Saturday, December 16, 2017

europe: paris day one

view from our airbnb window
Our train ride to Paris was so fun, we saw all these cool parts of rural France and Netherlands. The world is so big and cool.
We got to Paris and went to check in to our airbnb. It was really close to the Louvre and we had some cool resterautns and a delicious bakery. However, I have never stayed in an airbnb that was someone's home, not just a vacation rental and it was super weird. I don't know that I will do that again. I just felt weird seeing our hosts's stuff everywhere.
After we got settled and ate at this restaurant where we formally decided that we are not fans of the food in Europe, we decided to figure out the subway system and go to the catacombs. This was so freaky, not because there were actual bones everywhere but because it was SO far underground. We were beneath the subway and the sewer system and I just was so freaking claustrophobic. I did my best to ignore it! We walked for almost a mile through these hallways of stacked bones, real bones. These pictures suck because they would just have a lantern every few feet, but it was so creepy and cool. I honestly have no idea what they were and why they were down there, the tour was not really informative and the plaques they had were so long, like floor to ceiling of text, so we didn't really take the time to read. We mostly just walked and walked! They had the bones of a lot of people who died in the French Revolution guillotining, so that was cool! It was a quick activity that was way worth it! 

I debated putting this story on the blog but this is my only method of journaling and it was probably one of the funniest moments of my life, so I will put it on here. I'm not embarrassed by it at all because everyone has a poop story and if you don't, you're lying. I just know it may not be everyone's favorite thing to read!
So after the catacombs we decided to head to the Louvre area and kind of just walk around. I was kind of feeling weird at this point, but we took the subway to the area we were wanting to go to. As soon as we got above ground and were almost at the river, I was like "um, I need to use the bathroom. now." and so Mark was like okay yeah maybe we will run into one soon. I was like "nope, I literally cannot move. I need a bathroom NOW." Mark realized the seriousness of the situation after he tried to get me to walk and I refused to move. He was running in stores, looking for the public bathrooms that you have to pay for, doing everything possible to locate a bathroom. No bathroom. I even tried to bribe this guy to let us use the bathroom in his store. He wasn't impressed. I was extremely, extremely desperate at this point so I called us an uber to take us back to our airbnb which was less than 5 minutes away from where we were by car. Our freaking uber driver got lost or something, we waited for him for over 10 minutes and I finally decided to just cancel it and I guess in Paris if you cancel you have to pay like $10 euro or something, but at this point I didn't care. Mark managed to wave down a cab driver and he got us to our airbnb so fast and just in time. We couldn't leave the airbnb for the rest of the night! Throughout this whole thing Mark was laughing so hard and I was both laughing and swearing and crying. At one point I was just holding my stomach moaning in the middle of the sidewalk and then I looked up and the Eiffel Tower was right there all sparkly and I was like "OH MY GOSH LOOK!" and then I went back to moaning in pain. It was a had to be there moment, but we were just laughing so freaking hard. 
The next morning I was still feeling so strange so I went to a pharmacy and asked for "pepto bismol" and even though the man didn't speak a lick of English, he knew exactly what I needed and I felt a lot better. Bless that man. 
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Friday, December 8, 2017

europe: amsterdam day 2


Like  I said in my last post, we slept in so late without meaning to on this day, so we lost a few hours that I wanted to do stuff during, but that is okay. We had to get to the Anne Frank house really quickly because we had tickets. 
There was no photography allowed in the house, but it was probably the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I have taught Diary of Anne Frank and am just very familiar with it, and I am very obsessed and interested in learning everything about WW2, it was just incredible. They didn't have any of the furniture in there as the Father wanted, but they had the things on the walls still. For example, they had a growth chart of Anne and her sister Margot that was still on the wall (original!!!!) and also when the family went into hiding, Otto (the dad) brought Anne's celebrity pictures and some glue so she could decorate and her pictures are still all over the wall. Otto also would listen to the radio at night and plot where the Nazis were on a map hanging on the wall, that is also still there. ORIGINAL! It was just truly the coolest thing I have ever seen. I love history so much. 
Also, in my mind I always thought it was one flat attic, but it's three floors and the stairs are SO steep! It made me lol because of Fault in Our Stars, I was huffing and puffing up the stairs so I can't imagine someone with lung cancer...
"We're all searching for happiness, we're all leading lives that are different and yet the same"

So anyway going to Europe was worth it for that just saying.
We were starving after the tour so we got pancakes, mine was weird but good. Salmon with creme fraiche and guac. Weird. Good. But weird.

 We only had a small amount of time before we had to be at the Gorillaz concert, so we walked back to hotel and....fell asleep. Oops. We woke up and got on the train to go to the concert. We had dinner at a hot dog stand outside the concert hall and it was legit the most delicious thing we ate in Europe. I crave it erry day. 
Honestly, I was so nervous about this concert. I was convinced someone was going to try to kill us there. However, security was SO good. They patted every single person down, they actually went through my purse instead of fake glancing at it, the guy in front of me had cigarettes and they made him open the pack. They also had free coat check, why is America not doing this?? So awesome.
The concert was PACKED. It was really good though, I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much. 

