Ruffles in San Sebastian

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One trend that I never thought I would come around to was the off the shoulder look.  I have broader shoulders and never thought it would look flattering on but I have to say once I tried it I loved it.  While in Spain I picked up several off the shoulder pieces including this little ruffled and stripped number! Such a fun statement piece.

After my program ended my parents flew over to visit me.  One of the places we visited during our 10 day trip was San Sebastian.  Guys! This place was stunning! We only spent three days there and it was not nearly enough time! The girls I lived with abroad and I always say that we are going to have a reunion tour in Spain within the next 10 years and when that happens I am making sure this is on the list! Just look at these views!

 

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This outfit was perfect for a day of exploring the adorable little town.  You can never go wrong with a fun top and simple white jean shorts.  I actually snagged the shorts for only 6 euro at, surprise surprise, Primark! I mean how can you not?! I guess you could say I have a Primark addiction and you wouldn’t be far off! I guess that just means I will have to make a trip either to boston or the Danbury mall to check out how the Primark in the states is!

Thanks for reading!

xo,
H

 

 

Barcelona Travel Diary

*We are finally nearing the end of me catching up on my study abroad content.  For those of you who are still interested in reading these THANK YOU! I promise that they are almost done and regular content will continue! I have to say I thought I was going to be able to keep up with my content while abroad but it turned out to just be too much and clearly I took a lot of trips and fell behind on posts because here it is August and I am still catching up!!*

Any who I digress…So after my program in Madrid finished in mid May it was always the plan that my parents would come out and visit and we would visit a few cities in Spain.  The day of my last final my parents landed in Madrid where I showed them the city that had become my home the last 4 months.  We stayed in the most incredible airbnb right in the heart of the city and it was so fun being a tour guide for them.  My parents and I then hopped on a renfe high speed train to Barcelona for the next few days.  The weather was beautiful and I was just so excited to be in sunny Barcelona (Qu Ed Sheehan’s jam Barcelona!)

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Day 1: Our first day in Barcelona we walked from the train station to our airbnb.  It was a little bit of a longer walk than expected.  We then had to wait a little before the flat was ready.  My parents and I then changed, freshened up and headed to La Sagrada Familia (Pro tip: make sure you buy tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in line! They save to your phone so you don’t even have to worry about printing anything!)  We walked around the beautiful church Gaudi designed that is still under construction to this day.  The stain glass on the inside was truly breath taking.  After admiring the La Sagrada Familia for a little over an hour we decided it was time for lunch! We ate and then headed back to the airbnb to relax a little before dinner.

 

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Day 2: We woke up bright and early so we could get in and see Park Guell, another creation by Gaudi, before the tourist crowds got there.  It was so beautiful to look out over all of Barcelona and the mosaic park was so gorgeous and different than anything I have ever seen before.  Gaudi sure had an interesting eye.  We then walked Las Ramblas, a famous tree lined street and ate lunch at the same restaurant we had ate at the night before (I guess we really liked it!) We then walked through a nearby market and bought delicious fresh fruit juice for dessert before heading back for a little siesta in the airbnb.

 

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Day 3:  Mothers day! We decided a beach day was in order to relax.  We headed down to the beach for the afternoon and after relaxing for several hours we headed to see the arc de triumph and stumbled upon a park I had been wanting to see!  We then headed to Cafe Godot, which Kate from Lodestar Southern, had recommended in her Spain travel guide and it did not disappoint.  The food and drinks were some of the best food we had had all week and it was the perfect ending to our time in Barcelona!

We packed so much into three short days in Barcelona and it was so special to be touring Spain with my parents. I had missed them so much over the past 4 months and it was so fun to be reunited and experiencing new places together.

xo,
H

 

Pillow Talk

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Hi friends! I am here with another post about dorm room decorations! It is that time of year again and people have already headed off to school.

