My Very First Primark Haul

I'm in Brighton right now and I went to Primark for the first time last week! I decided to shoot a Primark haul video (along with some other purchases), even though my lighting and Macbook camera aren't great!

How to Pack for a Summer Abroad

Sorry I've been absent lately, but you'll have to forgive me as I have a pretty good excuse. I'm in England right now! My best friend, Stefanie, and I left the States last Friday and got to Brighton mid-day Saturday. We're studying here at the university for four weeks before spending a week in London.

Packing was so incredibly stressful (honestly, 50 pounds just isn't enough) and there are so few posts discussing how to pack for an extended trip abroad in the summer. So I figured I could share with you what I brought to give you some ideas if you're packing for your own trip! 

I had a bit of a challenge because I needed to pack for class, sight-seeing, hanging out in Brighton, potentially going to the beach, and being in London. All in one 50-pound suitcase, one backpack, and one carry-on duffel! 

I brought my school L. L. Bean backpack and this Forever 21 faux leather duffel.
I brought these for shopping and carrying things about 
My Kate Spade bag, my Fossil bag, and a Forever 21 bag
(that I actually switched out for a different one last minute)

I brought eight dresses total: 5 casual ones and 3 more dressy ones (including the black sheath I'll wear to the British Celebrity party the school is throwing; I'm going as Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"!)

(I've no idea why this picture is turned the wrong way!)
I brought 4 crop tops (to pair with skirts), 4 nice t-shirts, 2 black tank tops, and three sheer shirts. 

I brought 4 high-waisted skirts (including my new blue lace one that you may recognize from my haul video), 1 pair of high waisted dark jeans, 1 pair of high waisted light wash lightly-ripped jeans, 1 pair of high waisted jean shorts, and 1 pair of drawstring pants. 

For working out and hanging out in my room, I brought 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of yoga pants, and 1 pair of Lulu Lemon cropped yoga pants. I brought 4 t-shirts and 1 tank top, as well, in addition to two sweatshirts and my beloved flannel. 

 I only brought my trench coat and my jean jacket because jackets take up a lot of space and weigh a lot! I wore the jean jacket on the plane so it didn't take up weight in my suitcase. I brought 3 camis, 2 pairs of biker shorts (to go under dresses and skirts), a bandeau, 2 pairs of tights, 2 pairs of leggings, and the grey tank top tunic that I wore on the plane. I brought 3 PJ tops, 2 PJ shorts, and a pair of PJ pants to mix-and-match. I also brought two swimsuits and a maxi dress (to be a cover-up) in case Stefanie drags me down to the beach to hang out on a warm day.

I thought that picking shoes would be the hardest part of packing, but I actually decided which ones to bring while in the car one day, just thinking about what I wear the most and which are the most sensible and versatile. I brought my combat boots for rainy days (I wore them on the plane), my black wedge sneakers (for walking), my sneakers (for working out), my flip flops (for walking over to Stef's building), and my gladiator sandals for everyday wear. I brought two pairs of comfy low heels because I'm a shortie and love to wear heels (even to class and to walk around town) and my pair of black flats that look a bit like pointe shoes. 

I didn't think you'd all care to see my cosmetics or school stuff or other odds-and-ends. In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this and that it might be helpful to you! In a few months, hopefully, I'll take you along while I figure out how to pack for spending the entire spring abroad!  

New York City: Day Four

Our fourth and final day in the lovely city of New York started with a long walk. Perhaps it wouldn't have been that long a walk, but we took a wrong turn and then had to back-track. Thankfully, I love walking around in the city! At least we got to walk past Radio City Music Hall, which Hannah and I freaked out over a bit. It was so crazy to see it on the Tonys recently, after having been there myself. 

Our first stop was the Museum of Modern Art. I'm not typically a huge fan of modern art (Impressionism is about as late as I go), but Hannah wanted to see all of the paintings that she'd studied in her art class. I did get pretty excited over an iconic Andy Warhol and a helicopter that reminded me of Miss Saigon. The restaurant there is lovely and I had a delicious prosciutto panini. 

