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My Favorites – Spring, 2017

My Favorites – Spring, 2017

I’m going to try something a little new this week! Originally, I considered doing month-by-month “favorites” lists. But then I realized 2 things: 1. I don’t buy things often enough to call for monthly favorites lists. and 2. I only post once a week anyway, […]

15 Free Things to Do in Boston

15 Free Things to Do in Boston

Boston has become a popular hub for millennials over the past several years. Sadly, the cost of living in Boston has risen as well. Actually, it’s the 4th priciest city in the United States, following New York, San Francisco, and San José. If you — […]

My 2017 Summer Reading List

My 2017 Summer Reading List

I’ve really been slacking on reading. You can check out my pitiful amount of books I’ve read so far this year here. My goal of reading 52 books this year — AKA, a book every week — isn’t going so well. For some reason, I’ve just wanted to sit back and relax on my commute. Although sometimes I need to shut my eyes in the morning or want to watch a downloaded episode of Bloodline on my phone, the tiny bit I’ve read over the last few months is not exemplary behavior of a writer and former English major! This summer, I plan on catching up. Especially with the weather changing from under-the-covers-in-bed-with-Netflix weather to on-the-beach-with-a-book-weather, I have no excuse!

This is a list of some of the books I want to read this summer. Some are new, some are old, some are borrowed, and some are blue.

 

1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

into the water paula hawkins reading

You probably recognize the author’s name, as she is also the author of The Girl on the Train, a popular suspense novel from a few years ago and the book title from which I derived my blog name. In Into the Water, a crime finds multiple women dead on the bottom of a river in a small town. The story is told from the point of view of a 15-year-old girl whose mother and best friend were victims of the mysterious murders. Like The Girl on the Train, this novel is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, with each chapter from the point of view of a different person. Though this novel didn’t get quite as much positive feedback as her first novel, I’m still excited to dive into a thrilling beach read.

 

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big little lies liane moriarty hbo reading

I’ve heard fantastic things about the HBO series, so I want to read the book before I tune into the show. This story is told from the point of view of 3 women, a divorcee, an adult queen bee, and a young single mother. What seems like a calm little town is full of secrets, scandals, and even a murder. Apparently, Moriarty is great at writing characters and building their relationships. I can’t wait to see what all the hype’s about!

 

3. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

since we fell dennis lehane reading

My dad is the one that got me into Dennis Lehane. Though I haven’t read much of his stuff, I’ve loved what I’ve read. Mystic River in particular had me hooked. Lehane is just such a fantastic writer. In this, we have a female protagonist, which I’ve never seen from Lehane. In fact, the only problems I’ve ever had with his writing is that I don’t really buy the women he writes; this could be interesting. The main character, Rachel, is a former journalist who barely leaves the house after a breakdown on the air. Her marriage and life are relatively normal, but something causes that nice life to change. My dad said it’s not as great as his other books, but if Lehane wrote it, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

 

4. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard

let my people go surfing patagonia yvon chouinard reading

This will be the first book I read this summer, since I joined a book club at work in which this is the next book we’ll be discussing. The founder of Patagonia, Inc. wrote this memoir to tell his readers about his life of environmentalism, one of Patagonia’s biggest initiatives. I love nonfiction books and since this one is so short, I know it’ll be a breeze to get through.

 

5. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

the bad beginning lemony snicket a series of unfortunate events reading

I’m sure you’ve all heard of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the popular children’s series. In recent years, it’s been made into movies and a Netflix series. Since the last time I read this book was in sixth grade, I thought it would be a good thing to pick up. Not only did I never finish the series completely, I remember really enjoying the books as a middle schooler. Sometimes, reading children’s books as an adult can shed light on different themes and ideas I never would have seen at a young age.

 

6. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

eating animals safran foer reading

This was the book that was required reading of the class that graduated a year ahead of me at college. (Instead, we got stuck with a terrible book about the risks of the internet and how it’s making us stupid; meanwhile, all of our homework assignments and tests were online. But I digress.) Though I eat meat, I think knowing where our food comes from and the psychology and business aspects of factory farming are very important. Many people turn into vegetarians after reading this book, as it reveals the gruesome side of the meat industry that so many Americans turn a blind eye to.

 

7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

the handmaid's tale margaret atwood hulu reading

As an English major, how have I not read this book?! This is one of the most acclaimed feminist novels of the twentieth century. In addition, it’s one of the first highly popular dystopian works. Basically, this dystopian society has women playing the role of wife and mother… and nothing else. I look forward to reading this before tuning into the Hulu series, which I’ve heard is excellent as well.

