Yesterday Tyler and I made our way up north to Mount Vernon for a double date with our friends Sarah and Dustin. Every year in the Skagit Valley, thousands of tulip and daffodils bloom for the annual Tulip Festival and people come from all around for a colorful photo op and a fresh bouquet. When we saw the weather report for this weekend we were super bummed about the predicted rain, but the forecast ended up providing the ideal conditions for our visit.
Last year when Ty and I visited the gardens on our own we went on one of the hottest Saturdays of the festival, and had to fight enormous crowds and hours of traffic. We lucked out this year not only because there were far less people this time around, but because we also narrowly avoided the rain all together. It rained on the drive there and back, but the only challenge we faced was strong wind. So much for curling my hair! The overcast sky ended up giving us the perfect lighting for our pics too, which is something I am always super excited about.
Even though it didn't end up raining while we were there, I am glad that I wore my new yellow raincoat. I had been looking for the perfect pop of color in a jacket for years, and I've been pretty biased toward yellow lately. With how often it rains in Seattle I've been getting tired of my black trench, and this French Connection coat was the perfect replacement. There is something about wearing a bright color on a rainy day that keeps my spirits up as I am stomping through puddles on my commute to work or class. I've also been pretty surprised by how much of my closet I've been able to pair it with, and have worn it with anything from this black and white babydoll dress to the colorful embroidered top I wore in Animal Kingdom.
If you're planning on visiting the fields yourself, I highly recommend that you grab your own raincoat and a cute outfit and head out on a day with a lousy forecast. You won't regret it, the colorful tulips are beautiful even on a grey sky day! Unfortunately this is a seasonal event and the tulips won't be around much longer so if you want to fill your home with $5 bunches or your garden with bulbs then plan your trip ASAP.
Raincoat: French Connection (purchased from Nordstrom)
Dress: Forever 21
P.S. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @alhblog!
Once I grew out of the wear-my-one-Hollister-logo-tshirt-as-often-as-possible-to-fit-in phase of 9th grade, I quickly developed the polar opposite mindset that I COULD NOT be seen as an outfit repeater. If I wasn't going to sport the high school cool girl uniform of yoga pants and and PINK hoodie everyday, then I would need to stand out by wearing a different outfit as frequently as possible. My motto became "Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater" (from the Lizzie McGuire movie, obviously. Talk about iconic) and I thought it everytime someone in my classes wore the same shirt twice. At one point I had more dresses than I could wear to school in a month and a half, and I secretly tracked how long I could go. Senior year I went from the first day of school until the end of March before rewearing something I didn't consider a staple - aka my jeans, shoes, or various solid colored cardigans. I was obsessed. And while I scored the spot of Best Dressed in the yearbook by following these strict guidelines for myself and painting my nails a different color everyday, I admit it was overwhelming and at least a little bit ridiculous.
To an extent, I've mellowed out. I definitely still worry about whether people will notice that I am wearing the same thing I wore a month ago, but I put less stress on making sure my clothes are constantly new. I've gotten myself to a place where I emphasize buying pieces I really love and can mix up, rather than loading up my closet as much as possible. I like to think that it's a sign I'm growing up but it could also be a side affect of bills and rent.
This outfit is the direct result of the change. I've been working on brainstorming ways that I could mix and match to make it less obvious that I'm now a repeat offender and my jacket is a perfect example. My leather jacket has been around for what seems like forever, and can probably be traced back at least to sophomore year of highschool. I've worn it with everything from formal to casual, and love that it can tie a look together. I admit to wearing it not once, but twice in the past week, and I considered wearing it a third until I saw a weather report calling for rain. Since I split my days evenly between work and classes, I chalk it up to the fact that it's gotten really easy to grab the same outfit multiple times, telling myself I won't see the same crowd. In fact, I have apparently come to repeating it so many times that after taking my photos, Tyler pointed out that the vinyl on the back was wearing away and now I'm in the market for another jacket to hopefully last the next 7 years.
These shoes are also quickly making their way onto the list of things I am shamelessly wearing all the time, and I am super shocked at how comfortable they are. I wore them to work, including the long walk to and from the bus, and never once felt the urge to go barefoot. The elastic straps are probably my favorite feature in a shoe like this because they slide on easily, stretch to your heel for comfort, and create clean zipper-free lines. If your local TJ Maxx has a pair left in stock, I recommend you grab some while you can. I plan to wear them frequently while the weather is nice, so whether I am touring apartments or meeting with clients, it's probably safe to say I'm enjoying my added height.
