Instead of trying to capture a recent trip to the beautiful Hocking Hills in words, I am letting the photos speak for themselves! Plus I just don’t feel like writing much ☺️. If you are in the Ohio/ PA/ NY/ WV area, I cannot recommend this park enough for a quick weekend getaway. Also to note, all these pics were taken on my iPhone, but I wish I had brought my camera.
Hi all – back with a very quick “done and dusted” product review. This is on the *eponymous* YSL touche éclat brightening pen. This pen is a “cult favorite” per Sephora’s website and I’ve purchased this a few times over the past 15 years. I have to say, this will be my last time and I don’t recommend it for others in my age group. While the packaging is beautiful and functional (and it should be for the price) the product no longer suits my skincare needs.
This is somewhat of a hybrid product, crossing between a concealer and highlighter stick. I mainly use it under my eyes for brightening and concealing purposes. It is very lightweight and goes on very nicely and blends beautifully, and it has a nice consistency. While it has some good elements, I think that if YSL would formulate this product as one or the other (concealer or highlighter) it would make for a better product overall. While the consistency is great, it doesn’t provide enough coverage concealer wise or enough highlight to make it worthwhile. I may have liked it more when I was younger because my skin was different and doesn’t require the, ahem, ~upkeep~ it now requires. However, I have always felt that this product leaves something to be desired, and I am finally putting my foot down. This will be my final purchase of this product!
Bottom line: This $38.00 hybrid product just isn’t worth it for me. I have a bigger need for concealer under my eyes than highlighter at this point. If you don’t have dark circles/ bags, then this may work for you! An added bonus- this pen will last a very long time (I purchased this one in November of 2018 !). I still think there are probably better products for way less. I do think that YSL makes a more concealer heavy version, but at this point, I’m ready to move on, and keep using my Covergirl concealer until it runs out.
Why: Cost, product effectiveness , skincare needs
A few days ago I posted a few stories about how to find expensive rugs (and other products) for way less. I got a ton of messages so, today, I am going to write about how you can do this. It could not be any easier, and you would be crazy NOT to do this before purchasing decor for your home.
I came about this method as I was researching rugs to buy for our home. I read that Pottery Barn rugs aren’t the best quality, and that is somewhat surprising given the price point of their items (although not surprising to me personally because I think most of their stuff is cheaply made). Further, I also read that Pottery Barn resells rugs that you can find elsewhere for a fraction of the price. Pottery Barn is not the only offender in this scheme!
So, how do you find a rug for less?
It’s simple. It’s called “Reverse Image Search” and it basically just means you search the image itself vs. searching by a title or the name of a product. Brands will rename items to differentiate them, so it can be difficult to find the “dupes.”
How do you Reverse Image Search? It’s all of three steps. 1. Open Google Images search bar on one tab of your browser. 2. Drag the selected image of the item you are searching into the Google Images Tab and 3. Hit Search! It couldn’t be easier. An even easier way? If you have a Mac, you can right click on the image and hit, “Search Google Image.” You will get a lot of random results sometimes because Google is literally searching the image. You may have to do a little bit of digging, but wow is it worth it!
I am going to share some of my best finds below. Happy shopping!
If you’re interested in the above rug, it’s linked here.
I think it’s pretty nice for a printed rug. $674 at Pottery Barn vs. $209 at Overstock.
McGee & Co does this too with their rugs. Maybe not quite as bad as an of offender as Pottery Barn but you can find almost all of their rugs on other sites.
This is another pretty rug – feminine with warm colors. If you’re interested in getting on the waitlist, Wayfair is excellent about notifications for in stock items. Check out the Wayfair option here.
This next item a hand-knotted rug by Erin Gates. I actually really love it, but with having a dog I honestly doubt we will ever buy a hand-knotted rug. Just look at the price difference. At McGee & Co it’s $4,025. At Wayfair, it’s $1,399.99. Click here for the Wayfair version and add yourself to the waitlist! As a side note, we do have a rug in this Erin Gates brand (indoor/outdoor), and we love it.
