Christmas in Italy

I didn’t take a lot of pictures while in Italy.  I didn’t realize that until recently when I was organizing my hard drive.  I guess I was more focused on getting video footage for my Youtube Channel.  But I like to think I was also trying to be in the moment and really experience the places I saw.  Who’s to say…

Anyway, the few pictures I did take ended up on my instagram but I did manage to take a few while briefly visiting Lugano, Switzerland.

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This place is absolutely gorgeous.  I could literally just sit down somewhere and stare at everything for hours.  I didn’t, of course, because there wasn’t much time but I did attempt to soak in as much as beauty as possible before heading back to Milan.

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After seeing Varese, Milan, Gallarate and Lugano (among a few other nearby places) we headed back to London on New Year’s Eve and managed to get this really nice shot…

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It was a lovely Christmas spent with very lovely people who were all just…lovely.  No really, I felt very welcomed and comfortable even if I didn’t understand the language.  I guess that’s what Rosetta Stone’s for.  (Did I mention I get free Rosetta Stone while enrolled in University over here?  Yeah…think I’ll take advantage of that.)

If you’d like to see how my first trip to Italy was please check out the new video on my channel.

Don’t forget to subscribe and comment!  More travel videos coming soon!

Have a good week!

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Benefit Cosmetics Make Up Haul

For the New Year I decided to treat myself to a few new products from Benefit Cosmetics.

Make Up Haul

I was a little leery at first but after the very nice Boot’s employee gave me a mini-makeover using the products I knew I’d finally found ‘The One.’

Benefit Pore-fessional Primer

The Pore-fessional Primer is oil-free and light weight.  It basically felt like air on my skin.  I rarely wear foundation and never use a primer.  Previously, all I needed was Origins tinted moisturizer and I was happy.  But now that I live in London and no longer have that Los Angeles sunshine to naturally brighten my skin I now find it necessary to wear foundation, which means the primer comes in handy.

Benefit hello flawless foundation

The Benefit Hello Flawless foundation is supposed to be good for your skin.  It feels nice going on, doesn’t clump or get all crusty looking and does the job of making my skin look brighter.  Paired with the Hello Flawless powder, I feel camera ready and pretty rockstar.

Benefit Hello Flawless Powder

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally get into Benefit (probably the price tag – eep$$$!  But totally worth it.) but I’m glad I came around.

Maybelline Falsies Mascara

I’m also using the Maybelline Falsie’s Volum’ Express mascara and I must say I’m in love.  The product really makes my eyelashes look longer, fuller – to the point where someone recently asked me if I was wearing falsies.  I was flattered because obviously I don’t have the patience to put on falsies for real so it’s nice to know that the mascara is doing the trick.

Bonus!  I went to a Christmas dinner where there was a secret santa gift exchange.  My gift was a figurine of a solar waving Queen but by some happy turn of events I ended up with an amazingly perfect gift set from The Body Shop that contained body wash, body butter and this coconut hand cream.

The Body Shop Hand Cream

This London weather has me on the hunt for a new skincare routine and especially for lotions that actually work.  I truly lucked out with this Body Shop gift set because it got me through my ten day Holiday in Italy.  Thanks extra Secret Santa!

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No New Resolutions!

It’s 2015 in London!

Spent my Christmas in Italy and got back to London just in time to say goodbye to 2014.  My New Year started with an empty refrigerator, no electricity and lentils at midnight.  But Happy friggin’ New Year!

After the longest commute from Gatwick airport I arrived home to find that the electricity had run out so I had to light candles to see my way around.  It was kind of cool, if not slightly creepy.  The part of me that still enjoys scary movies thought about the possibility of a stranger lurking in the dark waiting to pounce and for a thrilling moment I was a little bit afraid.  Then the electricity came back on and my scary movie moment was over.  I took a couple of minutes to empty the fridge because all the food had gone bad.  Then at 11:59pm I counted down to midnight and ate lentils.  Fingers crossed for a super prosperous year!

