Grinning Through It // Smile Brilliant

Bonjour Mis Amis!

First of all, how are all of you? I hope as we move out of (hopefully - Texas why you so hot?) the blistering heat of summer you all are braced with sunscreen in hand and working AC. As some of you know I spent this summer traipsing around the Middle East and Europe. Which, speaking of, I promise there will be a full post filled with photos and videos (???) soon! 

Now, I want to chat with you all about an incredible product I used this summer. Mis amis, hold on to your hats. Let me present to you Smile Brilliant

For the past few months I've been using a new teeth-whitening routine from my friends over at Smile Brilliant. They've been wonderful and patient with me while I get through these past few difficult months. I'm going to be completely transparent with you all, when things in my life got really difficult I let a lot of partnerships down. I was unable to make time, and I wasn't in a place where I felt like I could really write in an upbeat and plucky way. So I postponed my partnerships, asked for extensions, and tried to work through my personal problems. I know that this blog is still very small, but these partnerships mean a lot to me, and I try to take this blog very seriously. So, here we are, months later, and I am ready and excited to share with you all the joys of Smile Brilliant

Without further ado, let's talk about mental health again, shall we? (A.K.A. my favorite topic) Something I realized this past semester is the truth behind the phrase "fake it till you make it," and how helpful this was for me when I was at my lowest. For me, grinning through all of the mess that was happening in life, all of the stress of school, adjusting to everything, was a way to choose happiness. At the end of the day, if I put on that I was happy, after a while I genuinely felt happy. I didn't have to fake it anymore, and instead of grinning through the upset I felt, I was grinning through happiness and joyfulness with an optimistic attitude. 

Having a beautiful, white smile, as cliché as this sounds, really helped me with my confidence. You all know how much coffee I drink - and if you don't take my word, it's a lot - so my teeth were pretty badly stained in the beginning (I blame Cuban and Arab coffee culture). So, when Smile Brilliant reached back out, really checked in on me, I was overjoyed to start the whitening process. I genuinely thought to myself, "if I have a beautiful, white smile, it'll be easier for me to smile through everything," and as the adage goes, it was. Your smile is one of the first things people see, and having one that is gorgeous and brilliant really helps with confidence. Here's a little more about Smile Brilliant that really sold me; all of the whitening products are organic and non-harmful to the environment (a big thing for a gal working towards sustainability), they offer custom whitening programs specific for your level of tooth sensitivity, it's all at-home but it looks just like a professional whiten, the whitening trays are custom made to fit your teeth specifically, and if you have any problems they have a team of people dedicated to helping you. Click to see the specific teeth whitening kit I used! Use code himonami at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

-> So without further adieu, *calling all my fellow coffee addicts and wine drinkers*, if you're interested in trying out Smile Brilliant, they've generously offered to let me host a giveaway, where one person will get a free custom teeth whitening kit! So, if you're still dubious and don't want to take my word for it, enter my giveaway here and try Smile Brilliant out on your own (Must submit name and email address on the giveaway page in order to enter! The winner will be selected and contacted via email 2 weeks after the post is live. Giveaway is for $149 credit and is open internationally).

I'm positive you will love the results as much as I have. Feeling confident, especially as someone who is a shy introvert and recently back on the singles market, is incredibly important, and it starts with grinning through it and smiling brilliantly. 

Peep below to see my before and after pictures and a small video on what the Smile Brilliant at-home whitening process looks like. 
 

Before:

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After:

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General cute photos (if I may say so myself) of me and the products:

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 With the custom trays

With the custom trays

 With the custom trays

With the custom trays

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here and try Smile Brilliant out on your own (Must submit name and email address on the giveaway page in order to enter! The winner will be selected and contacted via email 2 weeks after the post is live. Giveaway is for $149 credit and is open internationally). <3 

And let me know how you love Smile Brilliant :)

Life Update // These Past Few Months

Hello mis amis <3 

It's been another couple of months since I've written. You all know the drill - life is busy, messy, and all around beautiful in its chaos. 

Recently mine has been filled with a little more of those messy, human, unexpected moments than ever before.

Where to start?

I recently left a three and a half year long relationship, moved into a new place, cut my hair off, and finally, maybe for the first time in my life, have been embracing all of the uncertainty of this crazy life. (See photos at end :))

Brace yourself for some real heart-pouring-out that's about to happen.

