Travel Post – London (Part 3)

Tazza Fountain

Tazza Fountain

My last day in London was a whirlwind. It felt like a ticking clock had been set, counting down my final hours. One must truly allow for at least a week to even begin to enjoy everything that amazing city has to offer. So I pared down my wish list to The British Museum and a special visit to Kensington Park.


The British Museum. Wow. I think I spent close to six hours there and barely scratched the surface of all the exhibits. Stuff I’d only read about in school books was now just a pane of glass away. History from every culture was on display. Even the main lobby is a place to stop and admire for a few moments. The cavernous ceiling is a geometric arch of glass, allowing natural sunlight to illuminate the grand space. Snow piled up the sides of its sloped surface but I dare say it was colder inside the museum than out. Heated blowers were placed in the larger exhibit rooms but unless you were standing directly in front of one, the best way to keep warm was to keep moving.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

The famous Rosetta Stone sits close to the main exhibit entrance, luring patrons in and sparking the passion of their inner archeologist. Honestly, it’s difficult to squeeze through the masses just to read the plaque description or snap a picture. But when you do get a glimpse of that massive stone it is terribly impressive. It was a decree issued by King Ptolemy V of Egypt written in 196 BC, once in Egyptian hieroglyphic script, again in Demotic script (the preferred form of Egyptian writing for legal and administrative purposes) and again in Ancient Greek. Before its most recent discovery in 1799, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were a complete mystery. Finding the Rosetta Stone was like finding the Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring but for, like, the most advanced civilization of the ancient world. To have been a fly on the wall of that discovery… And if it weren’t for that stone, a film like Stargatemay never have been made and that’s just not a world I want to imagine living in. (Judge my taste in science fiction/fantasy all you want. It is a permanent part of my DVD collection.)

Ozymandias

Ozymandias

Nearby are the exhibits direct from Ancient Egypt. A seven-ton granite bust of Pharaoh Ramesses II towers over the vast room of antiquities. Surrounding him sits plaques inscribed with mythological scenes, statues of Egyptian deities, and royal sarcophagi. In 1817, it was announced that the bust of Ramesses would be acquired by The British Museum and it most likely served as the inspiration for Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet Ozymandias. (Ozymandias is the Greek name for Pharaoh Ramesses II). In high school, my classmates and I were required to recite Shelley’s poem and I can still hear the lifeless drone of our voices repeating each line over and over until it was branded into the wrinkles of our brains.  As much as I didn’t appreciate the poem then, standing before the giant bust of Ozymandias himself I understood now what Shelley meant. There is lovely anguish when looking at the ruins of something so great. Time is, ultimately, the equalizer of all humanity.

Assyrian Lamassu

Assyrian Lamassu

On and on the rooms of history stretch. Each exhibit is worth a half day’s appreciation if you have the luxury of that much time on your hands. Great stone reliefs of ancient battles and wild lion hunts run down entire lengths of display rooms long enough to have a vanishing point. The famous human-headed winged bulls, or Lamassus, from the palace gate of King Ashurnasirpal II (yeah, don’t ask me how to pronounce that) stand on either side of the entrance to ancient Assyrian exhibit room. My heart broke to discover that these fourteen ton stone deities had to be cut into pieces in order to transport them to the museum. They are expertly assembled but the seams are apparent nonetheless. It boggles my mind that the original creators of these statues fashioned and placed them at the palace in one piece. A fun little fact: the bulls are carved with five legs—seen standing on four legs from the front and a fifth leg which, when viewed from the side, gives the appearance of the bull mid-stride.
A small bronze casting of Rodin’s The Thinker sits on a pedestal in the center of the main hallway, quietly splitting the gregarious current of passing tourists. I like to think he’s got the answer to the meaning in life in that metal cranium, smiling inwardly as we all shuffle from space to space, blissfully unaware and too wrapped up in our smartphones to stop and ask, “Well? What is it?”
By the time late afternoon rolled around, there was still half the museum still left to explore but I had to force myself to leave. There was one place left that I had just enough time to see before I enjoying a final dinner: a little gem in Kensington Park. On my way, I passed by Westminster and Big Ben. Sadly, the clock tower was silent and shrouded by scaffolding. Big Ben toned his last hour on August 21, 2017, in anticipation of a four-year renovation project. Exploring a ‘silent’ London felt a little incomplete but it only strengthened my resolve to return when ol’ Benny boy is put back into commission.
When I entered the park gates it was growing close to nightfall. The sky was completely coated in thick snow clouds making it feel much later than it was and I picked up my pace a bit. This was my last chance to see it in the daylight until I returned. Kensington Park stretches on for as far as the eye can see. I could get lost in it quite easily since many of the trails were snowed over and the crowds at that time of day were growing sparse. I wandered through the Italian Gardens, an ornamental water garden full of manicured pools and fountains, and Renaissance-like sculptures. I stopped at the Tazza Fountain which, today, resembled more of a dangerous, spiky ice flower than an inviting water feature. I trekked down the path a bit further. Then, tucked into a garden alcove, my heart gave a leap. I stopped. There it was.