For the first time since the age of 16 I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions.  So when March comes around I won’t have any resolutions to break – Yay!  I also didn’t end the year in a bar or totally drunk, which means tomorrow I won’t be hungover.  Also, I didn’t watch the NYC ball drop on TV.  I did, however, watch the London Eye fireworks on TV, which was a nice change of pace.

I thought I’d feel a little bummed about not going out for New Year’s but it turns out my quiet, sober night indoors was just what I needed to start my year off right.  How you start the year is how you’ll end it, right?  (Maybe that’s not entirely true since last year I was definitely hungover on New Year’s Day.)

Anyway, I don’t know if any of these changes will make a difference in my 2015 but I’m looking forward to seeing what the New Year brings.  Somehow I have a good feeling about it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Minor Setbacks & Winter Wonderland

I’ve fallen behind on my blogs and it’s not because of midterms or essays or presentations.  Media Communication majors didn’t have midterm exams this time around, which was a relief.  I submitted my first essay of 1000 words and my presentation about the history and process of dubbing and subtitling was not only done with two other people who shared the workload but it was a blast.  So it wasn’t school that kept me from sticking to my weekly schedule.  It was me.

I had a troublesome couple of weeks and I let that get in the way of my experiencing London.  It started when I opened a bank account at Barclays.  My debit card was immediately stolen and funds were stolen from my brand new account.  Instead of handling the situation like professionals the people at Barclays lost their minds.  They kept transferring me to different departments and each person that I spoke too was ruder than the last.  At least by the end of it, after I wrote a letter of complaint to the CEO of Barclays of course, I was able to get my stolen money back PLUS an additional £100 for the drama these ridiculous customer service reps caused me.  So that felt like a small victory.

Where school is concerned, I just have to remember that every institution has its good and bad parts.  My campus is gorgeous.  Every time I get to school I have a breathtaking view of the building and the surrounding property and it’s just awesome.  Unfortunately, some of the people who work at my school don’t have the best attitudes.  They pass the buck a lot.  They say inappropriate things like, “that’s above my pay grade” when asked questions they really should be able to answer.  

But again these are small, insignificant moments.  They don’t really matter and I shouldn’t have let them get in the way of enjoying my first six weeks in London.  Setbacks happen.  People will make life difficult either intentionally or simply because they don’t know any better.  I can’t let that stop me from doing what I need to do.  It’s my job to deal with these setbacks and shove on.

So I’m back.  Here are some bright spots I’ve had over the past couple of weeks.

While looking for the Student Union office, I got lost and somehow wound up in the Film/TV department.  I met some of the teachers and actually got to spend some time with the undergrads as they rehearsed their TV studio project.  It was just like old times – I was even put to work and got to be the floor manager for a bit – except these undergrads were so serious.  I was so impressed with how focused everyone was.  When I was a freshman at NYU I was laughing and goofing off and flirting with my classmates so much it’s a wonder I managed to learn anything.  Ah well, we all have our paths.

Andrea had his birthday party at the Blue’s Kitchen.  We ate a ton of BBQ and drank Prosecco while a live band played some of my favorite blues music.  It was loud and super crowded and I’d made the mistake of wearing heels but boy did I love my dress.

Black Dress

It’s a Mia Plunge Neck Bodycon Midi from Boohoo.com and I’m officially addicted to shopping that site.  Up until now I never thought I could wear bodycon but that’s all changed now.  In fact, I’ve already put three more bodycon dresses on my wishlist.

I also went to Winter Wonderland.  The beer was nice as were the giant Bratwursts.  Actually, the bratwurst was my favorite part of the whole day.  Yum!

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tree clock

Hopefully it’ll be a little colder next time I go so that I can enjoy my first mulled wine experience.  But for a first time around, Winter Wonderland was pretty magical.  It definitely helped me get into the Holiday spirit.

After our visit to Winter Wonderland we stopped by Harrods to check out their Christmas window displays.

Harrodsstrings Santa rocking horse merrygoroundPrincess

Which brings us to Thanksgiving.  My first Thanksgiving in another country was interesting.  First of all, as I am not particularly homesick, I didn’t feel the need to actually celebrate Thanksgiving.  But Andrea wanted to celebrate as he’s never participated in Thanksgiving festivities so I finally agreed.