Jacket: JJ Winters for Macy's
Top: Merona for Target
Jeans: American Eagle
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction (found at TJ Maxx)
Pin: Molly Moon's
It's been a few weeks now since I got back from Disney World, and it's safe to say that I still haven't recovered from my post-vacation-depression. With Seattle weather fluctuating between sunny and rainy several times in one day, I can't help but feel jealous that Taylor lives in a place where 75 degrees means she wears a jacket. Luckily I still have plenty of photos to remind me of my week of hot weather bliss as I cross my fingers that it won't be too long before I find myself on another trip.
This outfit was a highlight for me during the trip (nothing says comfortable like a giant baggy dress) and the fact that I found something so effortless and still on trend was super exciting. I have a love/hate relationship with off-the-shoulder tops, since they aren't really work appropriate and honestly just don't make sense to me for 90% of the weather I experience. Whenever I browse the new arrivals on Forever 21's website I get frustrated that almost every top is prescribing to this style. However I decided that I would give it a shot, because although having an entire closet of off-the-shoulder looks is super unnecessary (they won't be in style forever) one or two seemed fine. I tried on several dresses before I settled on this one, because the elastic didn't pop up every time I moved my arms like some of the others.
Ultimately I fell in love with this dress because of the pompoms, which seemed just the right amount of fun for a trip to the happiest place on earth. When I showed Tyler the dress online he tried to talk me out of it saying the sleeves were weird, and I almost succeeded in passing it up. Until I saw my favorite contestant -and winner- of Project Runway wearing something just like it on the dramatic reunion episode. Take that Tyler! If Erin can wear it, so can I!
The moral of this story is, always ignore fashion advice from your boyfriend (especially if you are the one who picks out his clothes) and give trends you are unsure about a chance. I ended up loving the off-the-shoulder look, and recently ordered a top. This definitely fulfills any need I may have for the style, but I'm glad that I found something that I loved regardless.
PS. Please ignore my Fitbit and Magic Band, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do when in Disney World. How else would I know that I was averaging 20,000 steps a day?
Dress: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Forever 21
I know I have said it before, but joining my sorority sophomore year is definitely one of my favorite decisions I have made in college, right up there with changing majors and choosing to attend UW in the first place. It allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and make friends I wouldn't have met otherwise, especially since I was rarely motivated to leave my dorm freshman year.
Going into recruitment women often have a checklist of requirements that their dream chapter will fulfill. Some of these "requirements" are really silly (and superficial) when you think about the fact that you are choosing your home and friends for the next four years. I was not an exception to this, and I remember thinking I would only join a chapter that had 3 letters, because it looked cuter on the embroidered sweatshirts I wanted so badly. Luckily once I got into the swing of the week I started to fall in love with my chapter for reasons that were so much more important (Sigma Kappa is only two letters - oh well). I loved that I felt relaxed during my conversations, and that their philanthropy was the Alzheimer's Association. I loved that the members I met clearly cared about scholarship and academics, and I was excited for all the events they told me about. By the end of the week I was losing sleep hoping that they would offer me a bid, and I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. It also helped that I heard the recruitment counselor I loved was a Sigma Kappa, and even though she was trying really hard to keep it a secret, I kept my fingers crossed that my assumption was right.
When I received my bid card I was so happy, and as I am entering the last few months as an active member I am still so glad that everything turned out the way it did. Sigma Kappa gave me the confidence to get involved in leadership, as merchandise chair and head of recruitment, which in turn lead to be becoming more involved on campus. I also had the opportunity to travel with the chapter multiple times to meet SKs from around the country and grow in my leadership skills. I've had countless late nights laughing with my sisters, and many early mornings for philanthropy and recruitment that I wouldn't trade for anything.
My chapter also lead me to an amazing family, that I completely adore. My little Kiran was a light in my life immediately. Taylor told me that she would be my little before she accepted her bid, and right away I knew she was right. She's the only person I would willingly watch a Drew Barrymore movie for (just once, never again) and the first person who listens to me vent at the end of a long day. I love being the person she turns to for advice, especially since I have the tendency to mother my friends a bit too much. I'm so proud of her hard work and her loving spirit, and watching her scout for her own littles this year was so much fun. She definitely lucked out with Bela and Madeline, who always yell in excitement when I come home from class or work and sing along to musicals with me when we should be doing homework. I don't know what I would do without my little fam, and am grateful to have them in my life.