Back to Pottery Barn. Here’s another one I had saved and found for much cheaper. $359.00 vs $109.00. Add to your wishlist/ in stock reminder here.
I love the above rug and was *this* close to buying it from Pottery Barn (we are looking for a new rug for our bedroom). Just look at the price difference (not to mention the fact that Overstock offers free shipping)! If you are interested in checking out this rug (I think ALL the colors are beautiful) click here.
Moving on to every blogger’s favorite home decor store- Serena & Lily. I will say that the hand knotted rugs on Serena & Lily appear to not be mass produced, as I could not find many dupes there. I am also not looking to spend $6,000 on an area rug from Serena & Lily tbh, so it all works out. I did find a dupe pretty easily though, and it’s a style I actually love – jute. Unfortunately, jute/ sisal/ other natural fibers do not work great with pets, because the weave is much looser and the natural fiber absorbs dirt/ stains/ etc.
If you love this rug, you can check it out on Rugs.com here. Personally, I love everything about this – can go in any room, with most types of furniture and adds nice texture and warmth. If we didn’t have a dog, this would be at the top of my list. Also, I actually have ordered from rugs.com before and had no issues, even though the website itself leaves something to be desired.
So there you have it – a few finds and favorites from my rug search. I believe this also happens with furniture from various retailers, so be sure to use the image search function as you are looking at home decor!
If anyone is looking for a fun socially distant summer activity, I highly recommend kayaking! There are lots of places to kayak in the northeast Ohio area, including the Upper Cuyahoga River. I’ve been kayaking in this area half a dozen times or so, during different seasons, and it’s always lovely. My mom started taking my sister and I to this area when we were young and I’ve been going ever since!
If you don’t own a kayak, there are a variety of places you can rent kayaks from along the Cuyahoga. Ryan and I actually have an inflatable kayak which worked great on our recent trip to North Carolina. However, because the Cuyahoga is very rocky/shallow in certain areas, we ended up renting some from Burning River Adventures. We’ve rented kayaks from this company before, and we felt safe with the social distancing precautions they had in place. Burning River Adventures also provides shuttling and drop offs if you do own your own kayak.
Ryan organized our excursion as a birthday gift for his Dad, and it was so fun. We had perfect weather and it was beautiful out. Birds were chirping, dragonflies humming, and the cicadas whirred as we floated down the river. You do not need kayaking experience to head out and paddle the Cuyahoga. It is slow paced with a few “rough” spots of water, but you mostly just glide with the (2 mph) current the entire time. As I mentioned before, the water is shallow in some parts, so you can get stuck! Just push with your paddles and scoot your way out if this happens.
We rented kayaks and did the 4.5 mile trip. I would love to do the longer 10 mile trip next time.
We rented sit on top kayaks which I love. They’re much more comfortable than traditional sea kayaks in my opinion, and much more open. This leaves you exposed to the elements so they wouldn’t be ideal in open water or inclement weather, but for a slow paced trip down the river, they were perfect.
There are also some other great areas to kayak in the greater CLE area.
- 41 Degrees North Kayak Adventures – kayaking rentals and tours out of Rocky River. My mom and I did the Lake Erie sunset tour years ago and it was amazing!
- Hinckley Lake – another great spot for any skill level. You can rent kayaks through the Metroparks here.
- LaDue Reservoir – a big reservoir with lots of nooks and crannies to paddle around. I love that this company gives you a sizable discount on rentals if you help keep the area tidy while out paddling- check out Breakaway Excursions, here.
- The Metroparks has additional rental options on their website. They usually have special outings but unfortunately have scaled back this year.
- River Cruiser Kayaks offers a couple of unique routes – one of which ends up downtown.
- More Upper Cuyahoga River rentals through Camp Hi. Camp Hi also offers canoe rentals as well as pavilions and campgrounds.