 

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

the girl with the dragon tattoo stieg larsson reading

I’m sure a lot of you have read this book or seen the movie. I have not experienced either and therefore want to get to something that’s been on my reading list for years. A journalist receives a task to investigate a disappearance that has remained unsolved for years with the help of a female investigator, the girl with the dragon tattoo. Everyone I know who’s read that has loved it. I also find it so interesting that the author died before finishing the last book in the series. Apparently it takes a while to get into it, but once you’re in, you’re hooked.

 

9. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

are you my mother alison bechdel reading

I read Fun Home — which inspired the famous Broadway musical — last summer and really enjoyed it. Like Fun Home, this is in the form of a graphic novel, telling the story of her life and childhood. While the other focuses on her relationship with her father (a closeted gay male), this focuses on her relationship with her mother. You might recognize Alison Bechdel’s name, as she is a famous feminist and LGBTQ+ activist. She also developed the Bechdel Test, a famous test for books, movies, TV shows, etc. to see if they include dynamic female characters. Since it’s a graphic memoir, it’ll be a fast read; I think I read Fun Home in one afternoon and can surely do the same with this one.

 

10. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

small great things jodi picoult reading

I’ve read a few Jodi Picoult novels before and liked them, didn’t love them. After a friend recommended this one, I knew it would be a great read from the plot alone. A labor and delivery nurse finds out that a parent has requested her not to work with their child — and don’t even want her to touch the child — because they are white supremacists and the nurse is black. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac arrest while this nurse is the only one in the room but she hesitates, not sure if she should treat the child or follow the racist wishes of its parents. As a result, she is put on trial for murder to neglecting to help the child. The concept alone sounds intense, but in our present society, reading something about racial prejudice at such a high level could be really eyeopening.

 

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What’s in My Bag?

What’s in My Bag?

Nothing makes me feel more refreshed than organizing my items and space. Mid-spring is the perfect time to clean my closet, moving the heavily layered items to the back and the light, bright-colored ones to the front. In addition, cleaning out my bag — and even […]

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

On my recent trip my Miami, my friends and I spent a majority of our time relaxing and drinking adult beverages. However, one of the highlights of the trip was an unexpected good time: the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Before going, we researched this […]

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

My recent trip to Miami — which I also wrote a post about here — was exciting, fun, and very relaxing. That being said, I definitely could have done a little more research before the trip. With my birthday weekend right before the trip, I was pretty busy. I barely planned anything specific or looked up places or restaurants to see before leaving. Whether you’re planning a trip to Miami soon or just want to learn from my mistakes, I’ve created a list of tips that would have helped me a little before I took my first steps along Ocean Drive. Prepare yourself for some Miami (ad)Vice. (Okay… I’ll go home.)

 

Dining:

1. Hosts and hostesses outside of restaurants will beckon you to join them. Don’t feel obliged.

At first, I was taken aback by the upfront, somewhat aggressive approach that staff members of various Ocean Drive restaurants take. At first, I would reply to the hostesses, saying “no, thank you” as we walked by their sales pitches, but by the end of the trip, I realized that just ignoring them is fine enough. It definitely takes some getting used to.

2. Check to see if the service charge is included in your check.

Where I live, service charges are usually only added if groups are made up of 6 or more people. In Miami, many checks include a 15% service charge and others include a 20%. If the service is great, you might want to add a little extra, but if the service charge is already added into your total, don’t feel like you have to!

Miami ocean drive restaurant
Source: TipStripFlorida.com

3. Food is pretty expensive.

Of course you can find cheap places to eat, but a majority of the big restaurants are pretty pricey. Don’t allow this to inhibit you, but definitely be aware of the fact that it’s not a cheap city.

4. Go on Yelp.

While most of the restaurants in Miami are great, there are lots of duds out there. My friends and I made that mistake one morning, when we got an overpriced, crappy breakfast. If we had gone on Yelp and seen its 2-star rating, we probably would have avoided it. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have discovered some of the best places we went to without Yelp. Use it!

