29 July 2014

What Have You Always Wanted To See?

I've been very lucky to have had the opportunity to globe-trot a bit.
But while I feel I have seen and done a lot,
there's always more.

I mean, do you realize how big this world is?

There's still a lot on my list,
but I do have a few things I do hold up on the top
that I really, REALLY want to see.

I'm joining up on the Travel Tuesday link-up that I already love
to list just a few of those places in the world I'm still dying to see...

Tulip Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands
I have only seen stunning pictures of this area.
You look it up on Google, Pinterest, Instagram, anything.
So beautiful, so colorful!

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
It's just one of those things you need to see for yourself
to fully realize how amazing the earth can be.

Redwood National Park, California
Massive trees in a gorgeous forest.
That's about it - I'm convinced enough with that.

Hallstatt, Austria
One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
I've had this on my radar for quite a while,
so you can expect me to visit this one soon

Sahara Desert
Such a different atmosphere.
Something I feel like you can't see anywhere else.
A place like this would take you completely out of your element, and I love that.

Devil's Pool, Australia
Yes. Those are people. Swimming. On the edge of a waterfall.
But who doesn't want to say they've done that?
And hello - prime waterfall view!

Trolltunga, Norway
Also terrifying.
And while you won't find me hand-standing on this,
I would love to baby-crawl my way to the edge and get a real look at this view.

Hopefully with time, you'll see me writing about my visits in all of these places,
and while I am in love with the sights I see here,
I can't wait to search this world and find the other places I don't know about yet
that are just as amazing as these.

What have you always wanted to see?

27 July 2014

Sunday Lovin'

1) That I have three weeks until I move to London.
Yes, you will be hearing about this every Sunday until I leave.
Which, have I mentioned? Is in THREE WEEKS!

2) My guest post being featured on Marocmama
about taking that first step towards your dreams.
Of course I love this - I wrote it.
Check it out!

Right after I get to London, she's leaving London
to travel for a year in SE Asia and Australia.
My broke little travel brain will be living vicariously through her.

posting on Living in Another Language.
If you're looking for more of the unknown destinations to add to your travel list,
check this post out.

5) If Tube Lines Were People on Now Here This (Time Out London)
because the District Line would totally be a grandma,
Piccadilly is 100% a London loving tourist,
and the Northern Line? Yes.

6) My new layout!
A few weeks in the works with the absolutely incredible Girl Brooks Design.
I wouldn't have chosen anyone else to work with.
If I guide you to anything on this blog, listen to me here - check her out!

7) Free stuff.
The $50 Etsy giveaway I'm co-hosting is still going on, but only for three more days!

25 July 2014

Front Row to Paul McCartney: The Luckiest Night of My Life

Still Fab Four Friday, just a litttttle different...

Remember that time I met Paul McCartney?
Yea. Pretty much the greatest day of my life.

And when I thought life couldn't get much better,

Yup, that's me.
And Paul.
Almost at arms reach again.

Get ready, this is a bit of a long one,
but believe me, it's a REALLY good one:::

I'll start by letting you know that Heather and I have some weird, freakishly great 
luck/karma when we are together .. mainly having to do with The Beatles & music.
I'm knocking on wood as I type this, but more than one time, really amazing thing have happened.

And this night at Paul McCartney's tour wasn't anything short of it.

I'll give a little background to this;
I was scheduled to see Paul in Jacksonville, FL in June, but due to his illness,
the show got rescheduled to after I'd be gone to London.
And of course, I was absolutely devastated.

But thanks to my neurotic impulsiveness when it comes to the need to do things I love,
I made some quick decisions and bought a plane ticket
along with a single ticket to Paul's show in Kansas City.
Heather lives in Kansas, so I'd get a 2-for-1 seeing her, and going to the show semi-together.
Now that's already a perfect plan, if you ask me..but clearly that wasn't enough for us.

Last year, Heather saw Paul McCartney in Tulsa, OK.
Back then she didn't know they did this, and she got upgraded to the front row with her friend Dave.
It was the greatest night of her life, and she posted hundred of pictures and videos, 
and I hated her with jealous.