Kayaking is a beautiful way to spend a few hours and it felt so peaceful. I think getting out in nature is always so good for the mind, body and soul, especially in the craziness that is 2020! What other activities do you think would be fun? Leave some ideas in the comments below!
Today, I am sharing some photos and snippets from our short visit to Orvieto, Italy. If you didn’t read my blog posts on Florence or Praiano, Ryan and I went on a two week trip to Italy last fall. It was the kind of trip that you spend months dreaming about before, and years dreaming about afterwards. I still think of this trip regularly, and cannot recommend a stop in Orvieto enough. I know that traveling to Italy and much of the world is impossible right now, but it has been amazing to revisit these trips through photos and memories. There will come a time when it is safe to explore, and when that time comes, I know Italy will again be at the top of our list.
Orvieto is a small town in the Umbria region in central(ish) Italy. We wanted to visit this town for a number of reasons. First of all, it was in a convenient location for us, having not rented a car. It is right off the train in between Florence and Rome, so logistically, it was a no brainer. Secondly, Orvieto is a very unique town with so much history. Founded by the Etruscans (or perhaps even an earlier civilization), it sits on top of a cliff in the middle of one of the most beautiful regions in the world. It is truly stunning to behold.
The town is very small and easily walkable. To enter the city, you can either take the funicular up to the top or walk up from a number of roads, however, I do not recommend this. It is an extremely steep and challenging walk and there are no sidewalks for pedestrians until you reach the very top, at which point, you may be covered in sweat, blood and tears (just me?). If you are renting a car, there is ample parking once you make your way up the winding roads to the top. Although the town is small, there is plenty to do. We visited the Orvieto Cathedral which was incredible, saw ancient underground caves, ate delicious food, and walked all around town. We also did an incredible sunset bike tour, where we learned all about the history of Orvieto and enjoyed spectacular views along the way.
We had two full days in Orvieto which was amazing. I think three would be even better, but you probably don’t need too much more time if you are just hoping to get a sense of what a small Umbrian town is like. If you have more time, I encourage you to stay even longer and see everything it has to offer.
Things to do in Orvieto:
Visit the Duomo. The Cathedral in Orvieto is breathtaking, especially when you consider it was built in the Middle Ages (starting in the 1300s) on top of a giant cliff. The church has a striped basalt facade with beautiful frescos inside. It is reminiscent of other churches in Italy, including the cathedral in Siena. The exterior, especially the sculpture and marble work, is exquisite.
Because of the town’s strategic location (and topography) between Rome and Florence, it became popular with Popes during the 13th and 14th Century. Several papal palaces were built and various Popes sought refuge in the town during wartime. It became a Papal State until 1860 – when Italy as we know it was formally created.
Climb the bell tower for the most beautiful views! The bell tower is in the center of town and is a fairly easy climb. Enjoy beautiful vistas with rolling countryside and farms as far as eye can see.
Visit the underground caves: This sounds pretty mundane, but hear me out. Orvieto has a massive system of over 1200 underground caves, passages, labyrinths, etc. Back in ancient times, the caves served as means for rich folks to escape siege or conflicts. In fact, most homes/ buildings in Orvieto have their own personal wine cellars built under ground. On our second night, we enjoyed a feast at a local restaurant and the owner took us underground to check out his cellar, stocked with his family’s own wine! Sidebar: Orvieto also has it’s own distinct white wine, which we found delicious.
Walk around town! This should be a given, but walk around and take in the ancient and rustic alleyways of Orvieto without any plans. When we visited it was not crowded at all. We had some gelato as we strolled, admiring the sites and beautiful buildings at our own pace.
Visit and Have Dinner at La Badia di Orvieto: We actually stayed in this hotel during our time in Orvieto. I would NOT recommend staying here as it is removed from town (amongst other reasons) and it ended up being difficult to get back and forth during our few days here. Learn from us, stay in town, save money, and spend more time exploring! Now, all that being said, the hotel and surrounding area itself was breathtaking and I think it is completely worth it to go visit during your stay. We also enjoyed an amazing dinner here, so I would definitely add it to your to do to list if you are in the area.