Nightlife:

5. People go out so late here, and they stay out super late too.

In Boston and in college, I’ve gotten used to starting pre-gaming around 9:00 PM, leaving to go out around 10:30 PM, and staying out until before 2:00 AM. That’s not how it is in Miami. People head out after midnight and oftentimes stay out until after 5:00 AM… Some of the most intense partiers stay out until 8:00 AM and spend all of the next morning and afternoon sleeping. The latest I was able to handle was 3:30 AM, but it was a solid effort.

club party liv miami nightclub story e11even
Source: @night.life.miami

6. You’re going to have to dress to impress. For real.

In Boston, going out in jeans and boots or flats is totally normal. Not in Miami! People really dress up to go to clubs; bouncers will turn away people that aren’t dressed well enough. Yes, that means heels for women. Since I didn’t do my research before going, I had to buy a cheap pair of heels during my visit. Bring some in your carry-on to save you the hassle!

7. If you’re a lady and you’re attractive, don’t pay for club entry.

PC? Not really. True? Very. Promoters walk the beaches, streets, and even club interiors looking for attractive girls to bring to their tables. The goal is to make the club look more desirable. I’m still not positive how I feel about this whole thing, but it worked okay for me. Apparently, some promoters can be brutal, turning girls away if they aren’t hot enough or cutting the least attractive girls from his/her table when there’s overcrowding. If this is the case, don’t take it personally; it’s just (clubbing) business.

Bonus tip: Posting a picture on Instagram with one or two friends with a popular Miami hashtag is a good way to get promoters to comment, follow, and DM you. Just check to make sure he or she is legit!

Miami
An example of Instagram comments my friend got after posting a bikini picture. Definitely worth changing your Insta settings to “Public” for the weekend.

8. Drinks are super pricey. Even water.

It’s no surprise that some of the more exclusive clubs serve up mixed drinks with top shelf liquor, making your vodka soda upwards of $20. What surprised me is how much these clubs charge for water. Rather than serving up tap water for free — as I’ve experienced in the Northeast and the U.K. — bartenders serve bottled water, oftentimes charging $8-10 for it. If you’re completely parched, you might have to splurge, but I’d hold off otherwise.

Weather:

9. Prepare for humidity.

I’m lucky that my hair doesn’t blow up or frizz in humidity — as I have naturally pin-straight hair — but this might be something to prepare for. Bring some hair product along to tame the mane.

10. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.

I actually didn’t get a terrible burn this time around, but my last trip to Florida had me looking like a straight-up lobster. Even if it’s a cloudy day, lather on the SPF!

Miami South Beach jetti

11. Have a backup plan in case of rain.

Have an option in mind if you do have a rainy day in Miami, whether it’s the World Erotic Art Museum or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (the latter of which has its own blog post coming!). You can’t go to the beach every day.

12. Technically you’re not supposed to drink on the beach, but people do it anyway.

Same thing goes for the beach in my hometown. Just keep it low key and don’t get obnoxious.

Mystic River Dennis Lehane Corona Beer South Beach Miami

Etc.:

13. You might be a minority, fellow white people.

I grew up in a predominantly white town, attended a predominantly white college, and studied abroad in a predominantly white country. I’m used to being in the majority. However, in Miami, you might find yourself being the only white person in the room. This isn’t a tip necessarily, just an interesting fact that’s pretty cool about visiting Miami or any other culturally and racially diverse city.

14. Don’t feel like you have to look “Miami hot.”

“Miami hot” is a phrased I coined during my trip. Basically, women in Miami look way different than women from Boston, just as beautiful women from L.A. and Vermont look different, for instance. Beauty standards are different in each of these locations and you don’t have to assimilate. The ideal woman in Miami is curvy with a tiny waist, a body that’s near impossible to achieve without the help of plastic surgery. Don’t feel self-conscious; the beauty ideals where you’re from may be differ from the tanned, extreme hourglass ideal in Miami.

hot girl miami bathing suit
Source: @mybeautifulgiselle
hot girl miami
Source: @stephs_music

15. Ubers and Lyfts are… actually very cheap.

I was afraid that ride-sharing services would be super expensive down in Miami, mostly because everything else is pretty costly down there. However, getting an Uber or Lyft for my three friends and me was very reasonable, whether we were riding to a club or to the airport. Especially if you’re from Boston or New York, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

16. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs.

Miami truly is a city that never sleeps. Every night, the sounds coming from the streets below us — of loud music, shouting, etc. — were noisy enough that I felt like they were partying in our room. On Friday and Saturday, it was at its worst. Fortunately, I was able to get to sleep, but it took a little extra effort on Saturday, when I didn’t have alcohol in my system to put me to sleep.

17. When it comes to your hotel… location, location, location!

Where your hotel or Airbnb is will determine where you go, whether you like it or not, so try to get a room in a prime location. My friends and I got a pretty good price on an Airbnb on Ocean Drive, and we loved the place and location. We could have paid a little less to be set off from the action a little bit, but paying a little extra was worth it for the convenience factor, in my opinion.

