Lake Como // A bucket list must.

This past weekend was one that has left me day dreaming and plotting my next escape back to this slice of the world. For those of you that follow me on Insta you'll have seen a sneak peek of my latest adventures and the place I've been falling for. We jetted away for a short four day holiday to Lake Como where we spent time catching up with some of S's family while soaking up this stunning landscape. Both of which I'm so thankful for and both of which have left my heart full. 

If you've traveled to this wonder take a moment to relive your memories and if you haven't, turn your eyes this way and let this post convince you why it should be a non-negotiable item on your bucket list.

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo

I've seen the movies and had a little portrait sketched in my head of what this place might have in store but I didn't expect it to completely capture my heart. I'm sure that this short lived visit only scratches the surface of what this entire country resembles but this little taster sure has left me wanting more. The moment my feet touched this luscious coast of impeccable beauty I had already fallen in love. Let me let you in on my lust for this place.

The Food.

fresh caprese salad

The aroma that filled the air was an adequate teaser for the what my palate tasted. The food was out of this world delicious. Cuisines encompassing white fish fresh out of the lake to pasta dripping with homemade bolognese straight out of a cookbook from generations gone by. The organic caprese salad prefaced my every evening meal and I was sure to consume my fair share of gelato. Always fresh and always oozing with flavors, Italian food is truly one of a kind.

italian gelato
Mint Nutella gelato

The Landscape.
lake como

It goes without saying that the picturesque views of this lake will forever be etched in my mind. The heights of the mountains are matched with the depths of the lake and lined with idyllic houses and historic chapels.  The cobbled narrow streets and yellow hued buildings set the scene for the quaint and communal type villages.

boat views

Whether you're strolling the streets by foot or catching sight of these villages by boat, the views are perfection from every vantage point. We decided to take a boat trip on one of the days and cruise down the lake, I'm so thankful we did.

The Style.

Villa del Balbianello 

Some parts of Italy are known for linen but Lake Como is best praised for its handcrafted silk creations. The style influence of both of these can be seen roaming the streets.

We may have taken a pit stop in front of George Clooney's Villa for a quick second.

There's also a definite decor style surrounding this part of the world. The houses are dressed with wooden shutters in an array of colors to complete their classic look and the balconies made of eclectic wrought iron designs. The alluring gold accents complimented with the equal dose of sculptures left a hand print spanning the entire lake.

The culture.

This mountainous lakeside resort is the epitome of relaxation intertwined with the perfect balance of class. From the moment we arrived we were instantly greeted with serenity. The people, the food, and the way of life was sweetly simplistic.

Streets of Bellagio
Some of the houses, or rather 'castles' we saw dated way back to the 1500s. The amazement of architectural structures during a period of minute technology is awe inspiring. It adds so much character to these string of towns.

The tree-lined gardens of Bellagio

love in italy

When those naysayers try to convince you that there's no such thing as love at first sight, tell them to visit this stunning part of the world and they'll soon find themselves eating their words!
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Beauty of a handwritten letter.

You've got mail

I'm the gal who loves to hear the postman making his rounds and get a little too giddy for what he might be toting in his red letter bag with our postcode stamped on it. When it's nothing but a stack of IOUs I'd rather he turn right around and deliver it to someone else, but oh, when there's even one handwritten letter found amongst the pile my heart smiles. I've always been a sucker for snail mail and it's never gotten old.

I can remember back in middle school when texting was beginning to be all the rage and my best friend and I continued our sweet little notes by post because we shared this adoration. Every other week or so I'd receive the sweetest encouragement, an 'I'm just thinking of you' or a note just to say 'hi'. These words could have easily been said in casual conversation but meant something more coming through the post. 

Hand written momentos also embody a sense of time and personalisation of the writer. It's an intimate piece of art straight from the hands of the author. I have a few notes from my great grandmother that I will forever hold dear; yes the words she wrote are precious but the delicacy of her cursive strokes are simply beautiful. 

Writing a sweet nothing to someone could be the very thing that they hold on to for years gone by to take them back to a certain place and time, a specific memory, or invite the memories of the author to come flooding back with just one read.

Is there a letter that you hold dear? Will you use your art of writing to inspire someone this week? Emails, Facebook, Insta and text messages will just never be as beautiful. 

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Having a voice.

Picture this. American sun glasses, decked to the nines in the best red, white and blue with an American flag in hand. Visual below

Let me shed light on the fact that it was the Olympics so, although patriotic, I wasn't that out of place. Okay, maybe slightly but I was just rooting on the home team after all. 

