Thailand: Part 1

Sawadika! (Hello!)

I know some of you are going to be visiting Thailand in the near future (and if you’re not, you so¬†should!), so I figured I better lock-it-up and get this honeymoon post completed!

I had to break it into two parts, because there is just too much for one post and you will probably fall asleep reading if this gets much longer ūüôā

My amazing husband surprised me with a limo to the airport, so we decided to pop open this special bottle of champagne for the ride:

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It was given to us by our good friends Beth and Kalen as a housewarming gift when we first moved to Cali over a year ago. Talk about willpower! By the time we arrived at LAX we were ready for the 14(?) hour flight!

Let me preface this by saying the plane ride is excruciatingly long…so a bottle of champs and a ride to the airport is a must. I watched 7 movies and read two books cover-to-cover on the flight (btw, thanks to everyone who gave me book recommendations! Ya’ll are the BEST!). Make sure you bring along something to do in case you get sick of movies, and wear super comfy clothes. Maybe even bring some snacks. I will share with you my traveling essentials in a later post because I have recently discovered some great ones!

In typical Lauren fashion, I was panicking upon landing because the weather forecast predicted bad weather for our ENTIRE TRIP.

As you may remember from this post, we decided to book our honeymoon during September (Thailand’s rainy season) because the prices were appealing. I read tons of reviews reassuring the thrifty traveler that this would not be an issue because sporadic showers and an occasional 20 minute thunderstorm would be all we’d encounter.¬†

Everything was still beautiful, but boy did it downpour that first night!

Before I get started on all the fun things there are to do Phuket, let me give you a tour of our resort. We stayed at The Shore at Katathani Phuket. When you arrive, it looks like this:

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We checked in, and then since the resort is on a steep hillside, were¬†driven to our villa in a golf cart by one of the awesomely fun resort employees¬†(shout out to Palm and Beer if you are reading this!). We stayed in suite 8842. I would highly recommend this suite because it has an amazing view (which all the villas have), was high up on the hill, and very private. If you’re not one for climbing stairs I would suggest something near the bottom, but this was not really an issue for us. The villa was spectacular…these pictures just don’t do it justice!

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The whole wall facing the ocean is a sliding glass door.

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Everything is gorgeous…but this bathroom, though!

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Off the bathroom is a patio with a private infinity pool and a little alcove for relaxing…heavenly.

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From the second we stepped in (pretty much) we started googling how much it would cost us to just rent one of these villas for the rest of our lives.

(Conclusion: we would both probably have to win the lottery. Twice.)

After the initial shock of landing in heaven, we ventured out for sustenance:

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and then food ūüėČ

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Our favorite restaurant was one that I had read about online before planning the trip. It’s called Mom Tri’s Kitchen at Villa Royale, and you must go there. I demand you! It ended up being a short 5 minute walk from the grounds of our resort, which we did not even plan! Mom Tri’s is¬†a bit more pricey than most other restaurants in the area, but you get what you pay for and the views are spectacular. They also have Jazz night twice a week, and Parker loves him some jazz so of course we attended that.

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To get there you have to trek up an ancient staircase that winds along the oceanside.

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I am not joking with this view.

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Just keeps gettin’ better…

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and then finally you’ll see this through the trees:

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and you’re there!

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You need to order the ahi tuna and salmon appetizer because you will never have anything better in your life. This was our view during lunch:

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We elected to dine outside for our first visit, but the inside of the restaurant isn’t too shabby either:

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Us at Jazz Night:

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About 90% of our trip was spent eating/lazing around. The other 10% we tried to be active and go on mini adventures. My favorite part of the entire trip had to be elephant trekking. There are several places to do this in Phuket, but the one you wanna go to is called Siam Safari. The staff here is amazing and they treat the animals very well, which was important to us when choosing a tour to go on.

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Another fun adventure, especially if you are a religion or history buff, is visiting Big Buddah and the Wat Chalong Temples.

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The temples are truly incredible, and if we could do it again we would have spent more time exploring them.

