hey friends! here’s a holiday gift guide for HIM! or her, they, really anyone. I hope you enjoy! gifts for your dad, spouse, brother, uncle, brother-in-law. come one, come all. what are YOU getting the people in your life?
as always, thank you for spending time with me XOXO
2019 – Let’s fly to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios (Florida)! The world was so immersive and I have footage/photos from both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Join me as I walk through the parks. Service is spotty in Gringotts so I hope this video posted…
As always, thank you for stopping by and spending time with me XOXO
WELCOME to today’s video which features an affordable holiday gift guide under $25 for Christmas, the upcoming holidays or any occasion for special people in your life. my gift suggestions could be for your mom, dad, friend, grandma, bae, YOURSELF… have at it!
As always, thank you for stopping by and spending time with me XOXO
WHAT’S UP fam jam a lam. Today we have another GYMSHARK haul and try on of pieces from the camo, vital, and flex collections. I hope that you enjoy and this video is helpful! As always, thank you for being here and spending time with me XOXO
Scorpio season was a good time to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because I felt the spooky, magical, mystical vibes the entire time. Not a fan of zodiacs? Fair enough – moving on.
We went to the Orlando location, located roughly 15-20 minutes away from Disney World. Universal Studios is a unique place. The park specializes in simulated animation, which may leave your motion-sick family members feeling green. There are plenty of disclaimers before each ride so you can simply read the CAUTION signs and advance at your own risk. Lol. In my opinion, this makes it a little less “family friendly.”
HOWEVER, the bread and butter of this park is 1,000% Harry Potter. No contest. Don’t even @ me. The attention to detail is outstanding and I commend J.K. Rowling for not selling her empire to Disney, which would have relinquished her vision for the masterpiece you see today.
Instead, Universal Studios offered our beloved author a true presence which the Harry Potter series clearly deserved. Essentially, it is its own entity and boosts Universal high up in the theme park ranking (for HP world alone).
To start, they bring Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade to life. You enter Diagon Alley through a brick wall consistent with the novel. Immediately to your left you’ll find the Leaky Cauldron and to your right the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes joke shop. And it doesn’t end there.
They serve butterbeer: cold, warm, or frozen. What Harry Potter fan doesn’t want to get their hands on a cup of butterbeer?! (My favorite is frozen or warm, depending on the weather when you arrive).
Some of the rides include an escape from Gringotts, a tour of Hogwarts, and the ever popular still-semi-new Hagrid’s Motorbike rollercoaster. In Gringotts you’ll find realer-than-life goblins running the bank. The tour of Hogwarts is a mixture of simulation and movement throughout the castle – if you get motion sick I think you can still ride it and cover your eyes during the simulated portion (that’s what I did). It’s too cool to miss and the line itself is an experience. Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure will take up some time (in line) but is worth it for the true Harry Potter fan that can appreciate the attention to detail. I hear 12-1 pm is the best time to hit the line as most folks are heading to lunch. We waited an hour before we got on, totally worth it.
Diagon Alley sits in Universal Studios while Hogsmeade is
located in Islands of Adventure. I preferred Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade, but I’m
excited to visit Hogsmeade during a quieter season when the narrow “town” isn’t
so packed and crowded. There were perks to each, and I’ll list them below:
Seemed to be less crowded (definitely go right when the park opens for the most breath-taking experience – and room to walk around)
You’ll see a lot of kids (or adults) with wands casting spells which is just too cool
Stop by Ollivander’s to watch someone get selected for a “wand fitting”
Send out a postcard at the Owlery for a unique and memorable experience
Step inside the Leaky Cauldron for a snack or lunch
Observe all the storefronts which include animated photo frames and magical demonstrations
Entrance to Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure
Breathtaking view of Hogswarts castle (+ the ride!)
Listen for Moaning Myrtle in the restrooms
Entrance straight into Hogsmeade if you pick up the “Hogwarts Express” train from the other park – I’d recommend doing this early so you aren’t dumped into a crowded street as your first experience of Universal’s Hogsmeade
Lastly, I’d like to chat about the Hogwarts Express, which is just… BRAVO! This was a 20 min wait for us. Right before you enter the platform, pay attention to the guests ahead of you. They disappear walking onto platform 9 ¾ and you do not want to miss! I don’t know if you can capture on camera, but definitely keep an eye out. It’s low-key one of the coolest things I saw there. You feel as if you’re stepping right into the books.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not one to miss. Even
if you’re not a fan, I think you’d enjoy it. If you are a fan, you’ll poop your
pants. I teared up walking into Diagon Alley for the first time. It’s
emotional! A huge round of applause to J.K. Rowling + Universal for fully
immersing their guests in an experience of a lifetime. To date, it is the most
impressive themed “world” I have ever encountered.
