How to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement

WILL BE UPDATING: Links to all petitions, donations, and educational resources below

I know all the information circulating the media and news can be overwhelming. With all these links flying around Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I wanted to share a compilation of all of the resources available. I will be adding to this list as the conversation around race continues. Our country has faced systematic racism for far too long, and every dollar, every signature and every effort counts right now.

I’ve broken it down into categories of where you can donate, what to sign and what books and films you can watch/read for further education on the issues.

Just reiterating, I’m merely an ally trying to share my resources. These are NOT the only resources or a checklist for people to check off. The fight for change doesn’t end there. I’m still educating myself every day, and encourage those not aware of our injustices to continue the conversation.

Where you can donate:

Be sure to look at their social media accounts and homepage for these to see if they’ve reached their goal.

Where you can sign petitions:

What to watch/read:

Books to read:

  • How To Be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
  • White Supremacy and Me by Layla F. Saad
  • Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge⁣⁣⁣
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Films and series to watch:

  • 13th (Netflix)
  • Fruitvale Station (Netflix)
  • Hidden Figures (Amazon Prime)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime)
  • Do The Right Thing (Amazon Prime)
  • Malcolm X (Amazon Prime)
  • The Hate You Give (Amazon Prime)
  • Selma (Amazon Prime)
  • See You Yesterday (Netflix)
  • Dear White People (Netflix)
  • Atlanta (Amazon Prime)
  • Black-ish (Amazon Prime)
  • Degrassi Next Class: Season 2 (Netflix)

How to protest:

If you’re looking to protest, I encourage everyone to stand up and rally together, but remember to stay safe. If you’re looking to find a protest near you, Mashable did a great article on the steps to finding one near you: https://mashable.com/article/how-to-find-george-floyd-protests-near-me/?europe=true

CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/02/us/how-to-protest-safely-know-your-rights-wellness-trnd/index.html

Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-protest-safely-gear-tips/

I haven’t blogged in almost a year. I have a love/hate relationship with my blog. All it takes is one snide comment of “you’re trying to become an influencer” for me to ditch writing on it for a while. However, now is not the time to be silent.

The events that have taken place have upset me to my core. I’m angry, confused and sad over the death of George Floyd. I am disappointed with my white peers and POC who have taken no action. In times of injustice, it is essential that people stand up and become an ally. Everyone is contributing in their own way. If you have anymore resources for me to add to the list, please comment below, and I’ll add it.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Desmond Tutu

5 Summer Must-Haves for Your Next Beach Holiday

Summer is here, and holiday season has left me wanting to up my wardrobe game whether that means on the beach or at the airport. After doing some travelling myself, I’ve been inspired to create my own list of the summer must-haves to make your luggage a little more luxury.

Forget the sarongs and over-sized dresses. Hawaiian shirts are the new cover ups as they add a relaxed but feminine vibe to an otherwise standard bikini. Go for a size up or even try going for a men’s Hawaiian shirt so you can easily tie the ends or wear them loose.

Where to buy them: ASOS, TopshopUK and Forever 21

Not the most practical carry on bag, but it’s a cute purse to throw your phone, camera and sunscreen in. The rope-like material gives a tropical feel while still maintaining its leather luxury. This virtually looks good with any outfit whether its a maxi dress or a loose tee with denim shorts.

Where to buy them: TopshopUK, Mango, and Matalan

Hear me out. The days of biker shorts being limited to athletic wear only are a thing of the past. Biker shorts are perfect for the trip to the airport, as you can throw on a loose sweater over a t-shirt while still looking put together. You can continue rocking them with a bum bag during your holiday when you’re going sight-seeing or visiting a museum.

Where to buy them: Urban Outfitters, TopshopUK, and Pretty Little Thing

These bright-coloured headbands are popping up everywhere. They add a fun twist to any outfit, and let’s face it. Our hair can be all kinds of temperamental during the holiday whether that means dealing with constant frizz inducing-weather or 24/7 wet hair. When you run out of your travel-sized bottle of dry shampoo, this headband will come in clutch. You can wear it when you throw your hair in a bun or when your hair is still damp from beaching all day.

