Excuse my French, but I’m in France

I’m just sayin’.

So, I finally got to Paris. I wrote about it here, and our itinerary is posted here. I’ll write more about it later, but in the meantime, please enjoy these snaps. Bucket list item, checked.

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Chelsea’s Adventures in Oxfordland

originally posted on notreallyoxfordwomen!

We packed a lot into our first week. I’m still waiting until it calms down so I can do wild things like sleep or buy a curling iron. Exciting stuff! Here’s just a tiny overview of a few faves from the last week. Loads more to come!

Oxford

Pubs & Food

Saturday was the quarter finals of the World Cup and (spoiler alert from several days ago) England trounced Sweden! It’s the first time England’s gone so far in the cup in ages, so the city was abuzz with excitement! We had an impossible time finding a pub at which to watch the match—everywhere was stuffed to the gills with people spilling outside and watching through the windows. They’re playing again Wednesday (against Croatia) and we’re camping out at St. Aldate’s nice and early to watch!

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The Covered Market is so, so cool. It’s like a tiny version of Farmer’s Market in L.A.

Pro tip about (at least this area of) England: every. bloody. place. has. vegetarian options. It’s absolutely incredible. Even the morning English Breakfast buffet could please a vegan. Just note that it’s soya milk, not soy! Also, figure out what the hell Pimm’s is before you come here.

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Other pubs/restaurants that we’re falling in love with every day: The King’s Arms, The Crown, The White Horse, Turf Tavern, The Old Tom, The Varsity Club, George Street Social, The Lamb & Flag

Still to try: The Wig & Pen, The Eagle & Child, O’Neills, The Bear Inn, The Oxford Retreat, The Trout

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Shops

You can’t go to England without making a pilgrimage to Boots. It’s like a Sephora-meets-CVS, and it’s the nearest chemist to school. We’ve been getting our groceries at Tesco & Sainsbury’s. I got a tattoo at Oxford Tattoo and it was the best experience I’ve ever had. 10/10 would recommend. And Blackwell’s! What can I possibly say about Blackwell’s that hasn’t already been said. You remember the song “Almost Paradise“? It started playing in my heart when I walked in. It’s 3 floors of wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor books, and I’m moving in there ASAP.

Sights

Holywell Cemetary was spooky af. Go at dusk! Here’s a list of graves. The Martyrs’ Memorial should make your list. The Bodleian Libraries are so gorgeous it’s unfair. The Radcliffe Camera is an extreme photo op. And well, everything here is perfect, so just walk around and ogle the buildings!

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Wales

Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Raglan Castle

Cymru for life. These ruined medieval relics are stunning beyond belief. Granted it was about 4,000 degrees Celsius, seeing these living legends was an unmissable experience. Get thee to the land of the dragon!

Abergavenny

The Hen & Chickens pub is clearly the local watering hole, and we were so lucky to have stopped in here. We met an Irish ex-pat named Collin and a mysterious vest-wearing Welshman who went by the name of Reality Jones. There is no way to really capture how magical our Wales experience was…suffice it to say that I’m definitely going back, and I’m probably getting a Reality Jones tattoo. P.S. Welsh cheddar and cole slaw sandwich. Iconic.

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In my next post, I’ll go off about coffee and food in Oxford (hint: it’s very good).

Only 16 more days! It’s going by way too quickly!

-chels

Sunday Kind of Love: UK Edition

We leave for England in 4 days! I’m so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I’ve never taken a Transatlantic flight (I’ve only left the country five times, to Quebec and Cancun), so this is a major bucket-list item checked off! As I may have mentioned before, Annie and I will be living and studying at Wadham College at Oxford, but we have plenty of excursions planned (including day trips to Paris and Brussels!)

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The Headington Shark, image via flickr

This is a(partial) list of what we’ll be up to on the island:

Wales

Tintern Abbey

Chepstow Castle

Raglan Castle

Abergavenny

England

Travel tattoos at Oxford Tattoo

Hamlet at The Globe

Stratford-Upon-Avon

The Bodleian Library

The Roman Baths in Bath

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Tate Modern

Kensington Palace

Blenheim Palace

Afternoon tea at the Barbican

Cuban Night at the Windsor Racecourse

Join the Oxford Alcademics at Raoul’s

I’m sure we’ll check out at least some of these 15 Things to do in Oxford

See you stateside in August!