PS - This was my first time taking pictures with the cherry blossoms?? I have never wanted to deal with the crowds, and choosing to go during golden hour on a Friday was a mistake in that regard. But Madeline probably would have killed me if we didn't take these pics and they turned out to be worth it after all.
Sophomore year when I joined my sorority I was told I needed to find a white dress and white shoes for the initiation ceremony. This tradition was passed on for decades, going all the way back to the founding of Sigma Kappa and other chapters as well. Unfortunately, 50 girls running out to find completely white outfits two weeks after labor day turned out to be no easy task. I had to settle for the first dress I found, which in this case was several sizes too small and not at all my style.
This scramble for white dresses repeats itself at the start of each year with the initiation of a new pledge class, so it seems only fitting that I would finally find something that I like with just quarter left until graduation. Luckily there is a ceremony to become an alumna of the chapter, so I will get to wear this for Sigma Kappa ritual at least once. I like this dress enough that I will probably wear it on repeat this summer anyway.
The first time I got to debut my white dress was at Universal last week, which was perfect. While the fabric seems thick and structured, I never felt like it was too heavy even on the hottest day of my trip. Paired with gold I felt simple and understated, but still chic as I walked around the parks. It also gave me the excuse to wear my lightning bolt earrings as a nod to Harry Potter. After seeing tons of over-the-top licensed merch at the parks it was nice to show some spirit without going too crazy. I've always preferred minimal gold jewelry to a bedazzled hood anyway.
Dress: Forever 21
Earrings: Forever 21
Sandals: Saltwater Sandals
Yesterday was my last day in Orlando, so to go out with a bang Taylor and I headed to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter parks. This was one of the most exciting parts of the trip for me, since I was a little bit obsessed with the series growing up. Some of my favorite memories are listening to the books on tape in the car, or wearing robes and pretending the creek by my house was Hogwarts when my friends came over. We used to make potions in the bathroom, and for years all I wanted for Christmas was the castle lego set. To see a lifelong favorite come to life in this way was truly amazing.
While the Universal Park overall seemed fun, nothing was as detailed and exciting to me as Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, which were connected by the the Hogwarts Express. There is even a ride that goes through the castle, and another that goes through Gringotts.
One of my favorite spots was Honeydukes, and I couldn't resist buying a pack of Bertie Botts and a Chocolate Frog to bring back for Tyler and I to share. The whole store was super cute, with all of the treats from the movies lining the shelves. From Pumpkin Juice to Fizzing Wizzbees, it was super difficult to decide what to get. The pastry cabinet also had themed treats, like the Pumpkin Pasty and the Cauldron Cake. I honestly wish I could have tried it all. Luckily I was able to get a butterbeer next to the castle that curbed my sweet tooth long enough to make more rational decisions about desert.
Another great spot was the robe shop in Diagon Alley, complete with a mirror that gives compliments. I couldn't leave without a Weasley sweater, especially after the talking mirror told me I looked dashing. I decided I didn't have a lot of use for Ravenclaw robes, as much as I wanted them but I did settle for a pin so that I could still show my house pride.
The Magical Menagerie was set up like the pet store where Hedwig and Crookshanks are from, and filled with stuffed versions of magical creatures. I was pretty disappointed that there was no niffler, which I've loved since Hagrid brought them for a Care of Magical Creatures lesson in the Goblet of Fire.
For dinner Taylor and I got to eat at the Three Broomsticks, with the moving Azkaban poster of Sirius Black (hands down the best character - closely followed by Luna and Hermione) keeping watch over us. I ordered fish and chips again, falling back into my study abroad habit. It's really hard to resist pub food, and I've missed it in the states.
After dinner we left Diagon Alley for the final day of the Universal Mardi Gras parade, which turned out to be a blast. The floats were huge, and some shot out confetti and breathed fire. I got tons of plastic beads, some that I caught and others that hit me in the face, but overall it was a great finale to an amazing trip.
I am so grateful to have friends that provide me with opportunities like this vacation, and I am so glad that Taylor was willing to show me around her "new" home this past week. I miss her all the time, but Orlando is perfect for her, and who can complain about friends who work in the happiest place on earth?