Where to buy them: Miss Selfridge, ASOS, and TopshopUK

Pleated skirts were all the rage this spring as they popped up on fashion runways in Paris, London and New York. This summer, they can be versatile and perfect for the day to night outfit. During the day, pair the shirt with a simple graphic tee and converse, and you can transition it to night by exchanging your tee for a black lace crop top and heels.

Where to buy them: ASOS, SHEIN, and Boohoo

The Rise and Fall of Bum Bags

How did the once dorky trend go from rags to riches?

Credit: Jennifer Padilla

Bum bags are arguably the most polarising bag in the accessory community. They’ve come a long way from being thrown in the bargain bins at Urban Outfitters.The hands-free bag has been a symbol for dorkiness among tourists and dads for the past several years, but they’re back as brands like Fendi, Zara and Balenciaga showcase the once unfashionable trend on their shelves.

Bum bags date back to the Copper Age when a 5300-year-old frozen human body’s wardrobe was shown to be wearing “belt bags” made of leather and fur. Time magazine’s October 26, 1992 cover story reported the discovery of the human, Otzi the Iceman, wearing “a leather pouch resembling a small version of the ‘fanny packs’ worn by tourists today.” That’s right. People were already sporting the trend, granted it was for a more practical use in hunting and gathering. 

The United Kingdom first coined “bum bag” in the 1950s, but the bag is now more popularly known as a fanny pack. However, it wasn’t until the ‘80s when the trend gained some footing. Bum bags started popping up in its true form: nylon, neon-coloured and purely worn around the waist. They were being sported based on functionality rather than a fashion statement. Around the same time, tourism had significantly risen in popular cities, such as New York and Japan, and bum bags were simply being used for practical travel purposes.

By the ‘90s, the trend had shifted into athleisure wear, with women wearing their Kelly Kapowski biker shorts and fitted crop tops. Not to mention the iconic Dwayne the Rock Johnson outfit back in 1996 of the wrestler sporting a black turtleneck, light wash denim and an ever so tiny black patent bum bag.

Somewhere along the way, bum bags became “dorkier” and “dad like” rather than fashionable.

Fashion writer for the LA based website Good + Well Erin Bunch wrote an article titled: “How to wear a fanny pack without looking like your dad”. She says for a while, the trend was embarrassing to sport. She remembers seeing her mum and dad wearing the bags around their waist on family vacations during the ‘90s.

While the trend still got its bad rap in the media, Karl Lagerfeld created quilted black lambskin fanny packs for Chanel in 1994, while Louis Vuitton also started gracing fanny packs in runway shows. While designers started to join in on the bum bag fad, there was an irony that came with the look.

In her article, Bunch says it was the nylon material and utilitarian use that made the look so dated in the ‘80s, which is why the fad had faded. Bunch changed her opinion though during the early 2000’s, when she saw Carrie Bradshaw wearing a Gucci bum bag with a black crop top and striped skirt on an episode of Sex and the City.

“That was the first time I saw one and thought it was styled pretty cool,” Bunch says.“They came back in 2017 when I wrote that article because ‘it girls’ like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were starting to wear them.”

Stylist and fashion blogger Jennifer Padilla frequently wears her studded leather Zara bum bag with her street and chic style on her Instagram feed. She remembers when she first saw fashion influencer and Youtuber Brittany Xavier sporting a red blazer and a Fendi bum bag cinched in at the waist. It inspired Padilla to purchase a bum bag of her own. She says as an ‘80s baby, she remembers when bum bags were simply made of nylon, cheesy neon colours and a zipper across the top.

 “I remember even as a kid seeing fanny packs when I was growing up and thinking ‘Oh that’s ugly,’” the stylist said. “I think it’s about how they were styled back then. People would wear them with baggy pants or even overalls with the one strap hanging, but I mean look at all these couture high fashion brands rocking these pieces.”

For Padilla, the trend went from ugly to couture because the materials were evolving as brands such as Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga started showing them in a chicer design in 2015 fashion runways. The other reason she feels the trend has evolved is because more women and men started wearing them across the chest.

Bunch agrees that it all comes down to the way they’re being worn, along with the people who sport fanny packs today.

“I feel like today, trends don’t come in and out of fashion like they used to so intensely. Personal style is dictated through different ways now,” Bunch says. “It used to be strictly the runways that said what was in fashion, and nowadays it’s influencers and social media as well, so there’s so many more voices and style has become a lot more eclectic as a result.”