About four months ago, I realized that I was unhappy in life. I was busy and stressed all of the time, and felt like I didn't have enough time for myself to pursue my dreams without anything holding me back. I started to feel like I could not care for myself let alone care for someone else. I started to spiral into a self-loathing mindset where I felt like I was constantly not a good partner or friend. I realized I wouldn't be able to be there for anyone else if I wasn't there for myself first. I spent a long time thinking about what I want, and I'm still trying to figure most things out, but I found myself craving a certain type of uncertainty, the uncertainty of no restraint. Where nothing is holding you back, tying you down, and you have the freedom to pursue any of the crazy impulses and dreams you choose. So, I went and talked with friends, family, and professionals about all of my confusion, unhappiness, and uncertainty. I started to repair myself after years of self-undoing and self-destruction. I started painting again, hanging out with friends new and old, and focusing on my work. I've been eating a lot of Lebanese and Cuban food, running, and eating lots and lots of chocolate. Doing all of those things big and small to try and feel whole again. 

I've been working really hard to focus on myself, what I want, my dreams, my feelings, and my life. But you know, it's important to tell you all that even after months of working, I still don't have everything together. My life is still a hectic, beautiful mess filled with bad choices, wonderful experiences, and hopeful opportunities. I am still, every day, trying to put myself first, and some days I do a really bad job, but other days I feel happier than I have in years. It's all a balance, and it's so important if you're dealing with a lot, to reach out to friends, family, and even professionals who can help you. I don't know where I would be right now without the constant love and support from my friends and family.

I say this all the time, I know I'm a broken record, but friends, it is so important to take care of yourself. In the famous words of my queen Rue Paul, "if you can't love yourself how the hell you gonna love anyone else". So, maybe loving yourself means starting small with giving yourself a break, cutting yourself some slack, or maybe it's going away for a weekend, or grabbing an extra cookie at the cafe. Whatever your self-care looks like, make it a priority. And always know, no matter where you are in the world, everything works out the way it's supposed to and there are so many people in this world who love you and care for you, including me. 

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for keeping up with me, supporting me, and staying with my through all of the ups and downs throughout this wonderful experience called life. 

I don't know how regularly I'll be on here, I hope to keep up with it more, since this is one of those things that help me feel myself, but in the interim while I figure myself out, I'll be on Instagram if you want to check in on the goings-on of my life. 

 Mum and I at the beach &lt;3

Mum and I at the beach <3

 Exploring my hometown with a sweet friend.

Exploring my hometown with a sweet friend.

 Drinking way too much coffee, as always, at my favorite spot.&nbsp;

Drinking way too much coffee, as always, at my favorite spot. 

 A genuine smile, enjoying the beauty of this life.

A genuine smile, enjoying the beauty of this life.

 

 

Bee Delicious // Bee Seasonal Honey

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It's not a secret that I'm a huge fan of sweets. I can get down with desserts and pastries like no one's business, however, I've been taking my health very seriously lately and trying to cut out excess sugars by switching to honey! 

Additionally, I've made the switch/am making the slow transition to a more intentional and sustainable lifestyle. Essentially, this means that instead of buying things because I want them, or they're on sale, I've decided to only buy what I have spent time considering, doing my research on brands, looking at if I truly need it, and for things like parity products, I've decided to (when I can) only buy from companies that are responsible and sustainable.

Imagine my happiness when a responsible and sustainable honey company reached out to me recently. Today, I am delighted to talk about Bee Seasonal Honey, a raw, organic honey company that practices responsible and sustainable bee-keeping. Side note: if you didn't know, bees have been in decline for the past few years, and these little firecrackers are very important to keeping our planet in balance. Bees are pollinators, which means that they are integral for plant life. Additionally, the land in which bees thrive and the communities that practice bee-keeping are threatened by irresponsible ecological practices. That's where Bee Seasonal comes in. Bee Seasonal operates between responsible bee-keepers and the marketplace to support and encourage responsible bee-keeping while bringing about a broad variation of honey. 

