Life

What to Bring to Universal Orlando

05/27/2016

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Six months ago, Cody and I booked a spontaneous trip to Universal Studios, specifically The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. I wanted to share with you what we packed, what you don’t need and everything in between for a seamless trip to any theme park – but especially parks like Universal or Disney!

The Brunette One What To Wear to Universal Studios Harry Potter World

Zoe Karrsen Tank // Splendid Skort | TEXTILE Elizabeth & James Tank // Old Navy Shorts

Madewell Tee // White Shorts // Nike Sneakers // Ray-Ban Sunglasses // Rebecca Minkoff Purse

Sneakers

I thought I would pick up a cute pair of sneakers before my trip. I wore them on the way down to Florida thinking I could get use to wearing them in a day. False. I’m happy I threw my trusted worn-in sneakers at the last minute. I ended up wearing them all three days we were at the park. My feet ached by the end of each day, but I know it would have been ten times worse had I worn a new pair of sneakers, my Birks, or even other sandals. Support is key.

Cross Body Bag/Backpack

I carried a small cross body, just large enough to carry a small wallet, travel size anti-bacteria gel, SPF sunscreen, and my cell phone. Cody packed his medium-sized hydration backpack. That was our lifesaver. Instead of forking over $$$ all day long for water, we were able to fill the backpack before we headed to the parks and were able to stay hydrated throughout the day. This helped eliminate any standing in long lines for H2O. His backpack was able to house mini bottles of sunscreen, our hats, cell phones, and any souvenirs we picked up along the way. At universal, lockers were free to use while we waited in line for the rides, so we didn’t have to worry about where to put them and knew they were safe and secure.

Comfortable Clothing

Depending on the time of year you book your trip, this may vary; however we went May 12-16 and temperatures were already in the 90s, humidity in full force, and full of sunshine. I made sure to pack comfortable shorts, loose fitting tanks, sports bras, and of course, sneakers.

If you people watch, you’ll notice attire ranging from tight jeans, long sleeves shirts to crop tops, and even wedge sandals. I suppose everyone’s idea of comfort is personal choice, but I would recommend clothing that isn’t too constricting. Just be aware of packing clothing that you don’t mind getting wet on a water ride, and shoes you can last all day in. More than likely it’s going to be sunny when you are down in Florida (or California), so make sure to make sunglasses and/or a baseball cap.

Travel Size Amenities

The main three I suggest packing away for a day at the park would include: sunscreen, anti-bacteria gel, & baby powder. Don’t be a hero. Now is not the time to work on that tan, and the last thing you want to do is burn on your first day at the parks making the rest of your trip miserable. WEAR SUNSCREEN.

The anti-bacteria gel is great for before/after each of the rides, before/after lunch, bathroom breaks, etc. If you are prone to chafing after a long day of walking around, don’t forget to pack baby powder.

I bought a mini umbrella, but didn’t end up using it because it was sunny the entire trip. However; I spotted many people at the parks who still used them to protect themselves from the sun. If you don’t want to get wet on any of the water rides – I saw people picked up cheap ponchos that went over their clothes and backpacks.

Snacks

Universal lets you bring in packaged snacks, so we made sure to pack a few protein packed granola bars, bananas and some Chex mix. We ate a decent-size breakfast (don’t go too heavy in-case you ride the roller coasters upon arrival), and then snacked around lunch time. By the time we left the parks we grabbed some popcorn, but were more than ready for dinner. This did help us save $$$ from eating at any of the snack stands or restaurants in the park where prices can get jacked up.

Time to Enjoy the Park!

We purchased a package park/hotel deal that included a 3 Day Park-to-Park (with early admission to Islands of Adventure) and a 4-night stay. We had three full days to visit the parks not including Thursday (our travel  day) and Monday when we left in the evening.