Peter Pan Statue

Peter Pan Statue

The Peter Pan Statue by Sir George Frampton. JM Barrie, creator of the Peter Pan stories and initially inspired by Kensington Gardens for those literary adventures, had commissioned the bronze statue and erected it in 1912 without any publicity…or permission. The ‘unveiling’ was meant to be a magical surprise as if it had appeared overnight through the work of the fairies themselves. It depicts Peter playing his flute atop a base surrounded by rabbits, squirrels, and fairies. When I saw it, I was nearly moved to tears.
When my sister and I were young we’d watch movies together during the long summers. We’d each take turns choosing a movie but my choice nearly every time was Steven Spielberg’s Hook. I even attempted at times to coerce my sister’s choice in order to have an extra opportunity to watch it. It was the ultimate ‘what if’ story of Peter Pan who left Neverland and (gasp!) grew up. It was the perfect blend of adventure and humor, one of Robin Williams’ finest roles, in my humble opinion. I’d hum the soundtrack. I’d quote entire scenes. Heck, give me 136 minutes and I’d reenact the whole film for you. It was a defining aspect of my childhood (and my sister’s whether she liked it or not) and from that film on, Robin Williams had become something of a hero of mine. Not just in the heroic role he played as Peter Pan but his enthusiasm for life, his personality, his ability to make so many people laugh.
The 90’s were the best time to be a kid if you were a Robin Williams fan. Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji. He entertained and spoon-flung food for the imaginations of youth everywhere—and genuinely enjoyed doing it. It was a passion, an essence that came through the screen. Like a supernatural ability, Robin was able to take anyone watching his film right by their hand, bust that rapid-fire laugh and say, “Come with me, we’re gonna have a great time.” Near the end of Hook, (spoiler alert) Robin Williams has returned from his final adventures in Neverland and wakes up under the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Park. His passion for life and his family has been renewed. And the final line of the film is one I’ve heard Robin say a thousand times and it’s never lost its magic: “To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
Since losing him in 2014, there’s been a hollow in my heart and a yearning to reconnect with him in some small way. I still think on his passing with the emotion of having lost a dear family member. He was part of the family. But the positivity, hope, and laughter he brought to the world console me. If I could replicate a small fraction of the joy he generated in his time here on earth I would consider it the greatest accomplishment of my life. So here we were. Me and Peter. The boy who wouldn’t grow up. This was the Robin I knew and loved.

I sent a picture of it to my sister that evening who texted back, “This is so amazing I want to cry!”

I knew just how she felt.

By: Erica Ruhe

Check out: London (Part 1) and London (Part 2)

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Upcoming Books: Betty Bites Back – Horror Stories for Young Feminists

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I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, GOOD SISTER, BAD SISTER is going to be included in the upcoming anthology Betty Bites Back – Horror Stories for Young Feminists (coming out October 2019). This anthology is put together by award-winning badass authors, Demitria Lunetta, Mindy McGinnis, and Kate Karyus Quinn.