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Here's a little quote from the Bee Seasonal website about why they are choosing to work with sustainable bee-keepers and why they do what they do:

We see organic beekeeping as a means to help protect native areas and, at the same time, empower communities with a source of income. Bees forage beyond the boundaries established by humans, bringing back nectar and producing honey. This honey can be used as food or can be sold to generate an income for the beekeepers and their families. This secures the existence of people in unique natural regions, helping to prevent rural exodus. Beekeeping can thrive in areas where normal agricultural cultivation is not possible. If vegetation is removed from a piece of land, for agriculture or pasture, the land can only be used for a short period of time before the nutrients are depleted. On the other hand, an intact forest—even on inaccessible slopes—can be a fantastic source of nectar and pollen for an entire lifetime.
— Bee Seasonal Honey

As you can see, when you buy from Bee Seasonal you're not just getting honey, you're making an impact on the bee-keeper, community, and land that raised those bees. Right now in the shop is their Harvest 001 set of four unique honey varietals. Inside the box there is an adorable card with maps and information about each individual honey. I love that "every honey has a story," and Bee Seasonal is here to help tell it! This small insert even has a section called "Notes from the Hive" where you can here quotes from some of the bee-keepers themselves. How, amazing is that? You really feel connected to where the honey comes from and who harvested it.

In order to give you guys some ideas, and share some of my favorite go-to recipes, I've been experimenting with my Bee Seasonal honey varietals. Here are two super easy, dairy-free/gluten-free/processed-sugar-free recipes.

Honeyed Breakfast Bowl.

As you all may know, I'm dairy-free, so this recipe features some dairy-free yogurt, but you can use dairy if you'd like!

Ingredients.

  • 1 cup Forager Cashew Yoghurt in Plain/Unsweetened (Kicking those excess sugars in the butt!)
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seed Granola - I like this brand you can get at Trader Joes!
  • Fruit! Use whatever fruit you like the most - I typically use whatever I need to eat before it goes bad (kind of an everything but the kitchen sink bowl)
  • 1 TBS Flax/Chia Blend 
  • 1 heaping spoonful of Bee Seasonal honey (I used Angico)

Recipe. (This is the easiest thing you'll do all day)

  • Place yoghurt in a bowl.
  • Fill bowl with all of the mixings (fruit, granola, flax/chia).
  • Drizzle honey on top.
  • Mix together.
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THE easiest thing in the world + is SO delicious. The next recipe is inspired by Creme de la Crumb's, and is a weeknight staple in my house. Special thanks also to my friend Sydney for introducing me to this dish!

Honey Sriracha Chicken w/ Rice.

Ingredients.

  • 3-4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/3 cup Corn Starch
  • 1 cup Water
  • 4 Tbs Sriracha
  • 5 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs minced Garlic
  • 3 Tbs Honey
  • 2 additional Tbs Corn Starch + 2 Tbs water
  • Red Pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Rice
  • 1 1/2 cup Water (for rice specifically)
  • 1/2 Vegetable Bouillon Cube

Recipe.

  • Start the rice. I use a rice-maker, but you can do this over a stove-top too. 
    • Disolve bouillon cube into water by mixing thoroughly (it might help if the water is slightly warm)
    • Use this flavored water to cook your rice in! So simple, yet so delicious.
  • In a sauce pan, combine  cup of water, sriracha, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and honey and stir.
    • Bring to a boil.
    • Mix the 2 Tbs corn starch and remaining 2 Tbs of water until dissolved.
    • Add to sauce pan and stir until thickened.
    • Reduce heat to low.
  • Add diced chicken and ⅓ cup corn starch to a large plastic bag.
    • Seal the bag and shake to coat chicken.
    • Drizzle a large pan or skillet with oil over medium heat.
    • Add chicken and sauté until browned and chicken is cooked through.
    • Add the sauce and stir to coat.
  • Sprinkle with crushed pepper flakes if desired and serve over warm rice.

I've loved getting to work with Bee Seasonal and help tell there story. I think it's important to discuss brands that are really trying to make a difference. I love the intentionality behind Bee Seasonal. It's so easy to get caught up in making profits, cut corners, and treat your partners poorly, however every single detail of Bee Seasonal, from the packaging to the product to the mission, is thoughtful, authentic, and inspiring. 

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Honey c/o Bee Seasonal

 

London City Guide // + a bit of the U.K.

Cheerio from the U.K. friends!

Well, almost, I'm officially back in the states now, but my mind is definitely still swimming in the U.K.

