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Hey guys, 

Josh and I have never really done anything too crazy when it comes to gift-giving for Valentine’s Day. For us, we are usually saving up for a trip or an experience like an event or a concert that we want to attend together, so Valentine’s Day presents aren’t usually top priority. However, in case you’re obsessed with the holiday yourself, I created a little gift guide for Her that you can send as a “hint” to your significant other. 😉 

Otherwise, I came up with some fun Valentine’s gifts you can give to anyone in your life that you love. Whether you’re celebrating Galentine’s Day in the spirit of Parks and Rec, or simply wanting to send your bestie a fun pick-me-up in the mail, most of these items are at a pretty affordable price point and very festive. My personal favorite? The Sriracha bottle “Hot Stuff” pouch! How fun is that?! 

 

Chai Really Like You Tea $15

Nike Air Max Thea Flyknit Woven $150

Bow + Drape Hot Stuff Pouch $39

Herringbone Pom Pom Throw $65

You Are My ___ Valet Tray $28

Kaden Jelly Rainboot $35

NARS Matte Lipstick $28

Love Potion Thermal Coffee Mug $14

Valentino Cat Eye Sunglasses $70

However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, and whoever you end up spending it with, I am so thankful for you all and love you all so much! Thanks for supporting me on my blogging journey ~ I’m sending lots of love out to you guys! 

Olivia 

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When I tell people that I was able to travel to eight countries on three continents in three weeks, the biggest surprise for people is that I did it all with a carry on. Armed with a hiking backpack stuffed to the brim, I set out on what was surely the adventure of a lifetime. Why then is the coolest part of the story about my luggage?

I had to admit that for most people, myself included, this seemed like a tall order. I wasn’t a minimalist, expert traveler, or anything else along those lines. I was simply on a budget. Using discount airlines, I did all my travel on the cheap. And I mean so cheap that I cooked my own pasta in Italy. I used to think that being offered a drink on the flight meant I was living in luxury.

How did I get this way? Well to tell that story, I have to look back at sixteen year old Josh, bad haircut and all. This is when I left the country for the first time on a mission trip in Panama. Like everyone else in my group, my luggage weighed in around 120 pounds. Most Americans would argue that was enough to last me the week…hopefully! With my suitcase in tow weighing almost as much as I did, I jetted off to a far off land. When I arrived I found the most humble of people. Not by choice but by situation. Most of the people I met owned one outfit that they wore everyday until they grew out of it.

This reality hit me like a truck. Like most of you, I enjoyed shopping. I enjoyed having nice things. It wasn’t until I realized I didn’t need all these things that I became a happier person. To the horror of my mother, I left most of my clothes behind with just enough to make it back to the United States without too much body oder. Don’t mistake my purpose; I’m not attempting to turn everyone into environmental hippie freedom fighters here, I’m just telling my story.

Last spring, my girlfriend Olivia and I set off to study abroad in Spain, and while that already sounds privileged enough, I should mention we lived on the beach. In a modern, Western country surrounded by the influences of fashion, I lived humbly with my host family in a bedroom the size of my walk in closet back home. Much to my shame, I will admit to you now that the first day living with my host family in Spain, I cried. Hard. I missed my stuff. The same suitcase that in Panama lasted me a week was now supposed to last me five months. How was I going to make it with only eight pairs of pants, sixteen t-shirts, nine button downs, and only one coat? Crazy I know.

Looking back I can’t help but laugh. After a few weeks I started to figure out how lucky, fortunate, and rich I really was. The opportunities I was being given don’t come around to most. I needed to capitalize on it in the most respectful way I could. For three weeks, Olivia and I traveled to seven different cities around Europe, and I only brought two pairs of jeans, four t-shirts, and one coat. What shocked me is that I loved it. I no longer had to pick out what I was going to wear the next day. It came down to what was clean, what was dry, and what the weather was like. 

I was liberated to then enjoy my time fully immersed into the cultures around me. While I indulged on occasion by shopping at the never ending buffet of fashion, I had one hard reality. If I wanted to buy something, I had to get rid of something else. I couldn’t bring myself to waste that kind of money. Instead I invested it in experiences like museum tickets, and activities like jumping off mountains.