 We managed to get home after the concert after seeing the DRUNKEST man I have ever seen trying to get home from the concert. I don't actually think he made it home.
We were hungry after the concert and everything was closed so we ended up at...dun dun dun! McDonalds! The only different thing was their "curry sauce" which tastes exactly how it sounds.
I didn't really get any ~good~ or ~artsy~ pictures, but Amsterdam was decorated for Christmas and it was quite adorable, even with windows filled with bongs and other things that I won't put in this blog.

We had to be up super early to catch our train to Paris! Paris posts coming up next!

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

europe: amsterdam day one

We just got home last Sunday from a whirlwind of a week in Europe. I had a friend who did the same type of trip and described it as a dream...mainly because we were so jet lagged and slap happy the entire time. It doesn't really feel real that we went!
 Sometime last year we found a really good deal to fly into Amsterdam over Thanksgiving and jumped at the chance. I have never been out of North America so this trip was a big one.
Because we got our tickets so cheap, we had three layovers. It's worth it to pay extra to not have all of those layovers, for the record. We flew from Salt Lake to Dallas and then Dallas to London and London to Amsterdam on the way there.
The flight was so hard for me, my biggest fear is the ocean and the flight was so turbulent I just kept thinking we were for sure going to crash into the ocean. I cried so many times but the British flight attendant was so nice and comforting and I should have hugged him when we landed. I also legitimately enjoyed the airplane food and it was weirdly very comforting to eat lasagna and caramel dessert. I feel like I honestly blacked out the rest of the flight because I took a sleeping pill and then proceeded not to sleep but went into this weird crazy I mean...we made it! We had a 3 hour layover in London and I definitely forgot to take my liquids out of my bag when we went through security-I'm totally that person. 
We did finally make it to Amsterdam and I laughed really hard that the customs people were like male models, you for sure don't see that in America. People in Europe are just generally more attractive I realized, I think it is because people dress way better. Also, every airport in Europe has a mall in it it seems, or at least the three different ones we went to, like huge malls with the public shopping! I feel like it would be smart to separate airports and public spaces...but maybe not. We were eventually able to figure out the train system and get to our hotel in the city. 
ANYWAY! When we got to Amsterdam, it was about 3 in the afternoon and it was the coldest we were our entire trip! It was raining/sleeting and we didn't have coats on. We got to our hotel and they were drilling something in the hotel, it was so loud we couldn't hear a single thing our guy was saying. He gave us our room key and we went to our room and we tried to turn on the lights. They didn't work. We were like, "um, what the heck, the power is out!" but we didn't even care and showered and took a nap, even with the drilling I fell asleep. When we woke up we couldn't believe our power was still out! Then we realized there was a weird box on the wall that looked card shaped so we put our room key card in it. Boom! Lights! The guy must have explained this when we checked in but we couldn't hear him. This was at every hotel we stayed in, does anyone know why?? 
We were still exhausted when we woke up from our nap but we wanted to force ourselves to stay awake, so we went to try to find dinner. We found this french place, they kind of scrambled to seat us and we were confused until we realized it was like 4:30 and they probably just opened, it felt like 10:00 at night to us! So we had a great and weird meal. It was a lot of things that we weren't totally sure what we were eating. The thing with the quail egg is a fish mashed potato. It was really good but also weird. My main dish (the second picture) was a fish dish. Mark got a steak thing I think, but it also had super weird veggies. Our dessert was really good. We also had our first experience being really confused that they don't have free water in Europe and will absolutely judge you if you ask for tap water. 
It also took three hours! Eating in Europe just takes a lot longer because they aren't so rushed.

After dinner it was an acceptable enough hour to go to bed, so we walked back to our hotel (through the red light district, oops) and even though it was gross (they don't exaggerate about Amsterdam) they had it decorated cute for Christmas. 
We went to sleep at 9 and slept until 11 AM the next day...traveling is tough!
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

size friendly brands: eShakti part 2

I love eShakti so much I had to feature it twice. If you missed my first post in this series on eShakti, you can see it here.
I wasn't sure how much I would like this dress but I LOVE it. I got it to be knee length so I could wear it in the classroom. You can customize everything about this dress, the sleeves, neckline, length and now even the pattern. So if you like this design but blue isn't your color, you can exchange the print. This dress is actually a wrap dress which I have found is really flattering on me! I have worn it a few times already. I love how bright blue it is.

eShakti features sizes 0-36w. If you are a new customer you get a $25 gift card and see shipping!
eShakti helps you feel as good as you look and look as good as you feel, no matter your size!