We were very determined to get these seats again this time.
When you put it into facts that it already happened to Heather once,
and the numbers being a 1 in 15,000 chance, it seems slim.
But for some reason, we still had a feeling that it could happen to us.

Heather wore the same exact outfit she wore last year for luck, which I still find hilarious,
but I wore my favorite necklace I wanted to convince myself was lucky too.
And I even wrapped a Liverpool pendant necklace around my wrist 'just in case.'

It was Heather, her mom and dad, and myself going to the show together.
We met up with a group of Heather and her mom's friends,
a big gang of Paul-lovers. Also known as my type of people.
We shared some pre-show drinks, appetizers, and excitement before heading over to the show.

The crowd was WILD - there was a massive line to get into the arena.
Naturally, we merged in as close as we could and managed to get in within about 20 minutes.
Once we got to the entrance, Heather and I split from the rest of the group to walk around ourselves.
We headed straight to the merchandise table to buy shirts before the lines got longer or things sold out.

By the time we were finished there, it was already around 7:50.
The show was scheduled to begin at 8:00, so we were a bit nervous.

We ran up to the top level to get some pictures of the arena, and walk around hoping for some luck.
Well that didn't happen.
And I was beginning to think that they may not be giving out tickets or anything at this show.
I mean, our eyes were peeled for some guys with Paul badges, and no one was around!
I was beginning to seriously plan and be satisfied for my single seat.
I mean I was at Paul McCartney's show - that was enough already!

We headed back down to the first level to walk around and see the arena a little more.
I noticed the line outside was still insanely long full of folks waiting to get in,
and walked over to the side to check it out.

We were staring out the window, when Heather felt a tap on her shoulder.
I turned around, and there he was.
An angel sent from above,
in the form of a tiny man with that purple 'Out There' badge around his neck.

Turning around and seeing this guy smiling at us.
That moment, is one I will never forget.
I took the shortest breath, and remember thinking 'OH MY GOD.'

I basically blacked out after he approached us, but from what I remember,
he asked us how we were, told us he worked for Paul and had noticed our excitement.
He commented on our big smiles and said that was what he was looking for around the arena.
He asked where our seats were, and while I think Heather and I both stuttered the section we were in,
I'm honestly not sure if I was able to talk.

The guy pulled out a mini-stack of tickets and told us he was going to do something better for us.
I'm pretty sure Heather collapsed on the ground,
but I really don't know about this either, because I was too focused on holding onto the railing
in fear of fainting.

We thanked him, hugged him, and ran through the lobby into the arena.
We went up to Heather's original seats where her parents were,
and after they saw our stupid smiles, they just knew.
We held up the tickets and yelled 'WE GOT IT!'
To which their response was something along the lines of,
"No way. You've got to be kidding me."

They hugged us, high-fived us, we got it all.
It was 8:00 by now, so we hurried down to the section that would take us to the floor.

And here's where our luck gets even more freakish.

Heather's mom is a massive Beatles/Paul fan, ever since the Beatles came to America in the 1960s.
She was there in Tulsa last year with Heather and Dave got their upgrade,
but there wasn't a third ticket to give to her,
so she watched from their original seats in the balcony.

This time, as we were walking towards our seats, 
Heather kept repeating how bad she felt that she didn't ask for an extra ticket for her mom.
She was set on going back out to the lobby and at least trying to see
if we could run into the guy who gave us our tickets again.
I was a little nervous for the show to start, but figured we still had time.

We ran around the lobby, eyes peeled for this mysterious Macca-angel, but no luck.
Within about a minute, we ran straight into him.
Heather explained about her mom and asked if he had anything left she could take.
He told us that he had just gave away his last set of tickets, and was very sorry.
As he started to walk away though, 
he turned around and said 'You know what, let me see something real quick..'

He walked up to a group of people who had received the last upgraded tickets,
and asked if they didn't want to split up completely,
if he could have one of their upgraded seats to give to us,
and you know what's weird,
they gave it to us.

In a sold out arena of 15,000+ people?
How. Does. This Happen. To Us.

Again, we went sprinting through the lobby back to the old seats,
and Heather's mom just went insane.
She hurried down to us, hugged us, and hugged us again.