To see them go from a practical bag to carry sunscreen in to the accessory piece of 2018 is quite a statement. Now fashion buyers seem them in every iteration of brand from Topshop’s neon green bum bag to Nasty Gal’s silver studded black version of the bag. When you see Rihanna sporting a coral-coloured power suit with a matching cinched in fanny pack, it’s hard not to want to rock one too. So here’s to the fanny pack comeback!

How to Rock Your Fanny Pack

Over the Shoulders: People have been sporting their bum bags over the shoulders, and it virtually works with any look. The over the shoulder look is for street wear everyday looks. If you’re keeping it casual with sweatpants, you can keep your look minimalistic with a matching sweatshirt and a bright coloured bum bag. You can also wear it with a simple denim jean and t-shirt for a more low key look. For someone with a more athletic built or pear shape, this is the way to wear it to accentuate the top half of your body.

Keep it Classic: If you’re apple shaped, this will be the most flattering way to wear the bum bag, and it works the best for BBQ’s, amusement parks, or just a fun summer day out. The classic nylon bag is nothing to be ashamed of as you can rock it with distressed jeans and an open bomber jacket for some more edge. You can also wear it more formally if it’s slung over a long floral skirt and an oversized fuzzy jumper.

Cinch it in: If you have an hourglass figure and want to call attention to your waist rather than your hips, try purchasing a bum bag that belts at the waist. This is the sleekest way to rock a bum bag especially if it’s a boxier shape. You can rock it like Rihanna by wearing a satin blazer and smart pair of trousers, or you can keep it more casual with a simple A-line dress.

Special thanks to Jennifer Padilla and Erin Bunch for the interviews and photos for my article! You can follow Jennifer here and Erin here.

Interview with Hey! VINA CEO Olivia Poole about her Tinder-style app for female friendships

When I was working on my dissertation, I was researching on all the platforms where I could meet women my age. I was looking for fashion and beauty opinions on a school assignment, but was surprised when I stumbled on this app called Hey! VINA. It’s sort of like Bumble BFF, but it’s so much more aesthetically pleasing with its pastel colors, and it allows women to connect after filling out detailed profiles about their interests. It also allows women to hold group events and gatherings, which can definitely take the pressure off of making friends. I spoke with the founder of the app, Olivia Poole, who gave me some insight behind the app and why women should embrace the support for one another.

Can you explain why you thought there was a need for the app? I launched Hey! VINA in 2016 because I knew firsthand how difficult it is to find friends as an adult. At the time, I had moved to San Francisco and I didn’t know anyone, let alone have an inner circle that I wanted (and needed) so badly. After starting a women’s only wine night series, Ladies Who Vino, I realized the power of bringing women together in a safe place. I created VINA to scale that experience out to the world! I decided that using a dating app like interface but with the sole intention of women’s friendship was the way to go, because I tried (and failed!) at messaging the other cool girls on other dating sites to be friends. The results proved that I was onto something—as VINA reached 100,000 downloads in its first week on the App Store.

What is your favorite feature of the app?
I love our personality quizzes! They help you see how people’s personalities fit into the equation of being a good match, plus they’re a lot of fun!

What advice would you give for someone who is going to be meeting their first VINA?
Remember that the vina you’re about to meet is here for the same exact reason as you! You both downloaded Hey! VINA for a reason and you’re here to make a connection and develop a friendship, so don’t be nervous because you’re both looking for the same things in life! You already have VINA in common, so just let the conversation build from there!

Can you explain how VINA is a bit different than Bumble BFF?
Our members say they love Hey! VINA because we’re exclusively focused on women’s friendship, so the platform is very feminine and designed with that sole goal in mind. They also love how we show so much more than photos, plus they love being able to host and attend plans created by other people in the community! Lastly, many of our members aren’t looking for dates, so they’re not comfortable having a dating app on their phones.

You can download the Hey! VINA here using Google Play or the Apple Store.

I Try a Capsule Wardrobe for a Week and Here’s What Happens

The average woman owns 95 items of clothing and only wears 59 percent of them regularly, according to a study in the Great British Journal. I know for a fact I have way more than 95 items stuffed in my cluttered closet and just the other day, I had a heap of old worn out jeans come crashing down on me. I needed to confess it: I was a shopaholic. I needed a wake up call. 

