Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cinque Terre.


 

 
 
























Hello everyone!

Yesterday I went on a day trip to the beautiful Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy. It's my first time being out of Florence, which really made it all the more exciting and special to explore somewhere new since coming to Europe.  I went with a group for students called Florence for Fun which I recommend if you're ever here (Bus 2 Alps and Euroadventures are good too!). We left early in the morning by bus for two hours and then took a short train ride to the first island. 

I can't tell you all how beautiful it was. Words, photos, recollections cannot describe it all. It's just something you have to see for yourself. I did a two hour hike from the second island to the third through the mountain and the views were seriously spectacular. I was also very intrigued by the terrain here because it seemed so tropical, almost like something you would find in South America. Not how I imagined Italy to be! It was so, so hot out and the hike was exhausting, but well worth it...because then I got to lay on the beach and swim in the Mediterranean Sea for a bit! The water was so clear, so blue...breathtaking. I was surprised at the bathing suit choices here because I had read that Italians were pretty conservative people when it came to dress, so I had bought/packed a one piece for the trip. But when I got here, it seemed everyone was in two pieces! What I really admire here in Italy is that there doesn't seem to be this body shaming like there is in the US. Women of all ages and sizes wore two pieces and didn't seem to think anything of it. Back home, if you're bigger you're told the public doesn't want to see you in a two piece or if you're above the age of 30 it's like you've committed a crime by wearing something so youthful. I hope that the US progresses its beauty standards like Europe's eventually! Haha, but maybe not so much in the men's category. Speedos are very hip here and I saw lot of...umm, somethings, lol! Also to note, I found it interesting that the little girls don't wear swim suit tops like in the US. Interesting take on feminism that in the US we feel like we need to cover our little girls up because they are 'girls' (although they have no actual breasts), but here in Europe it seems the anatomy differences don't matter. 

Cinque Terre is such an easy, leisurely place where it seemed many were just on vacations with their family, having a good time. It was relaxing to lay on the crowed beach and the water was refreshing (but I'm not used to salt water!). After a bit of sun, Haley and I got some dinner on the board walk where you could view out into the sea and beach. I'm not a big sea food fan which is what I know Cinque is known for, but they're also known for some good pesto so I got pasta with that! Can I also note that I had the most amazing peach Italian soda ever?!? I didn't even mind that I paid 4 euro for it! After, we went and got some gelato and by then it was time to start heading back to Florence. I was exhausted and the apartment sure felt like a comforting home to come back to by the end of the evening.

Although I do love Florence, it is a small city and you somewhat run out of easy things to do on an every day basis (meaning, it takes a long time to do things like museums and tours which is hard to do when I'm in class part of the days). So that being said, it was nice to have a little change of scenery and get a different view of Italy. Definitely a beautiful one at that! I am greatly looking forward to a school trip to Siena this weekend, a trip to the Almafi Coast the weekend after that, and then PARIS for five days also with the school. Cannot wait! x

With much love, Lauren.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gelato Everyday, Please.

Striped Crop Top, Cherry Shorts: Aeropostale.
Red Keds: Macy's.
Hair Bow: Claire's.
Cross Necklace: Gift from Ry.
Lipstick in MAC's Russian Red.
Photos by Haley (@hchatlin on insta!).

People have been asking me since I've now spent about a week and a half here what my favorite thing about Italy is so far. Is it wrong to say gelato? I've never tasted something so delicious. I've limited myself to having it every other day because I love to get the medium cones where you get three scoops at a time. That's a lot of gelato and it's super filling! I think the chocolate is probably my absolute favorite and the salted caramel isn't too shabby too. Surprisingly, I haven't had a coffee flavored one yet, but am sure planning on it when my next gelato day comes around ;) Oh! And if you're looking for a good place to go in Florence (or maybe they have these in other places in Italy, too), but it's called Grom. Always try and go for the organic gelato if you can; it's the better stuff. Also, don't fall for the piles and piles of gelato in the window shops when you pass by. It's actually not good and super expensive! You want to get the gelato in the metal tins-- so, so, SO good! x

With much love, Lauren.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vespa Here, Vespa There.

Pink Crop Top: Aeropostale.
Skirt: Thrifted.
Loafers: TJ Maxx.
Hat: c/o OASAP.
Necklace: Forever21.
Lipstick in Covergirl's 'Valentine.'
Photos by Haley (@hchatlin on instagram!)