Sunday Kind of Love xi

Well, summer lasted for about a week. Now we’re back to gloomy 50 degree days, because, apparently, life is a rich tapestry. Why do I always start these posts by talking about the weather? Because I’m from New England and that’s the most exciting thing we have? Probably.

In any case, here’s what’s been going on with me, since you asked:

I went on vacation to Tallahassee last week, and I brought way, way too many outfits, courtesy of my Away luggage. The carry-ons are inspired—they charge your damn phone! I bought a massive one for my trip to England in July! I know buying stuff they advertise on podcasts is basic, but these suitcases are by far the best I’ve ever owned, and I’m not getting paid to say it!

I’m reading Not That Bad, a collection of essays curated and edited by Roxane Gay and MAN OH MAN is it a fun romp for the whole family. Just kidding, it’s a living nightmare! Girls and women and transfolk endure so much—it’s hard to read about, but so important. The thesis of the collection, in short, is that, as women*, we’re taught to internalize our abuse, to rationalize with ourselves that what we experienced was “not that bad,” when truthfully, any assault is “that bad.” Minimizing our pain and not holding abusers accountable contributes to the perpetuation of rape culture. But you should read Roxane explain it much more eloquently than I ever could. TW rape and sexual assault.

I start class on Tuesday, again (does she ever stop doing school?), so I just spent a small fortune on books. It’s a Recent British Short Fiction class, and we’re reading all things A.S. Byatt and J.G. Ballard. Brits really love going by their initials, huh? (cough J.K. Rowling cough) Because I love you, here’s a pdf of Ballard’s complete short stories—my personal fave is “The Smile.”

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This casita is too much. I would simply die to have a guest house. Maybe I should finish my own home renovation before I start expanding…

I am so excited to see this movie that I can hardly breathe. One more week!

My girl Courtney Barnett put out a new album on Friday and it is so freaking good! Plus, the deluxe edition (which hubby definitely bought for me yesterday at Newbury Comics) comes with an adorable tote bag!

A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. I’ve linked to these babes before, but seriously, The Home Edit is pure, unadulterated organization porn. The older I get, the more of an anal-retentive organization freak I become. Don’t let me into your house if you don’t want it cleaned!

I am truly offended that none of you has bought this for me yet.

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image via rolling stone

I caaaaannnnn’t stop listening to Cardi B‘s Invasion of Privacy. I need to go to Cardi B rehab. My favorite of her songs? Gosh, thanks for asking! Toss up between “I Like It” and “Moneybag.” I mean, come on with this line: “I said bae, it’s a snack / he said it’s a entrée / with them pretty-ass twins you look like Beyoncé.” INSPIRED.

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I didn’t wake up to watch the Royal Wedding, because 4am is too goddamn early, but don’t get it twisted—I’m all in. From the pics I’ve seen, I know Oprah and Serena Williams were there, the hats were fierce AF, and Rev. Michael Curry took everybody to church.

 

See you next week!

-c

Sunday Kind of Love

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My vacation in Florida this weekend was cancelled due to a f***ing Nor’easter, so of course, instead of enjoying myself in the sun, I’m bundled up in the Boston suburbs, miserably freezing my butt off. I did, however, give myself the gift of an extra-long weekend and a bottle of Rosé to comfort me in this dark time. So, when I have to, in the words of poet laureate Marshall Mathers, snap back to reality on Monday, here’s what I’ll be thinking about.

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  1. Should I give up paper towels? They’re my green cleaning vice, along with disposable sanitizing wipes.
  2. I’ve been consigning my clothes with thredUP this year, to amazing results. They make it so, so easy to purge your house and get a lil’ cashish in the process. I’ve made over $200 already, with almost no effort!
  3. I’ve been wishy-washy about this for well over a year. Should I finally actually try the Pomodoro Technique? I mean, it is named after the Italian word for tomato, so it’s right up my alley. Time management is NOT my strong suit.
  4. I went on a Society6 bath mat window-shopping spree. I have four in my cart right now: check them out here, here, here, and here. My new bathroom has a black-white-and-grey Parisian-inspired theme, but who says I can’t add tiny rugs to other parts of my house as well?
  5. Vacation is the best, but mostly because I get to read for pleasure! I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness this week. #YQY
  6. This article is #goals. I can’t walk out of Trader Joe’s without spending $150 on strange chip varieties.
  7. My level of jealously re: this closet is unacceptable.
  8. Full disclosure: I read Fifty Shades of Grey a few years ago when I was house-bound for a day. I watched the movie a year or so later, because it happened to be free on HBO. Now that the franchise has come to a close (probably), should I just read the other 2 books and watch the trilogy? I love trash, so I could probably spin it into my thesis topic or something.
  9. Did you all know that Ivy Park is still a thing at Nordstrom and TopShop? Now that I actually go to the gym, maybe it’s time…(Update: 100% just bought these.)