A capsule wardrobe was first coined in the 70s by a London boutique owner Susie Faux when she created a collection of key essential items of clothing that were both timeless and seasonal. A capsule wardrobe typically contains 37 pieces for each season. 

Thirty-seven? I’ll admit, I probably own more than 37 jumpers alone.  After doing some more research and joining some minimalists Facebook groups, I challenge myself to wear only 10 items for the entire week. This is coming from the girl who sometimes changes her outfit midday out of pure boredom. 

To prepare for my week, I speak with capsule wardrobe queen and blogger of A Small Wardrobe Patricia. She says: “A small wardrobe relies on versatile items that can be worn in a number of different ways. You can build your wardrobe around colours and patterns – the key is to limit the palette to a few colours, and work on building that versatility – in other words – make sure you can match lots of different things together.”

I decide that I would mostly incorporate black and white and add a splash of red and yellow, two colours I wear often. Patricia says she probably has about 33 items in her closet overall, which leaves me craving more wisdom. How could she not get bored with her closet? 

“Many women love to experiment with fashion, and with so many new trends appearing weekly, it’s hard not to! Unfortunately, this is how people end up with huge wardrobes. My tip is to figure out what looks best on you, what feels most comfortable, and what is most authentically ‘you’.”

To help me, I invited my friend Caroline Allison over to choose the items for me. Allison declutters her closet every year and is a part of a minimalist group on Facebook herself, so I thought she would be perfect for the job, unlike me. I carry an emotional attachment to my cheetah printed jumpsuit and my distressed mom jeans. She picks out staple pieces that clearly show versatility, such as a black fit and flare jumpsuit and a white chiffon button up top. They both embody the minimalistic feel that Patricia evokes in her wardrobe. 

Sunday Hangover

On my first day, I play it safe and comfortable with my red knit sweater and straight legged jeans as I mostly spend the day lounging around at a coffee shop and taking a stroll down to Waitrose. Day one doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary.

Martini Monday

Cue the creativity. Today is bold as I sport my leather leggings with the white blouse and plaid blazer. This, believe it or not, is so outside my comfort zone. I would normally swap out leather leggings for a tame pair of black skinny jeans and a white blouse in favour of a plain black tee. I’m wearing four out of the 10 pieces, so I’m not sure if I put too much in one look. But somehow, I find myself putting my hair in a little updo, and I feel like Blake Lively from A Simple Favour who rocks three piece suits and shiny oxford heeled shoes. All I’m missing is my martini glass.

Tuesday with a Twist

Today feels like a revelation. I took Patricia’s advice and decide to experiment regardless of any preconceived notions. Although both my yellow cropped sweater and formal jumpsuit are both baggy, I throw the rules out the window like she told me to. They’re an unlikely pairing, but they work harmoniously. I go to get brunch with a friend and she mentions how much she loves the “athleisure” look. 

Weary Wednesday

I’m not going to lie. I’m so cold this morning and the only viable option is the red knit sweater for a top, which I lazily pair with black leggings and my printed boots. Don’t get me wrong, my outfit still looks put together. I realise that I maybe should’ve chosen a more cohesive colour palette because I can’t possibly pair yellow and red together without looking like a hot dog. Fashion blogger Joi Smith did a spring pastel-coloured capsule wardrobe in 2017, and I’m envious of the endless pairings she came up with as she rocked ethereal mint green skirts and blush-coloured coats.

Thursday Rut

I’m feeling the rut. I wear my white blouse with the blue jeans and my boots. While I appreciate the silhouette that I normally wouldn’t rock, I don’t feel inspired at all by the look in all honesty. The white blouse is really starting to annoy me too. I’m not sure how a clothing piece could possibly annoy me, but it is. Patricia told me she’s human too and splurges from time to time and she advises me to write a list of clothes I want to purchase at the moment and walk away from it. Chances that I would still want the pieces in a few weeks are slim. I write down a fur vest, a turtleneck dress and another pair of boyfriend jeans. 