I gave Heather's dad my single seat because it was a lot closer to the stage than their original ones,
but he didn't mind us leaving because he wasn't a huge Paul McCartney fan.

Heather, her mom, and I ran down the stairs to our seats.
We were given VIP wristbands and led to our seats,
which I just could not seem to grasp, as we were walking closer and closer to the stage.

Soon enough, we were staring straight onto the stage,
and everyone else was behind us.

There's really no way I can describe what I was feeling except for
'This is not real'

It gets even more freakish.

While we were waiting around, Heather left the seats to find a concessions guy on the floor
to get a water bottle for the show.

While she was getting ready to pay, a strange and familiar voice came up behind her saying
'I'll get that for you.'

She turned around, and it was her dad.
while he was sitting in the single seat I gave him, he struck up a conversation with a crew member
about how his three girls were up in the front row.

The employee felt bad for him, and pulled out a ticket from his pocket to give him.
He was upgraded to the 9th row!!

All four of us came to the show with our regular tickets,

I'll say it over and over again,
it's just not real.

But it was - and within a few minutes, the show was starting,
and Paul with his amazing band, Brian, Rusty, Abe, and Wix
were right in front of our eyes.

At the end of the show, at the last encore,
Heather's dad left his seat and came up to join us,
which was an amazing thing - to have all of this happen, 
and end this mind-blowing performance all together up in the front row.

It was one of the greatest nights of my entire life.
And one that I will remember forever.

I'll be telling my kids about this crazy life when I'm 80,
and they'll probably be asking me what The Beatles even are...

24 July 2014

Calling All Etsy Lovers (AKA Everyone) - Thursday Giveaway!

Happy Thursday!

You want to know why it's happy?
Because I'm going to give you some free stuff,

Yep, it's giveaway time!

I'm joining up with some other awesome ladies,
and we're giving away a $50 Etsy gift card!

You can find just about everything on Etsy.
I've bought scarves, jewelry, band tanks, earrings. Ugh, it's amazing.

I'm so excited, I'm almost tempted to enter this myself.

22 July 2014

Your Guide to a Weekend in London

Heather and I have written up plenty of guides and itineraries for friends who are visiting London.

As we've done this, we've been able to map a great way around the city
to see all of the favorite sights in a day.
And if you have more than a day to spend,
you can easily spread this out and take your time wanderin the city too.

Use this as a very basic guide, and make the trip your own.
I know that everyone has their sights and things that are top priorities to see,
but this guide is mainly to give you a convenient way to travel through London where you aren't wasting your time figuring out how to get here and there.

And I'm sure you have those priority sights you're looking for are around,
for example, there are an insane amount of museums in London that have free admission.
They are placed all all around these areas, so if there's one you particularly want to visit (I loved the Imperial War Museum in South London) and you're following this guide, make sure to look where it's located and where it can fit in your schedule.

So let's get right into it!
I've written this out as a hypothetical weekend trip,
as if you're arriving on Friday afternoon and leaving on Sunday evening.

Leave your accommodation and take the tube up to St. John's Wood.
Walking out of the Tube Station, you'll be facing the way you need to go-straight up Grove End Road.
This takes you straight to your first sight:
Abbey Road and Abbey Road Studios
(whatever, you know this was going to be included in my guide ;) )

Once you get your stereotypical pictures walking across the crosswalk,
head back to St. John's Wood Tube Station, and take the Jubilee Line down to Bond Street.
This will put you on your second sight,
Oxford Street
One of the busiest areas in the world - the entire area is lined with hundreds of stores and restaurants.
Spend some time around here doing some shopping,
(Selfridges is right next to the Bond Street Statin, if you're interested in this massively amazing store)

After you're finished here, walk down Regent Street (one of my favorite streets to stroll)
towards your next sight:
Piccadilly Circus & Leicester Square
These are right next to each other, so you'll be walking between the two seeing things.
This is also the hub of the West End, so there are tons of theaters around here with some amazing shows.
I would recommend ending your day here, with a nice dinner and a good show - Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera are always go-to classics, and both right in the area!