 

Miami is a fun, vibrant, culturally rich city. Although knowing some tips might help you out on your travels, don’t over-research. Be intuitive, adventurous, and spontaneous!

 

Miami South Beach sunset

 

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Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

I wanted to post a quick update about two new and exciting things in my life. As of now, I’ve been working my current job since October and living in Boston since November. However, as a 23-year-old, my life is bound to go through some […]

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

This weekend, I went up to my college city, Burlington, VT, for a short visit. Months ago, my friend Troy bought tickets for the two of us to see Barenaked Ladies downtown. Since the weather was nice and a lot of other alumni were going […]

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

I just got back from a 6-day trip to Miami and I just wanna talk about it! In my first of multiple upcoming blog posts about my vacation, I’m going to cover the essentials that every twenty-something visiting Miami needs: good food, strong drinks, and nightlife experiences you’ll never forget.

La Cosina Cubano

Due to the large Cuban population in Miami, Cuban food is one of the city’s specialties. In fact, some say that the best Cuban food in the U.S. is in Miami. That being said, having at least one Cuban meal is essential when visiting Miami. I have to admit, I had four Cuban meals during my stay.

Havana 1957

Not only was this probably my favorite meal in Miami, it may have been one of the best meals of my life. The house special (below) consisted of chicken, white rice, sweet plantains, black beans, and a side salad. Everything was seasoned so well — even the white rice — and I was only able to eat about half of what I was served. (Side note: Even the leftovers were to die for!) Since this restaurant boasts its mojitos, I had to order one. Let me admit, mojitos aren’t anywhere near my favorite drink, but this was by far the best drink I had during my stay and was absolutely the best mojito I’ve ever had. With reasonable prices and incredible service, I can’t recommend this spot enough.

Havana 1957 Miami Cuban food
The chicken house special, which I ate for “lunner” and doubled as great leftovers
Cuban food mojito Havana 1957
The best mojitos in Miami, strawberry (left) and mango (right)

Puerto Sagua Restaurant

This restaurant kept coming up on Yelp, and since we were craving Cubans like it was nobody’s business, we headed over to Collins Ave to check this restaurant out. The service was fast, the food was cheap, and our sandwiches were massive! This spot is great for anyone trying to get a no-frills lunch or dinner in a diner setting. As a little disclaimer, the wait for a table seems a lot more daunting than it really is, so don’t let that turn you away!

Cuban sandwich Puerto Sagua
My Cuban sandwich — here, they serve Cubans long and skinny, so I had to cut my two pieces in half to avoid spillage

Larios on the Beach

My friends and I hit this spot twice, for dinner on our first night and for lunch on our last day. For Miami, this place is dirt cheap, but doesn’t compromise its quality or portion size. In addition, it’s got a massive menu; there’s something for everyone, from the most adventurous eaters to the pickiest.

Cuban sandwich Larios on the Beach
Their Cuban sandwich — arguably the best Cuban I’ve ever had
Cuban food Larios on the Beach
The pan-seared chicken breast, which comes with 2 sides. (I went for black beans and brown rice!)

 

Best Way to Start the Day

If you’re in Miami, there’s a big chance that you’re having some late nights. In other words, breakfast is absolutely essential. These breakfast and brunch spots were memorable… and very photogenic!

Refresh

This little spot offers a massive menu, with various types of juices, smoothies, salads, and bowls. When I had a… headache (cough, cough, hangover)… their strawberry smoothie brought me back to life. I went back another day to grab an acai bowl to bring to the beach. The employees are nice (and always willing to give you a free sample) and the ingredients are really fresh. Plus, who doesn’t crave a smoothie or acai bowl on a hot Florida day?

Acai bowl
My acai bowl, which was topped with granola, coconut, dates, strawberries, kiwis, and every other fruit you can think of

Palace

Palace is Ocean Drive’s first and only gay bar and, yes, offers up one hell of a brunch on Sundays. For one fixed price, you get a choice of an entree and unlimited bottomless mimosas. That’s not all! Sunday happens to be a drag brunch. While you’re eating your meal and sipping your drinks, drag queens will perform fantastic dance numbers and keep you smiling and clapping along. Along with the fabulous brunch, the community and atmosphere at Palace was remarkable; it is unlike anything else in Miami Beach.

Palace Miami Huevos Rancheros
That’s the lowest my glass got before the waiter came and refilled it — gotta love bottomless mimosas!