My freshman year I wanted decor that was different from the other girls at school…something unique that no one else would have.  (I definitely suggest creating a Pinterest board for inspiration)  There are sooo many cute dorm rooms these days and I found myself pulling an idea from one and an element from another until I had a vision I loved.

Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite bed accessories…Pillows! They are so fun and add so much character to an otherwise plain bedding.  Plus you can never have too many!  The function as not only decoration but comfort and even can be put on the floor for extra seating in a tiny dorm room!  For my room I had a total of 7 pillows, 6 on my bed and 1 on my desk chair for added comfort when I work at my desk.

I knew I wanted Lilly pulitzer accent pillows but didn’t like any of the prints on Garnett Hill at the time.  I love the beach and wanted a more beach-y feel verses the more flowery patterns. Lilly didn’t have any of her other super cute decorative pillows out at this point.  I was frustrated because I was not finding anything I loved or what I was envisioning in my mind so that was when I decided I needed to take things into my own hands and make them myself.  I found Lilly pulitzer fabric on Etsy that was so so inexpensive (This Etsy store has a wide selection, but if you type Lilly Pulitzer Fabric into the search bar you will find tons of results…tip: just make sure that the fabric is not just a scrab but around 18 in. by 18 in.).  I knew that the pillows would be leaning against the wall so I decided to do a solid color on the back of the pillow, with the print on the front to cut down on the price even more (college girl on a budget ;).  I then just found a zipper that went with the colors and an insert that fit. (Side note: definitely use inserts and zippers instead of stuffing. It makes the pillows so much easier to clean. That being said pick up the inserts before you sew to decide what size pillow you want)

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The next pillow I made I picked out turquoise fabric from a local craft store (like JoAnns or Micheals) and went to a local shop that specializes in monogramming.  At this specific store it cost something like $10 to have the machine set up in your thread color of choice and with your initials for the monogram.  It was then $5 per item to be monogrammed.  I was having two things monogramed so it was worth the price as it came out to be about $10 per item monogramed but it would have been even cheaper if I had more items! So I would definitely stock up on items you want monogramed before you go to cut down on pricing. (I would love to have my own monograming machine some day haha…a girl can dream)

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One of the pillows I monogramed was just a sham so once it was embroidered, I just threw a pillow in there and I was set.  The smaller one I had monogramed was just fabric that I later sewed pom pom trim onto the sides and then sewed it into a pillow.

Of coarse I had to throw a motivational pillow in the mix.  My mom had given it to me right before school started. It says live your dreams.  It is on a cute burlap-like fabric with gray pipping.  It was the perfect addition to my pillow party.  Whenever I see it I think of my mom and also that I should always keep fighting to make my dreams come true.

***Now a little disclaimer, I am super crafty and have learned how to use a sewing machine (if you don’t you totally should! It comes in so handy sometimes!)  My mother taught me how to sew from a young age (I even did the JoAnn Fabrics sewing class with one of my best friends in elementary school haha).  Now I know that not everyone knows how to sew or is as crafty but I am sure that you could find someone you know who could help you or you could hire someone to do it (a little pricier).

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Making these custom pillows was so much fun.  It was a great summer activity my mom and I got to do together before I headed off to college.  Also, I was so proud that I had made them myself.  I 100% knew that no other girl on campus would have pillows like mine because I made mine myself! So unique and so rewarding!  Now there is nothing wrong with going out and buying pillows, I am just a crafty person and knew that making my own was something I wanted to do! If you are on the hunt for cute inexpensive already made pillows, I would check out HomeGoods (they usually have a HUGE selection), Target and PotteryBarn dorm for super cute options.

Sorry for this super long post! Just figured I would share what I did for my dorm room! Also these photos were taken in our gazebo so the lighting was really bright, this is not my dorm room haha

What is everyone doing for their dorm room?!

xo,
H

Chambray in Park Guell

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This chambray dress was admittedly an impulse buy.  I was already late for class but saw it in a little store, quickly tried it on and purchased it before I could second guess. Plus for only $13 how could I say no?! And I have to say I am so glad I did!  I wore this to class countless days and it was so easy to just throw on and go.  I didn’t even feel like I had to add accessories and it instantly made you look chic.  My roomies even borrowed it a few times!