On our first day we arrived, it was drizzling a little bit and we walked into town. As noted above, I do NOT recommend doing this, but, it ended up being an amazing day. We had a glass of wine on the main square and saw the Cathedral. After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, via one of two town taxis, and were greeted by one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen.
Have lunch at Antica Bottega del Duomo. We had lunch here and it was one of my favorite meals on our whole trip. It is a small deli type of place and we enjoyed some of the most delectable sandwiches ever. Friendly service and family owned with very reasonable price points. I highly recommend.
Bike Tour: If I could recommend doing one activity in Orvieto, it would be this night time bike tour. We found this last minute on AirBNB and it was one of the most memorable nights we had (on any trip we have been on). I cannot recommend this tour enough. Paolo took us all over the city where we were able to take in incredible views and learn about Oriveto’s storied past. We stopped at churches, cycled through residential neighborhoods, and ended the night with a fantastic dinner at a small restaurant. Paolo had invited some Italian friends to join us for dinner, so it ended up being a fun group. We had course after course of amazing local cuisine, homemade in the restaurant (our server’s grandma cooked for us). Each course came paired with wine and our server explained the significance of each dish. We had pasta, truffles, rabbit, roasted duck, cured meats, cheeses of every variety, and more. I loved everything, especially the chocolate torte. Our stomachs and hearts were completely full by the end of the night and we are so thankful we were able to experience the magic of Orvieto at night.
Even though Ryan and I only stayed in Orvieto for two nights, it has a special place in our heart. We would definitely go back and loved every minute of our stay. There are soooo many amazing small towns in Italy, I would love to see many more some day.
I am slowly but surely working on my fourth and final Italy post- Rome. Until then, stay safe everyone!
Hey everyone –
It’s been a while since my last post. I just haven’t really felt the motivation to blog much since it kind of seems like my life revolves around work and doing dishes at this point. The dishes… I just cannot deal with the endless pile of dishes! I am really not trying to complain, but I just don’t have that exciting *content* to share right now. So, while I do feel like a blob (#jabbathehuttvibes) a lot of days, today, I am sharing a post from the archives I meant to write about months ago.
Back in November of last year (2019, lest we start forgetting the years soon), I went to DC to visit some wonderful friends (and humans in general) from high school. It was such a fun reunion weekend. I hadn’t seen both friends together in probably ten years, but it felt like no time had passed at all! Nellie (who has lived in DC for years now) and her adorable family graciously hosted Laura and I at her stunning Capitol Hill home, which was the perfect location for exploring. We walked along the mall, went to a birthday party, ate delicious food, visited an amazing museum (the Hirshhorn), and strolled the charming cobblestone streets of Georgetown, all in a few days. Most importantly, we were able to relax and connect with each other after years apart.
I’ve been feeling nostalgic for human interaction, weekend getaways, and sharing tapas with friends, so this post will have to tide me over until that day is possible again.
If you are in the Cleveland area, and have a free weekend, I highly recommend visiting DC (post pandemic). I have been there half a dozen times and it never disappoints. It’s an easy drive and has so many amazing highlights I won’t begin to list them here. Since all of us had been to DC several times, we had no agenda which was awesome and made for a stress free and relaxing weekend.
That about sums up an amazing trip! Nellie, Laura and I are already talking about our next get together, whenever that may be! At least we have virtual hang outs for now. Back to #jabbathehut life for the rest of the evening/ year. Side note, Ryan and I have decided to watch the entire Star Wars series on Disney+, hence why Jabba is top of mind. If anyone has any other TV or movie recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Hope everyone is staying healthy and sane!
Popping on to quickly talk about two books I read recently, both by the extremely talented writer Madeline Miller. I read these this past month and thought they were both absolutely phenomenal. I truly cannot say anything negative about either of these books, I just wish they had kept going.