Today was our 3rd and final day at Disney World parks, so in order to make sure I saw it all we split our time between Hollywood Studio and Animal Kingdom. These two definitely felt like the smallest of the parks, so doing a half day at each went really well.
Since we had dinner reservations in Animal Kingdom, we headed to Hollywood Studios in the morning after eating Mickey Waffles at our resort. The main street of Hollywood is super cute, with vintage style theatres on either side. It was pretty colorful, although the park didn't seem as cohesive as the others overall. This is partly because it's in the process of changing and Star Wars is slowly taking over. At 3 o'clock Stormtroopers took to the streets for the imperial march, which felt super bizarre after stepping off a Toy Story ride in the Pixar section. We also did the Tower of Terror, which I loved. I had to get over how creaky it was though, since it freaked me out a lot more than the big drops themselves. It reminded me of a wooden rollercoaster, and I'm never a big fan of a ride that sounds like it could break at any time.
Another thing about the roller coasters at Disney World is that they are always taking your picture at some point during the ride. While I knew this was to be expected, I never knew when it was going to happen. I look like I'm having a terrible time in every single photo, because I was either terrified, or holding on for dear life. Our Tower pic was super serious looking.
As for Animal Kingdom, I would describe it as a zoo with an amusement park inside of it. As soon as you walk in you see birds, and eventually weave your way through tiger and monkey enclosures as well. We wanted to go on the classic safari ride to see savannah animals, but the line was always over an hour. Instead we did some of the faster rides like Everest (which we were lucky to have fast passes for) and Dinosaur. We also caught some shows. I now remember why I was so freaked out by the Bugs Life live show as a kid, and I definitely wasn't the only one. I think every child around me was crying after the cricket appeared.
At our dinner we got to meet Mickey, who was all dressed up in his safari clothes. Character dinners are really popular, and it was kinda fun to have them stop by your table for pics. Much faster than waiting in line and you get to eat!
Since this was my last day at Disney I really wanted to wear something fun. When I ordered this embroidered mesh top from Forever 21 a few weeks ago, I was pretty nervous about how it would look. I have never really tried anything this bold in terms of color, but I think it really paid off! I got a ton of compliments on it, and it looks great with denim for when I return to chilly Seattle. Everyone needs something exciting like this to mix things up every once in a while, and it really brought me out of my all-black comfort zone I have been hiding in!
Today was also our last day to pin trade (unless we find something at our hotel) and I am really happy about my little nesting doll princesses. They remind me of my trip to Russia, and were such a cute way to incorporate Disney into a simple shape. I had purchased a pack with 5, and got too attached to trade them all away, but now that I see them paired with this look I am glad that I didn't.
I'm going to miss all the Disney World fun, but our next stop is Universal Studios!
Top: Forever 21
Skirt: Forever 21
Bag: UW School of Art
Pins: Disney Pin Trading
Earrings: Forever 21
Bracelets: Bluma Project - from Pop Sugar Must Have
After snoozing our alarm for close to two hours this morning, Taylor and I made our way to Magic Kingdom for the classic Disney experience. We both grabbed our ears and our Saltwater Sandals and headed to the biggest (and probably the busiest) of the Disney World parks.
Taylor was able to score us some awesome reservations for the Be Our Guest restaurant, which is one of the most popular stops in the park. We ate in the main ballroom of the Beast's castle, and even "tried the grey stuff" - yes, it was delicious just as the song suggests. I'm glad we were able to get a table here, it made me even more excited to see the movie when I get back to Seattle.
Then we headed over to meet Ariel, which was one of my childhood dreams come true. I didn't get the opportunity during my second grade trip to Disney Land, so I was extremely excited to see her this time around. Afterwards we rode the Little Mermaid ride, which was super cute.
Some of the rides I skipped out on as a kid were also on our list for the day, and I finally got the chance to experience Splash Mountain and Space Mountain as someone who isn't as easily scared. Fast passes were a life saver for these rides, which would have taken us an hour in line. I didn't realize that Space Mountain was completely dark, so that definitely caught me by surprise. You can totally tell how unprepared I was in the candid photo that they take during the ride.