Here’s a little teaser of what my story is about:

GOOD SISTER, BAD SISTER by Azzurra Nox

Puberty comes with many changes, but after being bitten by a mysterious animal in the forest, Dilay finds out that some changes may just give her a certain edge she didn’t have before.

Until then, support me and the amazing authors that are going to be included in this awesome anthology by stopping by the Kickstarter Page for it (even if you can’t contribute monetarily, forward the link on your social media so we can spread the word!).

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Review: Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

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If you’ve been following my blog, then you know that I have a soft spot for skin oils. I know that it may seem counterproductive to use oils if you have oily skin (like I do), but in reality, in some weird way, drying out oily skin actually creates more oil than applying oils. So when I received this product in my latest Allure Beauty Box, I was thrilled to try it out.

Packaging: A gorgeous glass bottle with a dropper dispenser.

What It Does: Moisturizes, eliminates redness, fights wrinkles, makes pores smaller, and improves damaged skin.

Active Ingredients: Retinol and chamomile.

Verdict: Now, I know that some people may not be into this oil because it does have some fragrance to it (and maybe it can be irritating to sensitive skin). But the fragrance that it does have is due to natural essential oils from neroli, blood orange, ylang ylang, and vetiver. But if you don’t have sensitive skin, then this oil may be perfect for you. I really loved how it made my skin feel so velvety soft in the mornings (after applying it at night) and also making it plumper. It truly gave me the dewy skin that is oh so coveted by the beauty world. What I love is that the oil is very lightweight, and it’s perfect even for acne-prone skin as myself. I highly suggest to check it out if you need an oil, but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to skin oils, then check out my favourite Vitamin C oils here.

Price: $105

Where To Buy It: Sephora.com

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13 Things I’d Like to Tell My 13-Years-Old Self

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  1. Stop worrying about the size of your breasts. It really doesn’t matter, and besides, everyone is going to be too busy checking out your ass to notice the size of your boobs.
  2. Your hair won’t always be frizzy, in fact, serums and straightening irons will give you the most amazing hair, so don’t fret.
  3. That gross skin condition on your hands? It’ll go away by the time you’re 14. Don’t question the how or why that it occurred, it just did, and now you can enjoy having soft, non-peeling hands.
  4. Your quirky sense of style? Guess what? It’s going to be one of the things people will love about you later on in life, cause you defy trends and time.
  5. You know how you hate olives? Sometime around your twenties, you’re going to start loving them. This will be a lesson in giving things a second chance.
  6. Remember how obsessed you are with the movie Lost Boys since the age of 8? You’re going to become friends with one of the actors later on in life and it’ll be so surreal.
  7. You always hated Sundays, cause they’re boring. Newsflash, Sundays will never get better for you, so just kill the boredom with a movie or writing.
  8. Cherish the time you have with your cousin Melody, she won’t live past 34, and this will break your heart.
  9. Your idyllic life will shatter in so many ways that you never would’ve imagined possible. Somehow, you are strong and prevail.
  10. Stop wasting your time obsessing over that boy. He isn’t special. Really, he isn’t.
  11. Keep reading, writing, and studying. You will value your intelligence more than your books, so focus on being the smart girl, not the pretty one. Pretty girls will grow old. Smart girls are forever.
  12. You’re your own worst critic, so give yourself a break, you’re doing all right.
  13. Enjoy all those music videos on MTV while you can, someday there will be none for you to enjoy.White and Pink Strikeout Cosmetics Beauty Logo

Travel Post – London (Part 2)

Big Ben (1)

Big Ben

It was day two of my London adventure. Crossing Vauxhall Bridge east, I stopped to admire the ominous SIS building looming dead ahead. It is the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service headquarters, or MI6 Counter Terrorism Command. Recognizing it from so many James Bond films, a jolt of excitement hit me and I became a little more aware of my surroundings. Just standing in its shadow makes one feel like actually being in a spy movie. Surely I was walking beside agents at that moment! Maybe that woman in the blue suit over there. Or that guy waiting near the bus stop. Ooh, I bet the bloke walking a step behind me, chowing down on his jelly croissant is at least an informant. Trying not to look suspicious for no reason, I continued on to the Vauxhall St. George Wharf Pier.