They are two individual books but in the interest of time, I’ll write about them as one. Everything about both of these books was incredible. There are a lot of articles and summaries available out there, so I won’t do much recapping but wow- these have to be two of my favorites I’ve read in a long time.
Both of these books are based on Classical Greek mythology and both draw largely from Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. I think part of the reason I enjoyed them both so much is that it took me back to my Latin and classics classes which were always amongst my favorites.
You don’t have to have read the Odyssey or the Iliad to enjoy either of these novels. Miller breaks down hugely complex epic poems into brand new and inviting tales all her own. Her writing is so beautiful it’s hard to describe.
Anyways, if you have any interest in history, classical mythology, or just a beautifully written book, I highly recommend either of these novels. I don’t think I could pick a favorite between the two as they are both fantastic. I will say I think ‘Song of Achilles’ is a little easier to get into, but ‘Circe’ is more of an epic tale and I really enjoyed that it was written from a female perspective, given that it’s set in Ancient Greece. I recommend both and give them 5/5 stars ⭐️.
Starting a new series of posts that I will update periodically called “Done and Dusted.” I am going to review products that I have finished and my thoughts on them!
Acqua Di Parma Rosa Nobile Parfum: Buy it here.
I bought this perfume (in the smallest size, during a VIB sale) after receiving a free sample with a previous Sephora Order. It is a beautiful, light every day scent that I feel can be worn year round. It’s floral and not overly sweet at all. It is also not powdery smelling whatsoever which can be the downfall of many rose scented products. This smells like something you could wear for years, at any age. I definitely recommend this and will likely repurchase at some point after I run out of other perfumes. It stays on fairly well (the scent is still obviously present after 2+ hours). Not as good as some Chanel or Aerin perfumes, but better than many others I have tried. This is the fastest I have ever gone through a bottle of perfume, because it became my everyday scent soon after purchasing. I also received complements on this several times. If you’re looking for a lovely, everyday perfume, I love this product! And yes, I had been using daily even while WFH just because.
Would I repurchase? Yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Hi all! This past Friday I posted a cocktail on my Instagram stories and got several messages, so I thought I may as well let you know how I made it. It could not be any easier and Ryan and I both thought they were refreshing and delicious (and tasted like a fancy cocktail from a restaurant, remember those?).
We will be making these all summer long (once it finally arrives!) . If you don’t like spice, I would recommend omitting the jalapeños. Try adding in some fruit slices instead – oranges, strawberry, mango, etc. Now is the time to get creative!
Ingredients (for one drink):
- Tequila (one shot glass full)
- Lime juice (3/4 of a shot glass)
- Simple syrup (1-2 tsps)
- Sliced jalapeños- I used 1-2 slices per drink and they were pretty spicy (I have a moderate- high spice tolerance)
- Grapefruit LaCroix (1/3 can) – feel free to use any flavor or juice you have on hand!
- Ice – I used ~4 normal sized cubes
Put your ice in a glass. Add tequila, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir to combine. Add jalapeños and stir again, trying to muddle the jalapeños as you stir. The muddling is not super important because the peppers will impart a lot of flavor naturally. Top off your drink with Grapefruit LaCroix (although I think any flavor would be good). That’s it! Enjoy!
As promised, here is part two of my Italy posts! Ryan and I visited Praiano on our two week tour-de-Italy last year, and it’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to. We left dreaming of returning!
Praiano is a very small village on the ‘Costa d’Amalfi’. The Amalfi Coast is a small region along the Tyrrhenian Sea in southern Italy. This whole area is just breathtaking (honestly breathtaking is an understatement). There are many villages and towns in this area, most of which sit high up in the cliffs, overlooking sparkling blue water. The drive from Naples to Praiano was filled with gorgeous vistas and dramatic scenery. Praiano, as with most towns in this coastal region, started out as a fishing village many centuries ago, and has remained fairly small throughout it’s history.
