MVM: California Calling

Oh heyyyy there! Let’s just get this out of the way. No awkward excuses. It wasn’t you, it was me. I know I’ve been neglecting you for a few months. I hate me too. It’s ok. I’m back (with some fun new music videos!!)

So yeah, you may have noticed my absence since.. oh wow SEPTEMBER? God I suck. I don’t actually have any good reason why I was not tending to the blog. Just life, man. It tends to get in the way sometimes. I’ve had a pretty good few months. Making friends, getting a hang of this whole 9-5* thing, hopping around the US, planning new trips, and listening to a lot of music. And watching stand up comedy. That’s a new thing I do. Thanks, Netflix. (Side note: want to have your mind blown? Watch Bo Burnham’s comedy special: what. I’ve watched it 3 times this week. It’s free. Just do it.)

Transitions! WE’RE GOING TO SAN DIEGO IN FEBRUARY! It was one of those “oh look, a Groupon for a beachfront resort in sunny California in the middle of February? Robby, Alexa, want to go?” type of moments. Happens allll the time. After zero begging, we booked some hotels and some flights and boom. Trip scheduled. I don’t really think any of you are too surprised though. Also true to our nature, we don’t really have too much planed yet except for a cheeky little New Politics concert at the House of Blues. Not going to lie, this one was a little random: I heard one of their songs on Pandora, sent a link to R&A, saw that they were in SD in February when we just happened to be there too so omg it’s a sign. Tickets purchased.

Check out my favorite New Politics songs below and also please please let us know what we should do in San Diego! This trip is definitely going to be a Do I Want to Move to California Eventually? trip so any and all insight is welcome 🙂


P.S. Thanks for keeping the ol’ bloggity afloat during my couple months of “mental rest”, Alexa. You da best. See you in 47 days!

*8 – 5:30. Vomit.


Walk in the Park

New camera = new projects!

After a photography-filled day last month, I finally decided to splurge and get that new DSLR I’ve been wanting for years. My trusty Nikon D40 has been a staple in my travel bag since 2008 but it was lacking the video abilities I’d been craving. So, on to newer and fancier things! I bought a refurbished Canon t3i (600D) and had a little test of the video setting a few weeks back. This is what happened (in HD, if you please):

Sooo yeah, there will definitely be more to come in the future, but I’m pretty proud of my first attempt. I’m hitting up NYC and Seattle in the coming months so we’ll have to see what videos those cities have in store!


P.S. I also took this picture, which is in the running for my favorite picture ever!


Stuff I Like: Volume Three

It’s that time again – time for my roundup of everything internet-y that I’ve been loving lately!

Summer Lovin

  • Bloglovin’ – I usually go through ups and downs when it comes to keeping up with my favorite blogs. Sometimes you get a little behind and then it takes you weeks to get back into the swing of things. I’ve recently found some new, amazing blogs and I found Bloglovin, which helps you keep track of all those blogs. It’s pretty easy to sign up and you just search for any blog then they come up in a News Feed style layout. So convenient! Some of the newest blog additions to my Bloglovin reading list:
      • 20-Nothings – A fellow blog-writer and Argentina study abroad-er, Emma, linked to a post on 20-Nothings on Twitter and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s about a (now) early 30-something and she talks about everything from relationships to work to how to move across the country. I’ve decided to start reading from September 2010 (when the author moved from NYC to LA) so I can’t actually give you any information on what is going on currently. However, it’s very well-written and anyone our age will love it (perhaps as instantly as I did!)
    • Apartment Therapy – If you read my last post, you’ll know that I do not have an apartment, but this site make me want one really really bad. They post a lot and it’s everything from furnishing tips to (my personal favorite) How Much Does It Really Cost To Live In <insert expensive city here>.
  • Podcasts! I’ve mentioned my newfound love for podcasts in the past, but you guys. Seriously. If you have a desk job (or a job with a bunch of alone time in your car *cough Alexa cough* , download the Podcasts app onto your phone/tablet/what have you. It makes doing boring work a bit more interesting.
    • Nerdist – Still one of my favorites, so I thought I’d mention it again because I recently got Alexa addicted as well! If we both love it then I think you will too. (Check out the SDCC 2013 podcast with Matt Smith from Doctor Who if you want to laugh for an hour and a half straight.) And they just added an Alton Brown (from the Food Network) podcast to their network, so if you loved Good Eats then check this out.
    • AfterBuzz TV – This podcast (or podcasts, I should say) is very interesting and pretty innovative to me. It’s like the Grantland Hollywood Prospectus podcast (where Chris and Ryan talk about TV shows, movies, industry news, etc.) but these are podcast channels dedicated to specific shows. I’m currently subscribed to The Newsroom, Suits, and Graceland podcasts and they’re great if you watch a show that none of your friends watch and want to hear people talk about/analyze it.
    • Also, this Buzzfeed list (also recommended by Emma) should help you add a little variety to your Podcasts app.
  • Lorde – You may remember Lorde from a recent MVM, but I’ve listened to the rest of her EP The Love Club and you really should too. On top of Royals, her other songs Bravado, The Love Club, and Million Dollar Bills are some definite future hits. Here, I’ll make the effort just that much easier for you:
  • Tech sites – I recently signed up for a bunch of email newsletters at my work email address (newsletters are great because it looks like you’re reading a very important email when you’re reading about behind-the-scenes of the entertainment industry*) and found some great sites! (*use newsletters responsibly)
    • Fast Company – a link to Fast Company popped up in my Harvard Business Review newsletter and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing sites (they know how to format, man) and they write about anything from business, innovation, social media, to design. I’m also reading their eBook Hacking Hollywood and I think you should too if you A) like pop culture and B) watch as much TV as I do.
    • GigaOM – This was a blog that was recommended to me by a coworker when we were discussing Fast Company. It’s definitely a great blog if you are into anything tech and social media-related (and are tired of Gizmodo).
  • Olly! I know I said earlier that these were my internet-y favorites of the summer, but I got a kitten and haven’t shown you guys yet! She is named Olly, but responds to Smalls, Smoliver, and Little Dummy and she is the coolest cat you’ll ever meet. Follow me on Instagram if you want to be bombarded with cat pictures 😉