Hello everyone!
 You may see me wear a lot of the same pieces in my outfits I post on the blog because I actually didn't bring too many clothes! Here I was thinking I had packed a lot, but when my suitcase came in weighing only 44 pounds (you're allowed 50) and I got a look at how much all my roommates packed...I realized I severely underestimated what to bring. It's okay though! I was thinking that I had to buy a bunch of clothes to have things to wear, but I realized I have enough to make lots of outfits and that got me thinking to challenge myself...

I'm going to try to style outfits with only the things I brought. It'll be hard to wear the pieces so much, but they're all very versatile and can work lots of ways. I've allowed myself to buy one piece a month, but that's it other than the clothing I came with. I've never done to this extreme of remixing, so I think it will be a very fun and challenging way to explore my style over here in Italy.

I know a lot of people + my mom even (ha, hi mom!) have requested seeing pictures of my apartment and school. As for the apartment, I don't feel super comfortable showing it because I have three roommates and want to respect their space and privacy. Plus, I mean, there's really not much to show! Not that it's not a nice apartment because it really is, but it's just kind of basic and filled with mix matched stuff from all the students before me. I might be able to show a few pictures here and there, but I don't plan on doing an apartment tour because I'm not really customizing it or anything. As for the school, I can't really take photos of that either, unfortunately. It's in an ancient palace actually, but it's very...hm, tall and skinny. It's not spread out, so each floor is really small and not much to see. Plus, the lighting is very dark because the place is so old. So, again, I feel like there's not too much to see! I posted a photo of the library on my instagram (@passingwhimsies) which has really awesome frescos on the walls, so that's definitely worth a looksee if you'd like! Sorry if any of you are disappointed :(

Things are going well here though, but the heat is killing me! Which what I find hilarious though is that all the professors say this is a very mild summer, not bad at all. What!?! All the Italians I see around town are wearing jackets and pants and I'm hardly surviving in the above outfit. It's supposed to be 90 on Friday--SO hot. My poor Ohio mind + body isn't used to this much sun without rain and clouds so many days in a row, ha. x

With much love, Lauren.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shake It Off!

Crochet Tank: Gap Outlet.
Red Skirt: c/o OASAP.
Sandals: TJMaxx.
Beret: Target.
Bracelet: Charming Charlie.
Satchel: Forever21.
Lipstick in Russian Red. 
Photos by Haley (@hchatlin on instagram!).

Hello everyone!

Ha, so clearly from the title of this post I've been listening to Taylor Swift's new song. I've always been a T-Swift fan since I was 13 (I actually used to listen to Tear Drops on My Guitar and wistfully think about my now current boyfriend back then), and still at 21 I love her. No shame here. Her new song is so catchy and I love the message behind it. Give it a listen if you haven't already! 

So, Haley and I went out to buy laundry detergent the other day at the grocery store and picked some up no problem. Our one roommate washed her clothes with it, but then when the second roommate went to wash her clothes she noticed that the bottle had pictures of bathtubs and sinks on the back of it...Although it had said 'detergent' on the front, we still managed to pick up house cleaner and our one poor roommate washed her clothes with it! Nothing happened thankfully, but it's still hilarious. Need to get better at reading Italian.

This weekend my three roommates and I have a one day trip booked for Cinque Terre! Super excited to visit a coastal town here and see Italy from a different city outside of Florence. x

With much love, Lauren.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.

Hello everyone!

A few days ago I was walking around Florence when I just stumbled upon the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. I knew it was here, but didn't know exactly where but figured I would find it eventually. It was only 6 euro to get in so I had to do it!

Can't express how fascinating it was and if you're in Florence, you must go! Ferragamo just wasn't a shoe designer. He studied feet and knew the ins and outs to walking, posture, standing position, and equilibrium to create perfectly made shoes for the human foot that felt comfortable and were beautiful. I didn't know he had designed custom models for so many different celebrities (Carmen Miranda, Judy Garland, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey) who had hard to fit feet! 

The museum is underground, so above is actually the flagship store for Ferragamo! Since it is the headquarters, part of the store was dedicated to limited editions of classic shoe models that they made for past celebrities and the colors that would have been used back then, as well. The coolest part was they even had the original style label on the insides! There was, of course, a regular store, too, with all the current models of shoes and handbags, complete with stuffy associates who didn't bother to help me, ha (I can't really blame them, it was clear I wasn't buying anything).

