Off the Shoulder

A lightweight silk tank should be considered a summer staple. This one is the first I've ever owned and I'm a fan. Bonus points for the off-the-shoulder detail which is kind one of the biggest trends this summer.

I've written about the Farleigh slim mom jeans from ASOS before; I liked them so much that I bought another pair. These are the most perfect summery light-wash. Even though I got them in the same size as my other pair, they fit a bit looser for some reason, which I kind of like. I had also purchased a pair in black (which I ended up returning) but they were way too tight on me. So if you're looking to pick up a pai rof these, just a word of advice that the sizing is a bit inconsistent. Good thing ASOS has super easy and free returns!

Silk cami, Free People (sold out). Farleigh slim mom jeans, Asos. Lace choker, Forever 21 (similar here). Georgia mini shoulder bag, Chloé. Tan suede strappy sandals, Banana Republic (on sale!)

London, UK

The Ultimate Afternoon Tea Experience in London

While in London last month, I had the pleasure of having afternoon tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason. I've always been a huge lover of afternoon tea, so the idea of having afternoon tea in England where the tradition originated had me excited enough to wanna spontaneously combust. If we were only going to have afternoon tea once in London, we had to do it right! So I researched all of the best and most famous places. Just kidding. My friend recommended Fortnum & Mason and I was like "OMG that sounds amazing!" and that was that.

I went with a group of friends, so some of us ordered the "Savoury Afternoon Tea" and some of us ordered the regular "Afternoon Tea" (which comes with sweets instead of savouries) so that we could try a bit of everything. The main thing to know about the afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason, and the point that sold me on it, is that yes it is on the pricey side at £44-£48 a person, but it's essentially all-you-can-eat! Anything you like, you can ask them to bring more of. Furthermore, at the end of the meal, you get to choose a slice of cake from the cake carriage!

Fortnum & Mason has been selling tea for over three centuries, so instead of going with my usual standby choice of "English Breakfast" (although it was super tempting to actually have it in England for the first time), I decided to try the "Royal Blend." No regrets but they do allow you to switch tea blends if you so desire.

These are the savouries we got. I've seen pictures of some different ones on Yelp so maybe the menu changes seasonally. There's a wild mushroom puff with truffle, English asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, savoury choux with smoked salmon tartare, lobster and egg mayonnaise, and pea panna cotta with quail egg and cheese straw. The Savoury afternoon tea also comes with savoury scones; we got a cheddar cheese onion scone and a Portland crab scone. Surprisingly, those were pretty good, and I didn't mind the fishy spread that was served with them at all.

The tea sandwiches: smoked salmon, coronation chicken, cucumber and mint with creamcheese, honeyroast ham with mustard, and rare breed hen's egg salad. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with the sandwiches as the fillings were so sparse and the bread was a bit stale. I was expecting tea sandwiches in England to blow me away, but I've definitely had much better in the States.

The presentation of the pea panna cotta with quail egg and cheese straw was so pretty, but the taste was overwhelmingly green and vegetably. Something to try once and never again in my opinion haha.

This is the regular afternoon tea, served with individual patisserie rather than savouries, and regular scones with clotted cream, lemon curd, and fruit preserves (not pictured).

I never think these types of little sweets are very tasty, but it's fun and interesting to try.

The cake carriage...we were so stuffed by this point that we didn't even all get a slice! We just shared a few instead:

Bag Charms: Accessories for Your Accessory

Have you noticed that bag charms are all the rage lately? I picked these up from Nordstrom a while back and I've been wearing them possibly a little too much! It might seem a little weird to some to accessorize your accessory, but personalization and making something "your own" are what it's all about right now. Whether it's a stitched monogram or some pins and patches or a cute little keychain on your purse, seems like designers and retailers are banking on customers wanting to add a special little extra touch to their wardrobe pieces. Maybe this is the backlash response to the popularity of "normcore" style a few seasons ago? Whatever it is, I can get on board with adding a cute little pom pom poof to my bag, especially for a fun pop of color. It's no secret I love pom poms and tassels anyway (speaking of which, that's why I couldn't resist these platform espadrilles from Soludos!)

If you're feeling the bag charm trend too, I've linked a ton of cute options below, including some super cute ones that go beyond your basic puff! I'm now considering another purchase, in fact. I totally need this one for Pokemon Go hunting!

Outfit details Eyelet shift dress, Forever 21. Canvas military jacket, Banana Republic (sold out). Platform gladiator espadrilles with tassels, Soludos. Black mini bucket bag, Mansur Gavriel (available for pre-order). Pom pom bag charms, Ted Baker and Topshop.

Shop the trend:

A Gender-Neutral Bed

So I'm an engaged woman now (have been for over six months!) and this period of time before we officially merge our lives together is all about figuring out how exactly we are going to do that. When it comes to bedding, I've always gravitated towards florals prints and pinks in the past, but I have to consider the both of us now and don't want to subject my fiancé to anything overly girly. Thus, I set about creating a more "gender-neutral" set. UO Home always has a great selection of bedding and cute little housewares, but I had to force myself to skip past all the pretty pink things that would normally catch my eye unfortunately.

Instead I went for an ivory-colored base with the Tufted Dot duvet cover (speaking of which, though, that ROSE color??? Major heart eyes) and matching shams, and decided to opt for grayish accents. I figure having white-bedding is a pretty good idea in case I ever want to shoot a flat-lay or something. I couldn't resist a little pom-pom action (sorry, my fiancé will just have to deal!) and also got this cute, hipstery embroidered throw pillow (now sold out) to kind of tie everything together. As a current, trendy item, I got this cheeky "Good Vibes" throw pillow. Can never have enough good vibes!

What do you think? Did I succeed in creating a "gender-neutral" bed?