The best part about Magic Kingdom is the emphasis on the entertainment. We saw two parades - one of which turned into a dance party with the characters in the street. Our dance got cut short when I accidentally knocked down a toddler who was groovin behind me. I was apparently waaaay too into it...We also stuck around for Wishes, the nighttime firework show at the castle. Unfortunately it was too windy for Tinkerbelle to fly tonight, but the show was worth it either way.
I ate more food today than the other two combined, and most of it was dessert. But how could I resist a post-tiki-room dole whip or a Mickey shaped ice cream bar? Both lived up to the hype for sure, although you have to eat frozen things super fast in the Florida heat. I need to work on not getting brain freezes if I'm going to continue with my snack streak tomorrow.
Top: Forever 21
Shorts: The Gap
Shoes: Saltwater Sandals
Today was my first official day at Disney World! Taylor opened my grand tour of the parks with Epcot, where she works. Spring is the Flower and Garden festival, and I am so glad I was lucky enough to visit during such a beautiful event. There were tons of character themed topiaries, special gardens, and pop-up kiosks with themed snacks that they only have once per year.
We started the day in Future World, which is the specific area that Taylor spends the most time in. Most of the rides seemed technology themed and educational, but we did get a fast past for a super cool Finding Nemo ride. I also really liked Spaceship Earth, which was in the Epcot Ball (I thought it was hollow before). But the best one of the day was definitely Soarin, which is a virtual parasail ride around the world. They even spray scents during it, and the super big screen really messes with your perception so that you feel like it's almost real.
Overall my favorite area of Epcot was the World Showcase, that has pavilions dedicated to different countries around the world. Morocco was probably my favorite, although I did get to have some pretty authentic fish and chips in the UK. The cool thing about the World Showcase is that each area has cast members from that country, so you get to meet a ton of people from all over the globe. It's really crazy that Disney is able to be such a universal love in that way.
We also waited in line to meet a few characters today, including Daisy and Daffy Duck. Plus a lot of princesses hang out in the pavilions, so Taylor and I met Aurora, Belle, Elsa, and Ana. But Daisy was definitely the one to steal my heart.
(PS I got this pom pom dress at forever 21 and I felt like it was perfect for the festival. More pics of it to come! You can also follow me on Instagram @alhblog where I am currently spamming everyones feed with Disney)
I cannot believe I've finally made it to Orlando! I have been counting down the days to this trip for months and after such an exhausting quarter I am so ready for this trip. My flight landed at 5 am, and I was finally able to meet up with Taylor and settle in for a short nap around 8.
While we waited for our hotel room (in the beautiful Port Orleans French Quarter resort - literally everything about it is my aesthetic) we decided to head out of the Disney area and visit Winter Park. I was really excited for our mini shopping spree because it happened to line up with the 5 year anniversary of the Rifle Paper Company flagship store and a corresponding sidewalk sale. Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with everything Rifle, from my planner to my notebooks and I stocked up on tons of great stuff. We also got commemorative buttons made for the event and some delicious lemonade. There was an arts fair happening as well, so we grabbed some street food (which in this case meant a greasy pile of homemade potato chips covered in cheese and bacon). Delicious, but appropriately named "The Heart Attack".
After we finished up at Winter Park, we fought some crazy downtown traffic back to our hotel. The Port Orleans not only has a super cute pool, but is also on a river. We took the riverboat into the Disney Springs area to continue with our shopping spree and to start pin trading. Taylor warned me trading was super addictive, and she was right. It's so fun to try and find pins you want around the park. I'm on the hunt for the UP grape soda cap - keeping my fingers crossed I find it at Epcot tomorrow!
Needless to say, after a long night of travel and a longer day of walking I am extremely exhausted. But I am so happy to finally be able to see Taylor again and catch up on all the craziness in our lives over the past few months. It's awesome seeing Disney through her eyes, and it's definitely making everything less overwhelming to have someone who works here as your personal tour guide.
As for how packing went, I definitely overdid it (but honestly what's new). I had trouble deciding what to bring for each day, but I'm really glad this wrap dress made the cut. Not only did I grab it on clearance at Forever 21 for only $7, but it's so perfect for the weather down here. The light fabric is so comfy, and I didn't start to get cold until around 10 pm.
Now that it's reaching almost 1 am Orlando time, I need to start getting ready for bed. I have a feeling tomorrow will be even more exhausting as we battle park crowds, but I know it will be worth it.
Dress: Forever 21
Shoes: Salt Water Sandals
Necklace: Forever 21