Valentine’s Day DIY: The Man Bouquet

I know I’m not the only one who thinks buying for guys is difficult no matter what occasion it is. Last year just around this time, I was scrambling for ideas on what to do for Sean for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to go the chocolate hearts route, and I was feeling crafty, so the DIY Man Bouquet was exactly the perfect solution.

man bouquet

I saw a few of these on Pinterest, but decided to create my own version. These bouquets can be as intricate or as simple as you want, and can range in price from extremely cheap to extremely expensive depending on what you want to include in it.

My arrangement included the following:

  • Nips. Jack Daniels Whiskey is Sean’s favorite. Use preferred booze of loved one. (God knows I’d never drink Jack.)
  • Candy and/or gum. As much or as little as you want!
  • Scratch tickets. I did put in three – a $1, $2 and $5. Bonus points for sports-themes scratchers.
  • A beer coozie. Or a straight up bottle of beer works too. I made the Bruins coozie the centerpiece of the bouquet.
  • Wooden skewers.
  • Large plastic tumbler. Perfect for large glasses of cold beer or ice water. A traditional beer mug would also work.
  • Tissue paper.

To assemble, tape or glue each item to a wooden skewer. Stuff the mug or glass full of tissue paper and insert skewers to form bouquet. I cut the skewers to different heights to get the look I wanted.

Present to your loved one on Valentine’s Day and watch their face light up! Accept praise for creativity and being just plain awesome.

Note: While I did make this for a guy, there’s no reason not to make this for a girl. I have plenty of friends who would love a non-traditional bouquet any time of the year!

A look back at 2013

I know I’m not the only person who said this, but 2013 flew by. It was an incredible year for me and I’m a little sad to say goodbye to it. To honor it, I’m looking back on all of the amazing (and sometimes sad) things that happened during it, complete with lots of photos!

2013 started with this guy. At the time, we had been together a whopping 5 months, but I already knew he was a different kind of special.

The first moments of 2013!
The first moments of 2013!

I continued to work for as a sports production intern, covering everything from football to hockey, including the Bruins playoff run. Watching games from the TD Garden 9th floor Press Loge is something I will never forget.

I miss these passes.
I miss these passes.
I also miss this view...
I also miss this view…

I went to my first Muse concert and loved every second of it.

May or may not have had many beers at this concert.
May or may not have had many beers at this concert.

covered the Boston Marathon and left the finish line minutes before the bombings. Thinking about that day still shakes me to the core.

Boston Strong

I ran 1 single road race: the Beach-to-Beach 5K in Marblehead for my third year in a row. Not my best, not my worst, but my only. Running and I weren’t close this year apparently.

Nice bright red face there.
Nice bright red face there.

I danced in my 5th DanceWorks Boston show and choreographed my 5th piece, “World Spins Madly On“.

My beautiful dancers.
My beautiful dancers.

I ended the internship I loved on a high note and accepted my first full-time “big girl” job offer a few weeks later with premium chocolate company, Lindt & Sprungli, working in their USA headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire. Yes, there is chocolate around me all day, every day.

Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.
Lindt USA.. where it always smells like chocolate.

BUT I managed to not gain weight in the 6+ months I’ve worked here. Happy dance.

We knew each other a whole year… and that same weekend, I shot a gun for the first time. Irony?

Nice knowing ya for a whole year!
Pretty cool even though I didn't hit anything.
Pretty cool even though I didn’t hit a single disk thingy.

4th of July was complete with this awesome ‘Merica flag cake.

I can't wait to make this again!
I can’t wait to make this again!

I turned 25 in true 25-year-old fashion. On a party bus with my friends.

Party bus!
Party bus!

I moved to a different state (New Hampshire) and in with this guy.

Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
Putting in contact paper like a pro on our first night!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough!
So cute & crafty. Salt dough with help from Sean’s mom!

And celebrated being together a whole year.

Roses. My fave.
Roses. My fave.
He’s my fave too. #mush

We road-tripped to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit Sean’s sister Chelsea and her boyfriend Scott. And had an unbelievable time.

Only 4 more hours to go ...
Only 4 more hours to go …

I went on my first real business trip to Savannah, Georgia.

View from my hotel room.
View from my hotel room.

I dressed as a shark to Sean’s Sharknado for Halloween.

"You are the shark to my Sharknado."
“You are the shark to my Sharknado.”

