Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: La France est Belle

I've decided to start a Throwback Thursday "series," if you will, as a means of telling you stories from my past, because guess what? PEOPLE LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. It may be a long story, and it may very well be a short story. But all in all, I want this to be a way for you to get to know me better, and to give me a chance to write more.

My first Throwback Thursday, as you can probably tell from the title, is going to be a reflection on the most wonderful place I've ever been: France.

La Tour Eiffel
The earliest I can remember being in love with France was in third grade when, for an activity in a workbook, I wrote that I wanted to be a French teacher. (Ha!) My aunt is a retired French teacher, my grandmother spoke French, and both my mom and dad took French when they were in high school. I did take a French summer school course (for fun) when I was younger, but I couldn't wait until I was in high school so that I could start learning properly.

Which is exactly what I did. I signed up for French 1 my freshman year of high school, and I continued through the first college level, French 205, when I was a senior. Unfortunately, our high school French program wasn't very strong, and when I was in French 3, one of our beloved French teachers passed away. (RIP Mme. Fox) Despite this, I have always been good with language, and I caught on as best as I could. Although I'm certainly not fluent whatsoever, I still love the language, the culture, and the country.

Through my high school, then, I was able to fundraise for a two week tour of France! I had been looking forward to this moment for years, and finally my dream was about to come true. In the summer of 2014, I left America and set foot on European soil for the very first time. 

We began our trip in Paris, and sadly, the weather was abysmal. It was colder than expected, and while we did have some sunny moments, it rained for most of the time. However, that didn't take away from the excitement I felt while being there. It was so surreal - it was hard for me to actually comprehend that I was in the City of Lights, the City of Love! We visited Musée Rodin, Les Invalides, took a river boat tour on the Seine, climbed the Eiffel Tower, visited Musée du Louvre and Notre Dame de Paris, and shopped on the Champs Élysées, just to name a few activities!

Musée Rodin

La Seine

Notre Dame de Paris from afar
We left Paris and traveled to Giverny, where Monet lived. We spent the day exploring his beautiful gardens that inspired so many of his artwork, and then continued on our journey. Since a lot of the tour consisted of driving, we took many pit stops (ranging from hour-long to overnights), which, to tell you the truth, were the most beautiful and exciting pit stops I've ever taken. Within the two weeks, we pit stopped in Rouen, where Saint Joan of Arc was burned at the stake; Caen, which served as our overnight before heading to the Normandy Beaches; Saint-Malo, a breathtakingly charming fortified city; Tours, from where we explored the Chateaus of the Loire Valley;  and Paris again for just one night, as we needed to catch a plane the next day to take us to the French Riviera. 

Basically Monet's backyard

A morning walk on the fortified walls of Saint-Malo

As mentioned above, these places were merely the pit-stops on our journey. The main events were equally as exciting and just as beautiful. I had the opportunity to visit two of the Normandy Beaches, Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc (which isn't technically a beach). It was a moving and inspirational day. 

The vast Omaha beach

The cliffs surrounding Pointe du Hoc, which Texas Rangers scaled on D-Day

We also visited Mont Saint-Michel, an island in Normandy that houses a Benedictine monastery, as well as 44 residents. It was here that I bought my brother his birthday present (because his name is Michael), and more importantly, it was here that I discovered the best tasting butter cookies in the entire world. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Mont Saint-Michel...with lovely scaffolding decorating its front. 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was exploring the Chateaus of the Loire Valley. We visited Chateau de Chenonceau, the Chateau that belonged to King Henry II's mistress Diane de Poitiers, and later to his wife Catherine de Medici (any Reign fans?). The gardens were absolutely breathtaking. I could've spent the whole day, just exploring the gardens themselves. We also visited Chateau d'Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci is supposedly buried. 

Chenonceau from afar

Da Vinci's tomb

Side view of Amboise
Last but not least, we spend the last three days of our trip in paradise! That is, the South of France which is the French Riviera. We stayed in Nice, and the weather was hot and sunny! We spent time swimming in the salty Mediterranean, buying ice cream, relaxing, and even took a day trip to Monaco, a principality nestled between France and Italy, and visited the quaint village of Èze, where we explored a cactus garden!

The Mediterranean
Yacht shopping in Monaco

A view from the cactus gardens

Now this is going to sound corny, but my heart actually aches a bit looking back on these pictures. I had the time of my life on this trip, learning French history, eating French food, and experiencing French culture. I remember I wasn't homesick once. The day we left, I was extremely and pitifully sad. It all feels like a dream now, but in the best way possible. I'm so glad I was able to travel to France and create these memories, and I can't wait to go back someday. 

I hope you enjoyed my first ever Throwback Thursday! I sure enjoyed writing it. Leave a comment if you've ever been to France, or leave a comment sharing your favorite vacation destination - I'd love to hear from you! 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

20 Simple Things to be Happy About

Ever felt as if nothing is going right? Ever wake up one day feeling sad for no reason? Ever just have an all around terrible day? If you answered no to any of those questions, you are a remarkable human being.

