know that he loves it. Joel is more than just an Instagram Husband, he is a photographer by nature and he even got a new toy out of it- a Sony RX100 III, the best travel camera ever, SO THERE.

Are you not entertained yet? Well, we’re just gettin’ started…

Woman Of The Hour Vol 5

That’s What She Read

Let’s talk about books, baby

Let’s talk about reeeeading

Let’s talk about all the good books, all the bad books that we read

Let’s talk about books….

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Among some of the other goals that I made for myself at the start of 2017 (like learn Italian), I am also attempting to read at least 52 books before the year ends. If you’re good at math and didn’t just have to use Google to double check how many weeks there are in a year, you probably figured out that it averages out to be 1 book per week. ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED?! I just finished my 27th book and have started on number 28, so I’m right on schedule.

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I wanted to do a post about this not only to share my love of reading, but to happily accept book recommendations as well. I’m not going off of a list of books to read before you die or anything like that, just picking books that pique my interest, are on sale for 25 cents a piece, or are New York Times Bestsellers. Hey, if they’re good enough for the masses, they’re good enough for me. My favorite question to ask people (mostly just when I want to come off as the intellectual, pretentious asshole I pretend to be sometimes) is “what are your favorite books?” Go ahead and tell me all about them so I can add them to my list.

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So far I’ve read a good range of things from The Princess Diarist, by the late and great Carrie Fisher, to Andre Dubus’ dark and dramatic House of Sand and Fog, to rereading one of my childhood favorites, Bambi (it’s definitely different than the happy Disney movie version FYI). I really want to read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood after finishing The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin and I’d like to know more about Capote so I’ll be picking up a biography or two on him. I also want to reread Choice Theory by Dr. Glasser, because I remember it being extremely interesting when I read it a few years back, as well as the Everworld series that I was obsessed with when I was 12 to see if they still hold up. Some other good ones I’ve read are Ready Player One, The Girl Before, Big Magic, Anne of Green Gables, Future Shock, and The Boston Girl. I am currently about halfway through Shanghai Girls and am loving it.

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As much as I love READING books, I also love buying them for their spine color for home decor purposes. Don’t know if I’ll ever get around to reading Kendra Wilkinson’s autobiography, but I totally own it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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I JUST LOVE BOOKS, MAN! I love getting lost in another world without having to leave the couch. I love learning about interesting people or subjects I know nothing of! I love going to the library without knowing what I’ll check out next and coming home with at least three new books and using the eenie meenie miney mo method to pick which one to start first.

I think Arthur the Aardvark (from the PBS cartoon, Arthur, duh) said it best when he rapped that “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card”….

YA GOSH DARN RIGHT, ARTHUR.

Woman Of The Hour Vol 4

In the early summer of 2012, right around the time I started blogging, I quit my job and started working at the boutique where I bought all of my clothes. Besides the brief stint working the Christmas season at Abercrombie Kids when I was 18, the only retail experience I had was being really good at shopping.

Annie Gogglyn had always been a favorite store of mine (and it’s where all the girls in my high school went to get the best knock off Chanel earrings). The store always had the coolest employees too. If you were an Annie G girl, you were special, you had that certain something… On my first day, I met Susi, a girl who had been hired the week before me. Have you ever met someone and just automatically know that you love them? I remember being taken aback not only by Susi’s beauty, but her genuine kindness and pure heart. Plus, she was hella fun both on and off the clock… After work one day, we drove up to SXSW in Austin to try to stalk Joseph Gordon Levit. Didn’t actually see him, but we had a blast!

Last year, when our bosses decided to sell the place, Susi bought it! She is the perfect fit for running Annie Gogglyn, too! Susi has an eye for fashionable pieces that others might overlook… “A light grey, faux suede shirt dress? on me? fine, Sus, I’ll try it on… OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER PUT ON MY BODY.” *proceeds to wear dress everyday and night for 2 weeks because it looks so good*.

When I was in San Antonio last month, I visited Susi and asked if she’d participate in my Woman Of The Hour blog series and she happily said yes! So without any further hooha, here are Susi’s answers to my “burning questions,” so you can get to know my favorite Girl Boss…

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me and Susi in 2017
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OG Annie G Girls, circa 2012

Describe your style in 1-5 words.
Classic, comfy and trendy.

Who is your style icon?
My style icons range from old school, classic fashion icons like Marilyn Monroe, to ‘90s fashion queen Carrie Bradshaw, all the way to modern day celebs like the Kardashians. Love them or hate them, those girls have definitely taken the fashion world by storm and I find it fascinating! For me, inspiration really depends on what look I personally am going for as well as my mood. I like to take bits and pieces of style inspo from different people and find what works for me and my everyday life. I also think Vanessa Hudgens has really awesome style- she’s creative with her looks and I love that!