One thing I especially love about London is that there are so many ways to get to the same place. I decided to travel by River Bus, the ferry service that runs along the Thames. If your point of interest is anywhere within a few minutes walk of the riverside, it seems a shame to miss out on the parade of architecture and history you’ll see passing right by your window. Palace of Westminster and Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, London’s Eye, London Bridge, Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark

Today’s agenda was clearly marked for one destination: Longitude 0°. Greenwich Park is where the invisible boundary of east meets west lives; Greenwich Mean Time – the place where time ‘starts’. There’s something intriguing about the intangible and being able to place my feet on the unseen line of tomorrow excited me. The park is also home to the Royal Observatory, the Maritime Museum, and the Cutty Sark. So many historical sights to explore in just walking distance from each other. Due to construction at the Greenwich pier though, I had to disembark early and catch a red bus the rest of the way. This turned out to be just as interesting a journey, traveling deeper through the city streets and neighborhoods. Eventually, the buildings thinned and the surroundings thickened to treed hills.

Greenwich Park 1

Greenwich Park

Greenwich is a massive park. The walk to the Royal Observatory is a bit of a hike itself but well worth the time. In the spring or summer, I should imagine it’s beautiful with all the trees in full leaf and the grounds covered in grass. At the moment, another duvet of snowflakes left trees balancing sleeves of snow along their branches. School had been canceled and families with young children along with packs of teenagers made the most of the conditions. It was a gray, cloudy sky but the atmosphere was nothing short of festive. When I crested the hill at the observatory I found out why. The length of the lawn sloping down toward the Queen’s House (now a historic mansion and gallery) was littered with youth on makeshift sleds speeding down the hill with unbridled delight. Hoots and laughter warmed up the frosty late morning air, one girl, in particular, hollering the whole way down – which was probably a good two and a half minute ride. At the bottom, snowball throwers were engaged in full battle. It was like seeing the happy crowd at a town carnival except for all the rides and food stalls had already packed up and moved out without the people noticing.

Greenwich Park 2

Greenwich Park

I explored the Royal Observatory, catching a show at the planetarium, then trekked down the pathway to the Maritime Museum. Upon entering my eyes scanned for entrance fee at the visitor information desk but there was nothing. I wasn’t about to just waltz in without paying, not with there being so many possible unlikely looking MI6 agents around. I inquired.

“Entry to all the museums is free,” the museum attendant said.

Royal Observatory (1)

Royal Observatory

Entry to all the museums is free. Because the British government thinks public accessibility to educational and cultural attractions is a priority. Huh. I try not to get political, but as an American today, it’s confusing to consider the terms ‘government’ and ‘cultural appreciation’ in the same sentence. I wonder how much public opinions would change if many American museums were free too.

Full sunshine had returned, warming up the late afternoon. After passing one of the fastest clipper ships in nineteenth-century British history, the Cutty Sark, I took the foot tunnel under the Thames to the Isle of Dogs on the north bank. The tunnel was opened in 1902 and served as a bomb shelter during WWII (although hiding under a giant river would most certainly not give me the warm and fuzzies). Large domed buildings marked the entrance and housed the large corkscrew stairwell that takes you down fifty feet below the surface. As you step down, you’ll feel as though you’re stepping right back into Victorian age London, if only for the duration of your journey. When I emerged on the other side I looked back across the river at Greenwich and what I saw made me pause. Allow me a moment to digress…

Shepherd Gate Clock at Observatory

Shepherd Gate Clock at Observatory

 When I was young, I never aspired to be a meteorologist but was utterly fascinated by unpredictable weather. In the Florida summer sky, afternoon thunderstorms billowed up like bleach-white castles within a few short hours. You could watch one form right before your eyes; bulbous peaks expanding and building, like a slow-motion explosion, until they hit the ceiling of the troposphere and flattened into an anvil head. The dark gray underbelly would let loose a curtain of heavy rain, transforming it into a theatrical backdrop for spectacular lightning strikes and booms of thunder strong enough to shake the window panes.