As some of you may know, this was my first time out of the U.S., and oh-boy did I want to stay in rainy U.K. forever. Unpopular opinion warning, I absolutely love the rain and the cold. I used to live in Portland, Oregon and it's 90% rain all year long, ah-mazing! Anyways, I loved the U.K., everything is green, even things that probably shouldn't be like street signs and bricks are all covered in moss and ivy. It's so gorgeous. Everything looks like it's alive and living it's best life.

This trip was a two-week long excursion all over the U.K. including, Oxford, London, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Edinburgh, and all through the Peak District. My family and I rented a car and did a lot of driving through the countryside, which if you've never done before, I can heartily recommend. There really is nothing like the English countryside. Rolling hills everywhere, quaint little farm homes and villages, and soooo many adorable sheep. 

I thought a good way to start this post off would be to share with you all some of my packing misfortunes so if you go on an international trip you don't make the same mistakes I did. 

International Travel Tips

- No. 1. Bring a satchel bag if you have one, especially if you're traveling in the winter. I cannot tell you how annoying it was to have my tote bag fall off the shoulders of my big coat every five seconds. If you have a reliable satchel/cross-body bag, I highly recommend taking it with you.

- No. 2. Shoes. I knew it was going to be cold in England, and I knew it was going to be rainy, but I didn't prepare for walking everywhere in the cold and rain. Side-note: I only have one pair of boots and they are slightly heeled (about two inches), and I thought walking around all day everyday in these would kill my feet, so I didn't pack them. This left me boot-less in England (potential girl band name??). If you're going to England over winter, I'd recommend bringing two pairs of shoes. One that you don't care as much about for rainy days that can get muddy, and another pair that are comfortable, warm, versatile walking shoes (like these from Poppy Barley - you might have seen these on my Instagram stories - I am obsessed!).

- No. 3. (and I might do an entire post on this if needed) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate before your flight. I cannot tell you how incredibly dehydrated I became on my flight. Especially if you're not flying first class, bring extra water on the flight because the attendants do not bring water often. My skin started cracking horribly in the middle of the flight and my legs became ashy. Additionally, be that extra girl who does a face mask on the plane. I brought two face masks (Korean sheet masks) and an eye mask and pampered myself thoroughly to try and keep my face somewhat respectable. This brings me to a my best travel idea to-date: See no. 4.

- No. 4. In-flight travel beauty bag. I recommend taking a small beauty bag with you on the plane filled with must-haves - face masks, deodorant, extra underwear (wearing the same pair of underwear for 10 hours might be a little gross when you get off the plane, so this is a great way to change your underpants when you get off at your destination, especially if you plan on starting a full day out), moisturizer, face wash, toothpaste and toothbrush, maybe even a hair spritzer/mineral water to keep your hair and face looking hydrated. 

Alright, now let's get to the good stuff. Here are places I would reccommend checking out in the U.K. (organized by city and then spot!).

City Guides

BATH.

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A charming little town nestled between the hills with a river running through the middle. Bath used to be home to the Romans back in the day, and was named Bath because it is the site of some of the famous Roman bathhouses, which you can still go into today! I didn't go into the bathhouses because they kind of freak me out a bit, but if you're into that sort of thing, go for it!

The Bath Abbey. Now, I'm not a particularly religious person, however I LOVE old Abbeys. They are all over the U.K. and filled with gorgeous architecture and artwork, so be prepared to see a lot of Abbeys and Cathedrals on these city guides. :) The Bath Abbey is v old and filled with incredible inlaid columns. If you like to take an inside look at history, visit.

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Jane Austen's House. Now, Jane Austen lived in Bath for around five years and subsequently had multiple homes throughout her stay there, but if you're an English Lit nerd like me, you'll track down all of her homes and take photos of them. Additionally, you could go to the Jane Austen museum, which is loads of fun but a bit kitchy. You can try on period clothing and learn loads about Jane's life! Some of her novels are even based off of the streets of Bath.

Lunch at The Stable. After walking around all day lunch at The Stable is a must! They have a huge variety of ciders and delicious personal pizzas. I'd recommend getting a blush cider if they have one on hand!

The Circus. Alright, I know what you're thinking, but this isn't like a circus with elephants and tigers and clowns. This circus is a beautiful circle of townhouses built in 1758 that make up a gorgeous representation of Georgian architecture. It's incredible and definitely worth a look. 

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EDINBURGH.

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If you're heading up to Scotland, Edinburgh is a must, if for nothing else than to hear the amazing Scottish accents.

