Spring Dreams

SpringAs far as Tennessee winters go, this one really takes the cake for being a weather roller coaster. One minute it’s winter, the next: spring. Cold then warm. Sun then snow. I can’t take it. I’m not usually one for beckoning spring early, but this year I am praying that mother nature brings a quick, painless transition into the season of green and doesn’t pull any funny business with, say, an April blizzard.

On top of my dreams of eating fresh bruschetta on restaurant patios and blossoming trees making my neighborhood look like a painting, I really just want to have the option to wear lighter layers again. Coats are great, but this girl is tired of the limited range of motion that comes with wearing 2 of them. I just want to be able to bend my arms like a free woman should.

Spring Dreams Since getting back from Europe, I’ve been feeling the need for a wardrobe overhaul. Ideally, this spring, my style takes a leap towards tomboy and feminine at the same time. Hard and soft is a combination I’ve always been a fan of, but this year I really want to shoot for pairing the dainty clothing with the structured, more masculine pieces I have. Fingers are crossed that I look Parisian and not like my closet and pajama drawer are the same thing.

What trends are you looking forward to in the warmer months?

Speak to you soon

x

Twerkout

Lululemon Future Varsity Bra Nike Muscle Tank Nike Muscle Tank (back) Calvin Klein tapered sweatpants Nike Windrunner Zipup VS Knockout tights Lululemon Yoga BagNike Dual Fusion - Crosstrain

Excuses are for chumps–and I am one so here goes: I haven’t posted in a hot minute because things got crazy. And when I say crazy, I really just mean that I had a lot of hugs to give and food to eat upon my return home to Nashville. The remainder of the trip was exquisite (afternoons in Amsterdam and exploring New York), but I was beyond ready to board my plane home. Something about having my own room again, and friends sending me sappy, all caps text messages.

Upon my return and reuniting with friends and familiar bars, I’ve  also put my game face on and have made an astoundingly strong return to my gym routine. My muscles are starting to get their strength back and my motivation for a healthy lifestyle doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

As you’ve scrolled down this far, that means you’ve feasted your eyes upon my workout wishlist. It’s not an exaggeration when I say I have one pair of acceptable gym pants and a hand-me-down pair of tennis shoes that are about ready to run off of my feet. Fingers are crossed I’ll be able to invest in some new workout duds ASAP. Until then, my shopping carts on Nike and Lululemon are just going to continue expanding and then remain untouched until payday.

I hope I can be a little bit of a motivator for you guys to keep up with your fitness resolutions and newfound relationships with the gym (even if it’s just for the ripped dudes on the weight floor–I don’t hate it). Todays motivation doesn’t come in a quote or a picture of my (sort of not even a little) toned abs, but instead in a little playlist I like to call: TWERKOUT.

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Add these puppies to a Spotify playlist, or one you made in iTunes because you are my hero and already have all of these songs at your disposal, and crank the jams as you make your way around the weight floor.

You’re welcome.

x

How to Survive a Polar Vortex in Style | PART I

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, either because you’ve frozen or because you’ve heard about it in the news, the U.S. is currently pretending to be Antarctica while it rides out the remainder of the polar vortex. Somehow, I managed to plan my Europe trip at the same time as Nashville’s transformation into Tundra Town, and I have never been more comfortable skipping around in a (chilly) 50 degrees.

“Did she say chilly 50 degrees?” Oh I did. And I said it from underneath my tiger print fleece blanket.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about how angry clueless I’d be in enjoying myself if I was around temperatures that dropped into the negatives, so I made little guide that might be helpful in making your shivering a little more chic.

|TIP 1: COLD DAY, HOT DRINK

Irish coffee by 52 Kitchen Adventures, Chamomile Hot Toddy by Honesty Yumm, Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate by Chasing Delicious, Mulled Wine by Flourishing Foodie

Irish coffee by 52 Kitchen Adventures, Chamomile Hot Toddy by Honesty Yumm, Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate by Chasing Delicious, Mulled Wine by Flourishing Foodie

It’s 11AM (or 7PM whatever) and it’s becoming very evident that the coziness you are craving isn’t going to be provided by your blanket cocoon. Your next move COULD be to bump the heat up–OR you could swagger over to your liquor cabinet and see what awaits you in (what I like to call) the cave of wonders.

