Three Days in Singapore.

 

Part 2 of 4:

 

During my one month Asia-Pacific study abroad trip overseas, I guess you could say Singapore was our main port. First we flew from Indianapolis to JFK in New York, from there on to Frankfurt, Germany, and finally landed in Singapore via Singapore Airlines on July 22, 2011. It was my first flight longer than 4 hours, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. I’ve never been afraid to fly, but I was slightly nervous to be flying over the Atlantic and even more nervous that I didn’t really know anyone who would be on our flight. The flight from JFK to Frankfurt was amazing with pretty good food and lots of good movies to choose from, making the long flight much better than expected.

 

What’s the longest flight you’ve taken and where were you heading?

 

We landed at Changi airport and it was stunning, complete with a butterfly garden and full size movie theater. We took a bus to our hotel, Hotel Royal, where the staff greeted us with welcome drinks- some kind of specialty fruity beverage that had us all ecstatic to be on the ground at our first destination. My initial impression of this beautiful country was how incredibly clean it was. There was no litter anywhere, no one was walking a dog, the air was fresh and the streets were spotless. We later learned that it is illegal to litter throughout the entire country, a crime that warrants punishment of literally cutting off the hands or fingers of the offender. Some penalty, right!? I’d love for America to take a tip from them!

Changi Airport Singapore

On the first day, we took a riverboat scenic tour near Clarke Quay, allowing us to see the amazing architecture around the city. The best things I really recall were the Marina Sands Hotel and the famous Merlion statue. The Marina Sands Hotel has an infinity pool on top and we were all instantly mesmerized by how gorgeous that building truly was.

I don’t really know the full story behind the Merlion, so if anyone knows it, I would love to hear about it!

 

The first day included lots of walking and sightseeing, making it tough since none of us were able to adjust to the craziest jet lag we’d ever experienced. Even still, it was an amazing first day! We went to various markets and took in so much of the culture in just one day. No matter how excited we all were, we all slept like babies on the first night.

 

On day two, we went to the mall for breakfast to a coffee shop that was in a pet store. I’m still not even sure how that worked out but the coffee was good! We went to one of the greatest zoos in the world, where I was absolutely in heaven. There was so much space and so many awesome animals that I had never seen in a zoo before. The dugong was definitely my favorite and the restroom was outside in the middle of the jungle. We went to the Battle Box Museum, commemorating the events that lead up to Japan taking control of Singapore from the British. It’s always strange to me to learn about wars like this in other countries but it’s amazing to learn so much about unfamiliar places.
After the museum, we came across a festival in the quad outside of our hotel that threw us right into the culture. There was dancing and some shows that kept everyone entertained. It was similar to a small town fair, but so much more lively and colorful! We had dinner at the food court near our hotel before swimming in the pool and getting to know each other better.

singapore festival

We managed to go out to the bars at Clarke Quay that evening and we had a blast! I’ll never forget seeing a Burger King Bar, where they had every kind of beer you could imagine on the menu. Who knew!? I was amazed to learn English is one of the primary languages in Singapore, so communication was so much better than originally anticipated.

 

On the third and final day in Singapore, we slept in late, finally able to adjust to the time change. We took a bus to the airport, where we all split up and enjoyed the whole day exploring the most gigantic airport I’ve ever been in. I watched Despicable Me in the theater for the first time and visited the butterfly garden, seeing all different species of pretty butterflies before meeting back up with everyone where we had dinner at an Indian Restaurant.

changi airport

Just a few hours later we were off to Sydney!

 

Regardless of only spending a few days there, Singapore was absolutely beautiful and I can honestly say I enjoyed every moment. So many new relationships were formed, new cultures were experienced, and another country to check off my travel bucket list. I was absolutely in love with my life and couldn’t have been more thankful to be half way across the world, essentially on my own.

 

Anyone been to Singapore? Can you share some of your favorite experiences there? I wanna hear from all of you!

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East Coast Excursions.