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We hired a tour guide but he didn’t know too much about the history of the temples so I would highly recommend researching legit temple-tour-guides if this is something that peaks your interest. We were sad that we didn’t get to learn much about them.

But they sure were mighty pretty!

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On your way to and from the temples there’s a breathtaking viewpoint, so we took an obligatory pic there:

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Somebody forgot to SMILE!!! He’s cute, so it’s fine.

One night, we grabbed a tuk tuk (taxi) and braved the night market. In all honesty, we hated it. But it was an experience, so no regrets! It was PACKED with people! The air in the market is so thick with smoke from all of the cooking oils and (goodness knows what else) that you can barely breath in there. We were super intrigued by all of the different types of food that they had on display, and it was cool to see but we were a bit cautious to try anything other than some potato french fry thingie on a stick (which I ate too fast to get a pic of…oops!).

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Pretty much everywhere you go, there are tiny¬†houses or temples that are mounted on pillars called¬†spirit houses, and they are placed in front of businesses and homes to¬†provide shelter for spirits. At first we assumed these were Buddhist shrines, or shrines to Buddah, but soon found out that this tradition is rooted in animism. This blog post I found does a great job of¬†explaining this tradition, and also answering our¬†question of “What’s with the Red Fanta?”

This large offering of Red Fanta was at the market:

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Out of alllllll the wonderful things to buy at the Thai market, I left with these mini French macarons ūüôā

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Go figure.

To be continued…

Part 2 coming soon!

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T Minus 3 Days

Our honeymoon week is finally here! Unlike the typical couple, Parker and I waited a year to go on our honeymoon because two days after our wedding we had to pack up and drive cross-country to Cali.¬†But….the wait is OVER!¬†

IT’S OFFICIALLY HONEYMOON TIMEEEE!

And frankly, I can’t wait! I have had my suitcase 95% packed for about two weeks now, which is not typical of me. Usually I wait until the night before a trip to pack. I think this just goes to show how excited I am for this adventure!

We will be spending about a week in Phuket, Thailand,

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

and then heading to Hong Kong to explore for a few days.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

So…even though this is our honeymoon and we are going to pamper ourselves, I couldn’t help but get a few little deals in. It’s currently rainy season in Thailand this month! Hopefully that doesn’t interfere with our trip¬†tooo¬†much, but being as thrifty as I am we just couldn’t pass up the rates¬†for the hotel we found (it. is. FABULOUS.)! I did a lot of research on when to travel and where, read countless blogs about visiting¬†this part of the world durning September, and concluded it would be totally fine. We may get caught in afternoon showers but oh well…YOLO! For Hong Kong, we had a ton of hotel points from our cross-country trip last year/ from living in a hotel for the first few months we were in Cali…so that was a definite bonus (honeymoons are $$$). I can’t wait to share pictures¬†with ya’ll when we return, but for now you can follow our journey on Instagram @thethriftymermaid ūüôā

Thanks for reading! xoxo

Amsterdam

I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count. When I was living in Germany it was only a short train ride away, so when I had a day off (or 2, on rare occasions), I’d hop on the train and go. Let me start off by saying I’m no Amsterdam expert….most of the times I visited I would just walk around and enjoy the beauty of the city. However, I do know a bit about what to do or see when you only have a short amount of time in the city!

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One of my favorite things to go see is the flower market (Bloemenmarkt). It’s located between Muntplein and Koningsplein. ¬†I don’t have many pictures of it, and those that I do have don’t do it justice. You just have to see it for yourself! This is also a great place to get souvenirs that aren’t super cheesy. Speaking of cheesy, while your perusing the market ¬†stop in and try some local cheeses at the cheese shop! You’ll see a little cellar with this outside:

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Well, minus the cutie. You can sample to your hearts desire! But don’t fill up, because there are so many little places to get really random and weird foods that you may (or may not ūüėĀ) wanna try! Particularly in the vicinity of the Red Light District. This is actually another must see….you just have to. Grab a beer and walk on down, because if you don’t go you’ll miss the swans!

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If you’re feeling super touristy, there is a really fun tour that will take you to see some windmills! It’s ¬†a half-day trip, so you would need to block off a good amount of time for this.