My pitch is this; when you’re shopping online feeding the always hungry cart, stop and think about how the $7 sweater might just not be as good of a deal as you thought. Complete your simple wardrobe with lasting, high quality, dare I say expensive clothing. You’ll be surprised at how much less you end up spending, feel good because you took some steps towards sustainability, and get joy out of how bomb you look in that jean jacket. I will admit this may be easier for men that it is for women. That’s why I’m so glad that Olivia is passionate about the mission of finding ethical and sustainable clothing. Sometimes, it’s really not the amount of clothing you own that matters. Investing in pieces that last frees up your life for other things besides worrying about all the latest trends because you’ll be dressed in a way that is timeless. 

Josh

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Happy Saturday, friends! 

Today, I am spending the day working on all kinds of homework and personal projects, but before I jump into those things, I wanted to share a recipe with you that I made for breakfast! It’s the most perfect choice for weekend breakfasts, late night snacks, and pretty much any other time that fits your schedule! This past week, I was pretty sick with some really bad throat pain. Because of that, I was on a pretty much liquid diet. However, I used some of my sick downtime to perfect my go-to recipe, the acai bowl.

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After recently getting back from a long weekend trip to Chicago, I wanted to share all about it with you. However, I thought I’d put together a little guide of some of my favorite things to do, so that you can see just how many incredible things you can fit into a short time in a city. Josh and I got pretty skilled at maximizing our time in a city after we visited seven cities in three weeks last March during our spring break.

This was one of my favorite trips to Chicago to date because 1) my dad gave this trip to me as a belated Christmas present, so I was well equipped with some shopping money for a fun time exploring Michigan Ave. and 2) Josh was able to join us, so I was really happy he could spend a weekend hanging out with my family.

We took the train, which is my absolute favorite way to get to Chicago. The Amtrak is a quick and easy way to travel, and the student discount is pretty great, too. Early last Friday morning, we all begrudgingly pulled ourselves out of our beds and left on an early morning train to Chicago that brought us to Chicago’s Union Station around 10:30am.

From there we took a taxi to our hotel and our weekend began! Below I’ve created an itinerary using most of the things we did this trip, along with a few of my all-time favorite things to do in Chicago, so that you can have a fun-filled, jam-packed 48 hour itinerary in Chicago! Sometimes for me, it’s really helpful to see how you can accomplish all kinds of things in such a small amount of time, so without further ado, here is my Guide to 48 Hours in Chi-town!

Friday, after a late morning arrival in Chicago

12:30pm – Arrive at the hotel on Michigan Avenue, the InterContinental Chicago. I would highly recommend staying here, since I’ve been here on three separate occasions and loved every time. It even has a Starbucks connected to the lobby.

After we checked in to the hotel and organized our things, we headed downstairs, grabbed a coffee from Starbucks and hit Michigan Ave. 

1:45pm – After perusing around some stores on Michigan Ave., it’s time to eat! Opt for the Grand Lux Cafe, which is operated by the same owners of one of my all time favorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory.

3:00pm – Hit the town! You’re right in the middle of Michigan Ave., so it’s time to shop! This past trip, I hit LUSH, Topshop, Free People, Nike, ZARA, and a few other places. Since I rarely get the opportunity to shop Michigan Ave., I always go a little crazy shopping when I do come here.

6:00pm – Head towards probably the cutest restaurant I’ve ever been to in my entire life, The Hampton Social, home to the famous “rose all day” sign you’ve most likely seen on Instagram before.

8:00pm – After an incredible dinner at the Hampton Social, head back to the hotel and change into some more comfortable clothes. Walk from the hotel to Lucky Strike, where the rest of the evening can be spent bowling, playing pool or ping pong, and munching on appetizers if you’re still hungry. This place has been a staple to every Chicago trip I’ve taken with my family. It’s the nicest bowling alley I’ve ever been to, and it’s always super crowded, which just adds to the fun atmosphere.

10:30pm – You’ll be pretty tuckered out after your big day, so head back to the hotel to get some sleep. You can always stream a movie in bed, but after this long of a day, I’m sure you’ll be ready to fall asleep as soon as possible.

Saturday 

8:30am – Wake up and get ready for another big day. Today is a big day for photos, so make sure you’re looking ready for a bunch of photo opps!