In June 2015, right in the midst of my first quarter life crisis, Southwest Airlines was having a huge sale & I made a split second decision to book a flight to Baltimore. It was $98 round trip, how could I not?! Then I realized, I’d never been to Baltimore and I had no idea what I was going to do there or if anyone was going to go with me. So I started planning. The trip of a lifetime, all by myself. I was going to fly into Baltimore early one Tuesday morning in September, rent a car & drive up the coast. I was elated! I had never been to the East Coast before, so this trip was going to be so amazing for me. My mom decided she would meet me in Maine after 5 days and we’d spend the last 5 days together. I’m so excited to share with y’all my excursions from this trip I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, September 15th: I left Louisville early and arrived in Baltimore around 9:00 am. As soon as I landed, I felt like this was where I belonged. I drove to the National Aquarium and had an amazing morning, talking to some of the employees about potential jobs there and being able to work closely with some of the marine life. There was a beautiful sea turtle who was rescued from the ocean after losing one of it’s feet and they helped restore him back to his full potential. I know zoos and aquariums get a lot of bad press because the animals are held in captivity, but that was definitely a feel good story! Already, I was in heaven. I found an awesome seafood restaurant for lunch on the water and sat outside enjoying every second.

That night, I went to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston RedSox at Camden Yards. That park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! To see a game at every Major League stadium is on my bucket list so I was so excited to check this one off the list! The Red Sox won the game and then I was on my way to stay at the hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was so excited I was actually on this trip that I could barely sleep that night.

Wednesday, September 16th: It was an early morning after a late game as I drove from Greenbelt, Maryland to Falmouth, Massachusetts, making it through 8 states that day. Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I stopped in Philly to see one of the LOVE Statues and grab some coffee. I drove down into New York City, through Chelsea, Manhattan, and the Bronx. I had been to NYC before but driving through was a much different experience than walking or taking a cab everywhere! I didn’t really love the part of Delaware I drove through, but it’s another state I can mark off my list! I made it to Newport, Rhode Island for sunset and I could not be more thankful that I did! The whole town was absolutely beautiful. So quaint and friendly. Peaceful and serene. My destination of Falmouth-Cape Cod was finally reached where I would spend the next two nights. I felt like I was at home, regardless of the fact I had absolutely no idea where I really was. Pure Bliss.

Thursday, September 17th: On day 3, I was scheduled to take a ferry ride to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This was the event I was most looking forward to of the entire trip. Beautiful pictures of Nantucket had been flooding my timelines on Instagram and Pinterest for years and I could not wait to experience it for myself! I woke up extremely early again and drove from Falmouth to Hyannis to the port for Hy-Line Cruises. We went from Hyannis to Nantucket, where I spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering aimlessly through the brick streets and neighborhoods. I never ever wanted to leave. I had lunch at a cute little spot not too far from the port where I had the best lobster roll and the sweetest server. Everyone was so friendly and (seemingly) insanely happy. After being there, it makes me wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. I got coffee from Handlebar Café and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse, where I intended to lose track of time and miss the ferry to our next destination.

Sure enough, I made it back to the ferry and we were on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our port was at Oaks Bluff and I was surprisingly a little disappointed! Maybe there’s just no way it could have lived up to how I felt about Nantucket or maybe my hopes were just too high to begin with. I walked around on the beach for most of the evening and had dinner at one of the places along the river walk. I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t the best dinner of the trip. The beach was beautiful and the sunset that night was single handedly the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. During the ferry ride back, I felt happier than I had felt in years. That night, I stayed in Falmouth again, and fell asleep feeling better about life than I ever had.

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Friday, September 18th: Boston day! One of the most beautifully historic cities I’ve ever been in and I was ready to experience it all. The morning was spent down by the Boston harbor, watching the boats go out and listening to the thick Boston accents from the locals. The best thing about traveling is being thrown in with the locals to see how they do life. I had lunch at Salty Dog at Quincy Market and it was delicious! I walked through the market and watched a magician in the square. I walked up the hill toward the university and sat in the quad to cool off from the heat before visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. There was no game that day so I can’t check it off the list, but I was able to get a ball cap! I can’t wait to go back to see at game at the Green Monster!

Later, I was walking through the mall when my mom called to tell me my grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. She had no details and my mood was instantly turned. I felt completely lost, and for the first time on the trip, I actually felt lonely. I didn’t know what else to do except go back to the hotel, swim some laps and try to wait around for more news. I had dinner at a chain restaurant for the first time on the trip and went back to the hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts to go rest up for the next day.