Begin your day arriving at the Green Park Tube Station
Walking out, you'll stroll straight through Green Park,
which will lead you right to your first destination of the day:
Buckingham Palace
Ah, yes, the big stuff that everyone wants to see.
The Changing of The Guards takes place normally at 11AM,
but check here if it may be different (some months have only done it on even numbered dates)

When you're finished here, looking at Buckingham Palace - turn right and walk up Constitution Hill
This takes you to the next big sight:
Hyde Park
Take a nice stroll, ride a Barclays bike through!

Doing so, make your way up the park, and you'll hit your third sight of the day:
Royal Albert Hall
This place is massively famous for it's events held there,
my favorites being the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary, and the first time I saw Paul McCartney.

From the Royal Albert Hall, walk past and turn left on Queen's Gate
You'll get a nice walk through Kensington, and their rows of stunning white flats you may have seen in my cover photo on the series about finding a flat abroad.
(Harrods is also in this area, if you are looking to see that other massively amazing store)

You'll eventually make it to the South Kensington Tube Station
From here, take the Circle & District line to Westminster
Walk out of the Westminster Tube Station and you'll be looking up at probably what you came to London to see:
Big Ben & Parliament
This is that amazing view of London, that you've seen everywhere, so enjoy it in the evening, and wake up Sunday and start again here.

Alright - final day!
Start back in Westminster at Parliament.
Walk over the bridge towards Southwark for a great view of the Thames River
and your first attraction of the day:
The London Eye
Jump on here and have a ride if you like, it takes about 30 minutes to go around,
and you get an incredible view of the entire city.

After, I recommend turning right (if you're facing the Eye)
and taking your time walking up the Thames, but if you want a quicker route,
you can jump on down the Southwark tube station and take the Jubilee line up to your next place:
The London Bridge

If you don't know that the London Bridge isn't the stunning bridge you always see London advertised with,
well you're in for a dissapointment.
BUT getting off at this stop takes you to both the Tower Bridge,
which is the real name of the bridge you're thinking of,
and the Tower of London, which are both must-sees

From here, you can take head down the Tower Hill tube station and take the District Line up to Aldgate East and see one of London's most vibrant markets -
Brick Lane
The best of Brick Lane is only open on Sundays until 5, so if you get there in the early afternoon, you can grab some delicious lunch and shop around for a few hours.

Once you're finished here, you'll either be running to catch your train home,
or going to visit another area you've always wanted to see.
You've circled around the city pretty well, so you should be relatively familiar with where you want to go!

If you feel yourself ever getting lost though, there are maps on just about every corner, so never fret.
It's been a lifesaver to me more than a few times.

Good luck, and enjoy London! 

20 July 2014

Sunday Lovin'

Haven't been around the blog world this week,
so these are my Sunday loves.

This week I somehow was given a free upgrade to Paul McCartney from his guys at his show.
If  any of you've read anything on my blog, you know how much I love him.
Don't worry, there will definitely be a post on that later.

And in exactly one month,
I'll be on a plane to London.
After two years of confusion, stress, hard work, and being too stubborn to let go of my crazy dreams,
I'm be moving to London.

Yep, that's what I love this week.
I really, really love that.

18 July 2014

Fab Four Friday {and a guest post!}

Welcome back to my favorite day of the week!

Pre-scheduling posts is a pretty great thing.
You see, I'm in Kansas as you're reading this,
and probably still on the highest high after seeing Paul McCartney on Wednesday.
Have I mentioned on here how much I like that guy?

So because of this amazing week filled with amazing Beatle music and an amazing Beatle himself,
today's all about one of his greatest, most well-known songs
that is also one of the greatest sing-a-longs in the world.

Naaaaa na na na an na na....

Yup. That's the one.


- The songs was written for John's first-born son, Julian, as he went through the split of his parents.  The original lyrics were 'Hey Jules'.

- While John knew this, he still always had a thought that Paul might have written it for him.

- If you listen closely in the final verse, right at 'remember, to let her into your heart' somebody messes something up and you can hear one of the two saying 'fucking hell' in the middle of the song.