We went to the MSPCA at Nevin Farms’ “Cat Adopt-a-thon”, rescued a beautiful 3-year old tiger-striped tabby, named her Sophie, and fell in love with her.

How could you not love that little face?
How could you not love that little face?

My family went to my cousins’ new house in Maine to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Many hours of football and eating commenced.

My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later...
My cooking and baking marathon for Thanksgiving! 2 pumpkin pies & honey oat loaf later…

I got into the Christmas spirit early with twinkle lights and an American Girl doll Christmas tree. Next year, it’ll be much bigger.

Twinkle lights & snow
Twinkle lights & snow

I had a wonderful Christmas.

Traditional Christmas Eve photo!
Traditional Christmas Eve photo! Also – I’m short.

And finally, we dressed up for New Years Eve (another big shout out to Sean’s mom for costuming us!) and attended a Gatsby-themed party. (And suffered no hangover the next day!)

Circa 1920s for NYE!
Circa 1920s for NYE! Hair courtesy of my new hair wand curling toy.

2013 was fast and fun for me, with so many memories, I probably missed a few. I danced, I laughed, I cried, I loved. I could not be more thankful or happy in the place I am in right now.

Cheers to you, 2014. You have some big shoes to fill.

Life Lately

Once again, it’s been over a month since my last post. I feel like 2013 is flying and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to slow it down. And since my last post, lots of things have been happening.

The DanceWorks Boston Season 6 show was a huge success and I got amazing feedback on my piece, “World Spins Madly On.

My beautiful dancers. Couldn't have asked for a more incredible group!
My beautiful dancers. Couldn’t have asked for a more incredible group!

I got a job (insert a million exclamation points and a massive sigh of relief here.)  More details to come (and maybe a giveaway..?) but I am loving my new career as a Social Specialist at Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate USA. And despite my commute that is roughly an hour each way, I have plans on moving up to New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts border to make it a little easier. Additional details on that will also be coming shortly.

I work at a chocolate factory... I really can't complain.
I work at a chocolate factory… I really can’t complain.

I’ve known this guy for over a year. It’s crazy to think how fast a year has gone by. I feel like it was yesterday that we met at our friends’ wedding and three short days later I was boarding a plane for 7 weeks in London. I wouldn’t change anything about this past year with him.


I shot my first gun. A semi-automatic shotgun to be precise. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me, I was shaking after I shot it. I didn’t actually hit anything, but that just means there’s lots of room for improvement. And it seems that Sean has also caught the shooting bug so I foresee some shooting ranges and target practice  in our future.

And yes, those things do kick you in the shoulder when you fire them. In case you were wondering.
And yes, those things do kick you in the shoulder when you fire them. In case you were wondering.

My 4th of July looked like this:

Amazing right? Here's where I found the tutorial. Totally worth the extra effort.
Amazing right? Here’s where I found the tutorial. Totally worth the extra effort.
How awesome are our shirts though?
How awesome are our shirts though?
Love me some Picstich.
Love me some Pic Stitch.

I played laser tag, bought a bridesmaid dress, and had all sorts of fun bonding with my friend Sam’s bridal party. June 7, 2014 is going to be insane.

I can't wait for next June.
I can’t wait for next June.

My 25th birthday is in less than 2 weeks.  Um, what? Wasn’t I just in Paris turning 24?

My 24th Birthday in Paris... #takemeback
My 24th Birthday in Paris… #takemeback

So that’s a quick look of what’s going on around here. What big plans do you have this summer? Have you ever made that flag cake before? I’d love to know your feedback.

A Quick Update

Things have been rolling along here, just puttering through this winter that suddenly got 10 times worse when Blizzard Nemo decided to dump close to 30 inches of snow on Massachusetts last weekend, but hey, shoveling is part of life too.

Snowball fight BEFORE the storm actually started.
Snowball fight BEFORE the storm actually started.

Now that things are cleaned up a bit, here’s what’s been going on lately.

My wonderful boyfriend turned 27. Or as I like to remind him: the end to his mid-twenties and the almost-approaching-30 years. Needless to say, that doesn’t necessarily thrill him. But I did get him Bruins tickets for an April game against the Islanders and made this…


… so he was pretty happy.  I found this beauty on Pinterest (follow me!) and followed this recipe to put it together. I highly recommend it even though it was a lengthy process.