*I received word that my grandma was in better shape than we originally thought but she still spent weeks in ICU at the hospital in Chicago. I changed the details of my trip and knew I needed to be with her.

Saturday, September 19th: Another early morning- I was going on a whale watching cruise! I headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to take a boat out to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. While waiting to board, I saw a local fisherman bringing in all of the lobsters he’d found on his trip. Being able to hold one was pretty cool! I had lunch at Gloucester House Restaurant, where the food was delicious! I ate so much fresh seafood on this trip it was insane.

We finally boarded for our day trip and it was about a 4 hour trip on a ship from 7 Seas Whale Watching Company. It was a blast! On the way out, it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything around us but out to sea even further it was beautiful and we ended up following three different whales for the rest of the afternoon. There were two grown whales that the captain and guide were familiar with and one calf that had never been seen on an excursion before. It was awesome to see how small the baby was compared to it’s mother, yet it was still gigantic! Going back to my love for marine life- we learned how to identify whales based on specific features they each have, so y’all already know I was just in heaven, yet again. We could not have had a more perfect day for a trip like this. I was so lucky throughout the my whole trip to have perfect temperatures and clear skies.

After we returned to the port, I drove from Massachusetts to South Portland, Maine. I drove through New Hampshire, so the only state in the east I haven’t visited is Vermont! I arrived in Portland after sunset, so I stopped at a Target to grab some nail polish and a few of my favorite things so I could pamper myself a little for the first time in several days! I had Otto’s pizza delivery to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed some down time that night. It was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, September 20th: I woke up even earlier than I had any other day of the trip so I could see some lighthouses in Maine before I had to drive back down to Boston for my flight to Chicago. I visited Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and I still cannot get over how beautiful that part of our country truly is. It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up clearing up early, making for some of the best pictures! I hiked the Cliff Trail for a few hours so I could take in every moment I possibly could that morning.

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After a few hours at the lighthouse, I stopped for lunch and headed back down to Boston to catch a plane to see my grandma.

I spent the next 5 days exploring Chicago instead of the east coast, but being with my family during that time was most important. I drove into downtown each day I was there and ended up going to a Cubs game spur of the moment! Of course, it was a blast! My grandma was happy to see me but sorry I cut my trip short for her. Almost two years later, she’s doing great and I still have the best memories of my first solo trip. I will definitely be taking another trip to the east coast.

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Where should I visit on my next trip there? Favorite things to do in Maine, on Nantucket, or anywhere else? Help me out! I’d also love to hear some stories about people who live in the area!

Also, how many of you guys have taken solo trips? Where did you go? I’m planning to take another solo vacay so any tips you have are definitely appreciated!

Beauty Staples I Can’t Live Without.

I previously mentioned that even though I don’t wear a lot of makeup or use a ton of beauty products, I’m still absolutely obsessed with them. I especially love all of the anti-aging, skin brightening, under-eye targeting creams and lotions that I can possibly find. Dry shampoo has also become one of my biggest beauty staples over the last few months. My nursing school friends would be so proud! My basic beauty bag seriously consists of only a few items but I just swear by them!

Whether I’m getting ready at home & have all the time in the world, or I’m getting ready in just a few minutes between Pure Barre and work, my routine is pretty much the same. It’s simple & quick & does the job for me. Here are my favorites! *This post contains affiliate links.


Dry Shampoo: I used to wash my hair every single day and had no idea how damaging that really was for my locks. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I only wash my hair about every three days so my favorite Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo 3.5 oz is essential. Although I’ve only used the original, they now have a shampoo for brunettes, which is awesome! Having dark hair, I realize how tough it is to keep from having white spots from the shampoo throughout your hair. So if y’all have tried this, I wanna hear reviews! I’ve experimented with a lot of different kinds and this is by far the best. It works the best and smells amazing. I know it’s a little pricey so Not Your Mothers Shampoo Clean Freak Dry 7 Ounce is a great alternative. It works quite well and smells good, too!