Thanks to a tweet from my friend Christina, I realized that Corey Cott (current Jack Kelley in Newsies), Liana Hunt (current Katherine Plumber in Newsies), and Ben Fankhauser (original Davey in Newsies) were working at Schmackary's for a few hours as part of Broadway Bakes. Schmackary's does Broadway Bakes, in which different Broadway actors sell cookies at Schmackary's for a few hours, to  raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Incredible cookies plus the chance to see Corey Cott again? Of course we went! (My parents were perhaps even more keen on the idea than I was.) 
Corey Cott photobombed my selfie with Liana!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the Imperial Theatre one last time where we all took photos with the posters. This is sadly the closest I got to a selfie with Ramin Karimloo on this trip.
Benefits of Poster Ramin: You can stroke his face without it being (incredibly) weird
We ate dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, where my dad loves seeing all of the guitars and I was quite excited to find one of Billy Joel's motorcycles. After that, we had to go to the M&M store (I made a bag of M&Ms in my school colors) before heading back to the hotel to pack up to return home the next morning.

This concludes my series of New York City posts. We had a fabulous time and I can't wait to return to the city (in hopefully not too long). If you have any questions about recommendations for what to see or eat, you can ask me in the comments or tweet me @barricadegirl. 

My First Video: Target, Forever 21, & Sephora Haul

Do you ever find a vlogger and then watch all their videos at once? No? Just me? Okay.

I am quickly making my way through every single one of Zoella's hauls. So she inspired me to make one of my one. You'll have to excuse the shoddy quality as I filmed using my Macbook camera and didn't do any editing (I've got a class in the fall that will teach me how to do editing so I can make better videos!).

In any case, I went to Forever 21, Target, and Sephora today and wanted to share with you all what I bought. Hope you enjoy!

New York City: Day Three

Our third day in New York City started off with the walk from our hotel (in Times Square) to Rockefeller Center. At the restaurant there, I had a delicious "PB&J French Toast." 

After brunch, we walked to the American Girl Doll Store for Hannah to shop and explore. I was absolutely enchanted by the redheaded Bitty Baby! After months of saving up, Hannah bought herself Caroline, whose stories are set during the War of 1812. (I have to admit that I'm impressed; I didn't even know about the War of 1812 at her age and I'm a history major!)
I convinced my parents to walk to Schmackary's because I'd heard so many good things about it. It was even better than I expected! They have so many types of cookies, with flavors like Red Velvet and Maple Bacon. I had a funfetti cookie and it was out-of-this-world delicious. (They ship nationally, so I know what I'm telling my parents I want for my birthday in September).

We belatedly realized that it was our last chance to retry stage-dooring Les Mis (it was raining and gross the day we saw the show) because they don't have shows on Monday. So we practically ran from our hotel to the theatre in time to catch Kyle Scatliffe (Enjolras), Andrew Kober (Innkeeper/Ensemble/Star of Vlogger 24601), Caissie Levy (Fantine), and Nikki James (Eponine). We weren't close enough to the barricades to get pictures with them, but we did get autographs! They were all super sweet; Kyle called Hannah "sweetheart" and she still hasn't stopped talking about it! I'm still terribly upset that we missed Will Swenson, Chris McCarrell, and Samantha Hill though.
That's Hannah's head in corner of all these pictures.
I'm absolutely obsessed with Pret-A-Manger and I sincerely hope to move to a city with Prets once I graduate. After dinner, we walked a block to Magnolia Bakery, home of the famous cupcakes. They were delicious! 

Friday Internet Finds

1. Who else watched the Tony Awards? Tony Award Night is my third favorite night of the year (after Christmas Eve night and Christmas night). Vogue put together a lovely slideshow of some of the red carpet looks; Idina Menzel's was definitely my favorite!

2. Buzzfeed made a "Could You Pass Your 'Harry Potter' Potions O.W.L.?" quiz. I was so happy to find out that I would!

3. This Thought Catalog article about "8 Guys You Must Never Fall in Love With" is pretty spot-on.

4. Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere wrote a beautiful post on Faux Calligraphy. I definitely want to try it out!

5. The little girl in me loves looking at wedding dresses...and these three are gorgeous!

New York City: Day Two

Our second day in New York was dedicated entirely to theatre, as I would prefer all days to be. We saw the matinee of Les Miserables and then went back to the hotel to change clothes and eat room service food, before heading out to see the evening show of The Phantom of the Opera.

Les Miserables
With Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, Andy Mientus, Samantha Hill, & Kyle Scatliffe 
The Imperial Theatre
Les Miserables
With Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, Andy Mientus, Samantha Hill, Nikki James, & Kyle Scatliffe 

It’s no secret that Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals. The day that it was announced that Ramin was cast as Jean Valjean, my mom and I agreed that we had to take a trip up to New York to see him. I was a bit nervous about seeing the Broadway production, as I’m so fond of the West End production and had a fantastic cast last summer when I saw it. However, the Broadway production is definitely well-worth seeing.

