No Regrets

Etretat, France

Etretat, France

When I was in my early 20s, having just graduated from college, I took out a bank loan so I could travel Europe for the summer. The first two-weeks of the trip was through my college, studying International Business. When that ended most of my classmates went home (what?!), but I traveled for another two weeks with my sister, who came over to join me. She and I got ourselves around Germany, Italy, a bit of Switzerland, and France, all by the grace of luck, the camaraderie of fellow travelers and our trusty Let’s Go: Europe guidebook. This was (way) before cellphones or the internet as we know it. I remember getting off the train in bustling Florence and heading to the nearest payphone to find a room for the night.

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

After my sister Cindy went home, I spent another month traveling by myself around France, since that was the only foreign language I spoke. It was exhilarating, scary, freeing and sometimes lonely. It gave me a sense of self-reliance and confidence that was previously unmatched. I would call my mom and dad from a French payphone every Sunday evening and tell them where I was and where I was heading. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age.

Doing this trip and specifically traveling on my own, made a huge and lasting impact on my life. I didn’t know, what I didn’t know and went into the whole endeavor with the blissful ignorance of a 20 year-old. Thank goodness for that. This was one of those experiences that helped shaped my life, perspective and self-worth. A hearty thanks to my parents for believing in me and letting me go.

Ahhh, Venice

Ahhh, Venice

It took me two years to pay off the loan, but I never regretted it even once. Since then, traveling has been a delicious itch in my life. I still get incredibly excited about going places. Now, it’s often with my family and I love the new perspective of going with our daughter. I get a real kick out of watching her explore the world. And it’s a thinly veiled attempt to make a traveler out of her.

I’m curious how other people got the travel bug? If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, how did it start?

x Laura

More like this:

Making the Switch

About a year ago, I was taking off my dime store nail polish with regular Cutex remover. The nails underneath were off-color, which was par for the course, and would require that I paint them again asap to cover this up. I usually only painted my toes in the warmer months, giving them a good couple of months to rest, recover and look like healthy nails again, during the winter. I was also annoyed that my thumb and index finger turned extremely dry and rough after using the acetone polish remover and wondered if I’d have to wear gloves from now on. What a pain. I also always volunteered to take off my daughter’s nail polish, so she didn’t have to get her skin all jacked-up. But really I was sick of it.

The first switch I made was to use Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes, which are acetone-free, infused with argan oil and expertly take off layers of nail polish with minimal effort. They smell great (like grapefruit), nourish the cuticles (with argan oil) and leave my skin very happy. A jar ($9) holds 20 wipes and I typically use 2-3, depending on how dark my polish is. What a difference.


The second switch I made was to buy some Zoya nail polish, which is free of toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP (they call it the Big 5 toxins). I bought 2 colors, plus the base and top coat formulas. I assumed that it wouldn’t last as long or be as shiny, but boy was I wrong. My first do-it-yourself application (so not professional) lasted 3 weeks without a chip in sight. It could have gone longer. And when it came time to take off the polish, my nails underneath were a happy, healthy rosy color, like they should be. None of that yellowish, off-color look.

I'm currently wearing Zoya Margo

I’m currently wearing Zoya Margo

That was last fall and I immediately threw out all of my other nail polish and remover. Now that it’s summer, I ordered a few more colors for me and a few for my daughter (she likes blues and this sparkly green one, Stassi). Zoya ($9) always has promotions going (love that), so we get bonus colors too. This time they sent full-size bottles of their new colors Kimmy and Kalmia:

Zoya Kimmy

Zoya Kimmy

Zoya Kalmia

Zoya Kalmia

Check out the new fall colors and consider trying it for yourself. I’m not paid to market any of this, I just love sharing good products with you.

Zoya Fall Collection Nail Polish

Zoya Fall Collection Nail Polish

Enjoy the day!

x Laura

Summer Style in Amsterdam

One of the best parts about traveling is getting a glimpse of the local culture and appreciating a city for its own personality. We spent four days in Amsterdam and oh my, I’m in love with another city. Not only is the city downright captivating, but the people are really very nice. We managed to avoid getting run over by bikes, scooters and trams, which is harder than it sounds — they are zooming from all directions. I’m glad the Dutch have figured out their traffic patterns. There seems to be a method to their madness.

In the morning, I’d grab a cup of coffee, sit out on the front stoop of our hotel and watch the bikers heading to work. It’s a parade of chic women in dresses and skirts with one hand on the bike and the other fiddling with a phone, coffee, bag, etc. The most popular look for summer is a short, white dress with lacy cutouts. I must have seen handful of variations every day, which was a smart way to handle the heatwave and still look very breezy and put together. This photo of Annabelle Fleur (who’s based in California) has captured the European look perfectly.