 A Fresh Friday

I decide to stop moping around and try a new look as I pair my yellow jumper with leather leggings. I really like the sleek outfit as I pulled back my hair and rocked a sporty look.  It feels very ‘me’ but with an edgy twist. I suppose what I’m learning through this process is that the phrase “I have nothing to wear” is clearly wrong. Anyone can purchase the latest jeweled jumper from Topshop, but there’s something to be said about taking pieces you already own and making them feel new again. 

Saturday Celebration

 I wear my jumpsuit with my blazer, which both happen to be my dressiest pieces. But hey, it was Saturday. Why not look regal? It is quite a preppy look for me, but I decide to wear it with a casual braid and sneakers for a more relaxed look. I try wearing the jumpsuit with my white blouse underneath, but I’m starting to feel triggered from that blouse. All in all, I’m excited to reunite with my wardrobe but feel proud for accomplishing the task. 

I’m not going to lie. I’m not sure if a capsule wardrobe is for me. 

But I’ll tell you one thing. I won’t be shopping for a while. I return back to my wish list from Thursday that Patricia told me to write down and realise I didn’t need any of the listed items. The 10 items I wore allowed me to think a bit more creatively than I thought. While I was a bit frustrated by the end of the experiment, I did rock some pretty innovative looks. All the energy I usually put into finding the latest trends was manifested into trying to make do with what I was given, and it worked. Now, to tackle decluttering my closet….To learn more about building capsule wardrobes, visit Patricia at https://asmallwardrobe.com/

Red Knit Sweater: H&M

Yellow Polo Zippered Jumper: H&M

Black Wool Coat: Misguided

Floral Printed Boots: Charlotte Russe

Black Leather Leggings: H&M

Distressed Boyfriend Jeans: H&M

Black Jumpsuit: Marshalls

White Blouse: H&M

Plaid Blazer: Forever 21

Netflix Review: The Society

Netflix’s new teen drama is a 10-episode series from Chris Keyser that follows a group of privileged teenagers who embark on a school field trip, only to return to their New England town with all of their parents missing. This “Lord of the Flies” meets “The 100” series combines mystery and teen angst to bring a surprisingly complex story that deals with parallel universes and conspiracies. So if you’re the type of person who says “that’s not humanly possible” whilst watching fantasy shows, you’re likely to roll your eyes at the concept. However, I’m all for conspiracy theories and the darkness that comes with parallel universes, so I was on the edge of my seat the entire ride through. Here are some of my thoughts after watching.

Spoiler’s Ahead:

When I was 12, I remember there was this American show called “Kid Nation”. The premise was basically the same with teens running a society on their own with a designated “mayor” and “working class” roles distributed among the town. What I learned from the show is that there’s a lot of teens willing to step up to be a leader, and there’s a lot of teens who will shell up and hide.  I really liked seeing how characters reacted to the absence of their parents. It was obvious that all hell would break loose.

There’s a lot of political undertones in the series as characters debate whether a democracy is the best way to run their town. Additionally, other issues such as physical abuse, mental illness, and the death penalty are brought up for teens to face head on. Even the state of women’s rights are brought up as 16-year-old pregnant Becca utters the words “I didn’t even get to choose to be a mother.” The intensity of the show surprised me in that retrospect.

Kathryn Newton’s character, Allie, is the presumed main character who has one of my favorite story arcs as she goes from the rebellious little sister to the fearless heroin. Her performance was one of the most nuanced, as her sister’s death fuels her to become the leader of the town.

In fact, for a teen drama, the acting overall was fantastic. Other standouts include Alex Fitzalan, who plays the spoiled “sort of” villain. What I liked about his character is that he could’ve been the straight up psychopath like Campbell, but instead, he dives into an unexpected depression. Additionally, Jack Mulhern plays my favorite character from the series, Grizz, who’s the kind-hearted expedition leader and a closeted teen who starts a romance with Sam. It’s sweet and probably my favorite romance among the teen angst, although I’m weirdly hoping Allie and Harry work things out as well.

There’s so many other likable characters such as Kelly, Gordie, Helena and Will, but I like that a lot of them encompass some gray area to their morality, such as Luke and Harry. My one issue with the series is that there’s a LOT of characters to the point where I’m confusing some of the boys and girls. Don’t get me wrong, I love that there is representation of the LGBTQ and deaf community, but if there’s going to be 15 main characters, I’d would have liked more women and men of colour.

