Guys. Life has been crazy and awesome and busy beyond belief. By the end of February, I’ll have been to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, Orlando and D.C. in 2017 alone. LORDT. I’ve been working like a dog, both professionally and personally. Plus, I haven’t eaten carbs in two weeks, sooo I’m expecting my nomination for sainthood any day now. I definitely have not been giving my blog enough love, so I wanted to give you guys a little look into where I’ve been the past few weeks and what I’ve been up to.

New York

I went to New York for a week to visit some of my BFFs from high school! A week turned into a week and a half but honestly, YOLO. More time to do trendy New York things!

I sipped spiked apple cider while wearing a robe in an igloo at a rooftop bar called 230 Fifth. That sentence looks like it came right out of Mad Libs and I love it.

I wore sneakers and a light jacket in a snow storm.

I purchased an Apple Bottoms Jeans brand winter coat from Burlington in the middle of said snow storm.

I drank boba out of a lightbulb at Spot (feat. Apple Bottoms Jeans coat).

Most importantly, I got my dream manicure at Pattie Yankee’s manicure bar! I Instagram stalked Pattie until I got an appointment, and I am not ashamed because I was so glad I did! Anya killed it.

So, I’d say that trip was a solid 9/10 on the trendiness scale. I had to deduct a point for the Apple Bottoms Jeans coat.

Pennsylvania + New Jersey

I went to PA and NJ with two of my fave gals: my mama and Ashley D. Ashley is my mom’s favorite daughter, despite the fact that I am her only daughter. We laughed, we played, we wheeled and we dealed… but most importantly, I was #blessed to experience my carry-on suitcase bust open as I walked onto our plane to PA. I don’t mean a zipper came loose, I mean both zippers literally FLEW off and my suitcase opened, spilling all of my belongings. This was true irony because I was taking this picture two seconds before boarding, feeling v chic with the marble suitcase I got for Christmas.

As fate would have it, the only solve to this situation was dumping the suitcase and my belongings into a large see-through trash bag. I got to carry the 50 pound trash bag 24 rows back as I word vomited to every single person I saw, “Sorry – my suitcase exploded.” The only way I could have made this whole thing worse was by loudly talking about explosives. Nailed it.

No worries though, the flight back was a breeze. Nothing a roll of saran wrap couldn’t fix.

Washington, D.C.

GIRLS’ TRIPPPP! I went to D.C. this time around with my friend RebeccaH (the H is silent, but should be capitalized) to meet up with our friend Katie, who recently moved there for work! Katie is a travel blogger and certified over-thinker. This combo totally worked in our favor because she made us the best itinerary ever, down to the hour.



Katie literally killed it. I mean, first and foremost, she helped me finally fulfill my dream of having a rainbow bagel at Bethesda Bagels. This led to the creation of my best Instagram caption EVER: Four score and seven shmears ago…

We got to go to a pop-up Stranger Things bar, where they honored Her Holiness, ~Barb~

They even did a live show every once in awhile, when the Demogorgon got hungry.

We had a full fledged photo shoot at the National Mall, which RebeccaH thought was a literal shopping mall up until days before the trip. I couldn’t even laugh though because I thought the same thing two weeks prior, until my boyfriend told me he spent the day there once and I questioned what I thought was an intense love for shopping.

We stuffed our faces with Unicorn Bars at Buttercream Bakeshop. Yes, that IS glitter.

We had the most delicious brunch at Founding Farmers. I don’t even need to say more than this: hot beignets, cornbread and honey, sausage eggs benedict. BYEEEE.


There are no other pictures because it was THAT good…

I obviously bought a pocket macaron, which is just that – a macaron to keep in my pocket for bites throughout the day – at Olivia Macaron in Georgetown.

Lastly, we ended the trip watching the most beautiful sunset in Georgetown. If I didn’t know us, I’d think we were dating.

Orlando

Same gang, who dis? My mom, Ashley and I headed to Orlando last week to do the glam thing with Bombshell Fitness at their headquarters! What was simply a work trip became what we referred to as, “Friendship Weekend.” The theme of everything we did was simply that: Friendship. We bought Friendship Rocks, Friendship Pearls, and most importantly, Friendship Waist Trainers.