I absolutely adore Ramin Karimloo but I was still incredibly floored by his performance as Valjean. I heard some audios from his run in London and he is infinitely better now. One thing that he is particularly good at is showing the different stages in Valjean’s life (convict, mayor, father, dying man). I am a huge fan of Will Swenson as a person, but I was rather disappointed by his Javert. I didn’t get much of a sense of a character from him. He seemed too harsh and almost seemed like more of a commentary on police brutality than someone with a personality. Caissie Levy is an incredible Fantine. There’s no other way to put it. She showed that Fantine had a certain fire--a feistiness-that made it believable that she would survive as long as she did. She’s quite obviously a fighter and her death scene was stunning.

Samantha Hill and Andy Mientus were adorable as Cosette and Marius. For the first time, I cared not only about them as characters but about their love story! They’re both so absolutely cute and it made Marius and Cosette one of the best parts of the whole show. Nikki James was a fairly good actress as Eponine, but her vocals were terrible in my opinion. Her vocal quality doesn’t seem suited to the show. Also, Chris McCarrell is the absolute cutest ensemble member ever. 

Overall, a super great show and I’m so glad we saw it. I’m kind of in love with the entire cast because they’re all lovely. But overall, I really do prefer the West End production.

The Phantom of the Opera 
With Norm Lewis, Sierra Boggess, and Jeremy Hays
A poster outside the Majestic Theatre

I saw The Phantom of the Opera last march with Hugh Panaro and Sierra Boggess, at Sierra’s last performance (of that run). Seeing it again was absolutely incredible! Some of you may know Norm Lewis from the TV show, Scandal, or from the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert (he played Javert). He’s the first African-American to play the Phantom on Broadway, which is a huge achievement in itself.

Norm was absolutely lovely. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about him in the role, as I’m so used to Ramin or Hugh. He managed to pull off a Phantom that was warm, but dignified. However, I felt that perhaps he wasn’t dangerous enough. I never really felt afraid of him, only sorry for him. He was brilliant in the first half of the Final Lair--all nervous energy, lots of hand wringing and biting sarcasm. The second half fell a bit flat, compared to John Owen Jones or Ramin, as I didn’t feel quite enough despair. Overall, I thought he did well acting-wise and very well singing-wise. 

Sierra was wonderful as always. She definitely plays a more mature Christine now than she did at the time of the 25th Anniversary concert. Her interactions with Norm were great and she played off of Jeremy Hays well too. Her vocals are absolutely stunning and her dancing was quite impressive as well. However, I felt that she wasn’t at her best this time--but maybe I’m spoiled from seeing her last show of her last run (her Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again was absolutely heart-wrenching that time). However, her Christine is definitely one that understands the full consequences of her actions and one that I believe would go on to live a happy life with Raoul. 

Jeremy Hays played a very dignified Raoul. While he was warm towards Christine, I never forgot that he was a nobleman. He didn’t have that I’m-trying-to-be-noble-but-heck-I’m-so-excited-to-see-Christine vibe that Hadley Fraser gives off as Raoul or Killian Donnelly’s youthful excitement, but he had an interesting take on the character. He definitely showed in “Notes/Twisted Every Way” that Raoul feels that the only way they can ever escape from the Phantom and have a happy life is to make Christine sing in Dom Juan. I felt the sense of a man who is willing to try anything and who thinks this plan may be their last hope, which was nice. Overall, a very solid Raoul that I absolutely felt could take down the Phantom but not one that I was particularly attracted or attached to. 

The rest of the ensemble was good, though I still think Wendy Ferguson’s Carlotta is my favorite. We had the understudy Madame Giry and she was quite good. Our Meg was very lovely: spirited, lively, and gorgeous (a worthy best friend for Christine and clearly a rising star herself). The show itself is magnificent with the chandelier and moving statue and everything. Our seats (side orchestra) were incredible as we could see the actors’ faces and their every emotion. 

Phantom has a lovely cast that works very well together and I would definitely recommend seeing it if you’re a fan of the show!
Stage Door with Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess

Stage door was certainly crowded! Jeremy Hays was reserved, but nice. Sierra was lovely though she obviously had a lot on her mind. I can’t believe I got a picture with her! She’s even prettier in person and her hair was just gorgeous. It took Norm Lewis about a half hour to come out (obviously getting the makeup off isn't easy), but when he did he thanked everyone for waiting for him. He seemed surprised to see so many people; he’s incredibly humble! He took a lot of time, signing things for everybody and took pictures with me and my sister and then one with my mum too. He’s very tall and incredibly handsome in person (much more than in video!). He’s absolutely the nicest person and if you see Phantom, you should definitely take the time to stage door to see him. 