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The tour is about $50 (U.S. Dollars, so less in Euros), and will take you to the Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken, and Volendam.

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You will get to see how cheese is made, how traditional wooden clogs are made, and tour the windmills and town surrounding them. The tour lets you off in Volendam, a little fishing village, for lunch. I’d recommend eating at Restaurant Cafe de Dijk and getting the local fish. If you want something quicker they have food carts serving up the catch of the day and pommes frites (you must try these at least somewhere in The Netherlands….SO GOOD!), and then you’ll have time to get some treats from here:

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That translates to “The Spotted Cow chocolate art,” and they’re not messin’ around.

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If this tour does not strike your fancy, don’t fret. There are plenty other places to see and things to do. Visit The Anne Frank House, spend a couple hours at the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum, ¬†go on The Amsterdam Dungeon tour.

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This tour sounds silly, but if you like scary stuff and history it’s actually really fun!

If you’re a beer lover, visit the Heineken factory.

IMG_0897Learn to pour a beer the correct way and see how their world famous beer is made!

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Amsterdam has fun nightlife, specifically around Leidesplain. Stop by one of the bustling bars and share a beer with locals out on the patio, or dance all night at Chicago Social Club.

Whatever you do, just enjoy the city around you. There’s a laid back vibe in most places (with the exception of The Red Light District) and you never know what might pop up. Like this amazing symphony on the water at dusk:

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Soak it all in and have a blast!

“Doei!”

London: Tips for Your Trip

So one of my close friends just left for a European adventure last night with her boo. ¬†She asked me for some suggestions on where to eat, what to see, and so on…and I thought why not just make a post about it? It’s easy to link stuff, and this way I could also post pictures to make it even better!

First up: London

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I’ve been to London twice: once for studying abroad, and then for a long weekend with Parker during his R&R a couple years ago. Both times were amazing, although very different. This could be due to the fact I was a wild college student who actually went out at night the first time. With Parker…well, all we cared about was food, history (on his part), ummmm, and food. Actually this is a lie, I also was hoping to see Prince William. That was definitely #1 on the list both times. Anyways, I can’t even remember all the places I went out at night when I studied abroad. Not because I was partying too hard!! Who do you take me for?! It was just so long ago I’m sure the hip spots have changed. Anyways, food:

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The¬†Fox & Anchor. This is near Smithfield Market, and it’s a historic British Pub. Get the chips….they are so good I get fat looking at them. The owner is super welcoming, too. We actually stayed here on our visit and the rooms are spectacular!

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Right across the street from here is a cute bar called Be at One¬†Cocktail Bar. IMG_3158They have some silly cocktails and a good selection of beer…stop in and relax with a happy hour drink!

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They have several locations in London.

If you’re feeling daring, for dinner go to La Bodega Negra.

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Ok, so this is not what it seems! Just call and make a reservation and show up at the address…it’s a secret restaurant. We loved the food (and margaritas ūüėČ) here. It is worth the trip outside of your comfort zone, and no, it’s not a sex shop, I promise you.

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a must see!

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This happens every odd numbered day during August. Days vary depending on the month you visit, so check out their website for more info. It’s always crowded, so grab a coffee and try to arrive early!

This is a surprise to most, but Florida State University has a campus in London! Obviously, only true Noles would want to see this, but I have to leave this here for the happy couple because I know they love their school!

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The address is:

Florida State University, 99 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3LH, United Kingdom

The campus is super close to the British Museum, so grab a street hotdog and stop in! If museums aren’t for you but you wanna do something cultural, I highly recommend seeing a play in Shakespere’s Globe Theatre.

IMG_3182Seriously guys, you’ll get goosebumps just walking in. And the plays are interactive! The actors try to recreate what it was really like back in the day. When I went there were no microphones, no artificial lighting, and a light rain was falling into the open arena onto the crowd. It was surreal.