There were plenty of takes throughout the day to make the promo video for the song. I love this video because it shows a side-by-side of the video, and the outtakes


You can find me over on the lovely Christina's blog, Route Bliss today as well!
Christina covers just about everything you could think of - we share a lot of similarities,
including our crazy dog lady syndrome and sucking at running,
but the thing we have most in common is definitely our love of travel.
I'm talking about getting out of your comfort zone and finding an adventure
over on her page,
so check it out --> HERE!

15 July 2014

My Favorite Memories: The Highlands

After our backpacking adventures during our month long 'spring break',
we had a weekend group trip to Scotland.
We were so exhausted from three weeks through Europe, that we were not looking forward to the visit at all.

I know. What kind of snobbish travel gods did we think we were? 'ughhh, Scotland. I'm like, SO tired from prancing through Europe already, but I guess we'll go...'

Anyways, like you've probably predicted, it was an amazing trip.
One of my favorites.
You can read more about what we did in this old ramble of a post here.

There are few moments when you really get that time to sit down and think about who you are,
and reflect on your life a bit.
But put me on top of the highest mountains and place me in front of an incredible view,
and you got it.

The Highlands in Scotland have some of the most amazing views I'll ever be able to see in my life.
They've got some incredible history as well.
I was able to look at some of the oldest mountains in the world and the newest mountains in the world,
right in the same view,
I was also able to stick my face in a pool of water that was supposed to give me eternal youth.
I'm still wondering why I'm getting older...

I like take pride in my amateur photography skills from this trip too.
Some may say it was the incredible views, but I say it's my natural-born camera skills...

All in all, it was one incredible trip.
And speaking of trips - I'm probably on a plane as you read this.
I'm headed out to good ol' Kansas to see Heather!
We haven't seen each other since October, but that's pretty normal.
Anyways, I'll be a little out of the loop until next week.

Happy travels!

13 July 2014

Sunday Lovin'

Another roundup of all things loved by me this week!

1) Time,
because I'm coming up on ONE MONTH until I move to London,
and I've only been looking forward to this day for, oh, well, the past two years.

2) Total Blog Move, from Helene In Between.
It's all way too relatable, and just a little bit embarrassing,
but you know you all do it, so whatever. #TBM

3) Everyone Says I'm Running Away, from Nomadic Matt.
This was quite possibly the first travel blog I ever stumbled on, years ago.  And I was hooked.
This article is everything I've felt since I had the opportunity to see more of the world.
I don't want to be normal - I want to find what's different, and I want to experience it.

4) Thoughts From Abroad, from Sara at Bristol In My Pocket.
It's my favorite series, and I totally want to copy her when I finally get to London.
AND she's just added a new travel guide page to her site, which I know I'm going to love.

5) Travel Moments that's actually written by Marielle, but on one of my favorites, Rhyme & Ribbons,
because she hiked a mountain in China that looks terrifying and incredible,
and because I want to ride a camel - but preferably one that's not trying to dine on my leg though..

6) Kansas. I know, who actually loves Kansas?
Well I do, right now at least.
I'm headed there for the next week to see one of my absolute favorite friends, and someone you've already heard way to much about - my old-turned-new London roommate - Heather!
Oh, and we happen to be seeing Paul McCartney while I'm there, which has somehow become a 'thing' every time we're together... 

11 July 2014

Fab Four Friday

The other day I found out that the folks I nanny for
have a harpsichord function on their keyboard, and I freaked.
It is such a haunting but cool sound, and made me think of this song right away.
You can see a short version on my Instagram if you're interested in hearing how awesome it sounds.

The song is so simple, but so complex in it's creation.
It's pretty amazing to think about how they approached this in the studio,
and how they probably felt after the finished product.


- This song was inspired by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  John heard it, and wanted it played backwards - then wrote the lyrics around the reversed melody. 
I mean really though, who thinks of that?

- The song features John, Paul, and George harmonizing, but their vocals are tripled on the track. This means that what you are hearing is actually nine voices together. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

- This was the last song recorded for Abbey Road. The reason was because every instrument was to be played exactly together, which obviously took a ton of practice to perfect. And when those boys wanted something to be a certain way, you know they worked until it was right. 