Friday Internet Finds

Hi everyone! We're finally back to regularly scheduled Friday Internet Finds posts. By the time this is published, I'll be at the zoo with friends. (We're totally grown up, hush.) Then, I'm off to the beach for the weekend. What are your weekend plans?

1. For anyone who wants to get more involved with the fashion field, this round-up of common fashion vocabulary is totally useful. I finally learned the difference between "relaxed" and "oversize."

2. This "9 Style Rules Every Working Woman Should Follow" post might be helpful to those of you with jobs or internships this summer. I'm definitely filing it away for future reference.

3. I was super happy when I took this "Which Queen Bee Are You?" quiz and got Blair Waldorf. It totally confirmed my belief that I need to start watching Gossip Girl as soon as possible.

4. Hello Giggles is an adorable website and I especially love this "10 Underrated Qualities that are Ridiculously Attractive" article. (#8 is so true!)

5. This Thought Catalog "25 Things Every Woman Should Have By the Time She Turns 25" article is super inspiring. #newlifegoals

New York City: Day One

We were supposed to get to New York Thursday night, but all flights out of RDU airport to NYC were canceled. So, we got on an early flight Friday morning and were at our hotel in the heart of Times Square by 11 am.
Seeing a Les Mis cab as soon as we got there felt like a good sign.
Once we checked in, we headed out into the city and to Eataly. Eataly is a huge Italian store filled with markets (for cheese, bread, meats, seafood, anything!) and restaurants. Both times we've been to the Pizza and Pasta restaurant, I got the homemade gnocchi with lamb ragu, which is absolutely delicious. We also had to visit the brand new Nutella bar, which has pastries and cookies filled with Nutella -- perfection! I would definitely recommend grabbing a meal at Eataly next time you're in NYC.
Our next stop was Zara, but on the way there, I spotted a Club Monaco and darted in before anyone could stop me. I had been mourning that I would never get to see the collaboration between Club Monaco and Emily Schuman (of Cupcakes and Cashmere) in person, but I did! And let me tell you, these pieces are beautiful and oh-so-soft.
Club Monaco & Emily Schuman collaboration 
Club Monaco & Emily Schuman collaboration
We finally made it to Zara and once there, I never wanted to leave. The three most prominent trends I noticed (which were confirmed by my recent trip to H&M) were Hawaiian prints, high-waisted shorts/skirts, and overalls. I purchased a beautiful red midi skirt that I can't wait to pair with striped shirts.
Hawaiian print trend
Me at Zara!
After Zara, we caught a taxi back to the hotel, ordered some room service, and got ready to see Newsies! Full review (and talk about stage door!) is under the cut, but let me say that it's an incredible show and it was so great to see an alumni from my school on Broadway. If you are in New York and only have time to see one show, I would definitely recommend picking Newsies.
Stage Door of Newsies with John Michael Fiumara, Corey Cott, and Adam Kaplan

We Conquered the Mall

In the next few days, I'll be posting about my recent trip to NYC. But first, I wanted to share some recent purchases. Priya and I went to the mall on Friday and I finally found what I've been searching for: a rain-ready purse, a floral skater skirt, and crop tops galore!

At Charlotte Russe, I finally found a plain black crop top; the fact that it was just $8 made my find even better. I also found a panda iPhone 4/4S case for just $0.99. I buy any inexpensive 4S cases I find because I have a bad habit of cracking cases and the 4S ones are becoming harder to find.

I found this beautiful floral skater skirt at Forever 21. I'm so excited to wear it with my new black crop top! I was so happy to see this rose print makeup bag; roses are my favorite flower and I need something to keep my makeup in for my travels this summer. Finally, I've been searching for a cross-body bag to use when it's raining and I don't want to risk hurting my nicer leather bags. This black satchel one is perfect and was just $20.

H&M has the cutest tops right now! Their striped crop tops are perfect for pairing with solid colored skirts or high-waisted shorts--I loved it so much, I bought it in two colors! The polka dot crop-top blouse reminds me of something Taylor Swift would wear. And a French minor can't possibly pass up a shirt with pink Eiffel Towers on it. ;) (Unfortunately, neither of these shirts are on H&M's website.) 

In addition to these mall finds, my TopShop bikini finally came in the mail. It's incredibly comfortable and provides just the right amount of coverage. I love the retro look of it; can't wait to wear it at the beach next weekend! 

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