Shepherd Artisan Coffee

Looking for a good, casual coffee shop by South Beach took a Yelp search, which is how we found Shepherd. They’ve got it all, from fancy lattes to plain ol’ cups o’ joe and offer up diverse breakfast and lunch options. I went for a classic two-egg breakfast, which came with eggs, a bagel, a side salad, and a coffee. I decided to upgrade my coffee to iced and the greatest thing happened: they gave me their special, the Cinnamon French Toast latte, instead of my iced coffee, but for no extra charge. Best mistake ever!

Shepherd Artisan Coffee
We sat at one of their outdoor tables, though they have quite a few tables inside too

 

Treat Yo Self!

We all need a cheat meal every once in a while. Whether that “cheat” is on your diet or on your wallet, we all need it! This particular spot focuses more on the latter form of cheating, which is pretty easy to do in Miami.

Poseidon

This self-proclaimed “Greek and seafood restaurant” is exactly what you need for a classy meal in Miami. We were immediately seated and treated to complimentary shots of sambuca, which — despite my love of clear liqueurs — I couldn’t handle. The atmosphere and service were spectacular; I felt extremely classy despite the fact that half my trip to Miami was spent haggling my way into free drinks at bars. I got the seafood pasta, which had shrimp, scallops, mussels, and calamari mixed with a sauce that I probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce and topped with a small branch; I felt like a Beverly Hillbilly, but I loved every bite.

Seafood pasta Poseidon Miami
The presentation of my seafood pasta was on point. Also, on the top left of this photo is the shot of sambuca I just couldn’t drink.

 

Dancin’ the Night Away!

If you’ve seen any movie or TV show that’s set in Miami, you’ll know that its nightlife is outrageous, just one step below Vegas. These are just a handful of nightclubs that this party city has to offer.

Nikki Beach

By day, Nikki Beach is a breathtaking beach club that looks like something out of Bachelor in Paradise. By night, it’s got a pretty hoppin’ vibe. The Pearl — which is attached to Nikki Beach — is a lounge and nightclub with a hip monochromatic white color scheme and good music. If you’re getting hot on the dance floor or just need a break and want to chat with your friends, you can head outside and sit at a table at Nikki Beach. (Pro tip: Do not order water inside the Pearl. Order it at Nikki Beach. Your wallet will thank you.) Nikki Beach also doubles as a cool brunch spot and bar during the day; its cabanas are inviting enough to pull you in.

Nikki Beach Pearl

Nikki Beach

Nikki Beach

LIV

When you ask any local of Miami about the hottest clubs, the three that come to mind are LIV, Story, and E11even. LIV was our first night out in Miami and we were able to get in with a promoter for free. I have to say, this wasn’t my favorite spot. Maybe it was the DJ that performed that night or the crowd, but the vibe wasn’t the best for me. That being said, a lot of people say that LIV is their favorite club, so you should check it out!

Miami LIV nightclub
Source: MiamiAndBeaches,com

Story

On the other hand, my night at Story was a huge step up. My friends and I bought tickets, though a promoter approached us to join his table for free bottle service… Woo! Zeds Dead, a pretty famous DJ, performed that night. I loved the music, the drinks, and the people much more than the people at LIV. I had a little too much fun, but that’s what happens when someone with no self control gets free bottle service.

Story nightclub Miami
Source: Miami New Times

E11EVEN

The night my friends went to E11EVEN was the Night of the Terrible Hangover, so I couldn’t handle it. A lot of people in Miami go to E11EVEN after going to other bars and clubs; it’s where you go to end the night. Unlike the other clubs, this is a strip club. My friend described it as “a strip club, but not sad.” I wish I hadn’t missed going, as I heard it’s an interesting experience, but if you go there, think of me while you toss your dollars in the air.

E11even Miami nightclub
Source: E11even.com

Rockwell

Yet again, I didn’t go to Rockwell, because it was also the Night of the Terrible Hangover. However, according to my friends (and the internet), this club is unique because it has a much more exclusive feel; for that reason, Rockwell is known for its celebrity sightings. That being said, the bouncers will be extra tough on you, so really dress to impress.

Rockwell Miami nightclub
Source: Wantickets.com

 

Want to see more of my face and read more of my voice? Subscribe to my blog via email and follow me on my various social media outlets!

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

I aged one year since my last blog post! That’s right, this girl is now 23, which, according to Blink-182, means nobody likes me. But that’s okay! My birthday week was pretty busy and exciting, so I decided to dedicate a blog post to recap […]