Mascara: There are at least a million options for mascara out there and a lot of brands insist their product is the best but it costs a fortune. So many times the expensive ones aren’t even worth it! But if you’re looking for sky high, voluminous lashes without the sticky, cakey mascara feeling on your face, this stuff is for you. It is undoubtedly the best mascara I’ve ever used and makes me feel like I don’t need any other kind of makeup. I use Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Luscious Waterproof Mascara, Very Black. My eyes feel brighter and I just plain feel better with this stuff! Even other Maybelline products haven’t lived up the expectations I’d hoped. It’s extremely waterproof and comes off best with some coconut oil instead of eye makeup remover.

Which brings me to my next staple.
Coconut oil: This stuff is a miracle and is without a doubt, my favorite beauty product. For everything. Makeup remover, deep conditioning hair mask, I even use it like body butter sometimes. It’s all natural, of course, so it works for people who are trying to keep any chemicals out of their lifestyle. I even use it around my cuticles before I go to bed. As makeup remover, I just put a little on my finger and rub around my eyes until the mascara & eyeliner come off. It’s the only thing that takes it all off completely, and without much effort at all. When I use it in my hair, I put it from scalp to ends and make sure every hair is completely saturated. I massage it into my scalp, use a clip to tie up the hair, and then put on a shower cap to intensify the conditioning. Usually I try to leave it on for about 2 hours before washing it out with regular shampoo. I also sometimes put it on any dry skin, focusing on feet, elbows, knees or ankles. It works like a gem and you can find one of my favorites here Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 Ounce.

Nail Polish: When I was younger, I would bite my nails down until they hurt so bad I practically needed band aids on each finger. Gross, I know. It was a terrible habit and NOTHING was working to get me to stop. We put cayenne pepper mixed with clear polish on my nails, we tried no bite, we tried putting little fake nails from Target on them. Everything. Then out of nowhere, I looked down and my nails were long one day! I had stopped biting them without even realizing it. Crazy how that works. Anyway, now nail polish is one of my greatest obsessions. I have more bottles than they carry at the store and can identify each of the colors in a heartbeat. I always paint my own nails instead of getting them done somewhere, mostly because I change my mind about colors so frequently, but also because it’s a little bit of a stress relief for me. My favorite brand of polish in general is Essie, and my favorite color is Peach Daiquiri. You can find it here essie nail polish, peach daiquiri.. Since gel manicures are becoming so popular and they’ve created gel polishes you can use at home to do yourself, I’ve definitely taken advantage. My favorite brand with gel polish and top coat is Sally Hanson in Red Eye. Its the perfect red for all occasions. They have the combos so you can buy the top coat & color together or you can buy them separately. Usually I pick them up at Target! You don’t need the special light or anything fancy to finish the manicure off, the top coat works perfectly. I always use this when I go to the beach for week and it lasts the whole time!

Whitening Strips: Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrip Teeth Whitening Kit, Glamorous White, 14 Treatments. These are a game changer. So easy & they work better than any other whitening product I’ve used. I drink a lot of tea and coffee, so these babies are definitely an essential! I wear them on the way to work in the mornings or right before bed for 30 minutes about three days a week. They also make ones for people with sensitive teeth that work just as well!

And that’s it! These five items make life easier and help me feel my best. Couldn’t live without them!

What are your beauty staples?

 

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!

Simple Tips for Healthier Living.

Over the last six months, I’ve been looking at my life & my overall health from a different perspective than ever before. Making big changes & small changes in an effort to just be happy. At the beginning of May, I decided I wanted the whole month to be focused on mindfulness and creating a healthier state of mind, rather than solely working on a healthier body. I figured spending 31 days being more aware of the simple things, paying attention to my breathing and thinking, and being more appreciative of the little things would create habits to be able to continue this lifestyle long after the month ended. For so long I put my main focus on the physical aspect of healthy living and had never even considered the mental and emotional aspects. Crazy right? Unfortunately I think a lot of young people approach ‘healthy living’ this way. I don’t even pay enough attention to the things I’m eating or drinking so I especially wasn’t paying enough attention to clearing my mind.
So here we are at the end of the month and I definitely feel like an improved woman. There are a few things that I’ve been sure to do every single day since May 1st that I wanted to share with you! I know we’re all so busy these days and sometimes it’s hard to take 20 minutes out of the day for yourself, especially in addition to your workout. But you need it! Do yourself a favor and take a little more time out of each day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you. I promise! Here are a few of the biggest things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine.