The awe I’d felt all those years ago bubbled up when I watched pinkish gray clouds roll and tumble over each other, swirling across the late afternoon sun. Then the sky was again sealed in a dark blanket, snowfall threatening on the horizon. Any trace of a bright warm sun that had filled the city was now completely gone. All this had transpired in only a few minutes. The weather in London changes so fast. I hadn’t really believed it until I saw it for myself. Being an island and the fact that England sits under the meeting grounds for five potential competing air masses at any given time, it’s no wonder that the area is a hub for such wide meteorological swings. I guess it explains why the ever-adaptable British are such a resilient people, keeping calm and carrying on and such.

Heading back, I topped off the day with dinner at the Pimlico Tandoori restaurant just a stone’s throw from the B&B. Vegetable curry with basmati rice put me into a satisfied stupor as I prepared my itinerary for tomorrow, my last day in London.

Maritime Museum (1)

Maritime Museum

By: Erica Ruhe

Check out Travel Post – London (Part 1)

Hiking – Purisima Creek Redwoods Reserve

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It had been years since I had been hiking, but I knew that if I found myself again in Northern California, I just had to see the famous redwoods. My boyfriend and I chose to hike up the Purisima Creek trail, since it was the closest to where we were at at Half Moon Bay.

Driving to the location proved to be a feat in itself, as we went up spiraling roads that looked incredibly sketchy at best (think slasher horror movie vibes), but once we arrived at our destination, we were awe-struck by the beauty of the forest.

The Purisima Creek Redwoods are located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains. The trail was filled with coastal redwoods, creeks, ferns, berries, and some seriously large crows.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to hiking, so I embarked the hike wearing jeans, a vampire tee, and Doc Martens. What? That’s not the appropriate attire you say? I guess I figured with the gorgeous trees surrounding us that resembled the sort in Twilight, that maybe Edward Cullen would pay us a visit in all of his glittery glory.

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For not being expert hikers (can you believe that we managed to forget to bring water along with us?), we walked the eight mile hike (roundtrip miles) that had slight inclinations and numerous bridge crossings.

One thing that I was very astonished about, was that I didn’t encounter any insects whilst hiking (usually my avoidance of bugs is one of the top reasons why you’ll rarely see me hiking). But I really enjoyed seeing the incredibly beautiful redwoods, and would truly recommend anyone who happens to be in the area to check the out! Not to mention that the trails are so very populated with other fellow hikers that meeting new people was the easiest thing to do!

I enjoyed this hike so much, that I may check out another trail in my near future.

Suggested Pack List:

  • Hiking boots (although my Doc Martens worked out just fine, thankyouverymuch)
  • Backpack (makes it easier to carry anything you need and keeps your hands free)
  • Camera (so you can share all your gorgeous pix with your friends & family!)
  • Water (a must! But we forgot!)
  • Sunglasses/hats (I forgot a hat & sunburned my scalp, yelp!)
  • Sunscreen (if you’re ghostly white like me, you’ll burn even in the shade so don’t forget it!)

Which hiking trails have you done, and which ones would you suggest me to do?

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Art Museum – Candytopia: The Sweetest Escape

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Entrance to Candytopia

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a real-life CandyLand or did you ever envy those kids who got to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Well, Candytopia is the answer to all your childhood confectionary dreams!

 

 

I visited this new pop-up museum in Santa Monica with my boyfriend and high school friend (fellow Inkblotter) Phoebe Jane.

 

Not only are all the painting replicas and art installations made entirely of candy, but every room allows you to have a piece of candy before you go (but c’mon, ya know that my sugar addict self may have taken four or six each from every station, don’t judge me, I’m also a hoarder).