Now imagine this. Insert Mr.Johnson, or being the casual guy that he is, and better known as, Boris. Yes, the mayor of London. He was swiftly walking from one place to another unknowing that he might run into a rather over keen American like myself. I mean that's basically an accident waiting to happen. There was this one time that I was 'that' American. I confronted him as any blogger would because hello story AND hello perfect photo opp. How could I resist? I must say that S almost crawled under a table in utter embarrassment. Visual below

Since today marks the start of the biggest sporting event since the London Olympics in Europe, the Commonwealth Games, the hype around the event brings lasting memories, like the one above, flooding back. 

The Boris 'run in' represents more than just a paparazzi kind of encounter for me. You see I've always had an interest in politics. I've always been interested in the leadership of our country both past and present. And little did most of you probably know, I've actually acted as a legislative assistant for a brief stint of time. Maybe that's why this blog is such a growing passion of mine and appeals to me so much, because it gives me a voice. And in the most non-narcissistic way I like to have a voice. Who at the very core doesn't want that to be honest? 

However, I want not just a voice of myself to be heard but rather a voice to deliver the important things that I've come to believe or come to discover. I believe that a voice, yes even a single voice, can be a world changer. I believe that voices are powerful. That's one reason companies are so eager to find your normal-everyday advocates for their products. Voices can influence. 

On this space I want my voice to be authentic, genuine, and real. I want it to seem as if you've met me at the chicest little coffee shop in all of the land and our chatter boxes are on over drive because there's just too much dreaming and plotting to do. 

I yearn for the sweet promises of the creator to spill out page over page and for this tool of mine to bring a dose of encouragement and a splash of inspiration. 

Think about the positions, influence and voice that you have - how will you use it this week to better shape our world and the communities we live in? Yours is more powerful than you think. 
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Touring London Town.

There are just some things that I consider bucket list 'non-negotiables'. Those items that I think everyone should witness and explore with their own eyes and ears. Magazines, media and movies can only portray so much beauty but our vantage point is the most perfect and accurate way of really consuming all that a place or event has to offer. It allows us to make it personal and create a snapshot of a memory that will stay with us forever.

London is one of those places for me. I witnessed the Royal Wedding through the eyes of the Today Show and I feel like I could sketch my own version of Buckingham Palace from memory, but to actually go and visit this city is something surreal. 

I've had many ask me for suggestions on how to best explore this city and suggestions on what to do and where to eat so I thought I would jot down a few of my favorites to get you started. 

The tourist.

If visiting London for the very first time it's always a good idea to squeeze in a chunk of tourist spots so that you can say you've experienced them at least once. It goes without saying, Buckingham Palace should rank nearer the top of your target list. It really is a beautiful piece of architecture that makes you feel like you're in some kind of fairly tale movie scene.

Buckingham Street

On a clear day the London Eye gives an incredible 360 view of London. From here you can spot Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, St.Paul's Cathedral and the River Thames to name a few. Another option, in order to see London in a quick-snapshot-kinda-way is to jump on a big red open top bus. This will allow you to hop on and off at those sites that you've always been dying to see without completely wearing out your little tootsies.

Some other items on your 'must do while in London list' could include seeing a show in the West End, a trip to Trafalgar Square, a visit to Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral and walk over the Tower Bridge.

The foodie.

Borough Market

Contrary to what many would like to believe the food in England is delicious. London is one of those melting pot places and the food influence comes from a variety of countries and cultures. The Borough Market is a great start for the outdoor, fresh food feel. Is one of the worlds largest open air market and features anything from a glass of fresh Pimms to your classic fish and chips. The vibe here is quite unique and the food is definitely something to write home about.

Book a table at Gordon Ramsey's Savoy Grill. It's located in the iconic Savoy Hotel and is the perfect London treat. The restaurant has an elegant 1920s theme and makes for the perfect pre theatre dining experience. The dishes are a compelation of British and French influences and the flavors will leave you wanting more.

Chinatown is the perfect place to start if something a little more cultured is your taste. Nestled in the heart of London's West End, you'll find the streets lined with international restaurants serving up some of the best dishes. You can grab some of the best Hong Kong street food or dine in and experience some authentic Chinese fusion cuisines.

Indian restaurants are also a plenty in England. If your palatte can handle all of the flavours and spices opt for an Indian inspired curry.

The scenery. 

One of the natural beauties of this gorgeous city is the parks. Take some time to stroll through the greenery or even pack a picnic and make a pit stop for the afternoon. Kensington Palace which is now home to the not-so-new William and Kate, is nestled in Kensington Gardens. If it's your lucky day you may even spot a royal landing.