  • Start each morning with green tea. No special brand, iced or hot. Add some lemon juice to it or drink it plain. Green tea is a natural diuretic and has been proven to help your belly flatten out when you drink it regularly. It’s also said to improve brain function. The biggest reason I drink it every day is because it honestly just makes me feel better.
    • You could also add cinnamon and apple cider vinegar to your daily cup. This combo has gotten a lot of good press because it can help to lower cholesterol!
  • Exercise. Do 100 crunches, 50 push-ups, go to the gym for cardio & weight work, hit a Pure Barre class, run outside. Anything to get your heart pumping and body moving. Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism and gives you all the endorphins you need to make it through the toughest days at work. Plus, it’s out of the way first thing! No one has ever regretted a good sweat session.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Maybe it’s before you even get out of bed, maybe it’s in the car on the way to work, or it’s before you fall asleep at night. Even if you only do this for one minute, the benefit is still great! I always breathe in for 10 seconds, breathe out for 12 seconds. This helps you literally blow off some steam and any anxiety or frustrations you have about the day will dwindle away. If you’re doing these at night like I usually do, it helps clear the mind from the day’s events so we’re not thinking about everything that we still need to do or about anything that happened throughout the day.
    • This has probably been the biggest key to success for me. I used to let so many small things frustrate me & by blowing off some steam this way every single day, I feel brand new.
  • Meditate. I recently downloaded the Mindfulness app on my phone and I can’t believe how much it helps! You can set reminders each day so you don’t forget and it also sends a motivational quote. They have 3, 5, 15, and 30 minute sessions. All of them are beneficial, and with as little as 3 minutes, there’s no excuse not to! This is one of the biggest practices that has helped immensely in realizing what’s really important in life. Spending time getting to know my mind better has helped me just be happier, more motivated, definitely more upbeat through the day. I usually spend 3 or 5 minutes right before bed with one of the guided exercises. I’ve slept better this month than I have in the last six combined.
  • Call someone you love. Whether it’s your mom, sister or brother, best friend, it doesn’t matter. Just give them a call, tell them you love them and you’re thinking about them. It will not only help you feel better but it will make their day too!

And that’s it! Just five little steps that have made me happier and feel so much more content with my life. I haven’t been the most happy with my current working situation so doing these things each day has helped pull out the good things in everything I’m faced with every day. I just decided one day it was time to control all the aspects of my life that I possibly could. By doing this, the negative things that come my way that I can’t control don’t seem so bad. My shoulders are far less tense, I laugh a lot more, and my every day feeling about life is much improved.
Each step is done in no particular order but every one of them is so worth the little extra time and oh so necessary. I’m definitely in the habit of each step and on days where I forget my tea, I just feel out of whack. These habits have helped me immensely and I hope they can do the same for you!

My next goal is to start incorporating yoga into my routine! Any recommendations on where to start?
Do you have daily routines that you just cannot live without?

Ipsy. Birchbox. Sephora Play.

Which one!?

This one is going to rely entirely on you all to let me know which subscription is best because I haven’t used any of the three and would love some advice to get started!

Although I don’t wear a whole lot of makeup, I love experimenting with new lipsticks, moisturizers, and all the face masks and anti-aging products I can find. So I guess I’m also curious as to what kinds of samples these subscriptions have. What else typically comes in the monthly packages?

I’ve heard most people either like Ipsy or Birchbox but neither one seems to be a clear winner. And now we have Sephora Play to throw into the mix! I’ve heard great things about it so far and a lot of my friends have tried it, but I wanna know what you all think! I LOVE Sephora, quite possibly more than your average girl, so without knowing much about any of the three, this one might be in the lead. I could seriously buy one of every single item in Sephora. Anyone else guilty of spending their whole paychecks there? Without a doubt one of my guilty pleasures. I went through a phase where my mother actually asked me if I was signed up for a bi-monthly subscription to Sephora because I was getting so. much. stuff. from there.
Do some of you ladies subscribe to more than one? Seriously guys, tell me how it works! Are any of them worth it, or should I just continue buying the random goodies I frequently get from Sephora anyway?
Good customer service? The best samples? Which has the most variety?
Can’t wait to hear from you!