I successfully made Honey Oat Bread from scratch.


I’ve only attempted a yeast bread one other time and this one was way better. I usually shy away from recipes that call for 3+ hours of resting/rising time just because I usually don’t have that much time and I’m not very patient. But on a cold day with nothing to do and a lonely packet of instant yeast in the cabinet, why not?  I recommend this recipe.

– My friends threw me a surprise Master’s graduation party…. and I had absolutely no idea. My best friends and dance friends were there and I got presents and drank (a lot of) Asti in celebration. It was wonderful.

This is my "What the hell is going on here?" face.
This is my “What the hell is going on here?” face.

– DanceWorks Boston Season 6 started!

I’m in 4 routines this time around, and choreographing my 5th DWB piece to “World Spins Madly On” by the Weepies.  I’ll take a group photo at our next rehearsal.

– I’m going to host my 2nd giveaway soon!

Freshly baked cookies may or may not be included … don’t miss it!

Tell me! What’s new in your life? What would you like to see as a theme for a giveaway that includes cookies? 

Brunching at Back Deck

As I walked into the Back Deck Restaurant on West Street in Boston on Sunday, I couldn’t believe that it had been over a year since I last attended a Boston Brunchers‘ event. It was also the first brunch where I got to use my new fancy camera!


Since the Patriots were playing in the AFC Championship game later that day, I knew I had to work at 3pm, so when Renee sent a contest around to win a seat at this brunch from 12pm-2pm, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to enter. When I was selected, I was beyond excited.

When I sat down, I was greeted by a few familiar faces, like Erika, Meghan, Liz and Jess.  I wasted no time choosing a signature drink from their menu: an Orange Cooler, complete with OJ, orange vodka, Cointreau and lime juice. I loved it. If it was acceptable to have one of those every morning, I would. The alcohol was subtle, but present and the juice was fresh. Perfect start to brunch.


Each bruncher got to choose an item off of the menu to try and we decided to start with some appetizers to share at the table: grilled zucchini with a garlic mayo, eggplant spread on pita, squash soup, chicken livers, hot wings with dipping sauce, and a honey-drizzled grilled grapefruit.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the chicken livers, and the grapefruit was difficult to eat, but everything else was delicious.


As I perused the menu trying to decide what to order, I felt the brunch menu leaned more towards lunch than breakfast. Maybe I’m just strange, but even during “brunch”, I almost always choose a breakfast item. So that’s what I did, settling on Eggs Diablo. I must’ve been feeling a little adventurous since a) I almost never order egg-y breakfast items and b) this dish came complete with a habenero sauce (which I asked for on the side just in case…)


I would say that the dish was good, but not mind-blowing. The eggs were perfectly cooked: fluffy, light and just runny enough, but I didn’t taste much spice on the “spicy” pork. The black beans and tortillas tasted as they should. I think I would’ve preferred toast to the tortillas under the beans. I didn’t really eat much of it. The crispy tortilla strips on top, however, were a textural element that I enjoyed. When I took taste of the habenero sauce, I was instantly thankful that I asked for it on the side. While tasty, even the smallest amount warmed my mouth and throat and any more would’ve overpowered the whole dish. When I was able to get everything on my fork all at once, I must say it was quite delicious. Separately, however, the elements on the plate were good, but not great.

The other menu item I was eyeing was the Challah French Toast, which the bruncher sitting next to me happened to order. The moment I took a bite, I knew it would’ve been more my style. It was crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and had a bourbon and caramelized banana sauce… Heaven. And, it was huge!


But we weren’t done yet. Our server came over with a dessert menu and, like our appetizers, we got a few to share. The “Drunken 3 Musketeer” ice cream was by far my favorite.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this brunch and would recommend Back Deck for any Sunday. Heads up – they have a kiddie menu too so don’t be afraid to bring the kiddos along!  If you’re looking for a reasonably priced good time, try it out!

*The Back Deck provided brunch free of charge to the Boston Brunchers and I was asked to write a review of the meal and experience I had. ALL opinions stated here are my own.

Recapping 2012… A Year I Never Expected

I had much of this post written before December 17th. I am going to leave what was written originally as is but add a little something up here first to give a little more context to my 2012…. I feel this post is better late than never.

On December 17th, my grandmother passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastating. Mere days before Christmas, a fatal heart attack that no one saw coming was ultimately to blame. Surprisingly, I managed to keep myself together for most of what followed, only breaking down in the hardest moments, trying with everything I had in me to keep my tears hidden.