Those are all the things I’ve been occupying myself with since starting work full-time. If you have any recommendations please leave a comment or tweet at me! Fall TV season is coming up (a.k.a. the greatest season of the year) so I’m sure I’ll give you guys an update on my favorite TV shows (spoiler alert: it’s Homeland. Homeland wins all the prizes.)


Tea at the Frick

DSC_0069I’m in this weird do-I-stay, do-I-go limbo. Most of my friends have left Pittsburgh for bigger and better places (most recently, our BFF Robby up and moved to Seattle, and my roomie Steph is camped out in Chicago for the next four years) and I’m still…here. I love it here, but I want to leave. I want to leave, but since I’ve never left (except that one time I went to Argentina for 5 months, but there was a specific end date to that, so I’m not going to count that one) I’m overwhelmed with this feeling of terror and “how will I survive outside of Pittsburgh?!”. Everyone I know who has left is surviving perfectly fine in their new cities, however it still doesn’t help shake the feeling that I’m going to be that one person who absolutely hates their new city/job/life. My main concern is the matter of finding the “right time” (which, I’m told, doesn’t exist. It’s like what they always say about having a kid, but people do that all the time!) and the right job and the right place.

I’ll let you all know when I figure out what I need to figure out. For now I’m about 75% content with living at home, being harassed by my new kitten, saving money for those loans that start in, oh, 105 days, and enjoying my current job, which I am very fortunate to even have.

I just needed to share what’s on my mind and hopefully learn that some of you are going through/have been through the same thing. It’s not fun, but the prospect of an exciting future has never left anyone empty-handed in the long run. And hey, I can always come back and start again, right?

Now, on to what this post is actually about…I DRANK TEA!


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m one of those people who hate tea. Sucks, I know, with all the soothing remedies it has and the fact that it is a staple in the UK and I’m an anglophile. The first time I drank tea in a long time was a few short weeks ago at the Frick … Cafe or something. Tea house, maybe? Who knows. It’s not important. The important thing is ELLEN AND MARGOT WERE THERE! You don’t remember Ellen and Margot? Well that’s probably because Alexa and I were too stupid to get a picture of them when we were staying in their lovely house in England! Aaaand I didn’t get a picture of them when I saw them at the Frick either because I’m apparently incapable of taking a single picture of people (that’s what Alexa’s for! Except Alexa wasn’t there so there really isn’t a picture of all of us. Sorry I suck.)

I drove across town to meet up with Ellen and Margot, who were staying with Lisa (Ellen’s sister and my mother’s very good friend, hence the connection between us and them). We had a lovely time catching up, meeting some of Lisa and Ellen’s oldest friends, talking about their glory days at Pitt (and the pranks they pulled), and then snapping some pictures around the Frick with Margot. Here’s a little bit of what we saw:


Apparently it’s called “The Cafe at the Frick.” There we go!










Mini Phipps is mini





World’s smallest watermelon!



It was so great to see them again and so unfortunate that Alexa had decided to move across the country and miss this shindig. I can say, however, that one more afternoon with some Brits did not convert me to a tea lover. It still tastes like watery herbs (oh wait…)

Have a good weekend!


Cabin Photography Masterclass

For as often as I put “photography” at the top of my hobbies list, I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with the Manual function on my Nikon. Since I was heading up to my family’s cabin for the day a few weeks back, I decided to invite my oldest friend and fellow photography enthusiast, Natalie, along to have a little photography day.