Arthur's Seat. Off to the side of Edinburgh, but close enough by to where you can easily get to it by car is Arthur's Seat. At the top of a mountain next to the city is a stone throne called Arthur's Seat that you can hike up to. Pro-tip, don't be like my family and try to hike up the steep mountain without proper gear (literally I was in a peacoat) and on a day when there is a 60 mph wind advisory. However, I can definitely say this is one of the most rewarding experiences from the trip. Definitely a peak. ;) The views from the top of the mountain are incredible, you can see the entire city and the North Sea. The hike only takes a couple of hours and then you can go grab lunch!

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Lunch at Monteiths. A small pub restaurant located under the Royal Mile, Monteiths is where you'll find delicious sips and eats. Definitely one of my favorite meals in the U.K. So quaint, warm, and trendy!

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The Royal Mile. This is a mile stretch of local shops that leads you straight to the Edinburgh Castle! If you love wool and cashmere, this is where you can get local Scottish wool and cashmere. It's amazing. I popped by a couple shops and ended up with Scottish chocolate (oh my gosh, so good) and shortbread.

Edinburgh Castle. You just can't go to Edinburgh without seeing the castle. It's massive and incredible. I swear, ninety percent of this trip I was just awestruck with how beautiful and impressive everything is. You can grab a tour of the castle while you're there, and while these tours may seem a bit kitch, it's so worth it. You get to learn so much! I value learning about history and culture much more than looking like a tourist. 

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LONDON.

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Buckle up guys, this one is going to be a doozy.

Sites. There are a few places you have to see if you're in London and have never been before (like me). The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Blackfriars, The Globe, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, the big sites. Here are a couple smaller sites you should definitely take a chance on: Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and the gardens, Piccadilly Circus, and Notting Hill (all of the little houses - more on this in a bit).

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Neighborhoods. Notting Hill. Probably my favorite neighborhood in London. Every corner has a cafe, the townhouses are adorable, and (of course) the Notting Hill film was produced there. Soho. Soho. You can find loads of historic homes, marked by a plaque on the side of the building with who used to live there. Shoreditch. If you're looking for something more Brooklyn-esque I highly recommend Shoreditch. It's not as quintessential London, but it's thriving and is filled with lots of cute shops, such as the highly instagrammable Labour & Wait. 

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Bites. To be completely honest, I have not done well keeping track of where all we ate, however I can recommend Gail's Bakery for small bites (get the clotted cream and jam scones!! You can thank me later).

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Shops. We walked around the entire city and hardly had time to stop into many shops. However, there's always time for a little perusing. Here are some of my favorites: The White Company. Everything in this store is a capsule wardrober's dream. Neutral everything as far as the eye can see, and super nice quality. If I were a wealthy woman, I would spend all my money here. Blackbird Tea Co. If you love tea, or just want to try some fun tea flavors because you're tired of English Breakfast, this place has delicious tea you can try in-shop and take away with you! Labour & Wait. Every Instagrammer ever has been to Labour & Wait. It's like a right of passage if you go to London. It's adorable and I really liked it, however it was a bit pricey, so be prepared. 

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Museums. I am a total nerd for museums, history, and art. I'm also a total nerd for advertising (what up my fellow ad majors). In London is the Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising, A.K.A. Ami's homeland. If you love seeing how packaging changes with the times (like from 1750 to now), some of the history as to why we have the packaging we currently have, and to check out which brands have dated back to the 1750's, check this place out. It's located in Notting Hill, which if you get hungry you can always stop along Portobello Road for a snack. The British Museum. Another must-visit. Housing some of the most rare artifacts, the British Museum is home to the Rosetta Stone and other great sights. I would recommend getting there as early as possible because crowds start fast and pushing your way around is never fun. Tate Modern. Now, I did not personally get to experience the Tate Modern, however my sister who lives in England recommends it. I'd have loved to check it out had time permitted! If any of you stop by, let me know how you liked it!

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OXFORD.

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We spent most of our time in Oxford this trip. My sister and her husband have a flat on the River Thames, and graciously hosted the whole family. 