Kensington Gardens

Hyde Park is another gorgeous landscape and most comparable to Central Park. There a places to eat and you can rent a row boat to take you down the stream. Is the nursery rhyme stuck in your head yet? In the summer this is a prime location but it's definitely worth a visit no matter the time of year, you might just have to throw on an extra layer or two, or three. This park is host to rock concerts in the summer and ice skating rinks + Christmas Markets in the winter.

Take a walk along the Southbank, this is a great way to see London by foot. Along this stroll you'll be able to see The Shard, Tate Modern, St.Paul's Cathedral among other interests.

The gems.

I'm a creature of habit and once I find a favourite (hence the spelling) I anticipate going back time and time again. Some of these favorites are what I like to call my 'hidden gems' of London.

Goring hotel

Breakfast in bed at the Goring Hotel tops this little list of mine. The name might sound familiar because this is where Princess Kate got her beauty sleep the night before the wedding. It is a quaint and quintessential treasure and, although it's not the most economical of places, it's worth every pretty penny. There's just something about coffee and french toast delivered to your bedside on a silver platter that has me swooning. The afternoon tea at the Goring is also a special treat, I'd even go as far as saving it's the best that London has to offer.

Notting hill street

Another off the trail kind of place is Notting Hill. Although I've never spotted Hugh Grant I was able to knock on the blue door. You may, for a second, feel like you've walked on to a movie scene but this eclectic borough will have you falling in love for its own personal culture. The shops carry a unique variety of clothes, accessories and knick knacks and the fresh street food will tempt you with every stride. If you're still hungry for something delicious you can step inside the famous Hummingbird Bakery for out-of-this-world cupcakes.

The shopper.

Oxford Street
Source : OxfordStreet.co.uk

London is home to some of the world's best shopping. If this is up your street, as it is mine, make time to visit Harrods department store. This store makes Macy's NYC look like a child's playground. After navigating this luscious space head over to Oxford Street. This street is always bustling no matter the time of day but this street is lined with everything you need to feed that shopping habit.

I hope this guide has convinced you that you must add this destination to your 'must see' list stat. No doubt there will be something amazing for each of you. Now go start planning + dreaming and thank me later.

Have any of you been to London? What was your favorite about this city?

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A happy woman's necessities

guide to woman's success

This sisterhood is a beautiful thing. At a very young age we prance around in our mothers high heels, with clown-like lipstick faces, wearing and nearly tripping over a string of pearls, feeling as if we could rule the world. Then something happens and that confidence we had as a little one, shifts. We begin to over analyze, worry, and stress becomes a real and heavy burden. However, that fun loving ringlet spirit still lives within each of us. There are just some things we need to remember in order to get through life's many challenges, obstacles, triumphs and successes with class, style, laughter and just the right dose of confidence. 

It's likely you'll nod your pretty little head to a few and shake your finger in discord at others. And that's okay too, after all we weren't made identical for a reason.

A handy guide to a woman's success;

Fresh manicure. It can be a shiny clear gloss or maybe something a little more edgy. I prefer a pale pink at the moment. Whatever the choice a fresh, no chipped, polished hand just does something for a woman's over all look.

Tube of the perfect hue of red lipstick. You may not be a fan but let me forewarn you that there may just come a moment when you'll need that extra bit of oomph and wish you'd had heeded my advice.

Killer pair of heels accompanied by a practical pair of flats. Let's face it - heels to steal the show and flats to get your busy-body self quickly and effectively from one place to another.

A 'get out of jail free card' or better known as, your best friend. Because there will be things that happen in life that we will need "bailing" out of or at least that person who will bring the 'bond' in the form of plenty of ice cream tubs, a cry, a chick flick, or a shopping spree.

An anthem. That jam that you crank up a little louder. You know the one, the one that you can jump around your house alone to, the one that lifts your spirits, the one that helps you let loose and let go of every care in the world.

Sleep. I'm guilty of trying to get everything on my list done even if it means tapping into my zzz's. However, sleep does rejuvenate our bodies and our brains and it is an important factor in preparing us for the next day. The ability to turn the lights off is a hidden treasure.

Bath time. Because sometimes we could all use a little r+r. Fill it to the brim with bubbles and take a sigh of relief.

Bucket List. Every happy and successful woman never stops dreaming.

Obviously the things that made my list will differ from yours, and it's evident that some of these things are trivial, but this list is a compilation of some of life's simple pleasures. These are some of the necessities that can give that extra oomph of laughter, confidence and credence.

What would your list hold?

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What's in my bag.

Amidst doing the daunting purse transition that happens every-so-often around these parts I decided why not reveal what lives inside my Mary Poppins-like bag.

And because who can resist a good deal you should know that this bag was basically a steal. I picked up this lovely boho from Banana Republic for a whopping $40 down from $110 originally. You can find a similar design here.

what's in my bag

So what's in the gem?