My Nuna was the most generous person I’ve ever known. Anything I ever wanted, she was willing to supply. She was the reason our Christmas tree had unnecessary but always welcome mounds of presents under it on Christmas Day, why I always had an “emergency $20” in my wallet (that was almost ALWAYS spent on non-emergent things) and why I had a life-size princess Barbie doll (remember those things?!)

She was also stubborn, but in the kind of way that made you thankful for traditional things, like the exact right way to make a turkey on Thanksgiving and why, to this day, I sit closer to my steering wheel in the car than is really necessary because “it’ll protect me.” No, it will probably make things worse, but things stick when you’re a little kid.

I miss my Nuna more than I can possibly say. I am thankful that I had her for almost all of 2012, but 2013 and on will not be the same without her.

My little sister, Nuna and me... Little kid fro and all.
My little sister, Nuna and me… Little kid fro and all.

Now, onto what I had written before. Happy New Years everyone!

Remember when I wrote the post, “2012 Will be Great?”  Well, it was.

But not before it was absolutely horrible.

2012 became a year that I never expected. Last December, I had my whole life planned out. A special relationship to me ended and I thought things would never be the same.  They aren’t – they’re better. Things change, people change, and everything happens for a reason. I think I’ve finally grasped that concept.

But 2012 had many great things. Many amazing things. Allow me to tell you about them.

– I ran my first 5-miler.

First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.
First 5-miler on New Years Day 2012.

– I ran my first 10K.

First 10K, March 2012.
First 10K, March 2012.

– I spent my summer at the London Olympics.

London2012... The best summer of my whole life.
London2012… The best summer of my whole life.

– I turned 24 on the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Happy 24th Birthday to me!
Happy 24th Birthday to me!

– I watched two of my childhood friends get married.

Photo courtesy of the Groom's Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of the Groom’s Facebook page.

– I met a guy I would get to know while I was away for 7 weeks… and fall for him… hard.

This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.
This is my boyfriend, Sean. I suppose its time for all of you to be introduced.

– I was in 2 DanceWorks Boston shows and choreographed 2 routines for it.

My routine, "Deadly", featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.
My routine, “Deadly”, featuring the 7 Deadly Sins.

– I finished my Master’s Degree. (FINALLY!!!!!! Master Torto has a great ring to it.)

The face of a Master.
The face of a Master. You know you’re impressed.

– I got a part-time, paid internship as a Sports Web Producer at

I changed in a lot of ways.

When I look back on 2012, I realized how much my life has changed and I honestly don’t think I’d change a single second of it. Even though parts of it were incredibly difficult and there were times when I wanted to give everything up and just live in my own misery, I pulled through it. I am happier than I have been in a long time.

Here’s to 2013 and everything it brings. I haven’t really made any New Year’s resolutions but here’s one: blog more. Good plan.

It’s been three months?!

Hello again!!

Apparently I took a completely unscheduled hiatus from blogging and now all of a sudden, it’s November.

I never really meant to stop blogging for all this time.  Life just got away from me there for a while.  If you’re just dying for a not-so-short-but-still-sweet recap of what’s been going on with me for the last 3 months, buckle up… you’re in for a bumpy ride.

I last left off leaving for Paris.  It was incredible.  I spent the first few minutes of my 24th birthday on the top of the lit up Eiffel Tower and it was nothing short of spectacular.  Keesa, Matt, Justin and I spent the rest of the day lounging out front of the Eiffel tower with two bottles of wine before getting on a plane back to London.

Happy 24th Birthday to me! The Eiffel Tower was my present but I couldn’t fit it on the plane home. Darn.

Fast forward a few days…the London2012 Olympics were beginning, I was knee deep in school and internship work and life was surreal.  Though stressed, I was happiest than I had been in months, partly due to completely unrelated circumstances that I will get to in a bit.

So the Olympics… yes, well, let’s just say I’ll never be able to watch them from my couch again.  Yes, I will be finding a way to get to Rio in 2016, hopefully by then I’ll be an Olympic correspondent for… something… anything.  Just get me to Rio.

Yes, that is Ryan Lochte and yes, I was that close to him. We chatted… Let’s just say its a good thing he’s an Olympic athlete cause the kid’s got rocks in his head.

