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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Turning 23

Last Friday, I turned twenty three years old and later today (as it's already after midnight as I'm posting this) I will leave the United States for another country. My birthday has always neatly lined up with each school year and thus I know that my year of being twenty three years old will always be 'the year I spent in London.' 

On my birthday, I went out to dinner with my aunt and uncle and family at my favorite restaurant and then the following Sunday we had lunch with my nana, cousins, and their children who are toddlers. There is nothing like being with children to make you realize how old you are (except maybe having a sibling eight years younger than you are). 

pre-birthday dinner family photo
Twenty two was a roller coaster of a year without a doubt. My sister was hospitalized for months before she had a life-saving surgery, I finished my thesis, and I graduated from university magna cum laude. I grew closer to friends than I've ever been to anyone before, had my heart broken a few times, and had friendships fall apart. I discovered new loves (Great Comet), revisited old ones (here's looking at you, Alistair Brammer), and made perhaps the boldest and bravest decision I've ever made: to go to grad school in London. 

It's hard to say what twenty three will hold yet. I will spend most of it in London, aside from visits home and visits to Vienna to see my best friend Lucy who I will finally be reunited with. I will certainly see a lot of museums and musicals, hopefully I will make many new friends, and who knows -- maybe I'll even go on my first real date. I'll get my Master's degree and by the end of it hopefully be on my way to a career in a field that I'm passionate about. Here's to 22, one of the most difficult, rewarding, and emotional years of my life, and here's to 23 being even better. xx

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy Friday from me, for the last time in the United States for several months! Anyone else super excited about autumn not just for the changing leaves and dropping temperature, but for the seemingly endless casting announcements?

Get In, Loser: In honor of the release of some of the promotional materials for the Mean Girls musical this week, I had to share this Buzzfeed quiz which tells you which high school movie character you are because I got Regina George! (A little worried about that answer actually...)

Reunited: I woke up Wednesday morning to an exciting casting announcement: two of my favorite West End Miss Saigon actors reunited in The Woman in White in London! I've wanted to see Chris Peluso in something since he replaced Alistair in Miss Saigon and I still regret that I never got to see Carolyn Maitland as Ellen when she understudied the role. I'll definitely be buying tickets to this Andrew Lloyd Webber show that I'm actually not familiar with, as it also stars Anna O'Byrne.

Superstars: Speaking of Miss Saigon, they released a music video of Rachelle Ann Go and Eva Noblezada singing a reimagined "Movie in My Mind" and it's absolutely stunning.

Losing a Legend: This week Peter Hall who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company amongst other contributions to British theatre passed away at the age of 86. This article from the NY Times elaborates on how much the London theatre industry owes to him.

One Last Look: I know it seems like all I care about is Great Comet (sometimes it feels like that), but I couldn't resist sharing Lucas Steele's heartbreaking video he made in honor of the show's closing. His haunting stripped-down cover of "Goodbye My Gypsy Lovers" paired with footage of the theatre being broken down brought me to tears.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

24 Hours in Boston

Last week, I made a last-minute trip up to New England to visit my best friend Andrew before I leave for London. I'd never been anywhere up north other than New York City before, so I was so excited to see his hometown in Connecticut. We also decided to go up to Boston for about 24 hours to explore some sights and see my other best friend Alex who goes to school there.

We managed to pack a lot of sightseeing into two half days (they also made the mistake of letting me loose in the Harvard bookstore, so I came back with two new books and a 2018 calendar), so I wanted to share some of my favorite places with you!

Duck Tours
Andrew suggested that we do a 'Duck Tour' so that I could see a lot of the historic sites of Boston all at once. I loved seeing historic graveyards and learning more about the city itself (did you know most of Boston is on artificial land?) and I was so shocked that we actually went through the intersection where the Boston Massacre happened.

The 'Duck Tours' happen on replica vehicles like the duck ones used in WWII that are part-car, part-boat. After about an hour touring around on land, you spend about twenty minutes boating about in the Charles River. Our lovely tour guide asked if anyone wanted to drive the boat and Andrew volunteered me so...I drove the boat for about three minutes! She actually let me do some steering and to be honest, I felt pretty cool. I highly recommend it whether you're in Boston alone, with friends, or with family.

Harvard University 
Harvard is one of those institutions that lives in the American conscious like nothing else -- perhaps partially because of its presence in films. I constantly wanted to say "What? Like it's hard?" like Elle Woods. I also kept thinking about the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald had attended the school (even if he didn't do too well). It's quite fun to walk around and see all the (historic!) buildings and their main bookstore is absolutely glorious.