Finally, let’s talk about that ending! OK- so what’s up with the dog? Are we sure we know who killed Cassandra? And what universe are the kids in? Purgatory? It’s too soon to really come up with a coherent theory, but I think there’s some sort of parallel universe that the kids were sent to after discovering what the “smell” was all about. It’s so intriguing to me, but I imagine fans are dying for some more clues. Hopefully, the committee on going home can sort something out soon because I want answers. Let me know what you thought of the show below!

Canary Wharf Lighting & Getting the Perfect Shot

Here’s a little picture from the Canary Wharf lighting they had a few weeks ago. I saw tons of photos on Instagram prior to going and these were the ones I wanted to hunt down and take pictures with.

These went off every eight minutes which was so funny for photos. Did anyone else start snapping like crazy when the lights started again? It was a timed race to get the perfect picture, which is hilarious in retrospect. Anyway, I’m looking for some more Instagram spots or events in London so if anyone knows any, email me or comment below a favorite spot of yours during the wintertime!

Netflix Review: Elite is Gossip Girl on Steroids

Elite (TV Series) - Stills
Photo: Netflix

Elite is a Spanish web television series about three working class teens that attend a wealthy school. With all the drama that ensues, episode 1 reveals that there is a murder that takes place as someone from the main cast is responsible for the death of another main character. This series caught me by surprise, and it’s sort of like if Gossip Girl and Big Little Lies had a baby. Also, times the drama by 15 because there’s a lot packed into this eight episode series. I’ll be breaking up the review into the sets of characters who shared a story line. Read with caution because this does contain spoilers. Let’s start with the romance and then we’ll get to the murder.

Everything Marina, Samuel & Nano: So Samuel likes Marina. Nano likes Marina. And Samuel and Nano are brothers. Cue the drama. At first, I thought Marina was miscast because I did not feel the chemistry with Samuel, but then I realized that maybe we as an audience weren’t supposed to buy them as a couple because her chemistry with Nano was so much more intense. I feel bad for Samuel, but I also wished he stood up for himself more because as much as Marina was going through, she was a terrible girlfriend to him. Also regarding Samuel, I adored his friendship with Omar. I actually liked Samuel supporting his friends way more than his interactions with Marina.

Polo, Christian & Carla: Okay I was not expecting there to be a story line like this. Polo and Carla have been together forever, but they’re bored. So enters Christian who becomes obsessed with fitting in with the elite crowd, and we’ve got a throuple. It’s a pretty messed up story line because both Polo and Christian would do anything for Carla, include share her with another man, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from this captivating plot. You can tell that Christian enjoys the luxury and I have to hand it to the actor because he’s kind of like a cartoon character. But with Polo, there’s much more of a darkness with his adoration with Carla.

Guzman and Nadia: Guzman is the top dog at school. We establish that he’s supposed to be the rich popular guy. He starts off dating Lu, his other popular counterpart, and they make a bet to take new girl Nadia’s virginity. Nadia is a Muslim girl who struggles with her family values and her school life, but she’s one tough cookie. Her romance with Guzman was so innocent and sweet. To see the chemistry build episode after episode without ever sealing things with a kiss makes them such a rootable couple for the second season. I like that they’re both pretty imperfect as well. Guzman can be materialistic and lose his temper. Nadia can be close minded sometimes. But somehow, they work.

Ander and Omar: I saved the best for last because I loved watching these two on screen. Ander is the classic “athlete rich kid” who feels all this pressure from his family to be a tennis star. What I really liked about Ander was that he would always be the quiet or neutral one among the popular crew but when he blew up, you knew he was a lot more layered. While Ander seems to be angry a times, Omar is simply living his life  in fear. Omar is Nadia’s sister who happens to be a gay drug dealing Muslim. They’re from two completely different worlds, but the chemistry between them is electric. The actors are really fantastic, and their forbidden romance is hands down my favorite plot of the bunch because they’re so darn cute together. Who’s down for a double date between, Guzman and Nadia and Ander and Omar?

Photo: Manuel Fernandez-Valdes/Netflix

The Murder: MAJOR SPOILERS* So Marina dies. We find out in episode one and we’re supposed to believe it was either Samuel or Nano because of all the relationship drama. For some reason, my dumb ass believed it was the teacher for some reason. Once Samuel accused the teacher of sleeping with Marina, I thought we were going to get real dark considering it cost him his job.