Our Friendship Rocks were these strangely beautiful crystal lamps being sold at the gift shop of the Rainforest Cafe. We decided that we definitely each needed one.

We spotted a Pearl Factory kiosk in which you pick an oyster and get the pearl inside, and without even saying a word, we all knew that meant one thing: Friendship Pearls. Now, I don’t want to brag, but Megan from Pearl Factory claimed that my pearl was one of the biggest and rarest she had ever seen chosen. It was a blue pearl and it was 8.5 mm. I got it mounted on a ring and I think I now lean slightly to the left because it is so big and heavy.

We did get Friendship Waist Trainers, but I want you to keep reading my blog posts, so I won’t post a picture of that on here. Instead, I’d like to highlight our gambling problem. We visited a delightful Perkins for breakfast one morning, in which there was a STACKED claw machine. If there’s one thing I love in this world, it is the high I get from the claw machine. My mom claims I would literally take her last dollar to play. I can neither confirm nor deny this statement. By the end of breakfast I had scored four stuffed animals, and although I could not clinch the elusive dinosaur, there was a man making balloon animals who made a dinosaur for me. Reminder: I am 22-years-old.

My mom didn’t win anything herself, but she was glad she got “the thrill of it.”

Texas

This is dangerous, but my mom, Ashley and I will be heading to Houston, TX, in two weeks to glam beauty queens with celeb photographer, Carlos Velez, and pageant coach extraordinaire, Jules Meyer. Here’s a pic from one of my fave shoots with them, featuring the stunning Miss USA, Deshauna Barber. Makeup and hair by Victoria Duke Beauty, of course.

That’s what has been going on in my life. Like I mentioned earlier, my canonization is going to be reviewed soon because I am not eating carbs, which is 100% considered a miracle. But between working with my glam fam and trying to eat less the vampires in Twilight when their eyes turn red, I’ve pretty much just been enjoying life and loving my new schedule. Now that I’m really getting into the swing of things, I promise I am going to try to write my blog posts more regularly! The main things people ask me about are my office, my Instagram pictures and my makeup recos – so expect to see some of that soon!

I’ve been out of the country a few times. However, never have I felt like I was literally out of the PLANET until I visited Iceland last September. I mean, if you don’t want to take my word for it, they literally filmed parts of Interstellar there. You trust McConaughey, don’t you? Alright alright alright.

Iceland was never really on my bucket list. Excluding walking to and from my car, I think I’ve literally been outside seven times in the past 22 years, so beautiful landscapes and adventurous experiences weren’t on my mind. However, a few months prior to our visit, my mom was offered the opportunity to judge the Miss Universe Iceland pageant. My mom is a celebrity makeup artist with her own makeup school, studio and cosmetics line, and she works with a lot of beauty queens to help create their looks and teach them how to do the glam thing. In a nutshell, she’s a BOSS. That being said, she judges pageants often, and the opportunity to travel the world to do so was one that my fam couldn’t pass up!

My first Google search was: most Instagrammable places in Iceland. Does this make me a bad person? That’s for you to decide and for me to push to the back of my brain forever. I learned as much as I could about Iceland, and made a list of all the things we should do and the places we should visit. Then, of course, I learned a few things along the way. With Iceland rising in popularity, I’ve had a lot of people ask me for planning tips and ideas for what they should do. I compiled all of my best advice below just for you!

Climb a Glacier

This was the most insane experience of my life. Let me preface this with the fact that I am TERRIFIED of heights. When I booked the glacier walking tour, I thought it would literally be like walking on an ice skating rink. No – you’re literally climbing a mountain, but it’s made of ice and if you fall there is nothing and no one that can save you. All that aside, I am so incredibly glad I got out of my comfort zone and did it. It was exhilarating, beautiful and so worth it. You can even drink water right from a stream! Obviously I was the first person in my group to volunteer.