We made baked macaroni, fried chicken, cornbread from scratch and some other delicious fixings and invited a few friends over for dinner.  It was nice.  Even though I got a migraine, argued with Andrea about how to fry the chicken and discovered that the stuffing in the UK is VERY different from the stuffing I’m used to eating – I don’t regret hosting the meal.  I did, however, miss having a turkey and apple pie though.  Ah well.  Maybe next year.

One really cool thing that came out of the event was this gravy boat which, for some reason, Andrea insisted on buying.

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I’ve never had a gravy boat before.  At home, whenever we made gravy for the mashed potatoes we just left it in the pot and spooned it directly onto the mashed potatoes.  This was a new experience for me and I rather enjoyed it.  It made celebrating Thanksgiving in another country that much more special.  I also really liked how seriously Andrea took the tradition despite it not being part of his culture.

Next up is a Christmas dinner, which will feature a turkey plus Secret Santa so I’m really looking forward to that.  Today I’m going to go buy what I think will be the perfect gift for the person to whom I will be Secret Santa.  Then it’s off to the museum for the rest of the day.

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend so far!

Tower of London “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”

I went to the Tower of London to see the 888,246 ceramic poppies displayed in remembrance of those who lost their lives serving in World War 1.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

I wasn’t close enough to get any good shots of the poppies spilling out of the windows but from the pictures I’ve seen on the internet it’s quite an amazing sight to see.  Because the art installation has drawn millions of visitors, it has been partially extended so maybe I’ll have an opportunity to go back for a closer look.

For more posts about Life in London follow my blogs on Bloglovin.

Don’t Rain on my Parade

Happy for the unseasonally sunny day, I tried to take advantage of the nice weather and go for a run in the park.

Unfortunately – and not surprisingly – the sun’s brief cameo was over before I’d finished breakfast and soon the rain thwarted my plans for a run.  Instead, I ended up staying in, doing homework and watching way too many episodes of Prison Break.

That show is addictive but I digress.

Sometime around 4pm I started to feel restless and decided to take a trip to the Natural History Museum.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

 

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

I reached the museum about an hour before it closed so I didn’t get to see everything.  What I did see was pretty incredible so I’ll have to make sure to go back when I have more time to explore the place.

During Christmas an ice skating rink is set up next to the museum.  It was still drizzling by the time I got there but a few brave souls were still skating.  I definitely want to give it a try at some point.  Look how pretty.

Natural History Museum

I’m glad I forced myself to get out of the house despite the fact that rainy weather makes me want to crawl under the covers with a hot cup of cocoa.  But I can’t let the weather dictate my days’ activities.  I have to make each day count even if that means I get a little wet from time to time.

Besides, museums are free here, there’s absolutely no reason for me not to take advantage of that.

 

 

Fabulous Healthy Dinners

I don’t have to cook much so I can’t take credit for these amazing dishes.  Follow my instagram @Dawn_Melissa for more healthy dishes.

salmon
Salmon, Pak choy, Kale, avocado
grilled chicken
Grilled chicken & roasted veggies
stir fry
Steak stir fry
Mackerel
Mackerel, Sweet potatoes, Kale

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring.  I recently had a delicious homemade brunch of toast, beans, avocado, scrambled egg whites and – get this- meatfree sausage.  I didn’t get to take any pics but trust me it was delicious.  So yum.  Sooooo yum!!!

I think I’m starting to love food again.

All New Things

I anticipated taking on a lot of new things when I moved to London. LondonPaying almost double for a grande Americano at Starbucks was one I was prepared for.  Cleaning Day was not.  But when you live in a shared space compromise plays an important part of establishing a healthy, happy living environment.  So it looks like my cleaning day falls on Saturdays.