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Usually we are taking photos on-the-go, so we wanted a day devoted to tinkering with the settings and taking our time with photographing.

After some forest exploring, we headed over to pick some flowers at a nearby farm…and obviously got a bit distracted by the border collies.

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After the brief detour, we got around to doing what we actually went there for.

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It was a lovely day to familiarize ourselves with the mysterious Manual mode. Sadly, I set my ISO too high and the photos from earlier in the day are a bit grainy. Oh well, now I know to always check the settings before taking more pictures!


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Days 18-21: Edinburgh – Yep, It’s Really That Rainy

After grabbing one final crepe with our hostel BFF, Evan, we said our goodbyes and left Paris behind us to get to our final stop in Edinburgh. The trip took some unexpected turns, to say the least. Alexa had to unpack her entire backpack in security because of an only-kind-of-hidden glass bottle full of Angelina’s hot chocolate but ended up getting to keep it (it got taken away leaving Scotland, though). We were in line with some people who started fighting about who was first (because RyanAir sucks.. Have we mentioned that before?) and then they magically all became best friendzies. The Scottish accents started coming out. We ran all over the airport/road/train tracks in Glasgow at 1am trying to find the bus stop we needed to Edinburgh. Our ticket reservation got messed up. But we got a free bus ride in the end! Weeee!

We got a glimpse of Glasgow while passing through, but once we stopped in Edinburgh, despite darkness and delirium, we knew we had made the right choice to go straight there.

First building we encounter off the bus: Church of Scotland. Huge, ornate, & totally awesome.

First building we encounter off the bus: Church of Scotland. Huge, ornate, & totally awesome.

We checked into Castle Rock Hostel at about 3am and literally rolled into bed without looking at a single thing, but then woke up the next morning and were immediately greeted by musical sounds and this…


Oh yeah. That’s a kilt-wearing marching band just casually rolling through the street. We actually thought we were hallucinating, but we were in Scotland, alright.

After consulting a map, we decided we’d have plenty to do right in Edinburgh. Here’s what our last days of European travel were filled with and what our final memories of #EuroTrip2013 looked like…




Closest neighbor to the hostel was Edinburgh Castle. NBD.

Closest neighbor to the hostel was Edinburgh Castle. NBD.

Rain, rain. Go away... Actually, we don't even care. Edinburgh looks badass in the rain.

Rain, rain. Go away… Actually, we don’t even care. Edinburgh looks badass in the rain.




Our breakfast spot of choice - Deacon's House Café

Our breakfast spot of choice – Deacon’s House Café



Got lunch at The Elephant House Café, where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series!

Got lunch at The Elephant House Café, where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series!

Orange juice machine! We were completely enthralled.

Orange juice machine! We were completely enthralled.

Got lunch at Elephant House Café, where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series!

Did some walking through Diagon Alley - uh, we mean Edinburgh Castle.

Did some walking through Diagon Alley – uh, we mean Edinburgh Castle.

View from the hostel room

View from our hostel dorm


Somewhere in here we sprinted in the downpour to the local movie theater and saw Star Trek 2. No shame. It made for some awesome people watching, we got a taste of everyday Scottish culture, and Scotty, the Scottish (obviously) character in the movie was a lot funnier given our surroundings. Also, we may have made fools of ourselves by laugh-singing the entire Star Trek theme on the hike back to the hostel. The abundance of young people (seriously, so many) really didn’t seem to mind.

Watched mini superheroes battle.

Watched mini superheroes battle.



Oh wait, no we didn't. That was just a hill because Arthur's Seat was ahead of us the whole time. Oh well.

Oh wait, no we didn’t. That was just a hill because Arthur’s Seat was ahead of us the whole time. Oh well.


Who WOULDN'T want to see a ballet like this? I mean... kilts. Come on.

Who WOULDN’T want to see a ballet like this? I mean… kilts. Come on.

Vegetarian full Scottish breakfast - haggis included.

Vegetarian full Scottish breakfast – haggis included.

We took our last day as a true sign that we were meant to be in Edinburgh. After going to what we like to think of as our secret café corner of Edinburgh for breakfast, we met up with one of Alexa’s friends from Pitt who was also traveling in Europe and happened to be in Edinburgh at the same time we were. His friend he was visiting was studying abroad for a semester in St. Andrews, Scotland, which we thought was an interesting choice. The four of us went to meet up with a girl Alexa met in Madrid, named Bryony, who was au pairing at the time. Her and her friend from the University of Edinburgh took us to an awesome hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant that was so good! It was fun chatting with a motley crew of people who all enjoyed traveling but came from very different places.

Due to some Christmas miracle, the sun appeared, and it actually warmed up, which meant there was no way we were going back to the hostel. Sun! In Edinburgh! There was a moment where we looked out off of a bridge and realized, “wait… is that the OCEAN?” It was, and we had to see it. Immediately.