Similarly, in Big Little Lies, I thought the father of Ziggy was going to be Madeline’s ex for some reason, and I thought Noel Kahn was the first A from Pretty Little Liars. I was wrong again. It was Polo. And it was actually done pretty masterfully in terms of storytelling. We get this threesome story line that very much feels separate from the other plot points, but it all makes perfect sense as things escalate over a watch that Carla is desperate to get back. Polo is so madly in love with Carla that it leads him to murdering Marina after a heated argument. I also was so in love with characters like Nadia and Ander that I was praying it wouldn’t be one of my favorite characters. And we also slowly learn that Polo is a bit messed up himself so it all ties together well.

Something that Pretty Little Liars failed to do was give people the correct motives, but by the final episode, everyone has a motive and a damn good one at that. And something Gossip Girl also failed to do was stay on track with its original mystery after a few seasons. This show really impressed me, and I’m shocked it doesn’t get more attention because it really deserves it. The acting is great. The murder was a great premise, but all the drama that ensues in between is gripping as well. I cannot wait for a second season.

Visiting the South of France & Solo Travel

I had a little vacation to Nice in the South of France, and it was beautiful. I have always loved traveling but was hesitant to do some solo traveling. When I first arrived, I knew it was the right decision because I was staring at the French Riviera when I got off my bus. Nice is a relatively small city and can be explored in just a few days. While it’s not a thrill seeking city by any means, if you’re looking to have some wine and pizza on the beach (which I did), it’s the perfect place to go to.

These photos were taken while going on a free walking tour. I used the app Meetup, which gives tons of free events to join by simply plugging in what area you’re in. The thing about the app is that you can choose your location no matter where you currently are, so I was able to find Nice events while still in London. Our tour guide was great because she led us on top of a waterfall, where we got the view of the entire beach. It’s really breathtaking.

While we were walking, we found a ton of lunch spots but opted to get two pizzas and two bottles of wine to take with us to the beach. I don’t have pictures, but there was a pizza that had bacon, goat cheese and drizzled honey on it, and it was amazing. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, try going through narrow roads like this one rather than all the restaurants along the beach. You can have a little picnic while still having the view. Also wine is 5 euros for a bottle at corner stores, and it tastes just as delicious.

Here’s another really lovely photo from atop the waterfall. It really is such a stunning city. One thing I’ll say about solo travel is that you end up meeting tons of other people traveling alone. I think people are hesitant because you’re worried you won’t meet anyone and will feel lonely. However, if you’re going to be staying in a hostel, you’ll have loads of people to interact with. Take some time to be alone as well. I went to grab this amazing basil pesto pasta shortly after landing and it was one of my only moments alone. So if you’re considering traveling, but your friends have different schedules, just do it because you won’t feel alone, and even when you are alone, t’s still worth every penny.

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That was my trip. I’m not claiming to be an expert of this city. I was there for only three days. For me, it was about the experience. It felt like I could take a pause on life, but it also felt like moments I’d remember forever. Sounds dramatic, but if you’re need of some TLC, maybe take a weekend to yourself and take a chance.

Notting Hill & Columbia Road Flower Market

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In  an effort to blog more, I wanted to recap a couple of places that I visited last year but never got a chance to write about. My new year’s resolution is to blog more about my travels in Europe. Here are a couple of gems I went to in London.

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First off was the Columbia Road Flower Market, which is located in Bethnal Green. They had a ton of flower stands on sale, and it gets pretty crowded quickly. I also love the vibe with sellers chatting with customers or yelling out their latest deals to customers. Additionally, there are a ton of restaurants nearby to grab a quick Sunday brunch.

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The second place was Notting Hill, which is such a quaint shopping spot with little stands ranging from old fashioned cameras to alpaca wool sweaters to street food. My favorite part was walking around and seeing all the little houses that were each painted a different color. It’s so cool to see that people actually live these houses too. It seems like a pretty quiet area in comparison to most of London, so it was a nice excursion.

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Outfit details: My flower printed boots in the first picture were from Charlotte Russe and was only $15, and my scarf was actually from a charity shop for $2. My long coat is from boohoo and was on sale for $30, and my fur coat is from H&M and was on sale for $25.