Still doing the healthy eating thing.  It actually hasn’t been as challenging as I thought it would be.  The past week I’ve eaten the most delicious healthy homemade meals all for about £4 each.  I had to get creative because London is expensive and I have to pinch pennies (pences?) if I’m going to survive.  So far I think I’m doing OK.  The biggest challenge is finding healthy snacks to eat and resisting the cookies and cakes that I’m always craving.  But at least as far as the meals are concerned, I don’t have to worry too much about doing the actual cooking.  Yay!  I will do a post about a week of fabulous healthy dinners soon.

I had my first official week of classes and I think I’m really going to enjoy this first semester.  I’m still job and internship hunting.  My social life seems to be picking up as well.  Bowling was a lot of fun.  Also went to the cinema for the first time.  Did you know they don’t serve butter for your popcorn in movie theaters??  I was appalled.  But at least I know for next time that I have my choice between sweet or salty popcorn.

Because of workload and job/internship hunt I may have to scale back to weekly blogs for now because things are getting busy.

But I think it’s a good problem to have.

Outfit of the Day (#OOTD)

Shirt – Forever 21

Faux Leather Skirt – Forever 21

Tights – Primark

Blazer – Primark

Sunglasses – Michael Kors

Officially a London Student

After the chaos of my whirlwind orientation day settled down I had a chance to collect my thoughts and the realization that I’m actually back in school finally hit.

London

I’m experiencing at least 50 different shades of anxiety, nervousness and fear but overall I’m excited to have yet another opportunity to go back to school and also explore another new city.  hashtag blessed =)

London is amazing.

I try very hard not to look around in wonder like a tourist but sometimes it simply can’t be helped.  I’m still adjusting.  Haven’t figured everything out yet and I’m not quite ready to give up my trademark shorts and sheer shirts but I’m sure I’ll find a way to keep part of the old me and somehow blend it with the new me to come.

London

Classes start this week.

Already I have a sneaking suspicion that life is about to get truly hectic for the next few months.  I’m OK with that and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to handle it.  But this won’t be like undergrad or musical theatre school.  This time around I’ll actually have to show up for class (sober) and do the work.

Also, I have to maintain a B average.  Not that I ever had bad grades in school but it’s one of the first things they stressed during orientation so I’m assuming they take that sort of thing pretty seriously around here.  It’s a good thing though because I definitely slacked off way too much at NYU.  I plan to make up for it this time around.

I do hope I won’t get too busy to keep up with my blogs and Youtube videos.  I truly hope there will be time to fully enjoy London.  Speaking of which, it looks like bowling and salsa dancing lessons may be in my immediate future.  Additionally, I may have found a free outdoor bootcamp to attend on weekends.  And I managed to find a Black hair supply store as well as a Black hair salon right near where I live.  Yay!

Let’s see what else is in store for me.

 

Outfit / #OOTD

Sweater – The Limited

Scarf – Primark

Cut Offs – Macys

Tights – Primark

bareMinerals Foundation

I was not expecting my skin to react so quickly to the weather change.

I thought I’d have a couple of weeks before I had to do anything different with my skin care routine.  Umm, no.  My skin (and my scalp) were immediately like get it together.

So I bought a bunch of lotions and expanded my Origins skin care collection (I’ll do a haul or a separate post about those products). Then I wandered into a massive Boots store and found this BareMinerals foundation.

bareMinerals

I’m in love.

As I told the lovely woman who helped me choose the right foundation, I don’t normally wear foundation.  Usually, I only wear a tinted moisturizer and save the foundation for special occasions.  The friendly Boots employee gently informed me that due to the fact that London doesn’t have that lovely Los Angeles sunshine I’d gotten so accustomed to I would have to step up my makeup game if I still wanted my skin to have the appearance of brightness.

She tried a couple of different products on my skin.  Some were too light.  Some too dark.  Finally we decided the bareMinerals Ready SPF 20 Foundation in R470 was the best match.

BareMinerals

I’m definitely in love.

And it’s opened me up to a whole new area of makeup that Ive been avoiding for years.  I’m looking forward to putting my Bobbi Brown foundation stick to more use.  For now I’m getting cozy with this Bare Minerals.

BareMinerals Foundation

I think it will go nicely with my Bare Minerals concealer as well.