"Love is old,
Love is new,
Love is all,
Love is you"

10 July 2014

The Dreaded Visa Process:
UK Student Tier 4 Edition

Getting an actual visa to enter a country is much different than a simple visitor's visa.
It's a lot more than just landing in a country and explaining to immigration your plans.
Unfortunately, they care a little more about their country to just let it be that easy.

There are a few steps to this, and it is a few week process,
but if you have your details organized and all together, it'll be smooth sailing ... or flying.

The first thing you'll have to do is receive your CAS. This is a 'Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies,' and comes in a long number that will be required on your visa application.
As an international, one of two things must be done:

1) Pay your student deposit, which will be anywhere from £1000+.
This is apart of your tuition, so freak out and think that your £4000 deposit is an additional converted mess to run you broke with your school fees (like I did).

2) You are exempt from paying your deposit if you are getting some type of financial aid.
I'm assuming most everyone reading this will be receiving FAFSA or some type of student loan,
so you will likely fall into this category.
Because you are able to pass through the required payment, all you need to do is email your student admissions and request the form to fill out for your CAS number.

This process took me about a week - you'll need to receive the form to apply for the CAS, apply - which takes no time at all, and once finished, the application goes out to the school to process.
After your CAS is administered to you, you're ready to go - time for the application!

For the application, you'll need a few things:

Passport - duh

Information on any previous visas you have received

Where you have travelled to in the past 10 year - even just for a vacation
I know .. a little unnecessary, yea?

Parent details (DOB, place of birth, etc.)

Your course tuition fees

How much money you have to cover yourself (seen as Maintenance Charges)

University information (don't feel lost on these - they should all be listed together either emailed to you with your CAS or on your applicant portal):

University sponsor license number - a number that the University is identified with

CAS number - the number you applied for

Course title - whatever degree you are receiving

Course level - I don't understand these UK levels much, but as an example for you, my course level is "QCF / NQF 7"
Start/End date - official dates of your course beginning and ending - on the website or given to you

And your university's address

At the end of this, you will have to fill in the points-based-system that the UK follows.
For a student visa, the total will be 40 points - made up of:
CAS number = 30 points
Maintenance = 10 points
Total = 40 points

If some of this sounds foreign to you, well, that's because it actually is.

I don't quite understand it all either, but this is more of a guideline on how to fill it out, not why you're filling these things out - ask a Brit for those answers when you arrive.

Those are the major items you will need for your application - if you have all of those together before you begin, the process will be easy.
Heather and I dealt with impulsive applying and having to figure out what everything means/search for whatever we didn't know we had to find. And trust me - not fun.


Don't worry, the fun isn't over yet! That's just the first part.

After you finish your application, you'll need to submit and pay.
Applying for the visa outside of the UK is the 'cheapest' option,
but don't feel so lucky - it's still £310.
Convert that and you'll see you're paying over $500.

I recommend filling your mind with the excitement of your adventures starting a life abroad,
and overpower your exchange rate rage.


Once you submit and make the payment, you're on to the NEXT step.
Nope, we're not done just yet!
After this, you'll need to make an appointment at your local immigration office.

You'll need to bring:
a printout of your visa application (signed)
A printout of your immigration appointment confirmation email
A printout of your visa payment receipt
Your passport

That was all that I was asked for, but the requirements ask for any other supporting documents, so to be safe I also brought:
My university acceptance letter
My acceptance of enrollment letter
My loans acceptance letter
etc. etc. etc.

 The appointment is not as extravagant as you may think.
Basically, they put a stamp on your appointment confirmation email,
take a photograph of you,
and fingerprint you over and over again.

Then you're done!
Oh, not with the visa process. Is that what you thought I meant?
No no, you're done with the immigration appointment.
There is still another step.


Lastly, you'll need to send in all of these documents with your passport.
Yes, physically mail your passport - I mailed mine through DHL, in which I've got a shipping number and details to know where my passport is at all times.
The visa office also sends a confirmation email once they have received your package.

So once it's in the mail, then you're on the waiting game.
Let the UK do the work, and sit and wait for your passport to come back.
And not just your passport,
your passport with a new shiny visa stamp inside of it!

More of a tedious process than a complicated one, if you have all the details organized.

And if you're looking for something much more in depth regarding this process, check out the UK government's visa guideline HERE

Good luck!


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