What is your best feature?
I would have to say my hair! It’s really thick and (thankfully!) easy to style.

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What song would you want to play when you walk into a room to make you feel bad ass?
Ooooh.. anything fun by Lady Gaga or the Weeknd for sure!

What beauty product can you not live without?
I think it really all starts with your skin- a good base that you’re confident with (moisturizer + foundation), and everything else beauty wise will fall into place! Also, I love a good poppin’ highlight, subtle cat eye and some fluttery lashes.

If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?
I am obsessed with space travel, time and the universe, so I would definitely be some type of object that transcends time, like a book or a really cool heirloom.

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What was your first aol screen name?
Oh my gosh! I’m pretty sure I created a name related to my dog… like Peachy Princess or something like that, ha!

Are you currently binge watching anything, Netflix or otherwise?
Yesss! I am such a film person, but lately I have been on a really weird ‘90s sitcom binge- Roseanne, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Fresh Prince! So cheesy but so good and a great way to destress.

What is your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever had?
I was Scarlett O’ Hara in the 2nd grade! Definite fave.

If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, where would you go and why?
I would go to London or Paris. I love European history and architecture- those two cities radiate everything that I admire about past and present Europe! Each city has such a different atmosphere and I was in love with both before I visited them. They definitely lived up to my expectations!

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What is your drink of choice?
Give me a good Michelada and I am a happy camper.

Give me an example of your biggest fashion win and your biggest fashion mistake.
Biggest fashion win would have to be an evening gown I got to wear for an award ceremony a few years ago. The dress was all black and fit to my body, and I had a black fur shawl to accentuate the look. It was so classic and clean, but I felt really confident and elegant the entire evening! Biggest fashion mistake (and there’s been many lol) would be anytime I have worn something where I think I can get away with being really glam and then end up being totally uncomfortable or overdressed.

What are your favorite and least favorite current fashion trends?
Favorite fashion trend of the moment is definitely the ‘90s look, street style look. Some of the trends don’t necessarily translate into everyday/workday wear, but certain pieces have definitely become staples in my wardrobe (mini dresses with sneakers, embroidered denim jackets, fur slides, bodysuits, really ripped denim, huge JLo hoops). Love it! Least favorite might have to be off the shoulder and stripes. I love a good OTS/striped piece, but I do find that certain pieces have become a little overkill for me when it comes to that trend.

Go-to karaoke song?
Ok so this is probably my fave question because my biggest dream is to do karaoke on the Tonight Show alongside Jimmy, ha! Love On Top by Bey is so fun, or Somebody to Love by Queen.

Favorite song of the moment?
Any track off of The Weeknd’s latest album. I love every song on it!

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Favorite part of being a hashtag girlboss/ owner of a boutique?
Favorite part of running a store has to be the buying aspect, I won’t lie! I am a shopper by nature (aren’t we all?!) and I really just love getting access to the latest trends and being able to hand pick everything that is in the store. It is really exciting and inspiring.

What is the most difficult part of running your own store? Most rewarding part?
I would say the most difficult part is the accountability- I have had to learn to be more decisive, punctual, responsible and aware- every decision is yours and you have to own them, even when the outcome isn’t exactly what you wanted. The most rewarding part has to be seeing my customers happy! There is nothing more I love than seeing women fall in love with clothes the way I do. I love that people feel included and special when they shop at my store, it makes me feel like we are doing something right!

Best advice you’ve ever been given and would like to pass on.
I think it is important to be kind to people, even when you don’t feel like it. Most people think that being kind or sensitive is a sign of weakness, but I think the opposite is true- being kind takes courage. We are all human and going through life trying to figure things out. I also think that being kind applies to yourself, too.

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Isn’t she the best?! Oh, if you don’t live in San Antonio, you’ll definitely need to follow Annie Gogglyn on Instagram and shop their feed…. THEY SHIP NATIONWIDE FO FREE!

San Antone To The Bone

Just a couple of weeks ago, I made my annual trip to my hometown of San Antonio, TX. Although my older sister, Annie- who also moved to Pittsburgh, goes home multiple times a year, I prefer to make the trek less frequently. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder… Plus, when I only go home once a year, it makes my parents feel more inclined to buy me stuff like pedicures and Texas flag running shorts (thanks, mom!) and all the food (lookin’ at you, dad!).

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Even though I’ve been going back and forth between Pittsburgh and San Antonio for 6 years now, I only just started noticing just how different my two cities are. The people might as well be from opposite ends of the universe, and don’t even get me started on the differences of the trees in both places! Not complaining, obviously, just making observations. SERIOUSLY, HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE ALL OF THE CACTI?!