I definitely have had those days. I'm a student, so I'm stressed 99% of the time. Even more so, I'm a college student, so I don't get to see my family every day. While the initial homesickness has worn off, I still have days where I feel sad and could use a hug from my mom.

So if you've had a rough day at work, a stressful day in school, or the negativity in the world is bringing you down, here are 20 simple things in life that make me happy that will hopefully do the same for you.

1) Pictures of dogs and puppies.

2) Eating my favorite meal.

3) Taking a long, hot shower.

4) Beautiful weather and clear skies.

5) Getting into bed with freshly shaved legs.

6) Taking off chipped nail polish.

7) Journaling.

8) Watching my favorite movie or television show.

9) Hearing the birds chirp. (Spring is on its way!)

10) Finishing a book.

11) Wearing an outfit that makes me feel really good.

12) Getting a letter in the mail.

13) Crossing things off of my to-do list.

14) Waking up feeling completely rested.

15) Opening a brand new pack of pens.

16) Using those brand new pens.

17) Color coordinating my workout clothes.

18) Drinking a big glass of ice water.

19) Hearing my favorite song on the radio.

20) Flowers.

So those are 20 simple things in life to be happy about. I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you can find ways to be happy when you're feeling down.

Leave a comment saying what simple things make you happy - I'd love to hear from you!

***I want to make it clear that this post is in no way a clinical prescription for depression or anxiety. I simply want to share with you 20 thoughts that cheer me up when I'm feeling low.***

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Blogging Inspirations

If you've checked out my "Maggie Who?" (a.k.a. "About") page, you'll know that I was very much into reading blogs before I actually started one myself. These blogger ladies are the wonderful women who inspired me to begin blogging. Hopefully after reading this, they'll inspire you just as much as they do me.

And now, without further ado, my blogging inspirations.

1) Estée Lalonde 

I found Estée through her YouTube channel, Estée Lalonde, previously known as EssieButton. She is a Canadian living in London, and she makes videos and blogs on beauty, food, fashion, and lifestyle. She has a book coming out called Bloom, and she's frickin' hilarious - not to mention cheeky and gorgeous as well. I don't ever use the word 'bae,' but Estée is bae material, people. I love her to death. 

Check out Estée's blog by clicking here!

2) Tanya Burr

I also found Tanya through her YouTube channel, Tanya Burr. Tanya is a British blogger who makes videos and blogs posts on beauty, fashion, and baking. She's lovable and sweet, and drop-dead glamorous. She has a beauty line and a book called Love, Tanya, and a new one coming out called Tanya Bakes. I love her fashion sense too - she's a class A fashion icon!

Check out Tanya's blog by clicking here!

3) Anna SacconeJoly

Pictured with her son, Eduardo

Again, I found Anna through YouTube on her family daily vlogs, the SACCONEJOLYs. She is an Irish wife and mother living in England with her husband, two children, and 6 maltese doggies. I love Anna because she covers a variety of topics: beauty, fashion, food, life, fitness, and of course, 'mom' stuff! She's beautiful, and she has a zodiac jewelry line inspired by a necklace that belonged to her father. 

Check out Anna's blog by clicking here!

4) We Still Write in Cursive - Tahereh Mafi and Tana Gandhi

I found Tahereh and Tana's blog because I know Tahereh from reading her best-selling YA series, Shatter Me. Their blog just captured me - it was quirky and fun. Tana is an amazing photographer, and both women are creative and unique. Their blog posts range from fashion to DIY to colorful photoshoots! 

Check out Tahereh and Tana's blog by clicking here!

5) moon schooling eleanor - Kristen Mittler

I actually found Kristen's instagram (@oldjoy) from a post on Tumblr, and then I found her blog from there. (She also has the most adorable Snapchat - add her at kristenmittler) She is a stay-at-home mother of 3 living in Ohio, and her photos, posts, and snap stories are PRECIOUS. At 19, I shouldn't be thinking about having kids any time soon, but Kristen's posts make my heart fill with joy. And I'm not gonna lie, it makes me want babies, like, ASAP. 

Check out Kristen's blog by clicking here!

6) Caroline Calloway 

Now this one is a bit different. I have absolutely NO recollection of how I stumbled across Caroline, but all I know is that I'm glad I did. I'm not really sure if she's considered a legitimate blogger...I think "storyteller" is a better word. You see, Caroline began telling a story through her Instagram account. That's right. Instagram. And it's AMAZING. She's an American studying at Cambridge (Cambridge!) and guess what? SHE'S WRITING A BOOK. It's called And We Were Like, and if you want to hear about how that process is going, follow her on Snapchat (adventuregrams) for updates and Cambridge adventures. Caroline is an amazing and hilarious writer, and I can't wait to buy her book!

Check out Caroline's Instagram page to re-read her past and present adventures by clicking here, and don't forget to add her on Snapchat!

So, those are the bloggers who inspired me to start this blog! I hope you enjoyed, and I encourage you to check out my blogger role models! 

Thanks for reading, and leave a suggestion of your favorite blogger(s) in the comments below!