Best Fall Buys

August 25, 2016



























I love summer but I'm so ready for fall... The beautiful foliage, the crisp air, and especially the fall clothes. As I'm shopping for fall, I'm trying to be more discerning with what I buy to ensure that I'm actually going to wear it. The worst feeling is buying something and then never getting your money's worth out of it. This has happened to me more times than I would like to admit in the last few months! 

I figured I'd share some of my best all-time purchases for the fall season that I've gotten more than my money's worth out of.

Quilted Puffer Vest // Everyone and their mother has one of these, but for good reason! They're the perfect extra layer for early fall and make any outfit look more put-together. I already have three so I'm going to try to hold off on adding another to my collection this year!

Yearly Planner // I recommend that everyone buy a planner to help stay organized during the school year, and fall is a great time to buy a fresh one. However, if the set-up of the planner isn't conducive to how you organize tasks, you won't use it. I love the layout of this Rifle Paper Co. planner and so I use it all the time.

Ankle Booties // I bought a pair of black suede booties in Spain and wore them into the ground. Black went with everything and the lower heel meant that I felt comfortable wearing them anytime.

Black Denim // For some reason I always end up reaching for my black jeans more than my blue pairs. There's just something about them that looks better with sweaters and tops than other washes.

Reversible Tote // I carried my Longchamp all around Europe and decided I should invest in a new tote for my summer jobs, so I got this one. I'm so glad I did... It's a classic shape and is actually really high quality! It's also reversible and comes with a wristlet, so you're really getting your money's worth.

Suede Skirt // I picked up a suede A-line skirt in Spain and have been wearing it all the time. I always get compliments on it but it's such an easy piece to wear. I feel like it's a great transition piece for colder months, too.

Bean Boots // Bean Boots are a staple in any New Englander's closet. They're so popular, but I don't think they're overdone just because they're a classic. 

Guide to Paris, France by Musings Over Mochas

August 24, 2016






















I'm so excited to share a post today from one of my favorite bloggers, Musings over Mochas. Like myself, this blogger spent the last semester studying abroad. I absolutely loved following along on all of her Paris adventures. (If you're a coffeeshop lover, you have to check out her blog for amazing recommendations!) Today she's sharing her favorite spots in Paris. I can't wait to try these out when I get the chance to visit!

Hi! I’m Lulu, the girl behind Musings over Mochas. I spent the last semester studying in Paris and while my French didn’t improve much, my understanding of the city definitely did. I challenged myself to get out and explore all 117 days I was there, venturing into all twenty arrondissements. But today, I’ve narrowed down the highlights of a semester in the magical city they call Paris.














































STAY
Hotels // With limited time in the city, staying central is key. Contrary to popular belief, Paris is pretty small… but that makes it super simple to walk everywhere. But even with that, I think staying on either side of Ile de la Cité in Le Marais or Saint Germain is the best. Two budget friendly but super cute hotels that I know are great are Hôtel Dauphine Saint-Germain and Hôtel Jeanne d'Arc - Marais. With these two areas, you’ll be steps away from everything that’s happening while still getting a not too touristy feel.


Airbnb // I’ve heard both horror stories and fabulous stories of airbnb's in Paris. If you want to go this route, I would pay close attention to reviews and know what you’re looking for. Also, if you’re going this route, some other areas you might want to look into are Republique, Bastille and near Palais Garnier. In those areas, you will find more of a local feel while still being central.

Two areas to avoid //
  • Near the Eiffel Tower (arrondissements 7, 15, & 16). If you stay over there, you’ll spend more time and money commuting to the more central areas than you would like.
  • Near Sacre Coeur (arrondissements 9, 17 & 18). This area is nice to visit to see Sacre Coeur but gets sketchy very fast.