We picked Praiano for a few reasons. Ryan’s parents had stayed in this village (upon recommendation) on their previous trip to Italy and loved it. After some research, it sounded like the perfect place to relax and slow down after a stop in Rome. It wasn’t very touristy and we enjoyed seeing residents just going about their normal day to day activities throughout our stay.
Praiano has a beautiful little beach in an inlet close to town. The water alternates between a deep cerulean blue and aqua depending on the sunlight and shadows. It was remarkably clear. The pricing at the local beach is very inexpensive (for the area). Ryan and I shared a bottle of wine one day for €11. Considering this was likely marked up because we were at the beach, it’s still very reasonable! The open air restaurants and hotels surrounding the marina add to the charm.
If you’re heading to the Amalfi Coast, I don’t think you can go wrong in any town that you pick. Positano was much more crowded/touristy, but it has more expansive shopping/dining options and a much bigger beach area along with gorgeous views. Ravello (which we didn’t make it to) is even more removed than Praiano (with no readily accessible beach), so it might be nice if you just want to relax at your hotel pool all day, enjoying the incredible scenery.
I read a book called “100 Beaches of the Amalfi Coast,” during our stay in Praiano and it provided great tips on visiting the area, including geographical insights, the colorful history of the region (pirates and pillaging included!) and beautiful photographs to boot.
We stayed at a hotel in between one of the beaches and town, built into the cliffs (like the rest of the Amalfi Coast). It was under a ten minute walk to town and a 15-20 minute walk to the beach. This whole area is very hilly, so we definitely got in some steps during our stay!
Ryan’s parents recommended a great hike from Praiano to the neighboring town of Positano. The trail is called “The Path of the Gods,” and it is easy to see why. You climb above the clouds to views that left me speechless. The hike was about 7.5/8 miles and took us about three hours. We took the bus back home from Positano afterwards.
Most of our days in Praiano were spent relaxing. We walked to the beach and enjoyed pizza, seafood, and wine. The beach at Praiano is small but gorgeous, set in a little cove with the local marina and a few restaurants/ hotels around it. We also explored the town and stopped in a Limoncello factory which was super fun! We ended up sampling and buying several different kinds of Limoncello to bring home. The owner was so friendly and helpful.
I have tons of beach pictures but again, I’ll save you all 😉. FYI: the Amalfi coast beaches are generally rocky (or just slabs of rock jutting into the ocean). Just something to be aware of.
Praiano was one of the highlights of our whole trip to Italy, and the place that I reflect back on the most. It was so relaxing, peaceful, and enjoyable! I guess I am tending to gravitate towards the more relaxing parts of vacations these days! Duh- isn’t that the whole point of it? Being near the water and feeling the sunshine on my face just makes me happy, what can I say. The town itself was small and beautiful, with many delicious dining options. I would stay here again in a heartbeat and hope we do!
Some more favorite pictures:
Highlights (hint, everything).
- Peace. This leg of our journey was such a wonderful and relaxing stop. I can’t recommend a stay on the Amalfi Coast enough. This is somewhere I must return to.
- Insanely beautiful setting. Every morning we woke up, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Fresh air, sunshine, salty breezes, stunning cliffs, you get the idea.
- The food here was amazing. Such good seafood and pizza!
- The location. Praiano specifically was a great location to explore the Amalfi coast. We only ventured to Positano but if you had more time, you could easily go to Ravello, Amalfi, Atrani, Minori/Maiori, etc. There’s a convenient bus that goes along the coastal highway so it’s very easy to navigate.
- The people were super friendly!
- The Limoncello factory – so amazing to see and hear how it is made and the history behind the shop.
I don’t have anything negative to say about this leg of our journey, I just wish we could have stayed longer (read: forever)! It left such and impact on Ryan and I that we joked about buying a home here…. maybe someday! Until then, we will just have to come back to visit often. I also would love to explore the other towns in this area more. I think a whole summer on the coast is in order ☺️. A girl can dream!
Have you been to Praiano or the Amalfi Coast? What’s your favorite local spot? Comment below!