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We spent Friday and Saturday at Islands of Adventure and Universal Parks, Sunday was spent at Wet & Wild Water Park – it will be shutting down later this year as the build a brand new water park. Monday morning we killed a few more hours at Universal Studios before we left later that day. Three days at the parks was almost more than enough; however, by Monday we knew what rides we would want to ride again and knew what lines were worth the wait. We spent evenings dining at City Walk and got a few rounds of mini-golf in. There are a ton of restaurants to choose from, our favorite, by far, was Bob Marley’s restaurant. Great music and great food.

I highly suggest downloading the Universal Parks App – it let you know where each ride was located, wait times, and even places to shop and dine. It helped us determine which rides we headed to next, as some of the 3D/4D experiences went up to an hour wait! Our favorite rides included the Dragon roller coasters in Hogsmead at Islands of Adventure, The Rock It Roller Coaster and The Mummy Roller Coaster at Universal. If you get motion sickness, take medicine before you get in line for any of the ‘experiences.’

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Another piece of advice for anyone over the age of 21 – make sure your license doesn’t expire right before you go on the trip. Mine expired on my 28th birthday and they refused to serve me alcohol because I look under the age of 30 (a man just a few tables over didn’t get carded due to his graying hair…ageism??) and my license isn’t valid (less than a month expired…didn’t matter). I didn’t even think to check it before I left, let alone bring my passport along as a back-up.

I was left to watch my husband enjoy margaritas, cold, refreshing beer, and other delicious cocktails on the menu. It’s a Universal Park Policy, they didn’t care that there is leeway in Iowa to get your license renewed, or if you renew it online and show them the confirmation.

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We had a blast and the trip was well worth it. You’ll get a bit nostalgic when at the ET ride, Men In Black Training experience, and Jurassic Park rides.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was better than I could have imagined – I highly suggest this trip to any fellow HP nerd, this was largely the reason why we went on the trip! I was especially giddy during the wand ‘experience.’ Ollivander picked me out of our group and I was able to test a few magical wands until my wand selected me (as seen in the snap below) – there are so many magical moments – don’t be afraid to try them all at least once – it was a blast to act like a kid for a few days!

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Beauty

Beauty Review: Glossier

05/26/2016

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On a whim I decided to order both the Glossier Phase 1 & Phase 2 sets after seeing the brand pop up constantly on my social media feeds. A friend of mine swore by the Balm Dotcom, but I knew I had to see what else the brand had to offer. As I started writing this post I realized I completely forgot to grab the face cleanser from my bathroom to photograph – but do know that it’s currently being used!

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First things first. Can we talk about this packaging. It’s minimalist with white with pops of pale pink. It’s beautiful. Lined in pink bubble wrap, each set came packaged in a zippered pouch – I made sure to hold on to mine – they are reusable and perfect for stashing your beauty items when you travel – I just did this when we traveled to Florida a few weeks ago!

Phase 1 – Skin First

Over the past few months I’ve noticed a few changes in my skin. I can attribute it to stress, not enough sleep, and not always eating the best. The key to great skin is how you treat it. I’m a firm believer in a strong SPF for your face – I’m trying to fight off wrinkles for as long as I can, but it’s also about finding a cleansing face wash and moisturizing!

Milky Jelly Cleanser – The cleanser isn’t harsh and has very little fragrance. Sometimes face-wash can leave my skin red, and this is very soothing. I switch between a few other cleansers, but I tend to use this in the mornings.

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Priming Moisturizer – I’m trying to get in the habit of using moisturizer on my skin – both face & neck. This formula leaves my skin soft and perfectly primed for make-up. I love that it isn’t heavy on my skin and reduces redness. This felt amazing on my skin after a few long days of sun & sweat when we were down in Orlando at Universal!

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Perfecting Skin Tint – If you like a lot of coverage, this skin tint may not be for you. I don’t wear a lot of foundation, but love a good swipe of powder over concealer or a tinted CC cream. I tend to use this skin tint on the weekends when I have no particular place to be or am just running errands and want just enough coverage to look ‘pulled’ together. If you are into the ‘dewey’ look, this is for you (and me)!

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Balm Dotcom – There is no better name for this than what it is. This balm is seriously the bomb.com. I have only used this on my lips – I tend to have seriously chapped lips and this makes them so soft! Cannot get enough of this stuff!