Hot cocktails are all about preference and creativity. What do you like? Hot cider? Add a little rum. Coffee? Make it irish. Wine? Simmer it with some fruit and voila–it’s mulled. I love to spike a hot chocolate because you can’t really EVER go wrong with that, and my other favorites are hot toddys. Hot toddys are generally made with Whiskey/Rum, lemon, hot water, and spices (whatever you fancy). I’ve also just stumbled across a chamomile one on Honestly Yumm that sounded like it would make my cold day dreams come true, so it will be happening ASAP.

I don’t care what kind of pottery barn fleece you have swaddled around yourself; there is nothing warmer than a booze blanket and the eminent nap that will follow closely behind it.

|TIP 2: BUNDLE UP

1. Madewell 2. Sea of Shoes 3. Oracle Fox 4. Park and Cube 5. Man Repeller 6. Tumblr / Justletitbe 7. tumblr /unknown 8. it-girl-rag-doll

1. Madewell 2. Sea of Shoes 3. Oracle Fox 4. Park and Cube 5. Man Repeller 6. Tumblr / Justletitbe 7. tumblr /unknown 8. it-girl-rag-doll

What better opportunity to attempt all of those street style layering combos than during a mother nature induced game of freeze out?

What’s that? You got a new asos turtle neck, a zara sweater, and a cardigan from Topshop for Christmas? COMBO THAT SHIT. Layering is like slushie choices at Sonic, the choices are limitless. You don’t even have to wear it out of the house. Try on your new beanie and rock it while you play sodoku on your ipad. Get comfortable in new combinations in the comfort of your own home. Who knows? These new circumstances could cause a style revolution and a brand new wave of confidence you didn’t even know was WITHIN YOU.

If you need some ideas for your new clothes-on-clothes-on-clothes look, check out pinterest or any of the myriad of fashion blogs floating around the internet. Find a style you like and see how you can emulate it and make it your own.

Also wool socks. Always wear wool socks.

I’ve got more tips to share, but I thought I’d make this a series and keep 3-5 for a new post in a couple of days. We head to London tomorrow for some meetings and last minute souvenir shopping before hopping on a train to Amsterdam.

If you’d like to follow my adventures in real time, follow my instagram at @lacunningham

speak to you all soon

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Keep Your Head Up

London Eye | by Lauren Cunningham

London Eye | by Lauren Cunningham

London Rooftops | Lauren Cunningham

London Rooftops | by Lauren Cunningham

Buckingham Palace | Lauren Cunningham

Buckingham Palace | by Lauren Cunningham

Pushing through crowds in a tourist ridden city sometimes can take a lot more effort than you bargain for. A brisk stroll across a walking bridge? You wish. Crosswalks with unfamiliar pedestrians? Forget it.

Eventually, you find yourself power walking with the posture of someone who appears to have an agenda and have convinced yourself that everyone simply must think you’re a local.

I have bad news: they don’t. They take note of your tourist tendencies. They see through your lies. The big giveaway is when your poise takes a nosedive as you see an empty red phone booth and sprint over to take advantage of the magic moment. Guilty. Oops.

Piccadilly Sky | Lauren Cunningham

Piccadilly Sky | by Lauren Cunningham

Union Jack | Lauren Cunningham

Union Jack | by Lauren Cunningham

London Rooftops | Lauren Cunningham

London Rooftops | by Lauren Cunningham

The biggest mistake we made while adventuring through London was one of our first times on the tube (London’s subway). We had exited our car and were en route to Covent Garden for a bite to eat. Feeling superior to all of the lazy, apathetic people who were heading towards the lifts,  we opted for the stairs instead.

What we saw was a sneaky quick exit instead of long lines and claustrophobic feelings. What we didn’t see was the sign that read: “THERE ARE 193 STAIRS. THAT IS EQUAL TO FIFTEEN FLOORS. YOUR THIGHS WILL BURN LIKE THAT OF 1000 FIERY SUNS.”  (There may have been some exaggeration just now, but you get it). After a lot of heavy breathing and thoughts of giving up, we made it. We saw the sun. We were alive.

There were two things we were both sure of after climbing that never ending spiral staircase from hell. The first, was that all my time in the gym leading up to this trip was WORTHLESS. The second, is that we would never second guess the masses of people waiting to take the lift ever again.

Ever.

More updates from England soon. Also, Amsterdam on Friday and New York next week! 2014 is starting out incredibly.

To follow my adventures in real time, follow me on Instagram at @lacunningham 

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Moonlighting.