 

peace out, cub scouts! until next week,

c

A Weekend in Midtown Atlanta


It’s been 8 months since my long-weekend trip to Atlanta and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! Atlanta is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s a field guide from a total ATL rookie!

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport & MARTA


The Atlanta airport is a Delta hub, so the running joke is that if the devil himself had to fly back to Hell, he’d connect in Atlanta. The airport is massive, so big that it necessitates a “plane train” to take passengers between terminals. H-J also has the lovely tendency of switching arrival gates, often to different terminals, which can be a bit stressful.

I, of course, was actually flying to Atlanta, though, so I had a great experience navigating the airport. It’s best feature is that, when it spits you out at baggage claim, there’s a MARTA station right there that can get you anywhere in the city!

MARTA is Atlanta’s answer to the T or Metro, but possibly way better. The trains run frequently, are super clean (as public transit goes) and the lines are super simplified so it’s easy for a newbie to navigate the system. The only downsides are that the trains pretty much only converge at Five Points, so that station is, I’m sure, a nightmare, and that you have to tap your Breeze Card on exit as well as entry, just like BART. MARTA reminds me a lot of the Montreal Metro, just way less confusing.

The W Atlanta-Midtown


The W Hotel in Midtown is conveniently located between the Midtown and Arts Center stops on MARTA. I hopped off MARTA at Midtown, grabbed a cup from Dancing Goats, and booked it to the hotel to relieve myself of the two stuffed totes I was schlepping. I knew the W was a nice hotel, but holy smokes was it swanky! Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, so big ups to my friend, who treated us!


I know the field of working in a hotel is actually called Hospitality, but the staff at the W went above and beyond to be helpful and kind.


They also had a really nice lobby bar, where I finally got to try a Pisco Sour. So delicious–might be my new go-to.

The High Museum


Going to the High Museum was my #1 Atlanta priority and it did not disappoint! Designed by Richard Meier, the iconic AF architect who designed the Getty Center in LA, the High is a bright beautiful building filled with a stunning array of artworks, American, European, and African. I can’t wait to go back—there was an entire wing we didn’t have time to see!



The Margaret Mitchell House

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The Margaret Mitchell House was a must-do on my Atlanta list. My best friend (who accompanied me on the trip) and I had a movie-watching club with her dad when we were kids (because we were super cool), and Gone With the Wind was one of the stand-outs. I read the book in high school (so…eleven or twelve years ago….) and similarly adored it. There’s some controversy about the book glamorizing the antebellum period, but, in my extremely optimistic view, it’s a story of a strong woman doing what it takes to survive. Also, Margaret Mitchell was a badass journalist and proto-feminist who died in a car crash, so who doesn’t want to hear about that drama?

Café Intermezzo

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Cafe Intermezzo

We did brunch at Cafe Intermezzo on our last day in ATL, and I have exactly 2 words: savory. crepes. Intermezzo, as the name suggests, has super Italian vibes—there was an Italian movie playing while we were there (I heard it over the speakers in the bathroom, and the female lead sounded exactly like Isabella Rossellini). The food and cappuccinos were to die for, the staff was super nice, and the atmosphere was very European (or so I imagine, as someone who has never left North America).
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar

Dancing Goats was located right across from the Midtown MARTA stop, so I popped in on my way in and out of Atlanta. Since I didn’t spend much time here, I don’t have a ton to say, but the cold brew was good, they had bomb green iced tea, and the décor was sparse and right up my alley. More coffee shops need to adopt the minimalist menu trend! I don’t need the calorie count and every flavor under the sun listed. Just tell me lattes are $4 so I can get on with my life!

Revelator Coffee Company

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the revelator location in ponce city market

I’m dreaming….of a Revelator cold brew…

Revelator is so nice, I went there twice! Once on the Georgia Tech campus and once at Ponce. They have a super stripped down menu—no frappuccinos up in here! I also heard a rumor that they bought Wired Puppy in Boston, so I’ll catch y’all soon!