See the Northern Lights

I cannot believe we got to actually see this! The week we arrived in Iceland, the Northern Lights had just started to make an appearance in the skies. It’s a lot easier to see them later in winter, so we thought we’d probably miss the opportunity. I downloaded an app called Aurora Forecast, which I would check periodically to see if probability was high. On our last night in Iceland, probability was a bit higher than usual, so we drove away from the city for about 15 minutes to get to a nice dark spot. Most people don’t know this, but most of the time, you actually can’t see the Northern Lights with the naked eye. So basically what I’m saying is… every Windows screensaver for the past 20 years has been a huge lie (almost). For the best chances of seeing it, you need to be in a really dark place, and to get it on camera, you need to take a photo using a long exposure. On this night, we got really lucky because it was literally so bright we could see it cascading over a mountain from miles away with no camera. It was a magical moment, despite the car parked next to us blasting Drake with their brights on (your guess is as good as mine TBH).

Tour the South Coast

In the middle of Reykjavik, there are a few tourist centers that help you book tours. I booked my South Coast tour there and it was beyond easy. With the South Coast tour, you could choose to break off and do the glacier hike (which is what I spoke about above), or you could continue further along the coast and visit the black sand beaches. On the South Coast tour, I checked two sights off of my list: Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. These were the first waterfalls I have ever seen, and I was literally in awe. Skogafoss is amazing because, typically, there is a huge rainbow across it. It was rainy and foggy when I went, but I still caught a little glimpse. Seljalandsfoss, which is what you can see in the picture above, is very unique because you can literally walk behind the waterfall. Prepare to get soaked (for the ‘gram).

Swim in the Blue Lagoon

When people think Iceland, they think Blue Lagoon. Checking out this Iceland hot spot (pun intended) was definitely on my to-do list. The lagoon is heated by a nearby power plant called Svartsengi, and it was created completely on accident. Now, it’s an amazing geothermal spa with saunas, restaurants, locker rooms, etc.

The water temperature is about 98-104°F year-round, so no matter when you visit Iceland – you need to stop by! You have to book a check-in time for the Blue Lagoon in advance, but once you arrive, you can stay as long as you’d like. There are buckets of free silica mud all over that you can use as a mask, and if you purchase a more expensive package, other masks are available as well. Plus, of course, don’t sleep on the swim-up bar. I enjoyed a delish smoothie made with one of Iceland’s most famous exports: yogurt!

One thing to note: your hair will literally feel like concrete the second it gets wet. This is due to the minerals in the lagoon water. A lot of people had on swim caps, but I decided to go in with flowing locks because aesthetics. However, I soon realized this was just not going to happen. EMBRACE THE ROCK HARD HAIR and enjoy your time!

Drive the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a 300km route that has tons of beautiful landmarks along the way. It makes for the perfect day trip because you don’t have to do much planning and you have a whole day filled with activities! The first stop along the way is Þingvellir National Park, pronounced Thingvellir, which is where you can see the Silfra Fissure (I’ll talk more about that later on).

Other stops include Strokkur Geyser, Gulfoss Waterfall and Kerid Crater Lake. I planned on taking an EPIC picture at Kerid Crater Lake, which involved me looking over the edge of a rock that we hiked twenty minutes to get to. However, after my boyfriend walked me out, set me up and then walked back to take the pic, I went into instant fear paralysis and legit collapsed like those goats that fall over with their legs straight. I was filled with pure, unadulterated fear… I literally could not stand up to walk back. I begged Kyle to come save me, but instead he decided to laugh and take more pictures before actually rescuing me. V petty.

There are a few other interesting things to see along the way, but honestly, all of those stops had me tuckered out! On the way back to our apartment, we saw Icelandic ponies chillin’ on the side of the road and OBVIOUSLY that was a necessary pit stop.

I didn’t have time to go on a riding tour during this trip, so this was an awesome way to at least get some face time with these ponies… especially the one I took a picture with (that looked suspiciously identical to me).

Explore Reykjavik

Reykjavik is such a fun little town to explore. I stayed in an Airbnb downtown, so the heart of Reykjavik was just a few feet away. Check out this view from the balcony!