Annabelle Fleur of

Sandals ranged from the on-trend Birkenstock Arizona to spare sandals with metallic accents, like these from Vince Camuto. I was completely at home and happy in my new-ish Sofft ‘Breeze’ gladiator sandals in black. I comfortably walked miles in them and they were stylish enough for this chic city. White sneakers are definitely in, but not the clunky athletic kind, more of a paired-down sleek style (like above). The Amsterdamers infuse sensuality into all of their outfits with either short hemlines, bare backs with interesting straps, sheer tops over cute bras, or low-cut tops. It’s not at all tarty, just confidently sexy.

We also made stops in Berlin and Reykjavik, cities which had their own personalities and style. I’ll need to do a separate post for them. I’ve come to believe that there is no one-style-that-fits-all. What is perfectly stylish in one place, doesn’t feel quite right in another. The fashion industry may say, ‘this is in or that is in’, but each city puts their own spin on what is current. It’s fun to try and guess where people are from based on their style alone and makes waiting in line at the airport a bit more tolerable.

Hope your summer is going well!

x Laura

Just Read: The Teenage Brain + 10 more

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book recap and it’s long overdue. I try to ping-pong back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, just to break up my intake. The year started off impressively with All The Light We Cannot See and you can add me to the long list of people who loved this book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can believe the hype.

Scanning the list of books below, you might gather that my non-fiction reading has been hijacked by parenting topics. Maybe this is what happens when one’s child is leaving the cozy nest of elementary school and about to enter the wilds of middle school. It’s my first time, so don’t laugh too hard.

books read in 2015

2015 Books

Since we’re traveling to Amsterdam, Berlin and Iceland this summer, I added Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts & Jon Krakauer to my reading list. After finishing Anne Frank, I passed it along to our daughter to read and will be very interested in her thoughts on it. She knows how the story ends already — I felt like I need to tell her that from the get-go.

Quick Reviews:

  1. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. (Darkly funny, dysfunctional family, death + divorce, made into a movie)
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. (WWII historical fiction, told through two characters, a German soldier and a blind French girl)
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. (foster care system, a flower whisperer and the chance to heal old wounds)
  4. The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen (what kids do during these years has a lasting impact on their brains, i.e. alcohol, drugs, technology habits and sports concussions)
  5. The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn. (Are modern parenting practices really making a generation of spoiled kids? The evidence says NO.)
  6. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. (Great book for setting boundaries around digital creep. Excellent reminder and strategies for carving out time for renewal. Spiritual/Religious but not overly so.)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Powerful and incredibly well-written.)
  8. The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato. (Armchair travel to Venice with semi-interesting love story + historic intrigue)
  9. Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts. (A younger John Krakauer supplies the photography for this book. Part history, part travelogue. Just so-so)
  10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. (10 years on this book seems very relevant to today’s news. Perfect for music lovers. A slow burn.)
  11. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart with Money by Ron Lieber. (Excellent book with thoughtful ideas on how to help kids navigate money, responsibility and sense of self in the broader world.)

My favorites of all of these was All the Light We Cannot See, The Opposite of Spoiled, and Sabbath. The rest were plain good, except for The Glassblower of Murano. That one just didn’t do it for me at all.

Lastly, if you have any recommendations (books, sights, restaurants) for Amsterdam, Berlin, and/or Iceland, please let me know! I would love to hear them.

x Laura

More Likely: Perforated

runway Michael Kors eyelet skirt

Michael Kors Spring 2015

Another spring look from Michael Kors 2015 runway this week that hits one of fashion’s current trends — perforated. I like the way this perforated skirt is reminiscent of eyelet without the extra dose of sweetness. You’ll also see this trend on handbags, tops, sleeves and shoes.

Elliot Lucca bucket bag

Elliot Lucca bucket bag $98

Just yesterday the Nordstrom catalog landed in the mail showing this yellow Elliot Lucca bucket bag ($98). This perforated little number ticks two trends in one bag, because the drawstring bucket bag is everywhere right now. If you have the slightest weakness for this shape, this is your season to grab one. I had one years ago (probably 20+ years) in tan that I adored and wore all the time until a pen leaked in the bottom and ruined it. Clearly I’m still a bit traumatized over it.

But, back to the matter at hand. Here are some more outfit ideas that incorporate the modern perforated look.

Natalie Off Duty

Natalie Off Duty

Lady Addict perforated sweater

Lady Addict

perforated skirt with woven clutch

Via Pinterest

I’ve already purchased a perforated grey belt and am likely to grab a pair of flats for this summer. What do you think of the trend? Are you more likely to skip or shop something perforated this season?

x Laura

“Sweet life continues in the breeze, in the golden fields.” ― Jack Kerouac