Service in Gringotts is spotty so I am signing out…
“I actually cried at the top of a mountain range. So yeah, it was humbling.”
Denver, Colorado is such a unique travel experience. If you come from a city, Denver seems so vast. A lot of open land with emphasis on the natural beauty of the state. If you come from a small town, you feel both eagerness to explore yet comfortable touring the city and mountains.
Denver was a humbling experience for me. I traveled alone, yet spent all my time with my best friend. She has called the Centennial State her home for over three years, thus allowing me to come as a tourist and explore as a local. Talk about the ideal way to see a new place.
If I had to sum up the trip in 5 words: nature, peace, relaxation, inspiration, and ice cream (I’ll explain the last one later)
Let’s start with the highlight of the trip – the nature
Let me just say this… I traveled from Philadelphia. I am a city dweller, if you will. Fast walker, subway rider, quick thinker, and overall fast-paced lmao – I’m not used to slowing down. Or hiking mountains. Taking in the scenery. But let me just tell you about the SCENERY.
PRO TIP: don’t
forget to put off your hiking for a day or so. It’s important to get acclimated
to the higher elevation, especially if you come from a place close to sea
This was the perfect hike for a newbee like myself. Like I said, I’ve hardly ever stepped foot up a mountain (they makes PA mountains look like hills). I felt like I conquered this one, tho of course I stopped as necessary to catch my breath – and take photos, obvi.
There were many spots along the way to stop and take photos with breathtaking views. As you reach the top, you’ll spot a small cabin where the seasonal fire lookout rests from dusk to dawn. There are a multitude of fun facts in case you are interested in where they get their food, how often they come down the mountain, etc.
The view is outstanding, like nothing I have ever seen before. Snow-capped mountains in the distance look more like paintings. Loads of greenery and tops of trees. Natural rock fixtures and a bright blue, clear sky.
additional nature sights:
Lake Dillon centered by a vast body of still water and mountain scenery for a jaw-dropping backdrop
Breckenridgetypically covered in snow and skiers, I had the joy of seeing this in the summer and let me tell you, it was still bustling!
Loveland Pass(where I cried lol) we drove up this mountain with nonstop views until the very top where I naively presumed all to be seen was out my passenger side window. Wrong. So wrong. 360 views that resulted in me feeling so small, so grateful, and full of tears.
Next up, let’s discuss – brews and food
What better way to spend my first day getting acclimated than to tour a few breweries + a winery? Kidding, I don’t recommend getting wasted in your first 24 hours lol the elevation is like a generous bartender and will get you drunk. Fast.
Alas, if you are being careful (preferably with friends) and drinking a water in between beverages, it is a blast exploring the relaxing nature of breweries and rooftop bars in RiNo (River North Art District).
A few to name:
American Bondedan adorable rooftop bar (indoor seating also available) with a kickass bartender the day we were there – s/o to him. If you want a quick snack, this is your jam. We ordered cheese curds and the ranch was out of this world Bigsby Folly winery with an industrial, retro, artsy vibe to it. Grab yourself a glass of wine. I’ll be the first to tell you that you deserve it! Stem Ciders was probably my favorite location, as I’m a cider connoisseur. Loads of cider at this place, and a lot that are Denver specific
Onto food, as you’ll need some substance after dabbling in the brews:
This town is a GEM. One of my favorite spots. Quaint and nestled between the mountains, this town offers a happy stroll along their main street for loads of window shopping and lunch options
Bangkok Happy Bowl Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar delicious and quick service during lunch. 10/10 would recommend the shrimp tempura roll and the crab Rangoon appetizer TBar one of the food/drink options along the gondola ride to the top (PS – the gondola is free, just a small fee to park). Grab a drink and enjoy the view! Tons of food options here as well
Park & Co. solid choice for a downtown dinner. A+ on my turkey burger and fries and again, the ranch slays Coperta this Italian restaurant had me drooling the moment I laid eyes on its menu. I’m always good for a solid food recommendation and I’m telling you right now to get the spaghetti cacio e pepe (see below) or the rigatoni carbonara
Lowry Beer Garden okay, besides Coperta (who doesn’t adore pasta?) this was my FAVORITE meal. Low-key beer garden with quick service and high quality food, grab yourself a cider and a fish sandwich… or really anything else. This place won’t disappoint