Unfortunately, on the third day of the trip we went to the beach and I got the worst sunburn of my life (from the bottom of my butt to the tops of my ankles). I’m not being dramatic, IT HURT TO SLEEP, WALK, SIT, AND MOVE IN GENERAL FOR THE REMAINING 3 DAYS I WAS THERE. That plus the sinus infection/cold I got from God knows what, meant that I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, do everything I wanted to do, or even eat everything I wanted to eat. Woe is me, right?!

Nevertheless, I shall share my mental list of the BEST overlooked and underrated places to eat/shop/drink/do stuff in SA, some of which I got to go to this time around and some of which will have to wait ’til next time.

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SHOPPING

  1. Annie Gogglyn– located in the heart of the ’09 zip code, Annie G has been a San Antonio staple for 30+ years. My Aunt Robin worked there right after it was converted from a gas station to a bridal boutique. I worked at Annie in 2012 because I bought all of my clothes there anyway and employee discounts are the bomb (it was no longer a bridal boutique, duh, but a whimsical women’s boutique as well as a trendy children’s store ). A couple years ago, my friend Susi bought the place, but more on that later…
  2. Bless Your Heart– they sell Ban.do and Sunnylife Australia, so you know it’s cool. Plus, my friend Gretchen works there and she might be the nicest person I’ve ever met. 
  3. Aquarius– It’s true, every time I enter this boutique I make a bee line for the sale rack, but just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there.
  4. Melissa Guerra– This is where Frida Kahlo would do her home shopping had she lived in San Antonio. My BFF got me the prettiest hand painted sugar skull key chain from here.
  5. HEB– had to give a quick shout out to the best grocery store that has ever existed. When we were kids, we used to always ask to pet the live lobsters in the tanks in the seafood department.

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SIGHT SEEING/THINGS TO DO

  1. Mural Hunting– San Antonians know what to do with a blank wall. My hometown might be THE most colorful city in the U.S. of A, which is saying a lot. Do yourself a favor if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, get in your car and drive all around downtown, The Pearl, the Northwest side, and the West side and let your eyes be amazed.
  2. The Alamo- don’t actually wait in that long ass line to go inside The Alamo, though. Definitely just take a picture in front of it and then cross the street to the woman selling $3 paper flower crowns and buy one. Then go get a popsicle and stop being such a dumb tourist.
  3. Snake Farm and Animal World– The Snake Farm is not only the place where my brothers and cousins used to have their birthday parties as kids, it’s also the place where I got to hold a baby Lemur and where Christina draped an Albino Python over her shoulders like she was Britney Bitch herself. Though it is now under new management and you probably can’t do as much as the cool/dangerous stuff I’ve done at this place and although, technically, it isn’t even in the San Antonio city limits, it’s still way better and less crowded than the zoo. You may have seen it on Dirty Jobs.
  4. The Japanese Tea Gardens– an absolutely picturesque way to spend an evening in SA.
  5. DTSA library–  If you like books and cool buildings, go here. It’s the second best library I’ve ever been to (this is the first, of course)
  6. The Overtime Theatre– I grew up attending local plays on field trips and always loved it so much. The Overtime is the people’s theatre! The amazing array of artistry you’ll see here is insane. SPEAKING OF WHICH, my very first friend I ever made (her name’s Kat, we were 5 and played leap frog down my hallway and have been friends ever since) is performing in the upcoming show, Cthulhu Too: The Stranger In Yellow. NBD, I KNOW HER! So if you’d care to support local art, please click here to donate to this production!
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snake farm, 2008

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FOOOOOOD 

This is a difficult part to narrow down, but here goes nothin’…

  1. Garcia’s– THE BEST BOWL OF CHILI OF YOUR LIFE. YOU’RE WELCOME.
  2. Patty’s– BEST PUFFY TACO PLATE and friendliest staff.
  3. Augie’s– BEST BBQ SANDWICHES
  4. Raspas– a Raspa is a kind of snow cone. Piccadilly is the best/weirdest/my favorite kind to get. Mangonada is good too. DON’T FORGET THE CHAMOY!
  5. Elote- just find any snack shack that sells this and get it then tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through you!
  6. Theory Coffee– damn good coffee
  7. La Popular Bakery– ALL. THE. TREATS.

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Luckily for the whole city of San Antonio, I’ll be back at least twice next year. My brother and sister are getting married…. NOT TO EACH OTHER… and I guess our presence will be expected at both weddings. I suppose I shall just have to keep finding this city’s hidden gems and adding to the list every time I’m there. Tough job, huh?