My favorite places in the city were Cafe Babalu, The Royal Pig Pub, Reykjavík’s Cutest, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur and Hallgrímskirkja.

Cafe Babalu was a great place to get out of the cold for a few minutes and grab a latte. It’s cute, quirky and filled with knick knacks! Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the grilled cheese and tomato soup. 10/10 would slurp again.

The Royal Pig Pub is a restaurant and bar that serves the most delicious tapas. It’s expensive, but we ate a lot of meals at home, so it was fun to get out and try some local grub and experience the Icelandic night life!

Reykjavík’s Cutest is a souvenir shop with tons of awesome finds. There are quite a few touristy shops, but Reykjavík’s Cutest sells more locally made items and great gifts to bring home to friends and family.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which translates to “Best Hot Dogs in Town,” is pretty much just that. These hot dogs are so delicious, and definitely something you need to try. Icelandic hot dogs taste a bit different than American hot dogs because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. When I spell it out, that probably sounds gross… but just trust me on this one. I honestly had at least one a day.

Lastly, you definitely have to check out Hallgrímskirkja.

It is the largest church in Iceland, and also one of Iceland’s tallest structures. You can go inside, light a prayer candle, and even take an elevator ride to the top to get a full view of the whole city from every angle.

Go Whale Watching


Photo Cred: Visit Iceland

I dare you to tell me that you didn’t sob while watching Whale Rider as a child. I’d love to go whale watching next time I’m in Iceland to live out all of my childhood dreams of being one with the whales. I know there’s a self-depricating fat joke hidden somewhere in that sentence, but I’m not going there because #NewYearNewMe.

Visit the Black Sand Beaches


Photo Cred: Feel the Planet

I mean, need I say more?

Scuba Dive in the Silfra Fissure

I got to visit the Silfra Fissure, but when I saw divers getting ready to jump in, I wished I had planned to join them! The water is apparently FREEZING, but the fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, so you would literally be swimming where the continental plates meet and drift apart. Although I’ve never seen Frozen – and I never will so just accept it – “the cold never bothered me anywaaAaaAaAy.”

I didn’t just eat hot dogs and climb glaciers all day. I also learned a thing or two that might be helpful for your trip!

The Water is Stinky

Something you would not expect when turning on a nice hot shower is smelling the putrid odor of rotten eggs. Well, EXPECT IT. The hot water in Iceland smells strongly of sulfur, which is due to the fact that it is heated by volcanos. I’m no scientist, so that’s about as much info as I’ve got on that, but just be prepared to plug your nose during your rinse off.

Food is Expensive

A simple breakfast for four at a local diner was literally ~$200 USD. Don’t be afraid to eat out, but try to stop by a local market to pick up essentials, snacks and some meals to avoid spending all of your money on food.

Everything is Hard to Pronounce

I learned a few things in Iceland that, knowing prior, would have prevented a lot of confusion/general dumb sounding-ness. Here are some quick tips:
Reykjavik is pronounced RAKE-YEAH-VIK.
Þingvellir is not pronounced PINGVELLIR, it’s THINGVELLIR. That funny little P looking letter is pronounced TH.
“Foss” means waterfall, so names of waterfalls all end in “foss.”
“Jökull” means glacier, so names of glaciers all end in “jökull.”

Are any of these a make or break? Definitely not. But I’m all about being extra… and if you are too, then these are some items to consider bringing to the land of the ice and snow.

Adventurer Hat

I’m not super cool or fashionable. I’ll be the first to admit it. However, I decided that in Iceland, I wanted to wear a trendy hat. This was very important on my personal packing list. I went to American Eagle and found a fashion blogger version of the Arby’s logo, which was a staple in my Iceland attire. I also found an amazing sweater at Aerie that I paired with the hat, and Aerie actually reposted my pic on Insta!

Adventurer Backpack

Obviously, I decided that wandering around Iceland = I’m now an adventurer… and every adventurer not only has a hat, but also a backpack! I found the perfect backpack at Target. I couldn’t find the exact one, but the one linked is very similar!