New England Aquarium 
I'd heard about the Boston Aquarium before from my friend Kendal who loves it and I wasn't disappointed! I'm not typically one for aquariums, but the Boston one has tons and tons of penguins and sea lions in addition to loads of fish, turtles, and other sea animals. I appreciated their focus on preservation of the oceans and education about the animals.

Quincy Market
Head to Quincy Market for a bustling building full of delicious food choices. I had to get some famous New England clam chowder (in a bread bowl!) while in Boston which we took to eat outside and it was so delicious. I wish I could have another bowl right now...

Mike's Pastry
Mike's boasts that it's "Home of the Cannoli" and I understand why. I had never been to an Italian bakery before, but I knew I had to get a cannoli while in the North End which is Boston's Italian neighborhood. My friend Julie told me I had to go to Mike's and when we stepped in the door, we knew we'd gone to the right place because it was packed. I didn't even know that flavored cannoli's existed, but I had delicious mint and hazelnut ones. I somehow forgot to even take a photo in my glee!

Have you been to Boston before? If so, leave me your suggestions in the comments because I'm positive I will be returning in the next few years. x

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Goals

I wanted to share an update on my August goals with you all as well as creating some for September. August was a productive month for me and I'm happy to report that I made progress on every one of my goals!

Goal Update - August Goals

(1) Upload four videos to my YouTube channel. I achieved this goal! I uploaded two sit-down chatty vlogs and the last two Disney vlogs. I also pre-filmed two different videos to post in September, so I'm quite pleased with my channel progress in August.

(2) Prepare for my move. In August, I did my visa application, finalized my housing, completed my registration, and bought my flights. I'm almost all set to head over on September 20! I even started making my packing list, which obviously I'll be working on a lot more in September.

(3) Clean my room. I made a lot of progress on this goal in August even though I'm not finished. Most impressively, I went through all of my books and rearranged my shelves! I also have been helping my little sister clean her room and we've made some significant progress in there.

(4) Keep working out. This month, I actually met with a trainer at my country club's gym and devised a workout routine which I've been going to the gym to do! I did it twice a week for the first three weeks of the month and although I didn't go in the last week of August, I did work out at home. I've actually fallen a bit in love with weight lifting (who could ever have guessed?).

September Goals

(1) Pack for the move. I've already begun a packing list for my move to London, but obviously packing is going to take up a lot of this month.

(2) Pre-write and pre-film some content for the end of September. I don't want my blog and channel to go silent during my move, but I know that I won't have time for making content for at least a week. Therefore, I really want to schedule some things to post ahead of time.

(3) Finish cleaning my room. This one is a bit of a roll-over goal from last month, but before I leave I need to tackle some of my things I never unpacked after I moved out from my college apartment and...the top of my closet.

(4) Launch my new study abroad blog! I've decided that I'll be keeping a more diary-like blog for my time in London like I did while at Sussex and at St Andrews as I've already had several family members and former professors tell me they'd like to read one. I started setting up a Wordpress blog for it because I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain some experience working on another blogging platform. I won't abandon this blog AT ALL and it will have plenty of London content, especially reviews. But I've already got the name and the URL for a travel diary type blog; I just need to fully launch it this month.

Let me know what your goals for the month are in the comments below or on Twitter! x

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Happy September! It always feels a bit strange to me when the first day of a new month falls on a Friday. Anyone else feel like every month should start on a Monday or is that just me?

Top Five: In honor of Tom Hiddleston's upcoming run as Hamlet, this article looks back on five of his past theatre roles. I was lucky enough to see Coriolanus when it was streamed to American cinemas and it's still one of my top theatre experiences despite not being live. This made me so excited that I managed to snag tickets to see his Hamlet!

Goodbye My Gypsy Lovers: If you're also weepy this week because Great Comet is closing, this round-up of covers of "No One Else" won't help. But it's great if, like me, you want to wallow in your sadness that this brilliant unique show won't be on Broadway anymore.

Tea Party: This Buzzfeed quiz lets you plan a tea party and tells you which British actor will come to it. I'm quite pleased with my result of Sam Claflin.

Percy's Back: I was so sad when The Lightning Thief musical closed off-Broadway before I got to see it. But this past week, it was announced that it will tour the United States starting in fall 2018 and I couldn't be more excited as I was obsessed with Percy Jackson in middle school.

Journey to Backstage: I'm so thrilled that Anastasia's Christy Altomare is the newest vlogger. Her first two vlogs have been absolutely adorable; she's such a ray of sunshine!

Monday, August 28, 2017

What I Wore at Disney

In honor of my last Disney vlog (hopefully) being uploaded this week, I thought I would end my Disney content for this summer with a post about what I wore on my Disney World vacation! One of my favorite parts of a Disney vacation is packing for Disney and figuring out what I will wear every day (my sister and I filmed a whole video about it!). 