Up to a big hill with an observatory, we went.



The Queen’s digs when she visits dear ol’ Scotland


Water! Too bad we didn’t have enough time to go touch it 😦





All in all, Edinburgh was pretty awesome. The city definitely had the most young people milling about (maybe due to the fact that the University of Edinburgh is there, or maybe because we spent a lot of time in H&M) but it made us feel like we never graduated, so that was pretty nice. We have to say, we are definitely glad we made the last minute decision to include Edinburgh on our #EuroTrip2013 itinerary.

Up next – The final day of #EuroTrip2013: Dublin airport edition

-Alexa & Abi

Days 13-17: Parisian Adventure

As you may have seen, these posts have taken a bit of time to get through – actually, a little too much time. We have decided to wrap up the final two stops of #EuroTrip2013 in two posts, Paris and Edinburgh, so we can move on and blog about present day. Without further ado: PARIS!

Like Dublin, Paris didn’t really live up to the hype. Not really sure why, maybe it was too touristy? Maybe we just had too much fun with Robby and Stefan in sunny Spain and we weren’t expecting Paris to be so rainy or cold. We both will probably visit again in the future, but it didn’t really do much for us. Without dwelling on that, let’s move on to the things that made the longest leg of our trip worth it.

The sights
Duh. The one thing Paris was not short of was beautiful places.
Eiffel Tower sunset
Eiffel Tower at night
View from Eiffel Tower 1
View from Eiffel Tower 2

The Pantheon, located conveniently just blocks away from our hostel!

The Pantheon, located conveniently just blocks away from our hostel!

Luxembourg Gardens. It's a park so you know we went here a lot

Luxembourg Gardens. It’s a park so you know we went here a lot

Scare Coeur from a distance

Scare Coeur from a distance

The Louvre looked pretty cool from the outside. Don't ask us about inside though ;)

The Louvre looked pretty cool from the outside. Don’t ask us about inside though 😉

Seine at sunset

Seine at sunset

The people
Since we stayed in Paris for 5 days, we were really able to meet and hang out with the people in our hostel for an extended period of time.
Evan, a fashion design student in Ohio, was staying in Paris for 2 weeks and was our wine, bread, and cheese buddy.
We also made friends with Abi’s hostel roommate Charlotte, a rare German/New Zealand mix who took a hike up the Eiffel Tower with us (birds not included in the price of admission…but that’s probably a good thing).
Tower birds

Other than hostel people, Alexa kept pulling acquaintances & friends out of left field so we were never left without a fresh face to show us around the city. Annika, an au pair living in Paris for 2 years who Alexa met on a short trip to Portugal last summer, was our favorite tour guide. Seriously, everywhere she took us was so cool. And she let us grill her about the intricacies of being an au pair, which we found insanely interesting.



Yohan, the roommate of the Chilean Javiers while they were studying in Pittsburgh, treated us to drinks and crepes one evening and discussed the differences between French and American work culture (which would you prefer: 12 hour works days with 7 weeks time off, or the typical American work schedule?)

Yohan and a glimpse of crepe man!

Yohan and a glimpse of crepe man!

Crepe man. He made fun of the way Abi kept repeating the French pronounciations of Nutella and banana and called us “the Americans” in a loving way. AND he remembered us the next day as we walked by his crepe shop. Made our day.

Make crepe magic

Making crepe magic

The food
Speaking of crepes, Paris definitely gave Spain a run for it’s money when it comes to delicious food. Paninis were so conveniently delicious. Gelato may have been our dessert of choice…multiple times a day. Macarons, obviously. And you haven’t had hot chocolate until you’ve had Angelina’s.
Angelina 1
Angelina 2
Pierre Herme macaroons

Overall, five days was a pretty decent amount of time to spend in Paris. We learned that reaching out to the random people you know living somewhere can really make the difference in whether you enjoy a trip or not, even if you’ve only met some of them once. Chances are they’d love to play tour guide for a few hours 🙂

Last stop: Edinburgh!

-Abi & Alexa

MVM: Lorde

Pardon the break from the Euro posts, but I found this pretty cool song on Spotify this morning while unpacking all my belongings from my apartment and whoa it happens to be Monday so here I am. This is by a 16-year-old New Zealander, Lorde. It’s a beautiful song so have a listen!

The top YouTube comment on this video had a super fun fact that could be totally false but I thought I’d share:

She got the title Royals from a poster on her wall of a Royals baseball player signing baseballs. And the song developed from her joking with her friends that all the music they listen to is completely irrelevant to their lifestyles, like hip hop and Lana Del Ray.

This makes the video a lot more of an interesting juxtaposition if this is actually the real reason behind the lyrics. Basically, being a teenager is pretty boring compared to what songs say life is like. Anyways, happy Monday!