Instax Mini

These cameras don’t take the best pictures, but they create great memories. I obviously brought my phone and DSLR everywhere I went, but this little camera was fun for roaming around the city and taking quick snapshots.

This is the sunrise I got to watch right outside of our Airbnb while we got ready to head to the airport. This moment was bittersweet; I had an absolutely magical time with my family and boyfriend, but I was sad to leave this island that I had fallen in love with. I can’t wait for my next visit! If you plan on making a trip, comment your questions below! I’m more than happy to answer.

2017 Motto: It probably can’t get worse?

We were all thinking it. 2016 was… interesting. But let’s look at this glass half full. I think that everyone, including myself, has learned so much this past year. Let’s use these learnings to make 2017 the best year yet! In order to do so, I’ve come up with a few resolutions of my own.

Be the best me I can be.
Yes, I’ve been in a perpetual state of “I’d like to lose 10 pounds” since 7th grade. However, as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned that being the best version of myself is more than just getting skinny. It’s getting fit and being healthy! Revelation: most people who eat the right stuff in moderation and exercise regularly aren’t getting ready for the VS runway. They are just normal people. THIS IS PART OF ADULTING. I know, I can’t believe it either.

This is going to be a tough one for me because I eat like every meal is a hot dog eating contest. What’s good is I have the most amazing support system with Bombshell Fitness to make my 2017 healthier and happier. Once I get into my workout and healthy eating groove, I’ll tell you guys more!

Do more of what sets my soul on fire.
My first resolution was about my physical happiness, but mental happiness is just as important! Much like Kylie in 2016, I have a lot of “realizing things” to do. Part of being the best I can be means doing what makes me happy. I plan on “realizing” exactly what that is, and really honing in on how to weave these activities into my daily life. I’m already off to a great start as I’ll begin working with my mom in January and doing exactly what I’m passionate about – helping cultivate her amazing makeup line and working side by side with my best friend.

Explore.
Ideally, I’d like to be galavanting across the world on the daily. However, unless you’re like The Blonde Abroad or my friend Klo on the Go, that’s just not realistic. In 2017 I plan on making more of an effort to explore the world around me. Whether that means going to that restaurant I’ve been scrolling past on Yelp or actually walking outside on the weekends, I want to be able to get to know and appreciate the world around me.

For the love of God, BUDGET.
My dear ginger boyfriend made me an amazing budget spreadsheet when I got my first job out of college. There were columns, there were colors, there were formulas… but there was one thing missing: me actually putting in the time and energy to follow it.

Do I spend at least $5 a day on lattes? Yes. Do I eat out every meal? Guilty. Have I literally ever opened that budget ONCE since its creation? Absolutely not.

I want to do some serious saving this year, so I’m taking the reins and I am making my own budget for 2017! #GIRLBOSS I’ll keep you guys updated on my efforts.

Get a dog.
Is this deep? Thought provoking? Life shattering? No to all of the above. But I really like dogs and I want one OKAY let me live. Like any normal person with human emotions, dogs delight me. I know it will be a lot of extra effort, but I want to stay true to what delights me and do what needs to be done to make it happen.

Now I want to hear yours! Partly because I’m interested, but also because I want to copy them if they’re better than mine…

Comment your 2017 resolutions below!

As Beyonce once said, “stop interrupting my grindin’.” I can only assume that the Queen was referring to grinding her favorite coffee beans.

Much like my dear friend Bey, I am a huge coffee lover. Do I need caffeine? Absolutely not. My energy level is best described as having an eternal case of the terrible twos. However, I love it, and I REALLY love coffee shops. The music, the vibes, the Instagrammable latte art… there’s really nothing better. Below are some of my absolute favorite coffee shops in the Fort Lauderdale area. This is the first post in my #MugShots series, so stay tuned to avoid a serious case of FOAM-O.