So let’s back up a bit… before leaving for London I was pretty much a miserable wreck.  Long story short, my boyfriend of a very long time broke up with me.  I was blindsided, devastated and, in the midst of the worst and hardest semester of my entire life, fell completely apart.  I considered dropping out of school, I considered giving up London, I considered being a moping, miserable person for the rest of my life.  And for a few months, I was.  But I stayed in school and committed to London because let’s be real here… what was the point of throwing away the $60,000 I had already spent on my grad program and the trip of a lifetime?  There wasn’t.

I buried myself in my school work, dance and being with people who really did love me.  I cried every day, multiple times a day for weeks.  I listened to sad music, ran a lot of lonely miles and talked to anyone who would listen.  I didn’t believe it when people told me that life would get better, that there was someone out there who would love me unconditionally, someone who I was supposed to be with.  This was in March.

Dance (and dance friends make everything better.)
Best Friends. No shame.

My BU friends took the brunt of the emotional roller coaster simply because I saw them every. single. day.

This dinner was for cheering me up. I also carbo-loaded for my 10K the next day. It was awesome.

A few months went by and soon, I wasn’t crying anymore… or at least not as much.  I finished my semester with one of the highest GPAs of my entire academic career and was now looking ahead to the summer.  London: getting away, doing everything for myself, letting nothing hold me back.  And I was scared as all hell to go away for 2 months so that pretty much trumped all other emotions at the time.

This is how I get good grades. No, but really.
And Keesa was one of my roommates in London. Best matchup ever.

June rolled around and soon, I was mere days from leaving.  But before I hopped on a plane to Europe for the summer, my family and I went to the wedding of two of my very good childhood friends.  Together for 7 years, throughout high school and college, they got married in our church and had a beautiful reception on the water in Nahant.  Though slightly emotional, it was one of the best nights I had in a very long time.

Aren’t they the cutest?
Photo courtesy of Sarah’s Facebook….

I even met someone… but more about him another time.

Spoiler alert: This is where the previously mentioned “happy, unrelated circumstances” comes into play.

He seems nice…

Three days later, I boarded my plane, took off to London and went to the Olympics.

The End..


Is that the end of the story?  Hardly.  Let’s just say I not only got to go to the Olympics this summer, but I also got to know someone very special from 3,000 miles away.  But I’ll leave it there for now.

My Summer in London: Off to Paris!

I can’t believe it’s been 12 days since my last post!! I’m currently working on one encompassing everything I’ve been up to since July 6th, but at the moment, I’m slightly preoccupied…

Tomorrow morning, at 3:20am, a bus will take me, Justin, Keesa and Matt to Luton airport.  I don’t know about you, but I only know what 3:20am looks like because I’m usually up on Skype or g-chat until 4am… But to actually have to be a functioning human being who is traveling to another country, I should probably take a nap or go to bed super early or something.

Not likely.

We’ll be spending the next 4 days in the beautiful city of Paris.  Think of it as a mini vacation in the midst of my program here.  We had spent the past 2ish weeks taking a special topics class on the Olympics, took our final this morning (aced it) and I have one package already done that should be posted on sometime next week.  We’ll be going nonstop for the 3 weeks after Paris in full-blown internship mode so after already being here for a little over 3 weeks, a getaway to France is more than perfect.

The last time I visited Paris, I was 9, and as much fun as I’m sure I had there being hauled around by Len & Shirl, I am bouncing-out-of-my-chair excited to get to experience it again in a different way.  The four of us are even considering a day trip to Versailles on Saturday.

And the best part?  It’ll be my birthday while I’m there… Oh hey, how did you spend your 24th birthday?  In Paris… no big deal.

So the next time you see me, I’ll be a little older, probably none the wiser and hopefully full of good French wine.  Always gotta have wine..

Look out Paris, not sure you’re ready for us…

Trouble? Not us…

…or them.

Paris is doomed.

My Summer in London: Where I’m Living, What I’m doing

Hello again!  This time from Courtfield Gardens in Kensington.

Home Sweet Home until August 14th!

I moved into my flat on Monday after a weeklong vacation with my family.  Courtfield Gardens is a mere 25 minutes away via tube  and I quickly settled into my 3-bed room with two roomies, our own bathroom and an accessible kitchen.

It’s a lot bigger than it looks and I love it.