We are off to Paris and Amsterdam for Thanksgiving!  See you in a week!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DIY: tassel earrings

Have you seen the tassel earring trend going around? I love them and think they are so pretty and perfect for the holiday season! I wanted some but I didn't want to spend a ton of money, so I decided to attempt a DIY! They turned out so cute. 

Large Oval Jump Ring*
Embroidery Floss (there are all types and any will work!)
Pliers (they have "jewelry pliers" at craft stores but I just used the needle nose pliers from my toolkit!) 
*both easily found in the jewelry section of the craft store. 

Step 1: With help from the pliers, loop the oval jump ring around the embroidery floss.

Step 2: Loop the thred around the jump ring you just put on and secure with another jump ring. Remember to use those pliers!

Step 3: Give your tassels a haircut! Remember to make them even!

Step 4: Connect the earrings to your top jump ring using your pliers.

That's it! Picture this with a black dress and you have yourself a holiday outfit!

The holidays totally drain our budget so I try to save where I can. Purchasing #SecondHandFirst or diy-ing what you can is a perfect way to stay trendy and also on budget. 

Thanks to ThredUp for sponsoring this post! If you want to save extra dough and find an outfit to go with your cute new earrings, check them out! Remember, you can use code "RILEYJO" to save 50% off your entire order until the end of November, or you use this link, you get a $10 credit!
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

size friendly brands: eshakti

You guys know my love for eShatki. You can see previous posts here, here, here and here. I also just realized I own three eShakti skirts and one other dress I have never taken pictures of. I purchase from them constantly. 

You can customize the ENTIRE dress and it's still affordable. I got this dress to be knee length so I could wear it to work. I also customized it to my exact measurements so it fit exactly how I wanted it to fit. eShakti wants everyone to look as good as you feel and feel as good as you look.

I know this dress is more spring time, but it's hard to feel very fall like because on the day I took these pictures it was so warm (also very bright as you can tell). I don't really like to reserve certain clothes for certain times of year anyway because the dead of winter is exactly when I need to wear a bright pink dress with flowers! :)

You can find my dress here in sizes 0-36W. If you are a new customer you get a $25 credit and free shipping!

Shoes are from Cents of Style. Thanks to them for letting us use their pink wall! Thanks to Mark for being a great Instagram husband!
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

size friendly brands: agnes and dora

Last week has was crazy, literally bonkers, and this week will be the same. I am getting really close to finish an extra endorsement I have been working on at work for the last two years and I am also getting ready to "level up" at work. All educators start with a provisional license and then have to move to a professional license. It's a ton of work! So I was observed three times last week in my classroom and I will have once more this week, plus I have had to put together a huge portfolio and it's just been crazy. I also had strep last week, and we are leaving to Europe a week from today, so we have a lot going on!
Despite all that craziness, I have felt inspired to create a new series on my blog that feature brands that include many sizes, so a traditional size run of 0-12 and then also plus sizes. This is not easy to do! Brands that have this often do not advertise that they carry curvy sizes, so they are hard to find but I have found a bunch that I want to start featuring.

It only felt right to start with Agnes & Dora, because this brand started me on my self acceptance journey. I had been married for about six months and in my first year teaching when I noticed I had put on some weight, none of my clothes fit. I could no longer fit into a large in most stores like Forever 21 and H&M. This was actually pretty devastating to me. I felt horrible and ugly. I would wear the too small clothes anyway and they would squeeze me all day, a constant reminder that I was not where I needed to be. I was going to the gym regularly but because of the stress of work and marriage, I wasn't losing the weight.

Meanwhile, a friend had an Agnes & Dora party and I went. I tried on their tall and curvy leggings and it was the first time in a while that my clothes had fit how I wanted them to! I instantly felt more confident in myself because I didn't have clothes squeezing me to death. I have been purchasing from A&D ever since (do you remember my warehouse sale haul? I still wear everything from that all the time, especially the pencil skirts). Unlike their popular competitors, they are not an MLM and you can buy their stuff online from A&D themselves or from one of their seller's websites, so you don't have to go through the hassle of dealing with someone pushy when you just want some dang clothes.
I have seen these floral dresses on a lot of people but I never found any that fit me appropriately. This is a XXL in Agnes and Dora (I'm a size 18 in jeans right now). It fits perfectly. I have worn it to school a few times because it's really comfortable, leggings material. They also have this dress in traditional sizes as well.
Erin Helley is who I buy my stuff from. You can check out her website here(and remember, no pushy Facebook party, join my team stuff)
These leggings are really cool! They are athletic looking and really cool. This is a really pretty babydoll top. They also have some really pretty black dresses like this Krafft dress and this Curie dress. And of course, my dress I am wearing.

Thanks to Erin Helley from A&D for sending me this dress and wanting to expand the vision of size friendly brands! 
I'm off to get ready for this week, have a good one!
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