I’ll never skip a cold brew & bagel: Woodgrain Bagels your bagel heaven. Don’t skip this if you are nearby! Plain, everything, salt + pepper, onion, and the list goes on Copper Door after your bagel, stop by this friendly quaint coffee shop where the barista ran out of cold brew but offered to hand brew a different batch of iced Americana (or something like that) – solid customer service
I told you I’d get back to the ice cream: High Point Creamery the first night I was there we grabbed ice cream from here after dinner, and it’s the perfect way to end an evening! Delicious, creamy, and at least 10 flavors I’d never heard of before. Think: lavender… or French toast *drooling* Rocket Ice Cream sitting right outside the Lowry Beer Garden (see above ^) the ice cream here is.. 1. Conveniently located after you finish dinner in the beer garden 2. Offering unique flavors that make a delicious treat post-dinner
Lastly, I’d like to mention – miscellaneous things
If you’re a city dweller and want to explore the “busier”
side of Denver, LoDo (lower downtown) is very walkable with the free
MallRide and MetroRide. Union Station is very cool to see (not to
mention clean!) and contains misc. shops/food options inside
If, by some chance, you are traveling from Lake Dillon to Breckenridge (you could make this a trip btw), please drive along Swan Mountain Road. I couldn’t stop sticking my head out the window and snapping photos – which even looked gorgeous from a moving car. This scenic route showcases houses on hills, bodies of water, and mountains in the background. This is best if you have a friend to drive so you can peek out the window 😉
My final tip is simply to keep in mind the airport is located about 45 mins from the city, give or take based on traffic. Not the worst, but be prepared for a long-ish Uber/Lyft ride depending on where you are staying. If you happen to have a friend in the city, you’re one lucky SOB.
My wrap-up thoughts? I’m in love! I think everyone should plan a trip here, hike at least once, treat yourself to some authentic breweries, and enjoy the peace. It is no wonder everyone in Colorado hikes on weekends, the mountains do wonders for a clear mind.
And so goes the ongoing story of a girl in her mid-twenties who just can’t get her f*#king skin to cooperate. Listen, it’s an uphill battle. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We will get there and we will prevail eventually. But it’s going to take time. That’s the harsh reality of conquering hormonal acne. It creeps up on you quickly, but takes time to mend.
There are a multitude of reasons why you could have developed hormonal acne: hormone imbalance, gut issues, stress, food intolerance, and the list goes on. Thus being so, there is a varying list of remedies to help improve your skin. On the long list are some prescription options – two of them being Tretinoin and Clindamycin (which I have been prescribed now for 10 months).
Another item on the list of prescriptions that has been proven
(in small dosage) to control acne: spironolactone.
Spironolactone is a medicine typically used to treat high
blood pressure. Ironically, in lower doses, it can block the male hormones in our bodies which are known to cause
oily skin and clogged pores. It is also a diuretic, which means it will
make you pee a lot, so it’s important to consult your dermatologist and primary
care doctor if you are interested in seeing if this is the right medication for
you. Pro tip: drink a shit ton of water to ensure you are maintaining your
HOWEVER, my skin is still not in check. Though exceedingly less than before, I still suffer from under-the-skin painful bumps. My skin is still blotchy and red, and my acne still gets rather enflamed. Essentially, I haven’t rid of it yet. This leads me to my new prescription (recommended by my dermatologist): spironolactone.
Disclaimer: I have read in several blog posts/articles that major changes on spironolactone aren’t seen until month 3 and on. However, I wanna give y’all the tea on how it’s affecting my skin in the first month. Enjoy!
Here is my 30 day skin diary after starting spironolactone.
After 1 week on spironolactone:
I have noticed an increase in breakouts and the intensity of them. Prior to starting this medication, my acne was maintainable with the occasional painful hormonal blemish. When it did flare up, it was concentrated. This week I have spots in new locations. Less than ideal, obviously. Also v painful. Alas, I read that this was happen so I am gritting my teeth and baring through it.
After 2 weeks on spironolactone:
This week I’m having the same issue, just trying to stick it out. Beauty is pain and beauty takes time, so I need to be patient. If I can achieve crystal clear skin in the long-term, I’ll suffer in the short-term. I have a couple new spots that are large and painful. Otherwise, I don’t notice much difference in my skin (as far as oil production). *Interesting to note that I got a blemish on my back this week, which is very rare for me. I wonder if there is a purging stage to this and that’s what brought it to the surface.