On Tuesday, my special topics class on the Olympics started.  Three hours a day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and our schedule looks a little something like this:

3 weeks of class + 3 weeks of internship = 6 fast weeks

Essentially, I’m putting together a presentation about Women and the Olympics, shooting and editing a ton of video and stills, and have my first few weekends free to travel Europe and explore all that London has to offer.

Instead of sleeping after class, because let’s be real here…. I’m hardly doing any of that for one reason or another… I decided to go down to a local dance studio for an advanced contemporary class.

Not only were both the class and the instructor amazing (I was drenched in sweat within the first five minutes and could hardly move the next day), it had a familiar name making me feel right at home.

A little piece of my DanceWorks family here in London ❤

DanceWorks London… who knew?

When I got back from the class, my friends were ready to get a drink and check out some of the local nightlife.  We decided on the Courtfield Pub about 10 minutes from our place.

Me and Keesa!

The only boys in the program… they have it made.

On Wednesday, our group made the journey on the tube to West Ham to take an Olympic walking tour.

This is Pepe, our tour guide. He really enjoyed his stories but we learned a ton.

We walked for about 2 hours, learning about everything from past Olympics to how and why London was chosen over Paris for the 2012 Summer Games.  Apparently everyone thought that Paris would get it over London, including all of England, and when it was announced that Paris lost, the French didn’t take it so well.  Go figure.

To see the Games, get off at the Stratford tube station and go straight to the park. You’re welcome.

For now, the area surrounding the Olympic Park is still pretty accessible but within the next few weeks, security will tighten and getting anywhere near the entrance will be impossible without tickets or the highest security clearance.

This way to ultimate sporting glory…


Big fence, very legit.

This is the viewing tower and the main Olympic arena…

Doesn’t get more badass than that.

Since it was the 4th of July on Wednesday, there was no way that we were going to not celebrate, despite the fact that we’re in England.  If anything, the irony made it that much better.  We got ready, had a drink or two, and found a bar in Covent Gardens called Roadhouse that we heard would be full of other Americans we could party with.  It was.. and we had a blast.

Future journalists of America celebrating America.

Sometimes we let Justin think he has game…

Just kidding, Justin. We love you!

Matt decided to bring the American flag along for the ride.


It was, by far, the best 4th of July I’ve ever had.

Despite staying awake until an ungodly hour, we decided to dedicate the next day to being as touristy as possible.  Our solution?  The Tower of London.

Torture chambers, the Crown Jewels. Classic England.

Before going inside the fortress, we checked out the Tower Bridge, beautifully adorned with the Olympic Rings.

Breathtaking right?

Within the walls of the Tower of London, we joined a guided tour with a Beefeater.  I think we got the best one the Tower has because we learned a ton and laughed the entire way though.  He was informative, clever and knew how to keep the audience engaged.  A+ Mr. Beefeater.

Let’s be friends.

We saw the Crown Jewels, took a tour through the Torture Towers and checked out the Royal Artilleries.

The White Tower… home of devices like “The Rack”.

Sometimes Matt likes to play with ancient weapons.

That is focus.

Today included things like a gym session with Justin (who made me run a 7:30 mile to the gym and I thought I was going to die), shopping on Oxford Street (oh Primark…), a much-need 2 hour nap, froyo, wine and Despicable Me…. a terrific way to end one of the busiest weeks ever.

I want to know… How are things in the States?  I heard it’s super hot in Boston!  What else should I check out in London and what would YOU like to see in a London-themed giveaway here on the blog?

My Summer in London Week 1: Family Vacation

Greetings from London, England!!!!  (Warning: Lengthy post ahead…)

It only took me a total of 15 hours to get here from the time I left my house at 2pm US time last Tuesday afternoon to when I arrived at my aunt’s place in London at 10:30am Wednesday England time (5:30am US time.)

Bye bye America! See you in 7 weeks…

All-in-all, the travel day wasn’t horrible.  6 hours from Boston to Frankfurt on Lufthansa’s business class is an extremely luxurious (cough cough SPOILED) way to travel.  My dad works for Lufthansa so it just makes sense and all….

We landed in Germany at 5:30am their time before boarding a much smaller airplane for the 1 and a half hours to London, where the time changed again, back 1 hour.

Hello business class.. thanks for the unlimited drinks for 6 hours.