Phase 2 – Makeup Second

I hate to publicly admit this, but I tend to run late in the mornings before work (I need to sleep train myself to get up earlier, any tips??). I am just NOT a morning person. So, a beauty brand that promises an uncomplicated, simple make-up routine made my ears perk up. On any given day I’m running late or looking for just a hint of make-up – I can easily swipe on concealer under my eyes, swipe the boy brow on my eyebrows (if anything, I can leave the house just doing this and instantly feel more put together), and swipe on a lip color.

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Boy Brow – This product reminds me of a mini mascara for your brows. Some days I don’t have time to fill in and perfectly groom my eyebrows – like I’ve said before, I tend to cut my mornings VERY short. In a pinch – I swipe this on, it fluffs and fills them in at the same time. For some reason I thought the product would be as large as a tube of mascara – but it’s very small. A little bit goes a long way – I learned the hard way, so take my advice!

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Stretch Concealer – Of all the products I purchased from Glossier, this is my absolute favorite. It provides great coverage and is very buildable – it neutralizes my dark circles and I love how it feels on my skin – it isn’t chalky or too creamy.

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Generation G Matte Lipstick – This would be my second favorite product – so much so I ordered two more shades in addition to what came in my set (I originally ordered Jam, and later purchased Like, and Crush). It definitely reads more tinted lip balm than lipstick, but goes on smooth, doesn’t cake up, and is long-lasting. I love a good lipstick – but this product is more day-to-day friendly. A great beauty product to wear to the office or running errands when you don’t have a full face of make-up on.

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To sum it up, I would say this was a great investment. I wouldn’t have normally purchased all of the skin products, but I’m happy I branched out and tested out some new products that I ended up loving. This brand may not be for everyone, but if you love a simple make-up look, dewey skin, and sheer coverage, it’s worth trying out! I’d love to test out some face masks – those are all the rage on snapchat – so if you have any suggestions – let me know!

Decor

How to Style a Nightstand

05/12/2016

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There are no set rules when it comes to styling vignettes around your home, especially in your room and on your nightstand.  While stylish accents are what we aim for when creating a vignette, it’s important to keep it relevant, usable, and personal. We recently picked these nightstands and lamps from Lamps Plus (they have so many furniture options – make sure to check their selections in addition to their lighting) – and now it’s time to style them.

Turning your bedroom into a space that reflects who you are can make all the difference. I’m sharing a few guidelines to help make the process a little easier for you!

Vary heights of objects

By varying the heights of your artwork, lamps, or other mementos on your nightstand, you allow the eye to transition across the surface of the table. Start with a tall piece of artwork that you can hang behind the table like this piece from LampsPlus or lean a mirror or frame against the wall. Start in the back and move your way towards placing shorter and smaller items as you move towards the front of the nightstand.

Group objects in odd numbers – The rule of 3

According to an article I read on Apartment Therapy, they note, “…three is the smallest number that can be used to form a distinguishable pattern in our heads.” We talk about varying heights of objects, but when your eye is forced to move around between a large piece of artwork against the wall and then is brought forward with a smaller lamp, frame, or vase, you create a more interesting visual experience. Remember, three is a simple starting point – for gallery walls, furniture placements, etc. odd numbers whether, 3, 5, 7, etc. work just as well!

Make it personal – add photographs or mementos

Get your favorite photos off your phone and on your nightstands and walls! Whether you print them at your local Walgreens and frame them yourself or utilize services like Framebridge. If photos don’t fit the bill, showcase any trinkets or mementos you’ve picked up on your travels. When in doubt – add a clock, stylish and practical, especially when your cell phone fails to go off in the morning!

When in doubt, add a bouquet of flowers or a small arrangement of succulents.

There’s nothing that completes a vignette more than florals and greenery. It’s the finishing touch that pulls it all together. Don’t have a green thumb, faux flowers and succulents can be your best friend in a pinch – and they last forever!

All items in this round up can be found on Lampsplus.com.

Nightstand // Framed Artwork // Frame // Lamp // Flowers // Jewelry Case