Category Archives: Tips

Binge Worthy

Speaking of wearing robes and being cozzzzyyyy…

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!! My favorite part of the holiday season is the part with no plans in sight and nothing to do. Does it count as “dolce far niente” if the TV is on? Yes, it does. I’ve done my research, and have found the best shows to binge watch (and which to avoid) during your well deserved time off. So kick back, relax, and turn on the ROKU.

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  1. The Office/30 Rock/ Parks and Rec- The holy trinity of goofiness. Everyone needs some comic relief in their life! We re-watch one of these annually and rotate between them.
  2. Breaking Bad- Seriously, this show is probably the best show ever made and it’s EVEN BETTER when you go back and watch it again. So many Easter Eggs and so much foreshadowing!
  3. Gossip Girl- I was v anti GG when it first aired because I was loyal to the books, but what started as a guilty pleasure show to watch while I drink coffee in the mornings or when Joel’s working late, has turned into a full-on addiction. So bad, it’s good.
  4. Pretty Little Liars- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO WATCHING THIS. We made the mistake of binging the first two seasons when we had the flu and it was such a waste of time because nothing ever happens.
  5. Skins (British Version)- I may be pushing 28, but I guess I have this thing with teenage drama.
  6. The Great British Bake- YAAAAAAAAS, but don’t watch if you’re hungry.

 

HULU

  1. The OC- Speaking of teenage drama, this show singlehandedly shaped my youth. I was obsessed in 2004 and with the exception of the fashion choices and the cameo appearance of Paris Hilton in season 1, it holds up. Even the last season was not as terrible as I remembered it.
  2. The Mindy Project- Danny and Mindy 4ever!
  3. Younger- Another guilty pleasure show that I couldn’t turn off.
  4. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills- If you’re going to watch any housewives series, this is the ones to commit to because they’re the most glamorous and the most dramatic.
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale- One of those rare occurrences where the movie/tv adaptation is better than the book!

 

AMAZON PRIME

  1. The Grand Tour- IDGAF about cars, but Joel got me looooving this show! It’s so over the top and ridiculous, plus I love me some dry British humor.
  2. The Man In The High Castle- Nope, sorry. Great concept and cool intro, but terrible execution.
  3. Z: The Beginning of Everything- I read the book version of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life and loved it! I only watched the first episode of the show, but my BFF and sister love it and I trust their opinions.

 

Well, it’s been fun, but I have to go see what happens between Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass… Happy binge season to you all!

XOXO, Gossip Girl Sarah

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How To Get Away With Wearing PJs In Public

Fashion, much like art, is at times simply “what you can get away with“….

IDK about you, but I am definitely an advocate for wearing pajamas in public places. I’ve been known to go to the movie theatre in an American Flag print nightgown (worn as a dress, obviously) and I’ve graced quite a few strangers at the grocery store with the presence of my Darth Vader boxer briefs (I originally bought them for my husband, but kept them for myself). Since it can be annoyingly difficult to find “dressy” clothing that can hold a candle to the comfort of sleep clothes, I decided to test drive wearing a bathrobe in lieu of a jacket to see if I could get away with it.

Long story short: If you looked up “pulling it off” in the dictionary, you’d probably find these photos.

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Bathrobe/Target, Skirt and Top/SheIn, Sunglasses/Forever21, Mules/ASOS

Speaking of bathrobes, when we were getting ready for Paris back in September, I ordered this beautiful floral kimono to wear around the city of lights. When I opened the package from my online purchase, Joel said “ohhh that’s a pretty bathrobe” and that’s part of where the inspiration for this post came from. Bathrobes (and bathrobe inspired kimonos) are, like, so IN this season.

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“Is that a bathrobe?!” -The man in the striped shirt

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Floral Bathrobe Kimono/Zara

Confidence is key to wearing pajamas in public. Just try not to accessorize with a shower cap and/or bunny slippers and you’ll be golden.

It’s Only Natural

 

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photo via

There are two ways of getting into a pool: the first way, you use your big toe to check the temperature and if that feels good, you slowly lower your body in as it gets used to the water. And the second way is… AHHHH! YOU JUMP!

I like to think of this scene from Superstar as metaphor when it comes to taking the plunge into living a more “granola” lifestyle. Though, unlike Mary Catherine Ghallager, we prefer the former method and are going ever so slowly into all-natural, organic living…

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Now that we are officially closer to 30 than to 20, we’re getting to be more aware of the products and foods we are putting onto and into our bodies. Did 21 year old Sarah care about how the synthetic fragrances and aluminum in her deodorant could potentially cause breast cancer and/or kidney problems? No! I just wanted to smell nice! Did I give a crap about all the plastic I was wasting by buying the tampons with plastic applicators?! Nope. I cleaned everything with bleach and other harsh chemicals and I never really cared about the effect it had on myself or the world around me. Had Joel, at age 23, ever even heard of Whole Foods or knowingly been within 100 yards of a Farmer’s Market? Probably not, too busy eating chicken wings or whatever… Ha! Just kidding, Joel’s parents are actually two of our healthy living gurus who raised their kids on lentils. Luckily, somewhere along the line, our eyes and minds started to open (thanks a lot to all of our gurus). That old saying about how “our bodies are our temples” always struck a chord with me; and since I plan to live a long and prosperous life, I need to start treating it as such…. Plus, we all need to start caring a little more about this world we have to leave to the generations to come.

The thing is, buying organic versions of all of your beauty/bath products (shampoo, soap, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, etc), cleaning products, plus all of your food can be ungodly expensive and ridiculously overwhelming. “Whole Foods? More like ‘Whole Paycheck’ am I right?” Hence the whole “taking it slowly” thing I mentioned earlier. We are implementing holistic teachings as well as plant based meal options bit by bit. I mean, I spent the last 2 years trying to find a good replacement for my old deodorant and I just now found one that actually works. Slow and steady wins the race, doesn’t it?

Going all natural is really not as hard or as expensive as I had originally thought it’d be… I didn’t know until recently that tofu could taste so good or that I could clean the bathtub with just baking soda and white vinegar! I’m glad that that being a little more “crunchy” is the cool thing to be these days. This is a band wagon that people should want to be on and I can’t wait to talk more about it!

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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.

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…