After 3 weeks on spironolactone:
Not much has changed in my skin this week. MAYBE, if anything, I notice I am a little more on the dry side (typically, I am v oily and have a shiny t-zone by noon). No more large breakouts, but my skin isn’t calm. I have some redness and small blemishes, more than typically. I shall check in next week!
After 4 weeks on spironolactone:
Wowwwww my skin is fucked HAHAHAHA – all we can do is laugh really, am I right? Listen, we will prevail. It’s all trial and error and if I didn’t document this then I’d be suffering ALONE. I just stole a peek at my skin in the bathroom at work, and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. It’s patchy, flaky, dry skin season bitchessss. Again, obviously not happy about it. However, I can see it through for the long run gain. Here’s hoping my 3 month progress report shows a bit more clarity (in my skin & goals for this medication).
My final wrap up
So that’s THAT. Fun stuff. Not gonna lie, I’m ending this a little bitter. It’s a bummer to not see results after a month on a new medication, which is seemingly making my skin worse. But I will say, everything I’ve read said things start to improve around that 3 month marker. I am hanging in there and believing in that 3 month revolutionary morning I wake up with crystal clear skin. Lol. Okay, a little over-dramatic as far as expectations are concerned, but that’s what I’m known for.
Signing off with dry, flaky skin. Cheers to the 3 month check-in which will *hopefully* bring more positivity. Here’s an adorable photo of myself to boost morale. Cheers.
I want to talk about something. Something along the lines of self care. Today’s topic will be how to slow down time on vacation.
Sounds tricky, right? How often do you get so excited while packing, arrive at your destination, have the time of your life, and have to start packing up way too early? All too often, am I right?
Hang with me here.
I want to encourage you to think about your next vacation and how you can slow it down, enjoy the sights, and take in your experience. Vacation can be a time of self-reflection and relaxation. A chance to reset from the daily grind of work or school. A time to put yourself first and to check in with yourself: How are you feeling? has your mind been racing? Has work been stressing you out? You get the gist.
Here are five tips to slowing down time on vacation:
Bring a book
This is so important. I like to bring two: one fiction and one non-fiction/self help. I love getting lost in a good story while I’m sitting by the ocean, not to mention it’s the most soothing place to focus and smash a few chapters. Reading provides a chance to escape reality and let the worries melt away. If you’re into self-help books, this brings you the opportunity to self-reflect. There are no distractions when you sit down with a good book on the beach (well, besides someone handing you a beer) and this provides a great chance to check in with yourself. Take a moment to reset, and find a book that will help bring you peace of mind. It’s important that we do this every so often or it becomes harder to track our feelings.
Wake up early & grab a cup of coffee with a view
THIS. Omg. This. You need to get up early (at least two of the days, c’mon I know you have it in you). Spend some solo time with a cup of coffee – or tea, I’m not here to judge. Once you do it, simply be alone with yourself. I promise it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. By waking up early, you are quite literally creating more time for yourself on vacation. Proud of you.
Grab your chair and sit near the waves
Next up, I’ma need you to grab your beach chair and sit close enough so that the ocean washes up over your toes. This, of course, applies to those at the beach. Or idk, maybe you are hiking and pass a creek or lazy river. Put your toes in the water. Slow down, listen, pay attention to the feeling of cool water on your toes. This gives you another chance to slow time down a little and practice some mindfulness. Focus on feelings: sights, sounds, smells, sensations.
Don’t ignore your family (actually sit and chat with them, catch up, have real conversations instead of walking by)
I’m guilty of walking past my mom or dad, even my brother and just saying “Morning,” and walking away without having any real conversation. I challenge you to relish the time you have with family on vacation, because my guess is you don’t see them that often! A lot of us work 9-5 for five days a week, and live hours, if not thousands of miles, from our family. Take this time and relish in it. How often do you get to spend a set amount of time together? Use this time to catch up and check in on one another; I’m sure you’ll feel fulfilled by the end of your trip.
Take a walk or go for a bike ride
This is so important! Get yourself some exercise. Again, I’m going to bring this back to mindfulness. If you create the opportunity to walk/bike and clear your mind, you can focus on actual feelings in your body. Think: sights, sounds, smells, sensations. Not to mention, biking for a couple miles will tire you and the minutes literally tick by slowly when all you want to do is stop. Lmao.
Remember: any act of mindfulness will help time slow down. Life doesn’t need to feel rushed 24/7. Check in with yourself. Ask the following:
How am I feeling?
Have I experienced stress/anxiety lately?