1. Rosebud Lip Balm. I swear by it and have for years, upon years. It's the best thing since, well, since sliced bread high speed internet. Get yourself some and you'll soon see why.

2. A pound coin, and yes, this is more relevant than meets the eye and serves two prime purposes. It lets me get a trolley (shopping buggy) from the supermarket (grocery store) and bonus, it buys me my morning fuel. That's right English peeps turn your pretty little ears eyes this way. This one gold coin can get you a Carluccio's Americano/Latte/Cappuccino - bargain. Sorry Sbux, budgeting wins this time. This morning go-to is worth every pretty pence. Pun intended.

3. Max Studio Fix. It's a staple. Even though my foundation may change from time to time this guy is a constant. I keep it as my emergency powder fix and it's never failed me.

4. Notebook. As I've mentioned before this is a necessity. There's just something about jotting my thoughts down on a blank canvas that makes me tick.

5. iPhone/iPad aka the thing keeps me connected, captures memories and keeps a hold of everything from contacts, to-do lists and all of my social sites.

6. Water. Because staying hydrated is always a priority. Although this is the thing that breaks my back because somehow more bottles than one sneak their way in.

7. Faux glasses. Yes, secrets out. Although I have an actual reading pair, more times than not I use these to creatively disguise tired eyes and long nights. Sometimes it works, sometimes.

8. Stationary. There's something beautiful about a handwritten note. Sometimes it's to say thanks, sometimes to say hello but a pen to paper letter always says 'I care'. So whenever I have an opportune moment to scribble my thoughts these pieces of art come in handy.

9. Lip stick. The Audrey Hepburn-esque comes alive in me when I dabble on the red and the fun loving bubbly comes out when I dot on the pretty-in-pink. Lipstick can change a mood, an outfit and can give you that confidence boost to walk into the room, steal the show and, conquer the day.

10. Unlimited supply of pens. To jot down those notes, thoughts and dreams. You just never know when the moment is going to strike.

11. Almonds. The perfect pick-me-up. It seems like I'm on-the-go more times than not and these nuggets have kept me from becoming that 'hungry' person a time or two.

12. Umbrella. Because around here it can start to drizzle at a moments notice. If I've learned one thing from living here it's to never ever get caught without a 'brolly'.

13. Sunglasses. because squinting isn't attractive and can cause wrinkles. Prevention is key.

14. Gum. Because nobody want's to be distracted by the bad breath. And my said coffee addiction doesn't smell as nice once it's been consumed.

15. Keys. Without them I can't get from point A to point B or let myself in to the chateau. Bare necessity.

16. Wallet. Although some things, and sometimes the best things, in life are free. Let's face it, some things aren't.

And that's, that ladies. Hope you've enjoyed this little peak into my sanctuary. Feel free to show us inside yours + link up below.

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I dos + lessons learned

Photo cred to the amazing GoGetMarried

It's pretty certain from my observations that if you're a Brit you'll most likely banter about the weather in 9 out of every 10 conversations. Simply because 9 out of every 10 days it's gray, gloomy, raining ('spitting' as they say in the North) or better yet it's a consistent down pour. For days on end.

It's also pretty guaranteed that if I rummaged back through some of my posts over the last year and a half I'll find those that express my heart's desire for more sun + moan about the less-than-glorious temperatures.

Although there may be a serious lack of vitaminD around these parts, when the sun is out there's no place else I'd rather be. That weather that we can so easily complain about makes the grass a brilliant green, the blooms even brighter and the skies a deeper shade of blue.

My heart is desperately trying to grab hold of this very same truth and habitually apply it to my life. That those rainy + tough days make the sun shining moments even more beautiful. This weekend was a true testament to that very same realization.

As we witnessed our precious friends tie the knot I was reminded of the perfect plans, adventures + purpose that are set before us. I had a glimpse of 'home' here. My heart was full as we danced the night away with friends, exchanged laughs and instantly felt a sweet bond with those who had traveled from afar. S and I were so honored to be apart of our dear friends' special day but for me it went way beyond that.

It was a sweet reminder that we are in England and this land far far away for a specific reason. Sometimes these stints of traveling and moving away are short and sometimes they are longer than we had ever intended but, whatever the case might be, they are meaningful stops along this road called life that we are passing through.

This journey through life abroad is the perfect blend of trials and challenges intertwined with friendships and memories that shape us and mold us for the next thing, the next calling and the next dream. So in this place I can find peace and 'home'.

Whatever place you find yourself in today and this week be reminded that it's for a specific purpose. Someone needs your smile, your encouragement or your laugh.  photo Tara-16_zpsec1fb878.png