 

The funnest portion of the museum is of course, the marshmallow pit (not made out of real marshmallows, sadly) but still just as fun. The other rooms weren’t timed, but because of the popularity of this particular room, I think that we were given a mere fifteen minutes to bask in the bliss of a fluffy heaven.

 

So was the trip worth the $30? Well, if reliving the stupor and amusement of your 8 yrs.-old self could come with a price tag, then yes, I say it’s definitely worth it. And although going solo might be just as fun, I would recommend to bring some friends along (after all, you do need to have victims to pelt with marshmallows once you’re in that pit!).

Check out the Candytopia website for dates and future locations!

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Travel Post – London (Part 1)

1. London Eye

London Eye

As the train pulled out of Rotterdam Centraal Station, I couldn’t calm the butterflies in my stomach. My next destination was London. London! I’d navigated my way through The Netherlands, but London? As excited as I was to finally meet the city I’d romanticized about my entire life, it was overwhelming. It was like wishing to meet your favorite celebrity and seizing up with terror at the actual opportunity. Plus, London is huge. I didn’t grow up in the country but I am no city girl. My upbringing was that of a vagabond military brat. The majority of my community life revolved around military bases and surrounding towns, which is to say, I mostly landed in comfortable populations well below the quarter million mark. Savannah, Georgia was about as close to a big city I’ve ever lived: roughly 150K. Did I really have the courage to wander such a behemoth of a city of over eight million people?
The butterflies were still aflutter with anticipation when I stepped off at the Brussels-Midi/Zuid Station in Belgium but, little by little, the fear was giving way to excitement. Making my way to the Eurostar terminal, I went through another security checkpoint and waited with passport in hand for the next available customs officer.
“Remove your hat. What’s the purpose of your visit?” he asked, with an intensity I’d only experienced from a military gate guard under a high-security alert. I slid my beanie off my head and smiled at his dreamy English accent.
“Vacation.”
“And how long will you be staying?” he continued, giving my near-empty passport a thorough inspection.
“Two days. Not long enough to see everything but I’m going to try!” I gave a little laugh, practically bouncing on my toes. (I’m actually annoying myself as I recall the encounter.)
His eyes flicked unceremoniously over my face. Yeah, I know my picture is fifteen pounds lighter but it’s me.
“Where will you be staying then?”
“A bed and breakfast. The Luna-Simone on Belgrave Rd.”
I was ready to rattle off the address, phone number, and reservation confirmation code.
“A bed and breakfast, eh?”
His expression remained hard but his tone had suddenly taken on a wistful tone. He pounded a stamp on a page and slapped my passport back onto the counter. He sighed.
“Sounds nice. Enjoy your stay.”
Poor guy. Customs officers are not in the customer service business. They’re not supposed to be friendly. They’re in the I-have-to-be-suspicious-of-you-in-order-to-do-my-job-well business. And to top it off, a large portion of the people he waves through are all going to or from holiday. Meanwhile, he’s stuck indoors, in a glass cube, under life-sucking fluorescent lighting. I hope he gets his own stay in a B&B soon.
Riding the Eurostar was one of the highlights I’d booked on this trip. I know, I’m a bit of a nerd. High-speed railway is another one of those big city novelties that I’m sure loses its shine after the ninety-second time you’ve traveled on it. But this was my first. It was smoother than I had imagined it would be. And quiet! Extra large windows allowed for scenic views and ample opportunity to play with the motion parallax of the landscape; admiring the slow promenade of buildings and roadways in the distance; trying to catch a clear glimpse of blurred blades of grass below; becoming quickly disoriented and training sight to the pale blue sky. A digital ticker over the train car doors kept a tally of our speed, edging upwards of 290 kph (about 180 mph).
We dove under the English Channel and when we emerged again, it was a sparkling, sunny, winter wonderland. Snow caked the hills and frosted the bare trees. The kids a few rows ahead even set aside their video games to ‘whoa’ over the landscape. The snowfall was a precursor to the pending “beast from the east” winter storm that would hit in the coming days, dumping more snow and serious travel delays all across the UK. But when you don’t have a job to be at or kids to juggle because of canceled school everything about an on-coming blizzard becomes charming and magical.
Even with a slow-down due to icy tracks, the trip to St. Pancras took just under two hours. I emerged from the bustling, cavernous train station and out into the stream of people. The walkways had been shoveled clear of snow but that made no difference walking through the half-melted slush that squelched around my sneakers. Damn you, sensible, middle-aged self! Boots would really have been the proper footwear now! I walked the three and a half miles from the train station to the hotel, reveling in the atmosphere. Business folk dressed for executive meetings walked with a pep and purpose in their step. Some tourists took in the skyline around them, looking to street signs and generally clogging the flow of foot traffic. Even mothers with their small children in tow made for their destinations like they had executive meetings of their own.