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via Pinterest

widebelts

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via Pinterest

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via Pinterest

 

Things that take some getting used to during in wintery England :

  • the time difference | 6 hours makes a difference when it comes to easy sweet dreams or painfully long hours of facebook creepage. I recommend a sleep aid and for you to put the coffee down. Immediately.
  • the weather | Give me a rainy day ANY time. I love them. But add a little wind and cold–things get a little bit slippery. Avoid: buying an umbrella with the country’s flag on it.
  • social norms | It doesn’t take long to gather what’s okay and what isn’t in a new culture. Just keep your eyes open. Oh, and whatever you do, do not pick up a British accent or inflection within the first week of visiting. You will be the target for jokes. Speaking from a friend’s experience…
  • the darkness | because the sun is never high and the its time to shine is cut a little shorter than in the states, you spend a little more time in the dark. Not complaining. If there’s one thing I love it’s a night stroll, city lights, and my favorite evening activity: dinner (will also accept dessert).

Because I’ve been spending a little more time in the moonlight lately, I thought I’d post a few things that has inspired. Namely my new need for all of the black accessories. I need a matte black watch more than I need an umbrella on a drizzly london afternoon. I want people to see my wrist and think, “Wow. That girl is chic and has her shit together. What a class act.” Then they’ll notice the oversized belt around my middle and, unbeknownst to my incessant desire to consume beer and baguettes, they will be impressed (and deceived) by my apparent waist size. Yeah, you could say I’ve got life figured out.

Headed to London today to be a total tourist. Photos galore to come.

x

To follow me in real time, check out my instagram at @lacunningham

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Market Mornings.

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I am a firm believer that travel is 100% more enjoyable when you get to experience your destination as the locals do.

While living in Florence, Italy a couple of years ago, I didn’t spend my weekends in the Piazzas swarming with tourists and rambunctious umbrella salesmen. No, I spent my weekends cruising in backseat of my friend Mattia’s navy blue mini cooper. From camping trips in the country side, to nights out in Fiesole, to taking a special trip to a nearly invisible restaurant in a tiny town solely because I must try the gnocchi–it’s safe to say that a few simple google searches would not have yielded such memorable adventures. While I did take time to see and appreciate the sites of beautiful Firenze, I did it through the eyes of the people who truly knew the history and value of them because they’ve been surrounded by the culture their whole lives.

This past weekend, we went to London and stayed with my friend’s stepsister in Borough. We were banking on her showing us around so we could see a different side of London than we were expecting, and she did not let us down.

On Saturdays, there is a market filled to the brim with every tasty thing you could imagine: macarons, fresh meats, ice cream, home grown produce, curry cooked right in front of you, sweets for DAYS, and (my personal favorite) chai tea straight from Darjeeling. I was in heaven, and most of that can probably be attributed to the amount of free cheese samples I consumed throughout our time there. Just kidding. (But really, what’s better than fresh Comté? Nothing is the answer).

Markets are a great way to get a feel for a place and it’s people, but also to support it’s local industries. If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend checking it out. Take the tube, grab a mulled wine, and see what all the buzz is about.

To keep up in real time with my travels follow me on Instagram at @lacunningham

Up next on the blog: Winter Wonderland–the land of amusement park rides, cider, christmas lights, and a lot of spiced sausage.

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England via IPhone

Being me, I always like to boast about how quickly I can overcome the obstacle called jet lag because I am, in fact, an international globetrotting prodigy. Oh, six hour time difference? That shit is easy as pie. Look at me sleep through a solid amount of REM cycles.

I am here to tell you that all of what I just said is a lie. (Surprise?). The unfortunate (and humbling) reality is that I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning and it’s now 7. I’ve been here going on five days and this madness is still going on. Help.

I haven’t uploaded any of the pictures from my camera yet, so I thought I’d do a little trip catch via my iPhone. I just got the 5s and let me act as ambassador and tell you how incredible the camera is. It’s making my instagram look like I know what I’m doing.

| OUNDLE AND STAMFORD PHOTO CATCH UP 

Mixing patterns on travel day | Sweater: Madewell, Scarf: Belk, Jeans: BDG, Shoes: Cynthia by Cynthia Rowley

Mixing patterns on travel day | Sweater: Madewell, Scarf: Belk, Jeans: BDG, Shoes: Cynthia by Cynthia Rowley

Airplane Reading | Man Repeller by Leandra Medine (check out her blog at manrepeller.com because it is everything)

Airplane Reading | Man Repeller by Leandra Medine (check out her blog at manrepeller.com because it is everything)

Arrivals | LZ and I upon getting to London

Arrivals | LZ and I upon getting to London

First coffee in Oundle | went to a quaint shoppe called Smiths No. 4 when I got to town. Had a cappucino and finally could believe I was back in Europe.