EAT
Paris truly is home to some of the best food in the world. BUT a word of warning: While all cafes may seem essentially the same, they aren’t at all. A lot of people have a misconception that you can wander and find little local treasures when it comes to food, but know that if you do that, you might be disappointed. Cafes range from places that are more for drinks, more for food or more just for a prime location and many are tourist traps.











































Breakfast  

Holybelly: If you know you need a big breakfast for a big day, this is your spot. But I’ll warn you, it’s kind of hard to get into. They don’t take reservations and open at 10 so if you want to eat at 10 you have to get there at 9:45. If you get there at let’s say 11, the wait will be 2 hours. Which is worth it. Just be prepared. The owner also speaks both French and English, so it’s easy for him to explain the situation once you get there. (Also, get the hash browns… SO GOOD.) {Republique}



























































Blé Sucré: A favorite croissant of both the critics and locals, Blé Sucré lives up to it’s hype. With each bite you get a crunch followed by buttery, lightweight goodness that basically melts in your mouth. Not to mention it’s hhhuuugggeee and €1.20. (Note: never spend more than €1.20 on a croissant or pain au chocolat. If they’re charging more, it’s usually a spot that’s a tourist trap.) {Bastille}


Season: This was my go-to place if I needed some healthy and locally sourced food. It’s very nouveau Paris, so make sure to dress in your coolest French girl outfit because you’ll be surrounded by some of the coolest people ever. {Republique}


Lunch

Grand Mosque de Paris: The cuisine utilizes tons of flavors that were new to my palette and therefore, I went crazy for it! The ambiance of the cafe is also a draw. It’s supremely relaxing with its ornate details and rich accents. {Latin Quarter}


Chez Marianne: A lot of people say L’as Du Fallafel is the best falafel in Paris, but I think this place is better. If you go, sit down instead of getting it to go. I find Chez Marianne to be fresher, more flavorful and the accouterments to be better situated to enjoy my falafel than L’as. {Le Marais}















































Dinner
 
Ober Mamma: Great Italian food (hello, truffle pasta) meets an incredible ambiance in a perfect lovechild. Sadly, it’s another spot that doesn’t take reservations ahead of time. The bar opens at 6 but you have to get there at 5:45 and then wait in line to tell them what time you want to eat. The kitchen opens at 7 so if you want to eat at 7, you go into the bar area and get drinks (and complimentary charcuterie et fromage). Then at 7 they quiet the place down and ring a bell and everyone with a 7pm reservation books it over the hostess to be seated. If you go, make sure to get the tiramisu. It’s amazing. {Republique}


Grazie: This Italian spot is dark and sexy with an air of mystery to it. The food is fresh and tasty and they blast rap which feels so different than any French restaurant I’ve ever been to. But the crowd is still distinctly French (hot older French men at that), so you still get an authentic experience. {Bastille}


Drinks
Le Hibou: The best cafe for drinking and people watching for hours. It’s chic, Parisian and invitingly upscale. {Saint Germain}

Rosa Bonheur sur Seine: This spot is a bar on a boat near the incredibly breathtaking Pont Alexandre III bridge (the one in Midnight in Paris). Enough said. {Invalides}


Coffee

Café Kitsuné: Situated in Palais Royal, this spot is super charming and very Parisian making it a must see spot for the Instagram lovers. While their coffee is #yum, I would always go for the chocolate chip cookies and wifi. {Louvre}


Le Peloton: Owned by two expats, this is the most friendly coffee shop in Paris. If you’re looking to be comforted by some English and wifi, this is your spot. {Le Marais}















































Ob-La-Di: If you’re looking to get the perfect Instagram, look no further than this spot. Perfect latte art, an eye catching tile floor and a picture perfect storefront make this spot a favorite (and the coffee is great.) {Oberkampf}


Coutume: If you’re serious about coffee, this is your place. Without a doubt, this is the best coffee in the city and has a cozy ambiance to match it. {Saint Germain}


Dessert

Au P’tit Grec: Without a doubt, the best, biggest and cheapest crepes in the city, coincidentally situated on a festive street in the Latin Quarter. {Latin Quarter}














































Angelina: I won’t be the first or last person to recommend this one to you, but you simply cannot go to Paris without going to Angelina. They have super rich hot chocolate which you can either sip in the bougie French parlor or take away for a walk in the Tuileries. {Tuileries}


















