Sites. Oxford University. Of course. This is a total no-brainer, however, if you aren't familiar with how the university works, here's the inside scoop. Oxford University is made up of individual colleges, not colleges like you'd think of here in the U.S. where within the University of Texas there is the Moody College of Communications. No, at Oxford the different colleges are entire schools housing every concentration available, more or less. Probably the most famous of these is Christ's Church, which is a college where students live and study together. There is a beautiful Cathedral you can go into, and take a guided tour of (it's seriously so worth), where I learned loads about the women (specifically) who have impacted the church and Oxford University (pretty cool, huh?). 

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Bites. The Trout Inn. A bit of a walk out of town, but definitely doable. The Trout has wonderful food, perfect for a nicer evening out. I'd recommend the Linguine, scrumptious. The Perch. A nice spot as well, but a bit more casual, especially if you go for brunch like we did. Everything was delicious, and it's located next to a beautiful meadow I recommend walking through on your way in. You'll find locals walking their dogs (sans leashes), cows, and maybe even a sheep or two. Opera. If you'd like to visit a cafe while in Oxford, this is your place. They have everything from Middle Eastern desserts and meals to french croissants and tea.

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STRATFORD-UPON-AVON.

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We were only in Stratford-upon-Avon for a day, but it was a lovely little town. Again, I think the best thing you can do when visiting a place like this is to bite the bullet and look like a tourist by taking a walking tour. We went on the most wonderful walking tour of the town and learned all about Shakespeare, his family (immediate and distant), his early and late life, and were able to see the buildings he grew up around. Truly remarkable.

Lunch at the Dirty Duck. Delicious pub food, and if you go after the Royal Shakespeare Company performs, you might even see some of the great actors themselves, like Dame Judi Dench. 

PEAK DISTRICT.

Probably the part of the U.K. I have the least to right about, seeing as how we briefly drove through the Peak District, however, if you make your way out to this part of England, and whether you're a English Lit nerd like me, make your way over to Chatsworth House. Chatsworth House is privately owned, however it is the sight where Kierra Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen's Pride and Prejudice takes place. It's absolutely gorgeous. Renting a car, even just for a day would be worth it to see all of the beauty this country has to offer. 

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I know this has been a lot of information condensed into one blog post, so if you have any questions on which tour groups I used, would like additional restaurant recommendations, or would just like to gush with me over how gorgeous the U.K. is, leave a comment or get in touch! To see all of my shenanigans around the U.K. and in life, head over to my Instagram! :)

Fall is Here // Pumpkin Bread

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Hello my lovely friends. It is officially November 1st! How is this year flying by so quickly?? 

Just a quick catch up. This year is my first year in my program at the University of Texas (I'm an Advertising major) and I have been simultaneously swamped and ecstatic for the past few months! If you've been following along on Instagram you know exactly what I'm talking about - which, if you all don't follow already I've been using my InstaStories to keep up with everyone, so go check it out if you want to keep tabs on the day-to-day. ;)

So, as it is the first day of November, and I've been talking about it for weeks, I've finally recorded my pumpkin bread recipe and am bringing it to you all just in time for Thanksgiving and the Holidays! 

Without further adiou. My family's world-shattering, life-changing pumpkin bread recipe.

Ingredients.

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3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

3 Cups Sugar

4 Eggs

1 Can Pumpkin Puree

1 Cup Vegetable Oil - for the health-conscious you can use the same measurement of apple sauce and it works the same!

2/3 Cup Water

2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Nutmeg

1/2 Teaspoon Cloves

1/4 Teaspoon Ginger 

1 Teaspoon Vanilla (optional depending on desired flavor)

1 Cup Chocolate Chips (I use dairy-free/vegan ones!)

Baking Instructions.

1. Preheat Oven to 350 Fahrenheit (175 Celsius). Prepare either loaf pans, cupcake trays, or muffin tins. *This recipe can make up to three 7X3 loaves, but I like to mix and match with muffins and loaves of bread!

2. Combine wet ingredients - Pumpkin puree, oil, water, sugar, and eggs (and vanilla if you choose) in a stand mixer and mix through - I used a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the whisk attachment, but you could also use a handheld mixer.

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3. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl - Flour, baking soda, salt, and spices and whisk together until fully incorporated.

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4.Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix to combine thoroughly. 

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5. Pour into baking tins until half way full. Top with chocolate chips!

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6. Bake at 350 for up to 50 minutes for a 7X3 loaf pan, about 15 minutes for muffins and cupcakes, and about 30 minutes for smaller loaves. 