9:30am – Catch a taxi and head to Goddess and the Baker for breakfast. This is honestly one of my favorite coffee shops and bakeries in the entire world, and it’s a must-do if you’re looking for a fun breakfast spot downtown Chicago. Filled to the brim with the perfect mid-century modern decor, Goddess and the Baker offers food all day, but I would personally recommend the acai bowl, jasmine tea, and apple cinnamon sugar scone for breakfast. It’s a game changer!

3:00pm – Head to Millennium Park to explore! There’s so much to do there, that it will easily take you a while to see everything there is to do. From the stereotypical pictures in front of the Bean or {if you happen to visit in the wintertime like I did} ice skating in front of the Bean, there are so many fun things to do!

6:00pm – Walk back across the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the hotel, where you can have some down time and time to get ready. You’ll need a fancy outfit for what’s to come tonight.

7:30pm – Catch a cab to the Willis Tower to the swanky Metropolitan Club restaurant. I would highly recommend the chicken stuffed with goat cheese and dried cranberries. The views from this restaurant are absolutely incredible. To be able to

10:30pm – After staring at the views of the city from your table, it’s time to head back to the hotel. Make sure to get your things semi organized because you’ll need to check out in the morning!

Sunday

9:30am – After all your luggage is packed up, bring it downstairs to the luggage check so you can keep it at the hotel past the check out time!

10:30am – Walk across the street to the Corner Bakery. This is a great place to grab a quick bowl of fruit or a breakfast panini! You’re going to want to make the most of your time today, since today is the day you head home, so you don’t want to waste a lot of time on food!

11:00am – Catch a taxi to the Field Museum! You could spend as little or as much time as you want here, because you could be content visiting one exhibit, or every single one. Your ticket also includes a movie so that takes up time, too! When we went last weekend, we chose to see the movie “Mysteries of China” which was such an interesting movie in 3D! Also, there was an incredible tattoo exhibit featured where a tattoo artist was actually giving tattoos inside the museum. I could honestly visit the Field Museum every single time I come to Chicago because I learn so much every time. It’s definitely on my must-do list for anyone’s trip to Chicago.

Our train was at 5pm, so we got back to the hotel around 3pm, grabbed some coffee and our luggage, and headed to the train station. 

And with that, a fun weekend in Chicago is pretty much summed up! I wanted to highlight some of my favorite aspects of Chicago for you in case you have a trip planned there soon! Or, if you’ve already visited Chicago, what are some of your favorite things to do there? I’m always looking for more recommendations because I’m sure I’ll be heading back in the near future.

Olivia

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I have always been a “yes” person. I think it comes from two things. Mainly, I want to make everyone happy and I used to think that by telling everyone yes, I was solving this problem. Second, I genuinely have such a wide range of interests and hobbies, that it a lot of times is hard for me to say no to something, because I want to do everything. For example, I started college getting one major. I now have one major, three minors, and two certificates. A little much, huh? Well, it’s because I just wanted to take all kinds of classes that appealed to all of my interests, so I did. Because of this, I know that I will be a more marketable person upon graduation, and I have also made so many different friends from all kinds of different programs around my campus.

There are definitely a lot of pros to wanting to be involved in as many things as possible, but I also want to touch on the fact today that, it’s okay not to be so involved. I’ve realized that saying yes all the time isn’t necessarily something that works best all the time.

Last semester for example, I had three internships, a job, and was enrolled in 20 credit hours of classes. At some point, it began to feel like an addiction, this feeling of needing to say yes to everything. To being constantly busy and never having a waking moment of free time to spend wth anyone who I care about. I began to realize that while my resume was amplified, my personal time for growth was dwindling, and at times I felt like it was nonexistent. As someone who considers herself to be a creative, this kind of schedule didn’t work out so well. There was no time for me to sit back to grow and process when I don’t allow myself time to even eat at times because my schedule was so busy.

I’ve identified that this is something that I want to change for 2017. Already, I have signed up for a smaller class load, turned down one of my internships for this next semester, and built in time for myself in my schedule. Looking ahead to the next few months, I’ve already planned trips and fun activities that will give me time to get away and tap into my adventurous side.

While I still am very much someone who likes to have everything planned out, I’ve realized that I can also plan out time to just simply be excited for growth. Over this past month of being at home on winter break, I worked on making videos, creating art, listening to podcasts, and  journaling. It’s like an explosion of my creative self was what I needed to tap into my normal self again. 

I’m so ready to hit this semester running with a spirit that’s back to feeling my creative best! 

Love, 

Olivia

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