Now, I’ve traveled abroad a lot in my life and jet lag isn’t something that normally hurts me too much, but this time around, it was BRUTAL.  I don’t know if it’s because we left the USA so late in the day or if it was the 3 hours getting from Heathrow to my aunt’s house because of a massive line at the UK border or the amount of luggage we had or the time on the tube but either way, I was dying for sleep by noon.

Happy to be in England, dying to get some sleep.

After taking the fastest hour-long nap of my life, we were back up and off to one of my favorite places in all of London…

Oh Harrod’s… I could live in you.

I proceeded to practically run around the store, buying things like Harrod’s brand red wine.  Don’t judge me.. this is good stuff.

What are the odds these bottles of amazingness make it back to the USA? Answer: Not very good.

The rest of my week looked a little something like this:

My family’s place where we stayed for our vacation… freakin’ massive and beautiful.

On Thursday, we visited Windsor and saw the castle where the Queen is currently residing.  We didn’t actually get to see her, but we did get to see her guards and their stellar hats.

The Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle.

We tried some on just for fun.

Lookin’ awesome.

Friday….Stonehenge and Bath!

I like taking dance photos in front of historic landmarks… Sorry I’m not sorry.

Stonehenge was beautiful, albeit a bit chilly but by the time we got to Bath, the weather changed completely.

The Roman Baths in Bath…

We toured the Roman Baths and checked out Bath Abbey.  Bath is the setting of one of my favorite books, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, so it was incredible being there where the story takes place.

Bath… I could live here.

That night, my cousins took me and my sister out to experience the London nightlife.  Ever met an Irish kid you couldn’t understand because his accent was so thick?  Now I can say I have…

This is Gabrielle.. She’s an expert in what we like to call “photo bombing”….

One night club in particular looked slightly familiar..

O’Neills? I thought we left you back in Salem….

Later that night, I decided it would be smart to stay up until 2:45am thinking that I’d get to sleep in the next day.  My dad, however, had other plans, strolling into my room at a casual 7:00am to inform me that I needed to get up RIGHT THAT MINUTE because we were going to miss the 8:21 train to Oxford.  Fail sleeping in.

Oxford included a tour of the gorgeous Blenheim Palace and scoping out Oxford University’s campus.

Who’s moving in with me?

The rose garden of Blenheim was by far my favorite.

Reminds me of the Secret Garden.

By the way, I got a new camera…can you tell?  No more iPhone photos for me!

Did I mention how much I love roses?

100 British pounds to whoever can name what movie this courtyard was featured in…. Hint: It’s one of my favorites series of all time.

Oxford was the shooting location for……………..

After falling asleep on the train ride home, my family went to dinner at one of my favorite spots in London: Kandoo.  This hole-in-the-wall Persian place is BYOB and serves incredible food.  Even my mom, the pickiest eater in the entire world, loved it.

Best Persian food ever.

Today I finally got to sleep in and didn’t wake up until… noon.  With my parents out of the house (they decided to go back to Bath and spend a few more hours there), Melissa and I printed a map, got some tips from our cousin Ali and hit the streets of London for our own pub crawl.

I have a map and a beer. Go.

First up, The Beehive..

First stop.

Then, The Marylebone, which ended up being my favorite stop of the day.  I recommend the Passionfruit Bellini.

2 for 1 cocktails all day Sundays…. I will be back.

Third, The Prince Regent, where I had my first-ever glass of Zinfandel.  I usually stay away from this type of red because I’m biased towards Merlot, Cab and Malbec, but this one was surprisingly delicious.

Bar #3

Our last stop, the Barley Mow, was cute too.

Last stop…. NOT.

About three seconds after we left the Barley Mow, we got a call from Ali who told us to come to a bar called The Globe to watch the Italy-Spain “football” game with her, Gabby and bunch of their Embassy friends.

Fun place but super crowded for the game.

…And then Ali spilled her full beer all over the place and our new friend Derek laughed at her.


All-in-all, a successful pub crawl around London and a great way to end my first week here.

Post-pub crawl success.

So that’s my trip to London up until this point.  Tomorrow I move to BU London at Courtfield Gardens in Kensington and have orientation before starting class on Tuesday!  Once I’m settled in, I promise more pictures and maybe a few more posts so they aren’t as long…


I want to know… Have you traveled or studied abroad?  What’s your best advice for getting around London and/or Europe?  I’m dying to get to Paris and Rome but I’m not sure of the best way to go about it… help!!