Another fun thing about this dress is that you can wear it as either a one shoulder or an off shoulder dress! Both cute and functional 😉   (PS sorry about the wrinkles…between being pulled out of an overstuffed suitcase and wearing it on a humid day I was bound for wrinkle city!)

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It was also perfect to wear while I was exploring Barcelona with my parents.  We had a long day of visiting the sites and it was quite a warm day and this flowwy off the shoulder couldn’t have been a better choice to wear.  I mean you gotta look cute for photos but also be comfortable ya feel me?! 😉

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I can only imagine how many times I am going to wear this when I head back to school and am too tired to think about putting together a cohesive outfit.  I will just reach for this chambray dress and be able to call it a day because of its effortlessness.  A score in my book!

Is there a dress or any item of clothing that you turn to repeatedly?! I would love to know!

Thanks for reading!

xo,
H

My College Dorm Room Necessities

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Now that I am going into my senior year at Fairfield U (eeeew how did that happen?!?) I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what is needed in order to be comfortable and settled in your dorm.  I decided to make a little list of the items that I deem essential to have in college.  I know that some of you have already headed off to school but for those still awaiting move in day check your lists and make sure these items are on them!

1. Body Pillow/Extra pillows
At most universities the beds are pushed up against the cold cinderblock walls.  Just trust me on this one, a body pillow will become your best friend.  It can be put up against the the wall, or my favorite use is wrapping it in a sort of donut shape and leaning against it on my bed while I study or write papers.  Having extra pillows in general just makes the space feel so much more cozy and can even function as extra seating for people who come over to visit.

2. Shower Caddy
At most universities, freshman have to share communal bathrooms.  While I really didnt mind it (it was sort of a social place haha) you couldn’t leave your stuff in the shower like most people do at home.  The caddy kept everything organized and in one place.  I personally liked the hard plastic bin caddies because they had little holes in the bottom in case they ever got wet and they are super easy to clean and hold so much stuff (This is what I have and I LOVE it. It is from Bed Bath and Beyond and is super reasonable)   These mesh options from PB teen are so cute and very functional and I know several people that swear by them.  Even though I am going to be a senior this year I still am going to use my caddy. It just keeps everything organized and in one place and keeps the shower clean without having 8 different bottles for me and each of my roommates 😉

3. Lap board
Now, this may sound weird and I am not proud to admit this but I am the type of person who tends to work the best while they are sitting on their bed.  I am not a library person by any means.  While I will occasional sit at my desk, my bed is my go-to study zone (sounds weird I know).  To make this easier and more comfortable I would highly suggest a lap board for writing and typing. It can even be used for eating on your bed (hey, in a  closet sized dorm room it is bound to happen at some point 😉 )  I probably use my lap board almost every single day.  Definitely a must and comes in soo handy.
Options: here // here // here // here

4. Night stand
While this isn’t necessarily a necessity I found that it was nice to have.  I didn’t have one freshman year, but did sophomore year and couldn’t fathom how I didn’t have one the year before.  It is nice to put your phone onto at night and also to put pens or a cup of tea on while you are working.  Plus they double as storage (A win win in my book!) They can be found at places like Target or Walmart for really cheap. ( I have this one in white but it comes in so many different color options and is only $20! You can’t beat it!)

5. Power strip/extension cords
If your dorm rooms were anything like mine, there are very limited power outlets that are in the most bizarre places in the room (like under the bed and behind the furniture) that are next to impossible to reach without an extension cord.  Also it is great to have a power strip so you can add more plugs to the already limited power outlets.
(I have this one and it fits so many plugs!)