7. Let cool + enjoy with a hot spiced chai <3

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Well folks, that's about it! I hope you all enjoy this super easy dairy-free recipe as much as I do! Let me know what you think, any other recipes you'd like to see, and don't forget to follow along on Instagram! Happy autumn! 

A Month's Impressions // With Verb

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After almost a month of using the Verb Ghost Collection exclusively, I love it. My hair feels light, bouncy, and clean. I wanted to write this post so you all could see how my hair looks after a month with the Verb Ghost Collection. If you're interested in getting some of the products for yourself, you can use code MonAmiXVerb for 16% off, and all of the products are only $16 which is so affordable given the quality! Here's what a month of Verb's Ghost Collection looks like with my hair (both up and down!).

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I've loved working with Verb this past month. Verb's Ghost Collection is so amazing, especially with this heat in Texas (I've been washing my hair everyday). So whether you're interested in products that feel light as air in your hair, you want added shine, you have fine hair, or you just love that these products are cruelty free, this collection is for you. Hope you all are off to a great start this week, let's kick Monday's butt. XOXO

Verbing // With Verb

Hi guys! I am so excited to share with you all the newest line of products from VERB! You all know how much I love VERB, so I am thrilled to be working with them again. VERB just sent me this package filled with their new Ghost Collection, which is for people with fine hair or people who do not like feeling product in their hair (me!), or for people who wash their hair everyday. All of the products in this collection are vegan, paraben, sulfate, gluten, and cruelty free! The Moringa Oil blend is in each of the products to soften, shine, and de-frizz, everything I've ever wanted and more. ;) Every product is only 16$, which is amazing when you think about how good these products are, and additionally, you can now use Code: MONAMIXVERB for 16% off your purchase throughout the month of September! Shop the new collection here. I'm so excited for you all to try this collection, and I'll keep you posted with some luscious hair photos in the next few days! Until then, check out this unboxing video I did above!

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Work Essentials // Inside My Work Bag

It's that time of the year again. Students are going back to school, adults are headed into the almost-holiday-season, and everyone seems just a little busier. Last year around this time I shared with you all how to create a bullet journal, and how I organize my desk. Well, this year, I wanted to show you all what are the necessities for my work bag. Too frequently work bags get filled with miscellaneous stuff that we don't need, and we end up feeling dragged down. As you all may know, I've been reading up on Tidying (read my reasons for getting into tidying here), and I thought I should expand tidying into every aspect of my life, including my work bag. I'm tired of having a work bag that weighs 15 lbs. From now on I only want to take the necessities with me wherever I go. 

Here is what I carry with me in my work bag.

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As you can see, it's really not very much. 

My work bag. Longchamp Paris Le Pliage Tote in Midnight Grey I have this in the Medium size because it's the perfect size for everything you need, any bigger and you're drowning in tote bag.

Laptop. Apple Macbook Pro with Retna Display - everyone has their own laptop that they love and probably take with them everywhere.

Datebook. This year, instead of the bullet journal, I've decided to go old school with a Mead Cambridge Edition No. Planner - similar here

Notebook. Muji USA A6 6mm Notebook Muji is my one-stop-shop for all things quality on a budget. Their entire brand is that they have no brand, which allows them to sell their products for a very reasonable price. I can get all of my office supplies through Muji for less than $30.

Electronics Pouch. I find that sometimes there are a lot of small items that float around at the bottom of work bags. These small items get dirty, break, and make the bag a mess. In order to keep everything a touch more tidy I have a small pouch dedicated to all my small items including - headphones, flash drive, and external harddrive, etc. Any small pouch will do, you could even do like I have and use an old makeup bag.

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Pencil Pouch. Muji Usa Denim Pen Case  I use this for all my pens/pencils/and extra lead. Perfect for making sure there are no pen explosions in the bottom of your bag, and that your notebooks don't get too dirty with pencil marks. 

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I find that besides a wallet, keys, laptop charger, and whatever lipstick I'm wearing that day, I don't need anything else in my work bag. With these simple necessities, I can keep my work bag light weight and fully functional. 

Be sure to keep up with my shenanigans on Instagram. XOXO

Tidy Hygge // Nesting

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I've stumbled across two different books recently. One, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the other, The Little Book of Hygge. I knew about both of these books for a while now, but they recently plopped into my life (and at the perfect time). Since moving into my new place I've felt very overwhelmed (like so overwhelmed I left town for a week). First, I spent about a week cleaning the house (yuck) and unpacking all my stuff. Then, when I saw the sheer magnitude of stuff I had accumulated I started to panic. Where did it come from?? How do I have so much junk?? were some of the thoughts that went through my head.