2. Locals Chilling

Locals Chilling

On my way, I encountered a couple of locals chilling on a table outside a local bakery. Two snowmen, one dressed in a snappy scarf and hat, enjoying what appeared to be a fine, miniature cigar, and the other…well, he was stark naked with a blank expression. I’m sure there’s a funny story there. It certainly gave me a little laugh. Even the employees inside were getting a kick out of watching people stop and take pictures of the winter art installation that had popped up outside their business.
I continued on. Black cabs rushed past on the wrong – uh, opposite side of the road. I was hyper-aware of the fact that the American elementary school proverb “look left, then right, then left again” was a liability here. At every walkway intersection in bold white letters on the asphalt were the words, “LOOK RIGHT”. If my sneakers didn’t immediately give me away as an American tourist, muttering this mantra to myself at every crosswalk surely did.
The Luna-Simone Hotel was just on the outskirts of Westminster, a short walk to Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, and Kensington Park. Most importantly it was a ten-minute walk to Victoria Station where I’d catch the shuttle to the London-Gatwick Airport.

Convenient, clean and tucked into a relatively quiet street, this B&B also came to feel like home in the mere two days I spent there. Some travelers might like a more spacious suite than where I stayed. The bathroom was small with just enough room for everything you need and the room is filled out with a queen bed, a small wardrobe, and a desk. There’s enough space to comfortably walk the perimeter of the room but not much else. For me, however, it was absolutely perfect. I’ve been on a mission to downsize my life and belongings so snagging a cozy, clean room such as this one for a reasonable price was exactly what I was looking for. I plan on returning and would recommend it to anyone interested in staying close to the sights without spending an arm and a leg.
https://www.lunasimonehotel.com/info/
With just enough daylight left to explore options for dinner, I found the perfect spot for amazing pad thai and people watching: Rosa’s Thai Café. This sweet eatery is right on the corner of Gilligham Street and Wilton Road, large windows overlooking the city street. Over hot jasmine tea and spring rolls, I watched business professionals, families and college students stroll by. Everyone seemed just as enamored of the cold snap as I was, dressed in their most fashionable coats, gloves, beanies, fur-lined hoods, and (sigh) boots. The vegetable pad thai arrived on my table in a swirling veil of sweet-savory steam. I clicked my bamboo chopsticks with glee and for the next forty-five minutes, nothing else existed except my dinner and the stage full of people passing just outside my window.
https://www.rosasthaicafe.com/

 