Ella Cafe

Ella Cafe is the quintessential coffee shop. Cute decor, delicious brews and light bites… all while the John Mayer Pandora station serenades you. This place is great for everyone from kids to coffee snobs. The staff is really knowledgeable about what they serve, including their homemade macadamia nut milk! If you’re into live music, they even have open mic nights, as well as dueling piano nights. I am not a fan of live music, so I typically stick to visiting in the mornings to keep it low key. If you visit on a weekend, there’s an 8/10 chance you’ll see me there.

What I Get: Iced Chai latte with nonfat milk + American sandwich + (if I’m feeling crazy) blueberry zucchini muffin

Cool Beans Espresso

Plot Twist: Cool Beans is a freaking coffee truck! + 10 for cool points (no pun intended). I learned about Cool Beans when they started visiting the ad agency I used to work at. I quickly became the number one Cool Beaniac! Not only do these certified baristas know their stuff, but the owners (aka Mr. and Mrs. Cool Beans) are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. In fact, they actually helped me fulfill my life long dream of literally just ordering “the regular.” Cool Beans visits offices all over South Florida, and attends tons of special events too! Follow them on Insta to see where they’ve bean and where they’re going.

What I Get: “The Regular,” aka a small iced latte with nonfat milk and cinnamon powder on top

BREW Urban Cafe 

You can tell, just by looking at it, that BREW is magical. Plus, it’s located within C&I Studios in FAT Village, which is an awesome artsy area in FTL that you need to explore! BREW serves up barista drinks and baked goods that you can enjoy on a comfy vintage couch or at the bar. One of the walls is actually a garage door, which they typically lift up to bring in some fresh air. The loft vibe at BREW makes it a super cool place to catch up with a friend or grab coffee on a first date.

What I Get:  Iced latte with almond milk and cinnamon powder on top

SwitchBox Coffee Roasters

SwitchBox is no joke. These people are serious about coffee! I am a huge coffee lover, but I’m the coffee loving type that knows the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. These people are more like, “which flavor cues do you prefer – Ethiopian or Guatemalan?” That being said, it can be a bit intimidating, but it is definitely worth trying! I suggest starting by getting a flight of coffees, which will allow you to sample different coffee variations. They also serve cool drinks in different bar-style glasses, which is super fun and makes your experience that much more unique.

What I Get: Iced latte with nonfat milk and brown sugar

Warsaw Coffee Company

warsaw

I’m going to be 100% honest, I didn’t LOVE the coffee I got here. However, they have two things that a lot of coffee shops lack: full meals + tons of space and seating options. And when I say full meals, I mean amaaazing, drool-worthy meals. That being said, I think Warsaw is a great place to go with larger parties or to get some work done! Plus, there is shaded outside seating, which is absolutely perfect on a breezy day.

What I Get: Iced Chai latte with cinnamon powder on top + half grilled cheese + cup of soup

Life is depresso without any espresso, so make sure you go visit one of these amazing coffee shops soon! Are there any SoFlo sip spots that I forgot? Comment below and let me know so I can go try them out for part 2!

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There are only so many times you can hear “you really should have a blog” before you make a move. I mean, if I live by the saying “the party don’t start ’til I login,” I shouldn’t just talk about it… I should be about it.

So here I am, twiddling my thumbs and trying to figure out how to justify giving the world exactly what it doesn’t need: the opinions of yet another 20-something who thinks her views on life are ~revolutionary~.

I began racking my brain for a real reason, but then I realized… who cares?! I’m wildly entertaining, I have a lot of ideas and thoughts that I’d love to share and I need a better way to spend my free time than searching my house for any sign of carbs. If my mom is the only one who reads this, so be it. I’m willing to take that risk in order to do something I’ve been dreaming of doing for so long. (btw hi mom 👋🏻)

That being said, I want to use You Chlo Girl as a way to share anything and everything with you guys, from my favorite coffee shops to stories about my travels to beauty tips and tricks, and to celebrate the fact that there is magic in everything – you just need to find it. Thanks for deciding to be part of this journey from the start! Looking forward to many more posts with you all.

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P.S. Shoutout to Sheryl for the title inspo… #YouCrowGirl.