However, this summer I had the challenge of going to Disney during one of the hottest times of the year. Therefore, I had to figure out how to dress cute and Disney themed while ensuring that I wouldn't absolutely melt because of the heat. 

What I wore can be sorted into a few categories: Disney dresses, Disney t-shirts, and character themed outfits. Now, I could definitely just wear a different Disney t-shirt every day, but I like to change it up to make it more fun! 

Disney Dresses
I absolutely love Disney themed dresses with prints of Disney characters. My sister, Hannah, has a whole collection and I have a fair few myself. (I even wore my Beauty and the Beast one to see the live action film!) My favorite place to buy them is Hot Topic because they have a wide variety and aren't too pricey. 

My favorite movie when I was a little girl was The Aristocats so I couldn't resist this Marie dress and bow! 

Disney T-Shirts
I love Disney t-shirts and have a fairly impressive collection. My friends even have a running joke about how many Star Wars t-shirts I have. This trip, I was so excited to wear my Millennial Falcon shirt in Hollywood Studios (Kylo Ren even commented on it!) and my new Moana shirt to the Magic Kingdom. Yes, I always theme my outfit to the park I'm going to. My favorite places to buy Disney t-shirts are actually Target and the Disney Store, but you can find them lots of places. 

Character Themed Outfits 
If you're an avid Disney fan, you may be aware of "Disney-bounding": dressing up as a Disney character in a subtle way. There are whole Instagram accounts and blogs dedicated to the phenomenon. My biggest tip is to try to meet the character you're dressed as while you're there if you can. I loved taking photos in the Norway pavilion in Epcot in my Princess Anna outfit and when I met her, she even pointed out that we were dressed alike! 

just a subtle Rapunzel colored outfit!

How do you like to dress when you're at a Disney park? Let me know in the comments down below x

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Internet Finds

Sorry that I totally missed doing a Friday Internet Finds last week, but I'm making it up with this week's hopefully! (I'd rather not post one than put one out that I don't think is actually worthy of sharing with you guys.)

Actual Hamilton: The New York Times published a great article about the actual music that Alexander Hamilton would have listened to, including the British song that inspired the musical's song, "Yorktown."

Go Phoenix: This list from Playbill shares the ten most represented colleges on Broadway right now, including a list of all performers from each school. I was so pleased (and proud!) to see a classmate's name on the list, who's recently made his Broadway debut in Book of Mormon.

GBBO: Lately my whole family has been obsessed with watching "Great British Bake Off" so I couldn't resist this quiz which tells you how far you would make it on the show. Good news: I would win!

Carrying the Banner (to Netflix): Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I'm a huge proponent of filming Broadway shows and making them available to the public. So this announcement that the filmed Newsies that showed in cinemas earlier this year is coming to Netflix absolutely thrilled me. It'll be up on the streaming service on September 5.

Lin Crossing: I always adore James Corden's crosswalk musicals, but Lin being in one is an absolute dream come true.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Best Walt Disney World Photo Spots!

I thought I should share some of my favorite photo spots at Walt Disney World with you all. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I went to Disney World for a week with my family back in June and took tons of photos.

All Disney parks fans will know the iconic spots -- in front of Spaceship Earth in Epcot, the famous 'purple wall' in the Magic Kingdom, by Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. So I wanted to share some of my favorite photo opportunities in my favorite three parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios) that are a bit more unique.

Character Photos
I think that character meet and greets make for great photos. Whether your favorite is Mickey Mouse, Stitch, Ariel, or Kylo Ren, there are so many options to choose from! My personal favorites are princesses and Star Wars characters. Meeting characters in their indoor venues can also be a great break from the heat if you go in the summer months.

With Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom

With Princess Anna in Epcot

With Chewbacca in Hollywood Studios

Epcot Country Photos 
There are so many photo opportunities in Epcot in the different countries of the World Showcase! Two of my favorites are the red phone booth in the United Kingdom pavilion and the rocky waterfall in the Norway pavilion (right by the exit of the new Frozen ride). I think the mosaics in Morocco would also be a great backdrop!

Castle Photos (no, not that castle!) 
Cinderella's castle isn't the only castle in Disney World...there are two more in the new Fantasyland expansion! I love taking photos by the Beast's little castle by Be Our Guest restaurant and my sister loves Prince Eric's castle which houses the Ariel ride.

By Prince Eric's castle

Hidden Photo Spots 
There are also so many great photo spots tucked around the park if you look for them. My personal favorite is the Tangled themed bathrooms in Magic Kingdom right by It's a Small World and Peter Pan's Flight. You feel like you've stepped into the kingdom of Corona! I also love the little Imperial Speeder Bike that you can take photos of out in front of Star Tours in Hollywood Studio. It's perfect for Star Wars fans of any age.