For the past month I have been researching different living styles in a hope that it will help me with my own home. I stumbled upon Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, surprisingly through the Gilmore Girls reboot (I am a GG kid by heart). When I went searching for tips/advice for home care, this book immediately popped up. Now, as a side note, I have been kind of obsessed with Japanese culture for a little while now, so when I found this book it was like sparks flew. Love at first read. I got my copy off of Amazon (because it's so much cheaper than Barnes and Noble, tbh) and have been devouring it ever since.

At the same time I stumbled across Marie Kondo's book, I also happened to find The Tiny Book of Hygge, which if you're not familiar, hygge is a concept that's been circling around social media and social trends for awhile now. Essentially hygge is the Danish art of comfort and living. It encompasses not only your physical space, but your entire lifestyle. Hygge is a feeling as well as a practice. When I started reading this book, the way it was written gave me all the hygge vibes, and I new it was the right home care path for me. 

Now, the conundrum is, how do you mesh being tidy with hygge? I've given some thought to this puzzle, because I truly think the way for me to fid joy in my home and lifestyle is to incorporate these two home care/lifestyles. My goal is to keep you all updated and use this experience as a running blog post series with the title of each post always ending in "Nesting". I chose the word nesting because it's kind of like those words "dwell," "gather," and "belong," they just fill me with comfort. 

Getting started.

To start things off. I'm rereading Marie Kondo's book to make sure I have all of the aspects of Tidying down. Then I'll be rereading Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge, to also have a thorough understanding of hygge. Next, I am going to determine with precision what kind of lifestyle I want, incorporating aspects of interior design and lifestyle choices to create my ideal life (which will be another blog post soon!). Throughout the KonMari Method of Tidying I am going to be using hygge as my guide to what kind of lifestyle I want after I am done tidying. It is only after I have finished the KonMari Method's step-by-step process of discarding and organizing that I'll start incorporating physical additions of hygge to my home, additions that will spark joy and have a specific space in my home. 

Going forward.

Keep a look out on Pinterest for my board Tidy Hygge where I will be crafting a mood board of sorts for my ideal home/lifestyle. Be sure to continue to follow along on Instagram and leave any tips/thoughts you all have on this! 

Favorite Lipsticks // Everyday Wear

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Summer is officially coming to a close ... well, at least summer break is. Everyone is back to school shopping, kids are headed back, and we're all getting that fall itch. At least here in Texas where the temps are still three digits (and there is no end in sight) we are ready for some cooler weather. I wanted to share with you all, since the end of summer is so near and the start of fall right around the corner, my favorite lipsticks. 

To clarify. My perfect every shade, everywhere, everyday lipsticks. 

Starting from Nude to Vibrant.

Tarte Cosmetics Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit - this is the perfect matte nude lip. I use this for a very subtle amount of color and a brilliant matte finish that feels like chapstick. Do you know how sometimes nude lips are just a little dry? Not this lip paint - it feels like a cloud on your lip. No exageration.

L'Oreal Cosmetics Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude (800) - For a touch more on the pink side. I use this lipstick when I just want to run out the door. A slight shine perfect for everyday use.

L'Oreal Cosmetics Colour Riche Lipcolour in Toasted Almond (843) - This is a deeper nude that is perfect for when you're a bit tanner, or those with darker skin tones! 

YSL Rogue Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick in Nude Lavalliere - For a slightly baby pink nude option with loads of shine.

YSL Rogue Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick in Rose Saharienne  - Moving away from the nudes, this vibrant pink is great for going out on a date or for a little more color added to an outfit.

YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in Red Clash Matte Finish - A bold, matte, deep pink. Worn casually with a white top, or for going out with a black top (pictured above).

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Gazpacho -  The true deep blue-red. Not a perfect red, and not an orange red, this lipstick is perfect for the night out, or the coming holiday/fall seasons.

These are the lipsticks currently in my rotation. A little matte, a little shine, and enough variety to get me through any occasion. I like to keep variety without feeling like I have an excess of beauty products. What are your favorite lipsticks?? Let me know and check out more of my shenanigans on Instagram!