What comes to mind when I think of lingering stress? Follow-up: how can I rid of said stress?
All of this being said, I hope it helps you maintain a sense of balance in your mind. When we are not rushing through our thoughts and feelings, we don’t rush through life. Thus, creating more time and slowing time down.
Thank you for hanging out with me today! Lmk any and all thoughts you have below.
“Why spend $50/piece when you can get a whole swimsuit for half the price?”
WAZZUP, fam jam! Hi, hello, and welcome to my review of AMAZON swimwear under $25. Yes, you heard (read) me right, under twenty-five dollars. I have four swimsuits to review for you, and I’m hype about it. I hope you are too.
If you’re looking to save some ca$h money on swimwear, you’re in the right place. I know y’all know wassup with bikini pieces costing $40+ EACH. I’m not down to fuck with that. No thanks, sis. I want quality and style and I don’t want to spend half a paycheck. TO DISCLAIM: I am 5’4” and 150 lbs. Personal, but I know it helps when peeps are buying swimsuits to know body measurements. PS – read the Amazon reviews!!! I can’t preach this enough. Check photos. See if a suit runs small or large. Look at how it fits on consumers. This is how I nailed this so well and minimized my returns.
Let’s start with the TWO PIECE I bought – this lil’ red number which made me feel super sexy on my honeymoon.
This suit cuts at the right spots and sits perfectly on my body. I am definitely on the curvy side, with a large caboose to fit in the back, if you know what I’m sayin’. Not gonna lie, for my honeymoon I was looking for some cheeky pieces, and this fits the number. But hear me out, it’s not TOO cheeky. I think I’ll actually take this swimsuit on my family vacation.This suit is not too tight and the bottoms cover up the lower part of my tummy, which I highly appreciate.
PERKS – high-waisted, fits snug but not too tight, doesn’t show too much booty, padding included COST – $19.99 SIZE – medium
ONTO THE NEXT, a spicy one-piece which makes for GREAT photos. And is flattering to wear.
Who doesn’t love a black bathing suit? Flatters, smoothes, and looks great on everyone. This suit is also high-waisted but I did have to pull it up just a bit to cover my belly button a few times. Not that this suit should cover your belly button (lol), but that’s to give you a reference of how far up my stomach it came. I like this suit a lot, and felt smokinnnn in it. It’s more cheeky than the last suit (I wouldn’t wear this on a family vacay), so it’s perfect for some one-on-one time with your S.O. *insert fire emoji, which is my fav cause it means spicy and HOT*
This suit does have adjustable straps for your comfort, as well as a tie-front to the top that let’s you adjust your bosom. Lol. Okay I need to move on before I start coming up with other weird descriptors of this one.
PERKS – high-waisted and straps are customizable, sexy cut-outs, staple piece swimsuit, padding included COST – $18.99 SIZE – large (size up for this one)
I love the fun that is captured in this one-piece. It’s stylish, cute, can be worn with some denim shorts to a pool party. I just… am in love. Again with this piece I read reviews and looked at photos of actual consumers before purchasing. Everything I read said it ran true to size and I would agree! Straps are adjustable which makes for a comfy fit.
I’d say this is “family beach trip” approved. It’s not meant to be cheeky but when you have junk in the trunk like me it tends to happen J but I wouldn’t call this “too cheeky” to be inappropriate. I love this suit!
PERKS – adjustable straps, cute print and vibrant colors, fits true-to-size, padding included COST –$24.99 SIZE – medium
THIS suit. Is. Mother fucking EVERYTHING. Not tight, gorgeous print, great quality, and so damn flattering. It hides most of your tummy (if that’s what you’re looking for) with high-waisted bottoms and a ruffled top. The print is adorable (I’m even ordering it in another color LMAO) and it fits like a glove.
It is completely family vacation approved with little cheek action in the back. Luckily it does fit me around the waist but I will say it does seem kind of snug in the waistband and leave little room to “fluctuate.” Lol. Ladies, I know you feel me on this. Nevertheless I’m very comfortable in it and I love the way it flatters my tummy anyways!
PERKS – can wear with/without the straps, cute print and vibrant colors, fits true-to-size, padding included, covers the belly COST –$18.99 SIZE – mediumSoooo what are your thoughts?! Have you ordered swimwear/fashion items from Amazon before? How is the quality? Thanks so much for stopping by!
Affiliate Disclaimer: all Amazon links are affiliate links which means I earn a very small commission on a purchase through the link. You are not obligated to use my links, but of course it helps support me running this blog and finding the gems to share! 🙂