Berthillon: Much like Angelina, Berthillon is another Paris institution. Although their ice cream scoops are small, their fresh flavors are satisfying enough. Beware though, they only take cash! {Ile de la Cité}


Scoop Me a Cookie: The cookies here are INSANE. Fluffy, half-baked goodness to be exact. It’s kind of out of the way, but 100% worth it. (If you’re headed to Père-Lachaise, this is a must.) {Oberkampf}


DO / SEE






































Take a walk through Montmartre: Sacre Couer is a main attraction, but make sure you don’t miss the surrounding area of Montmartre. Think cute little windy streets, artists stands and cafés galore. It still has that “poor starving artist” feel and is exquisitely charming.


See the view from the Printemps mall: There are a million views of the city, this was one of my favorites. It’s not very known which is a nice variation from the other ones that tend to be extremely crowded. Plus, there’s seating so you can take a rest and take in the view.


Jardin Luxembourg: This is without a doubt my favorite park in Paris. The garden is breathtaking with its manicured lawn and charming chairs that line the grass and water. It’s perfect for strolling or picnicking.






































Palais Royal: This garden is tucked away right behind the Louvre and feels like an oasis in the hectic center of Paris. It’s also home to those picturesque black and white striped columns that you’ve probably seen.


Rue Montorgueil: This is one of my favorite streets in Paris because it’s pedestrian only. The whole street is lined with tons of bars and cafes but Le Compas is my favorite.


Stroll down Rue Saint-Honoré: For me, there are fewer things more Parisian than strolling down Rue Saint-Honoré. It’s stunning with the Parisian glamour of designer stores and beautiful facades of incredibly old buildings. But what really gets me is how few tourists seem to wander onto this street that seems so classically French.  



































Avenue de Camoens: This is easily the best view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s close to Trocadero which is also great, but that gets super busy. This spot is never occupied by lots of people and looks super chic for pictures.














































Take a picnic along the Seine under the Pont Neuf bridge: If you listen to one thing from this guide, let it be this. There’s just something about connecting with whoever you’re with while taking in the sights, listening to the language and sipping on the perfection that is French wine. When I think of happiness, this is what I think of, and I hope you feel the same way too.






























Thank you so much, Charlotte, for letting me share a little piece of my heart with you and your readers. Paris is such a special place and I hope that your trip there is everything you expect and more. A lot of people get nervous that Paris won’t meet their expectations (that was me too!), but I assure you, it will. There’s a reason some call it magic.


You can find more in depth Paris posts on my blog, Musings over Mochas or more abbreviated updates on Instagram.

What I Buy at Trader Joe's

August 22, 2016

I moved into my first apartment this summer and have been getting used to grocery shopping for myself and cooking my own meals. I love Trader Joe's for grocery shopping – it's not as intimidating as a standard grocery store and they have tons of unique products you don't see anywhere else.

I've been trying to eat really clean this summer (after four months of indulging on whatever I wanted in Europe!) and Trader Joe's makes it easy because they have tons of healthy food that's either pre-made (but not filled with chemicals) or really easy to throw together.

Here's what's always on my grocery list:


































For Meals
I always stock up on root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets) so that I can roast a big batch at the beginning of the week. My meals almost always include brown rice, but it is so tricky to make, so the frozen, microwaveable packages are perfect. When I'm lazy, I'll just microwave a bowl of the superfood pilaf. The quinoa veggie burgers are the best frozen veggie burgers I've found. I love to eat them with avocados and a dab of hummus. For breakfast, lately I've been loving overnight oats which I make with steel-cut oats, plain Greek yogurt, and almond milk.


For Snacks
For snacks, I love the pita bite crackers with flax seeds with cheese (I'm obsessed with Manchego cheese after living in Spain for four months, and Trader Joe's has that too!). I always have sugar snap peas and heirloom tomatoes on hand for easy snacking, too. These brown rice cakes are super healthy and delicious with peanut butter on top. 


For Treats
And for some not-so-healthy favorites... I'm obsessed with cookie butter, sea salt butterscotch caramels, and the peanut butter-filled pretzels.

Anyone else a Trader Joe's fan? 

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