6. Command hooks/putty
Like I said before most dorms are cinderblock walls and cannot be drilled into.  For that reason command hooks and putty will become your best friend.  I wanted to feel at home in my room so hanging photos and prints was important to me and therefore command hooks and putty were a lifesaver!  Just be sure to pick frames that aren’t too heavy so that the command hooks can hold them!
(Target has a great selection)

7. White noise machine/Sound machine
Living in a dorm may definitely come with some annoyances, especially those relating to noise.  There will be times you will be trying to nap or even study and your next door neighbor decides to have a jam sesh at that exact moment.  Trust me, I have been there.  There is nothing worse than having a nap interrupted.  To combat that I have enlisted my trusty white noise machine and I have never looked back.  Guys, this thing is life changing.  I brought it freshman year and my roommate (hey Jillian!) looked at me like I was crazy, but months later she actually admitted that she now finds it weird sleeping without it. I can’t imagine life without my white noise machine haha

At Fairfield, the University provides mini fridges and microwaves with each room, but if they weren’t provided I would say that those items would also be necessities!

I hope this helps those of you heading into college. Is there anything else I should add that I missed?!

xo,
H

 

Valencia Travel Diary

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My last weekend of travel in Spain was intended to be an all out vacation to Ibiza or Majorca because we had 5 days off from school due to Spanish holidays.  However, due partially to our poor planning skills, expensive flights, the realization that our bank accounts were quite low after all our travel over the past 4 months and the fact that I had a final the day we got back, my roommates and I decided to do a shorter more low key trip.  We looked and looked and finally settled on Valencia.  It was only a short 4 hour bus ride away and we found a really cheap airbnb right on the beach.  We headed out early Saturday morning and intended to get back Monday night so we could have a day to study before exams on wednesday.

The first day in Valencia was a bit overcast and cold so we decided we would spent the day exploring the city of Valencia.  I have to say I had built the city of Valencia up in my head for some reason and when I actually got to see it I was sort of let down.  It just wasn’t what I was expecting I guess, not in a bad way or anything. We walked all the way to the city of Arts and Sciences which are a serious of museums with super modern looking buildings.  That was cool to walk around and people watch.  My roommates and I also tried Horchata, a typical milky drink made of tiger nuts that is native to Valencia.  I have to say, I don’t know if I would order it again but I was glad to be trying new things!  We then found a paella place for dinner before heading back to our airbnb for the night. Valencia is known for their paella and it was delicious!

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Day 2 was spent at the beach soaking up the sun and our last girls trip before we had finals.  The airbnb was literally steps from the beach and it was so nice to just listen to music and spend quality time together for one of the last times before we headed back to America.

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OH! YOU GUYS! Valencia had AMAZING sea glass!!! One thing you don’t know about me is that I am a sea glass fanatic.  I could spend hours just walking up and down the water line looking for little treasures and this beach was COVERED! I was in heaven.  My roommates would make fun of me because after every little walk I took I would come back and be like a little kid showing off my finds haha I collected so much and was starting to get concerned about the weight of my luggage with all of the sea glass I had collected during my travels abroad! Also funny story. I had a hand full of sea glass as I went for a walk with one of my roommates and this spanish man on the beach came up to me and put out a plastic bag said something to me in spanish.  It took me a second to process that he asked if I wanted to throw my sea glass into the bag of trash he was picking up off the beach.  I quickly said no thank you in Spanish before realizing that europeans think that it is trash!! the horror!

My roommates and I had a lot of fun cooking in the house and made delicious breakfasts each morning.

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The next day and final day we headed to the beach again.  We had seen people surfing and decided that we would do it that day since the day before was a little windy.  However, little did we know that because it was a national holiday the surf shop would be closed so unfortunately we couldn’t rent surf boards which was a bummer because we had all been itching to try again ever since Portugal.  On one of our walks along the beach I had seen that there were really cute little snack shacks that were painted with adorable blue stripes.  So of course I made my roommates come back to take some #instagrammable photos 😉 How cute are the stripes though?!  Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and we had to take an evening bus back to Madrid that night.