If you do end up going out at night, there are some really cool places on yelp. I wish I could remember all the places I went, but I’m old and my memory is fading! I do have one tip for dudes: at night, urinals pop out of the ground! Sorry ladies, you’ll still have to find a restroom somewhere ūüėĀ

Anywayssss…hope you’re having fun, Lindz!! Amsterdam and Barcelona coming tomorrow and Tuesday! I love you!

Totes on a Budget

Parker and I are finally taking a Honeymoon (over a year after our wedding ūüėĀ), and we are going to a tropical destination. Therefore, I have been scouring shops for cute and affordable beachwear. I need stuff that will be easy to pack, comfy to travel in, and nice enough to look good in all of our sweet, sweet, honeymoon pictures! Most of my friends know that I am not really a fan of being in pictures, but I’m trying to get over that mostly because I’m getting old and want the memories! I’ve been obsessing over cute beach bags lately, and I don’t know if it’s just me or if the world is going cray, but these prices are outrageous! Now, I’m all for great quality in a purse…but spending $150 on a bag I’m gonna throw on in the sand is nutso. So I’ve rounded up some of my favorite, more affordable options for y’all (with one exception…just because I love it so much!).

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1. Saks Off 5th $30 2. Target $30 3. Vera Bradley $51 4. ASOS $30 5. Target $30 6. LUCLUC.com $23 7. Target $40 8. Macy’s $40 9. Calypso St Barth $100 (Splurge…but¬†too cute not to post!)

More of my summer faves coming soon! Thrift on!

The Mermaid Desk

If you follow me on Instagram, a long while ago I posted a picture that looked like this:

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…and then never mentioned it again. It just totally slipped my mind to do a before and after of my desk, but I’m doin’ it now! I haven’t really had an actual desk in years. My previous one was super tiny and right now is being used in our bedroom as a small T.V. stand. It’s really cute, there’s just no place to put anything on it! So, I began my search for something a bit larger. I looked through about 3 million pictures on Pinterest to give me some ideas, and then of course fell in love with desks that were¬†way¬†beyond my meager budget. I turned to my trusty friend, Craigslist, and became obsessed with finding something on there. I had previously lucked out by finding these 4 barstools for $5 a piece and gave them this makeover:

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But the desk…it was a bit tougher to find, because every time I found one I loved, someone had already snagged it. Finally, I came across this plain ole’ Ikea model that was listed for $65:

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I talked the guy down to $40 (which was still $20 over what I wanted to pay, but by this point¬†I would have taken¬†anything)¬†and we went to pick it up in Parker’s truck. Rule #1 about Craigslist, folks! Don’t go pickin’ up stuff alone!!! Buddy system!¬†Rule #2: do not lose hope! You will find what you want, eventually ūüôā I always use¬†Live Love DIY‘s Craigslist tips and tricks to help me out when searching for what I want, and they never fail me!

Anyway, this is how my little desk started out. I love, love, LOVE this desk makeover¬†from Love Grows Wild¬†and chose to go with this light mint green color. I picked out the sample card, Olympic’s “Sweet Pea,” from Lowe’s, waited for more than 15 minutes without receiving any help or service, then took the sample to my local Home Depot where they mixed it and had me out the door in less than 5 minutes. Just sayin’.

I didn’t sand the desk or anything, I just gave it two coats of some leftover primer I had laying around and let that dry. Then I used a paint brush to do 3 coats of the mint green. I still have yet to seal it and probably never will, but it’s holding up fine for now.

*sorry for the photo quality (or lack thereof). I still don’t have a real camera!

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I then added a cute little knob from Hobby Lobby that reminds me of something Ariel (the mermaid) would find in her little cave of “whozits and whatzits galore.” ¬†Then I laid out all of my little “thIngamabobs,” crammed my computer in the center, and wahlah! Mermaid desk.

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Im going through some major separation anxiety living this far from the ocean, so to make me a happy wife, Parker took me on a day-date to Laguna Beach this past Monday. No, I didn’t have any real housewives sightings, or run into ¬†Ste-Vennn (sorry Ali and Chelcie P!) , but we still had a grand ole’ time!

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Hope y’all are having a lovely day/night…wherever in the world you are! Thrift on!