Anyways! Such a special experience and I'm so glad I got to tour this and learn some history about Ferragamos because I do have a thrifted, vintage pair I wear quite often and are my cherished babies. I cherish them even more now!

With much love, Lauren.

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Review!


I'll never forget for my first high school dance how I wanted to look absolutely perfect. Intricately coiled updo, a dream dress, flawless makeup, and a brilliant, white smile for all the photos that were going to be taken. I had everything checked off the list but the white smile, so I thought I'd try out some Crest White strips from the grocery market. I remember so clearly, it's even kind of funny now to think back on, the absolute pain and sensitivity I felt when I left them on for even 5 minutes. It took days for me to not wince when I bit down on food, and since then I haven't tried any teeth whitening regiments. 

In the beginning of the summer though I was contacted by Smile Brilliant, which is a custom tray teeth whitening company, to try out the product. I was hesitant at first because of my previous experiences, but I truly wanted to see if these could give me the bright, white teeth I wanted without the pain.

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How it works: 
Creating the Mold
The process was incredibly easy and highly catered toward the customer. You receive the above blue mouth guards where you mix the catalyst paste + base base and put them in the mold. It took about 4 minutes each of just biting down to get perfect impressions of your teeth, rinsing them off, and then mailing them to get back the custom trays within a week!

Whitening Process
When you first purchase, you're given 6 tubes of whitening gel in syringes where actually one tube is for four uses. So that's quite a bit of whitening! You also get desensitizing gel that you put on 1 hour in advance to help if you have sensitive teeth. It's easy to just squeeze the whitening material  into the trays and then place them onto your teeth where you can let them sit from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on how great of a difference you want.

My Results:
Sensitivity
I wanted to really see how this whitening method reacted with my sensitive teeth, so I tried doing it both with and without the desensitizing gel a few times. Either way, I had no issues with sensitivity AT ALL! Highly recommend this if you have sensitive teeth and want a whitening program.

Whitening
I was using this right before I went to Italy so I didn't have a chance to get through the whole set of my gel before I left. I did use it about 4-5 times though for an hour or hour and a half each and I notice that just this little bit certainly did make my teeth about a shade whiter. 

Brightening
I asked my roommate Haley what difference she saw in my teeth, and the first thing she said was definitely brighter which I would have to agree with! They just look so much more vibrant and less dulled. A nice pick me up if you have a special event or something coming up. 

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I keep my reviews on here honest and do the ones that I think will help you guys out the most or are worth the money. Thankfully, I can say I am incredibly satisfied with this product! I thought the customer service was especially phenomenal. They were very quick to answer any questions I had and the shipping was all paid for and fast.

Hoping to finish up my set when I get home from Italy and buy some more gel in the future because I'll always have the teeth whitening trays! The starter set (what I got) is right here and you can watch/read testimonials if you're interested.

Thank you Smile Brilliant for this opportunity and thank you guys for reading! x

With much love, Lauren.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bolbi Gardens.

Black Peter Pan Collar Dress: Modcloth.
Sandals: TJ Maxx. 
Hair Bow: Claire's.
Lipstick in WNW's Rose Bud.
Photos by Haley (@hchatlin on instagram)

Hello everyone!

Today my friend and roommate Haley and I spent some time exploring the Bolbi Gardens at the Pitti Palace. They were just spectacular, and unable to be described in words or seen the same through pictures. They were pretty large and had all sorts of interesting and unique statues that I really, really enjoyed viewing. I liked how they were more integrated with nature and fit into the scenery rather than just being perfectly placed in a museum. There's something beautiful about letting time take its toll on these great works of history.

After, we had some pasta on the smaller side of the Arno and had gelato at the best place in town; Grom. REALLY recommend if you're in Florence or if you ever seen one in your travels! The dark chocolate is simply the best thing I've ever had. We ate our gelato by the Duomo and watched a guy selling illegal art in the streets get arrested by the police, ha. It was actually super interesting and I was just filled with awe how the other illegal sellers went right back to selling after the police had arrested the one man. Can't imagine living that kind of life.

With much love, Lauren.