3. Rosa's Thai Cafe

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

Particularly entertaining were the antics of one little girl in a pink parka and her mother waiting at the street corner. The mother was engrossed with her phone and the three-year-old was engrossed with something other than holding her mother’s hand. The girl pulled, her mother absently following the tug on her arm until realizing she was being led off course and rerouting them back to the street corner. The spunky adventurer in pink tried a different tactic, successfully squatting down until she slipped from her mother’s grasp, sprinting down the sidewalk after who-knows-what. It only took two seconds for the mother to realize she had an escapee, dart after her daughter and herd her back. This went on for about ten minutes the whole time the mother never losing patience and the grinning daughter never losing determination. I wonder what bedtime looked like in their household.
On my way back to the hotel, I rubbed my belly through my jacket pockets, a satisfied sigh clouding up in the cold air. At the end of the street, I ran into a familiar face: the dapper snowman from the bakery. Evidently, he had given his hat away to his naked snow-mate out of pity and decided to retire to the local flower bed for the night.
I could live this kind of life very easily. Travel to new countries. Eat incredible food. Let the inspiration for stories and characters flood in at me from every angle. This was my first taste of the city, and it was invigorating.
Back in my room, settling in under the warm bed covers to shamelessly watch an episode of the local soap opera, EastEnders, the anxiety from that morning couldn’t have been further from my mind. The years of longing to travel across the pond came flooding back. I was really here and my beloved London awaited.

4. Retiring to Flower Bed

Retiring to Flower Bed 

Keep your eyes peeled for PART 2!

By: Erica Ruhe

Erase Cellulite With Grapefruit Juice!

grapefruit

Every gal deals with cellulite, some more than others, and for many, it’s the bane of their existence. But have no fear, I’ve got you covered, ladies.

One sure fire way to erase those annoying lumps is by drinking grapefruit juice.

Why is grapefruit juice so effective?

  • It boosts blood circulation
  • Burns excess fat in a speedy manner
  • Helps produce collagen
  • It effectively metabolizes sugar

Ingredients:

1 Large Grapefruit

2 Oranges

½ Lime

Directions:

Cut each of the fruits in half and using a manual juice, squeeze the juice from the fruits and place it in a glass. Stir the juices together, and you have your drink!

For best results: Try to maintain a healthy diet free of fatty foods, processed foods, sugars, and deep-fried foods.

Please note: If you’re taking any meds, DO NOT drink grapefruit juice as it can counteract the effects of your meds.

Let me know in the comments below what you think about this juice and if it has worked for you!

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3 Symbols You Missed While Watching Hereditary

charlie

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

*SPOILERS ALERT* if you have not seen the movie yet, DO NOT read further!

Hereditary is Ari Aster’s first feature film, hailed as the “scariest horror movie of the year”. The film is packed with unsettling visuals and a creepy atmosphere. The movie sees a superb Toni Collette as the troubled Annie, who has to deal with the recent passing of her mother. But as viewers will soon see, it isn’t that death that is the catalyst moment of the movie, but rather a second more dramatic death that occurs shortly, that of daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). This second death is the one that begins to tear the family apart at the seams, pitting Annie against her son Peter (Alex Wolff), and husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne).

toni

The movie is riddled with symbols and foreshadowing galore. During a class discussion about the flaws of Greek mythology Heracles, a student states: “The characters are all just pawns in this horrible hopelessness.” Which heavily foreshadows how every single character in this movie are simply just pawns of King Paimon, and that they will all be met with tragic deaths.

Here are THREE SYMBOLS that you may have missed whilst watching the movie:

001. Chocolate – Back in the early 1600’s, chocolate was referred to as the Devil’s elixir, hence where the name for the famous chocolate on chocolate cake comes from, Devil’s Food Cake. This symbol is used from the very beginning in the movie, suggesting that Charlie may already have been possessed by King Paimon (one of Hell’s kings) or just a foreshadowing that she will be possessed.

002. The Red Doorknob – Charlie’s room has a red doorknob, similar to the one shown in The Sixth Sense, symbolizing the presence of spirits or possible spirit possessions.

003. King Paimon’s Symbol – This is present from the very beginning of the movie, first seen as a pendant that Annie’s mother is wearing whilst in the casket at the funeral. Another instance where we see this symbol is on the pole that decapitates Charlie the night of the accident, as well as in Joan’s home after she has placed a curse on Annie’s family, and also in blood on the roof of the attic where Annie’s mother’s body has been placed. Lastly, at the very end, when the audience finally sees the idol representation of King Paimon, wearing that same symbol.

peter

Have you seen this movie? What did you think? Let me know below!

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