What are your favorite places to take photos at Disney World? Let me know in the comments down below! x

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Top Five Tips for Self Care

My dear friend, Fletcher, spent this summer living and interning in New York City where he will also return for the fall semester. He wrote a blog post about the importance of self-care especially when you're living in a city. It made me reflect upon my own summer in New York so I commented to share some tips with him for when he returns.

I'm moving to a city again next month, although a new one -- London! I'll need to ensure that I'm taking care of myself in order to not be exhausted by the city. I decided to expand a bit on some of what I told Fletcher and share my Top 5 Tips for Self Care with you guys. I tried to shy away from the obvious -- get enough sleep, meditate, take baths, etc -- and share some more unique things that I've found work for me.

ONE: Drink more water. However much you're drinking, you probably need to drink more. Especially if you're consuming alcohol, coffee, or fizzy drinks. It makes my body feel so much better, it makes my skin better, and it makes me feel accomplished and like I have my life together. 

TWO: Ask yourself what makes you happy and pursue it. If there's one thing that I learned in New York last summer, it's that I need to immerse myself in the arts. Anytime I was surrounded by theatre or a museum gallery, I was happy even if I hadn't slept enough or was having a bad day before then. I learned that I am going to need to pursue a career in the arts to make living in a big city worth all the hassle for me. 

THREE: Be active. This is a hard one for me because I have all sorts of self-doubt thoughts that are related to exercise. But just doing a short Pilates video or going for a walk (parks like Central Park in NYC or Hyde Park in London are so great for this!) makes me feel so much better. Lately, I've been working out with weights at my gym twice a week with a routine made for me by a personal trainer and I've felt so much better. I think it has something to do with happy endorphins? 

FOUR: Find what calming technique works for you. I don't think traditional meditation works for everyone. Try it (maybe with an app like Headspace) and if it works, great! If not, try ASMR videos or find songs that make you feel like you can take on the world, or at least a big city, and make a playlist of them. Last summer, I had a playlist of songs that I would listen to while walking around the city to keep myself feeling like I could conquer it. ("Bright Star" from the musical Bright Star is a really lovely one for when you're feeling down.) 

FIVE: Be honest with yourself and seek help if you need it. Especially if you have anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, it's important to understand when to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and when to take care of yourself. Try to listen to your body and give yourself breaks from the hustle of city life. Also, don't be afraid to reach out -- to a counselor, a friend, or a family member -- and talk about the issues you're having. 

Do you all have any self care methods that work for you? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below! x

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

I can't believe it took me this long to read Louise Pentland's debut novel, Wilde Like Me. Louise Pentland is the lovely lady behind the YouTube channel largely known as Sprinkle of Glitter, but this is certainly not just another "YouTuber book." It's a stunning first novel (of what I hope will be many!) with lovable but real characters, witty dialogue, and a plot line unlike any I've ever read.

I don't want to give away too much, but Wilde Like Me is the story of Robin Wilde, a single mum trying to get back into dating, figure out how to raise her daughter, and further her career as a makeup artist's assistant. Robin is relatable in how she struggles and I particularly appreciated the concept of "the Emptiness," that Louise used to talk about Robin's feelings of depression.

I also adored Lyla, Robin's six year old daughter, who always tries to cheer her mum up in the way only little kids can. I just wish that I could babysit her! I hope that she figures prominently in any future sequels to Wilde Like Me. Robin also gets a lot of help and support from her friend, Lacey, and her Aunt Kath, both of whom I loved.

I thought that Louise did particularly well at giving all the minor characters flaws, struggles, and interests of their own separate from their connection to Robin. This is something that some new writers seem to struggle with, but Louise totally avoided it.

Louise's prose itself is definitely on level with any good adult literature -- not Tolstoy perhaps, but that's why it would be a good beach read. (Although, I wasn't willing to take my copy onto the beach because I was afraid it would get hurt in some way.)

One thing that surprised me about Wilde Like Me is how Louise managed to take a plot that seems like it would be fluffy and indue it with astounding depth. Robin's struggle over her relationship with Lyla's dad, her fears about messing up her daughter's life, and her challenge of being a career woman and a mom are touching and real.

This is a novel that I think any woman would love. It has some 'adult' content and language, so it is more suited to mature readers. I think that many men would even appreciate this novel, particularly anyone who has experienced single parenthood.

In all honesty, I wish that I could live within this novel. I feel as though Robin, Lyla, Lacey, and all the others are dear friends and ones whose stories I hope to get more of. So Louise, about that sequel...?

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