TAP: A Gastropub

TAP is so, so good. We went for Sunday brunch and it was (fortunately for us) deserted, so we got to enjoy our mimosas and breakfast quesadillas in peace. Also, we got loaded tater tots, because, let’s face it, when in Rome.  Can’t wait to go back and sample the rest of the menu!

South City Kitchen (Midtown)

Brunch goals, elevated. South City Kitchen was arguably the *most* Southern thing we did during our stay. I had grits, y’all.

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The Nook

We went to The Nook on our first night in ATL. It was right around the corner from our hotel, across from Piedmont Park, and it was the perfect low-key location to get the vacay started. I tried the “Atalanta” plum beer by Orpheus Brewing Company and it was amazing. Also, buffalo tater tot nachos. TOTCHOS.

Tamarind Seed

After 2 days of eating nothing but tater tots and cheese, my body was screaming for vegetables, so we decided on Thai for dinner. Midtown is (apparently) super quiet on Sunday nights, so we had a very peaceful meal on the patio of Tamarind Seed, which, unfortunately, is closed now. I will say, the food was excellent! I hope their renovations go smoothly and that they’re able to reopen!

Bar Margot


This place was the dreamiest. It’s located inside the Four Seasons hotel, and it’s probably the swankiest place we went during our stay.

I don’t know that it’s named after The Royal Tenenbaums, but if it isn’t, what a missed opportunity. The cocktails were inspired, the decor was gorgeous,

5Church


This bar was around the corner from The W, and it ended up being one of the best spots we hit during our stay. We went after our dinner at Tamarind Seed for dessert, drinks, and the Celtics game. The Verde cocktail was the dreamiest–it had Hendricks, lime, cilantro, and chili pepper–and the Vanilla Bavarian dessert was like key lime pie on steroids. Not to mention that the decor was stunning and modern, and the service was outstanding (although I am highly biased towards people who compliment my glasses). We just intended to pop in for a few minutes, but ended up staying because the TV was playing basketball (which I have never watched or cared about), but as a Boston native herself, my friend was really invested in the Celtics winning (which they did spectacularly in the last few seconds)!

P.S. 5Church contacted me on Instagram and asked to repost this shot, so hit them up on Insta and you might see a familiar handle!

The Establishment 

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This bar was located next to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try Saturday night around 11, to prove to ourselves that we weren’t 80-year-old women. (We are.)

This is a very cool spot, admittedly, but that was kind of the problem. It was packed, loud, and super dark. I think there was actually a wedding after-party happening while we were there. We were fighting to stay awake after our long day, but we gave our version of “going out to da club” a try, and I have to say the drinks were fab. I got a Negroni, because they were referenced on Master of None, and I actually love the borderline gross bitterness of Campari.

The decor at The Establishment was Old West-inspired–lots of burlap, rope, and barrels. Even the glassware was heavy and ornate, a very nice vintage nod. If I ever make it back to ATL, I’ll stop into this bar during the early evening so that I can actually hear my companion’s conversation.

Luckily, as we were finishing our drinks, the bar TVs started playing SNL, so after the cold open, we rushed back to the hotel to bid farewell to Bobby, Vanessa, and Sasheer.

Orpheus Brewing 

On our first night in Atlanta, at The Nook, we discovered local brewer, Orpheus Brewing, and their incomparable Atalanta Tart Plum Saison. It was so amazing that even I, who never drinks beer, couldn’t help but order one. A quick Google search let us know that the brewery itself was just across the park from where we were staying, so we set out on Sunday to take one of their tours and enjoy samples of all their varietals. (Can you say varietals about beer, or is that just a wine term?)

Unfortunately, after walking all the way across Piedmont Park to get to the brewery, they were closed for a private event, so we didn’t get to do the brewery tour. Super bummed! This is a must-do activity on my next trip down South!

Ponce City Market


I’d venture to call this the Faneuil Hall of Atlanta. It’s an outdoor mall (think lululemon and Madewell) and an indoor food hall with every type of cuisine imaginable. If I were a local, I anticipate that I’d find myself here a lot. I grabbed a Lyft down to Ponce on my last day to kill some time before my flight, and I’m really glad I checked it out. I ended up having a burrito and a margarita (because I’m predictable) while listening to Throwing Shade, a recent podcast obsession. Unfortunately, it was raining and generally crappy out all Monday, so apart from the umbrella I bought, I wasn’t able to do much shopping.

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All in all, Atlanta was a total blast! It’s definitely true that we only saw a teeny tiny slice of what the city has to offer, but that’s just a reason to go back!