It was such a fun and relaxing trip with my roommates for our last trip before the end of the semester.  It was low-key and full of amazing memories so what more could you ask for!?

Thanks for reading!

xo,
H

Porto, Portugal Travel Diary

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After such an amazing spring break to Greece I was ready for the beach weather to continue!  We had booked this trip wayy in advance which was so out of character for us since my friends and I always did everything so last minute.  We were heading to Porto with a group to 7 to celebrate my friend James’ birthday.  My friend had booked the airbnb and I had not seen it so I was going into this long weekend blind and didn’t know what to expect.  We decided to throw caution to the wind and catch a flight back early monday morning before classes so it was going got be an extra long weekend.

We landed in Porto late Thursday night and after a slight miscommunication with our taxi driver about where our airbnb was we finally arrived.  The airbnb was beautiful! So spacious and updated and the price could not be beat.  Our hosts were so sweet and left us a beautiful spread of appetizers and wine when we arrived.  We finally turned in and slept in late friday morning.  We luckily had a grocery store right across the street from us so we headed over to buy some food to make breakfast.  This was our first time cooking since being abroad (we all were staying in host families so meals were provided!) and it was so fun to all be in the kitchen doing different tasks and then sitting down to a big family meal! Finally around noon we headed to the beach (with a bunch of snacks in tow!)  We were only a 5 minute walk from the beach which was so nice!  The sand was so soft, the water was blue, I was in heaven.  In that moment I thought that life could not get much better than that.  I mean I was in Portugal, laying out at the beach, with all of my close friends!  We spent the day lounging, dosing, swimming, laughing, listening to music and eating junk food.  We finally decided we should call it a day and head back to cook dinner.  Our friend Meg also arrived that night after doing a solo trip to Lisbon for a day!

The next day we got up made another delicious breakfast and then hopped on the metro to go into downtown Porto.  We were actually staying on the outskirts of the city by the beach but we wanted a taste of the culture so we headed into the city.  Once we arrived we walked around a little and then we headed to where we would be catching a shuttle to a winery where we were taking a tour and doing a tasting.  Funny story, it was actually called the magical train wine tour and when we got there we climbed into a little train that drove us around the city and finally to the winery.  We learned about Port wine (hence the name Porto) and then were able to try two different types.  It was really interesting and we laughed as we got the funniest looks at we were transported in the little train.  When that ended my friends and I ate lunch and then just wandered the streets taking in all the beautiful architecture and tiling.  We then grabbed gelato and just sat and people watched for a good hour while we basked in the warm sun feeling perfectly content.  We ended the day sitting by the river watching the sun begin to sink.  We then headed back to our airbnb to freshen up before heading out to dinner.  We found this local restaurant right by the  beach that served the freshest and most delicious sea food I have ever tasted.  They literally cooked the catch of the day out on the sidewalks as people walked by.  I ordered the squid and my friends ordered salmon and they both melted in my mouth.  The portions were so big and the price was so inexpensive we kept saying that this would never happen in America.

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The next day we headed to the beach again.  We had already decided that we wanted to try and find a surf shop to rent from after seeing people surf two days before.  We found a great little shop and spent the afternoon attempting to learn to surf but more on that to come in another post! That night we cooked dinner back at the house and then cleaned up the place, packed and tried to go to bed because we had an early 3 am wake up time to catch our flight. (editor’s note: I had every intention of making it to my early classes that monday buttttt that did not happen, lets just say I decided to crawl into bed and skip setting alarm to make it to my 10 am!)

It was the best weekend full of both relaxation and exploration.  I tried new things (surfing!!) made amazing memories with some of my closest friends and realized that as my time abroad winded down that I had visited some amazing places in my 4 months abroad.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post! As always if any of you are going abroad feel free to shoot me an email with any questions you may have.

xo,
H