Shop the post:

Skaftafell, Iceland

Icelandic Adventure: Skaftafell to Vik

Svartifoss Waterfall in Skaftafell national park
Svartifoss waterfall

So, after we left Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón, we made our way west on Ring Road (AKA Route 1) towards Vik, visiting some sights along the way. We had a pretty action-packed day (made even longer when we took a 2-hour detour for cheeseburgers), but that's how you make the most out of 21 hours of sunshine (well sunshine is a little bit of a misnomer--it's mostly cloudy with a chance of rainbows). Yes, Iceland is one of the few places on Earth that experiences midnight sun for some handful of weeks each summer! Assuming the sun does come out. The sun would basically set around midnight and then rise again around 3 am while we were there. In between, it would get dusky but never dark!

This is a random waterfall we saw from the highway and stopped to check out. It was next to a construction site for a Fosshotel ("waterfall hotel") so I'm not even sure if it was public property or not. Seems like there is a lot of construction going on in Iceland and with tourism booming, it may be vastly different in a few years. There are so many great waterfalls in Iceland that it's easy to feel a bit desensitized to how amazing they are. Obviously there are your famous ones that are packed with tourists each summer (to be covered in future posts), but there are other many lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path ones that are equally as amazing!

Hofskirkja, Iceland's last turf church Our next stop was to use the potty! Jökulsárlón does charge about $2 to use the restroom so it was a good thing that most of us were able to wait until the next stop. In the small little village of Hof, visible from Ring Road, is Iceland's last turf church, Hofskirkja (translation: church of Hof). It was built in 1884 and is one of six churches in Iceland that is preserved as a national monument, and is still a functioning church as well. There's a small restroom maintained for public use right next to it so if you need to use the restroom, this is a better place than most to stop (although I was quite impressed with how clean Icelandic restrooms are in general--so much better than the US). Like most villages in Iceland, Hof is really tiny, so you can't miss the church.

Creepy older pictures I saw of Hofskirkja, there were these cute, mysterious little mounds next to it. The crosses seem to be a newer addition as it is now obvious that they mark graves. Not so cute after all but still pretty cute as far as graves go, hah.

The next stop was one of the main attractions of the day, a hike to the famous Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park (now considered a part of the larger Vatnajokull National Park). It's considered an "easy" approximately 3-mile roundtrip hike, but it is mostly uphill getting there so we definitely worked up a sweat! Especially since the sun really started shining while we were hiking. And I was wearing a sweater with nothing underneath. I broke the number one rule of Iceland: always dress in layers! Nevertheless, it was a very green, pleasant, and beautiful hike, and we were well-rewarded when we reached the waterfall.

View of Svartifoss from a distance Our first view of Svartifoss from a distance.

Svartifoss is famous for it's black columns of basalt! A very unique-looking waterfall. I wish we had more time to explore some of the other trails in the park, but in the interest of time, we had to get a move-on.

Our next stop--a famous canyon called Fjaðrárgljúfur! So famous in fact, you might recognize it from Justin Bieber's music video for I'll Show You," which was filmed entirely in Iceland. Fjaðrárgljúfur is definitely a bit more secluded as it is a short ways off of Ring Road and there aren't really any signs pointing the way. Which meant, we more or less had the place to ourselves. To get there, you take Road No. F206 near Kirkjubæjarklaustur, which is a bumpy dirt road (F roads in Iceland denote four-wheel drive recommendation or maybe requirement). Side note: getting insurance on your car rental is a very good idea. Although Ring Road is paved all the way around, many other roads are not. We ended up needing our insurance for a chip on the windshield!

The mouth of the canyon.

The path by the canyon is pretty extensive and like most places in Iceland, there is this feeling that there is always more to be explored; there are few dead ends. You could easily spend a day exploring. It's wild yet pristine, natural and largely untamed.

I think my wannabe wilderness explorer fiancé would've been happy to spend the whole day climbing around this canyon, but as I had to remind him, the hour was getting quite late in spite of it still being light out! We still had about an hour's drive before we reached Vik and I hoped to make a stop at the lava field along the way.

Unfortunately we ended up missing the lava fields because we couldn't find a good place to pull over and by the time we had driven through it, we were too tired to turn around. But, I am pretty bummed I didn't get a good picture of this otherworldly sight. The picture above is one that I took from the car. The lava field between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Vik has moss-covered lava from the 1783 volcano eruption of Laki. From 1783-1784, Laki erupted over an 8-month period, pouring out basalt lava and enough poisonous fumes to kill off over half of Iceland's livestock population and subsequently, nearly a quarter of their human population through famine. It also caused a global drop in temperatures, along with crop failures and droughts around the world which killed an estimated 6 million people. It's crazy to see this last remnant of that catastrophic event and witness how permanently it has changed the landscape.

At the very end of the lava fields area (if you are driving from east to west on Ring Road) is a site called Laufskalavarda. It reminds me of the little troll "love experts" from Frozen (I have a 2-year old niece who is obsessed ok!) seeing all these mystical little rocks.

laufskalavarda cairns So the story goes that there was a farm called Laufskalar that was destroyed in an 894 volcano eruption and in its place is a lava mound now called "Laufskalavarda" or "cairns of Laufskalar." When travelers pass this lava mound for the first time, they are supposed to add a stone to a cairn (rock pile) for good luck on their journey. Don't know how much I believe this story as it seems a bit far-fetched. Seems more likely a meeting place for trolls or other "hidden folk," don't you think? Fact: more than half of Icelanders believe in the existence of "huldufólk" or hidden people--elves, trolls, fairies, etc. Visiting Iceland though, it is not difficult to understand why.

Check back next week for another installment in my Icelandic adventure!