First coffee in Oundle | went to a quaint shoppe called Smiths No. 4 when I got to town. Had a cappucino and finally could believe I was back in Europe.

Oundle, England | Also known as the most quintessentially English place that exists (I think)

Oundle, England | Also known as the most quintessentially English place that exists (I think)

2014 | Ringing in the new year at a pub in town called The Ship

2014 | Ringing in the new year at a pub in town called The Ship

Burghley House | The day we explored a town called Stamford

Burghley House | The day we explored a town called Stamford

Reflections | Stamford, again

Reflections | Stamford, again

Tea Time | Earl Grey every second of every day with a spot of milk and a biscuit. This was during lunch at the George Hotel in Stamford

Tea Time | Earl Grey every second of every day with a spot of milk and a biscuit. This was during lunch at the George Hotel in Stamford

Tulips | because the blog shot was neccessary

Tulips | because the blog shot was neccessary

We’re boarding a train to London in a few hours for a day of site seeing and exploring. I’ll be there for the next couple of days, but if you live vicariously through 3×3 pictures you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter (if you can handle any more sass)

Talk to you all soon!

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2014- New Mantra, New Cocktails

It’s my third day in England and I think I’ve already had more cups of Earl Grey tea than I can count. I’m a coffee person, but slowly tea is winning my affections.

Today is new years day, and somehow despite the amount of pints I had last night, courtesy of the generous people of Oundle, England, I am alive and kicking on this first day of 2014. It’s a new year? What? Hopefully this will be a big one full of clarity, reassessment, and a lot of chicken Phó.

Apologies for not posting for a few days, jet lag got the best of me and I was really busy sleeping and falling in love with this quaint little town (or just all of the British men). Oundle is the quintessential english experience–tea houses everywhere, pubs on every corner, mini coopers zooming down the lanes, houses all in close quarters of eachother…it’s my dream. I’ve been wanting to come to england for years now, so this was a wonderful way to start.

First trip down to London is this weekend. I think site seeing, coffee drinking, and plaid wearing will probably be in the cards for us. Oh, and did I mention we’re going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour? Because we’re going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. (Brace yourselves for photos of me shamelessly riding a broom in front of a green screen).

I don’t have too many pictures yet, so I thought I’d just share a few things I’ve been loving right now (side note: if you follow me on Pinterest–you already know this list is going to be full of ostentatious cocktails and blanket scarves):

french twist

Sometimes (most of the time) I don’t love putting a lot of effort into my hair. Not to say that I want it to look bad, I just would rather put it into a style that takes minimal time but looks stylishly effortless. This messy french twist via Once Wed is something I’ve been looking forward to trying. Super elegant while still super casual and not time consuming. Count. Me. In.

tomaattifetasalaatti_suvisurlevif

Spotted this photo of warm feta and tomatoes on Pinterest, and never have I been so quickly persuaded to visit a cooking blog (note: they are now my new obsession, which is making it hard for me to uphold my other new favorite thing which is trying to live out my dream of being a gym rat). This recipe is super easy to make, beautiful to present (even if your tomatoes aren’t that pretty) and something I could see myself enjoying all year round. Check out Suvisur Le Vif and see what I mean.

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Plaid pants are out to play in this years 90’s fashion craze, and I gotta say–I AM ALL ABOUT IT. This Navy pair worn by Lauren Zwanziger of The Transatlantic was purchased at Zara and they fit like a dream. Neutral enough and different from the classic red tartan that is sweeping a lot of street style sites, I think it’s safe to say that if I owned these pants they would be gracing my short little legs more often than not.

what's stopping

My new mantra for 2014. If you dream of something, there is a way to accomplish it. Don’t let the “what ifs” and “buts” stop you from taking steps towards your goals. I’ve learned so much about perseverance and hard work this year–it’s taken me places and I know it can do the same for you. (Unless it’s competitive eating. There are things that should stop you from doing that. Stop it.)

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Finally, as promised, a seasonal cocktail. This one is the Sage, Ginger and Prosecco cocktail that was introduced to me by Local Milk. Although I haven’t had an excuse to make it yet, it’s hard to go wrong with that combination of ingredients and bubbles. Hopefully in the near future I’ll have a reason to try this out with some friends.

2014 is here. Let’s make the most of it, ya’ll.

Also! If you have any suggestions for things to do in London, Amsterdam or New York please feel free to comment below! All are appreciated!

PS: Sorry for the lack of blanket scarves…next time.