Europe for dummies...I mean for me.

Before I left for Europe, I made a list of the ten things that I thought might be important regarding my trip. Here's how that worked out for me:

1.) I called my cell phone carrier and made sure my phone would work in Europe, had them activate it for international calling, bought a 10 day package to make international calls, and learned how to shut off international data roaming.

This was a good idea. I only wish that the instructions for enabling the international calls had been a little more thorough. I couldn't make calls for the first 3 days, because I couldn't figure out how to, and I had no way of calling anyone to ask. I ended up using Skype whenever I had access to wi-fi to call my husband...and my dogs. 


This picture is here because it's cool. It doesn't have anything to do with this blog post, except I took it in Europe and there should be a picture here to break up all of these words and stuff.


2.) I exchanged my money here. Everyone told me to wait until I got to Europe, but here's the thing: I don't know what I'm getting into over there. I don't speak the language, I don't know where ATMs are, I don't want to spend valuable super-fun-Europe-time hunting down cash machines...I just want to get there and go. So I exchanged my money here. 

This was also a good idea. There were exchanges everywhere and I couldn't tell which ones were legit, and which ones weren't and nearly every one that I saw seemed to charge a pretty high percentage to exchange money.

3.) I put travel notices on all of my credit cards, so they wouldn't think my overseas purchases were fraudulent. 

This is a must, but I still ended up with a fraud alert and a freeze on my credit card when I used an ATM a few cities away from one of my planned destinations...when I was lost...in the Czech Republic...with no money (can't use Euros in the Czech Republic)...in a train station in the middle of nowhere...speaking English...in a city where no one understood anything I said...and my phrase book didn't cover Czech.  By the way, 2,000 Czech koruna is equal to around $9.00 US and it will cost you $10.00 to withdraw that amount, and then you can use that money to buy a weird boiled egg sandwich. In case you were wondering.

4.) I booked hostels in different cities for our entire vacation, based entirely on reviews, and no real knowledge of the cities we're visiting. Adventure, you guys!

The Meininger Hostel/Hotel in Brussels. It was beautiful.


Again, this worked out really, really well. Every hostel we stayed in was a winner. I do wish I would have done a little more research into the destinations. 

5.) I declined every offer of assistance getting around Europe. I appreciate that someone has an aunt in Brussels that would be willing to show me around, but I'm just not that keen on being on someone else's schedule. Like the whole ATM thing, I just want to get there and go, but at my own pace.

We ended up having a tour guide for one day in Prague, and it was pretty great. I still liked the days without a guide, but we lucked out in having someone show us around who was really personable and easy to get along with.


Thanksgiving in Prague, with our new friend Marketa! In Prague, Thanksgiving is known as...Thursday.



6.) I have a European phrasebook. I can't pronounce anything except "Ich Bien Ein Auslander" which means "I am a foreigner." I didn't learn this from my phrasebook. I learned this back in my days as a cage dancer in an industrial club...true story. It's a song and it's the only German I know, and I just keep saying it over and over again.

The European phrasebook was pretty useless. Mostly because it's really hard to memorize 4 languages in 10 days, and pointing at things works better than frantically trying to find how to say what you want in a book. However, I'd still take it again. Just in case.

7.) I printed out all of my emergency contact information for my husband and my traveling companions, clearly marked it "EMERGENCY CONTACTS" and put copies of it everywhere. If I fall into a canal, somebody will know who to call. Unless the paper gets wet. In which case, I hope the water isn't too deep. Or infested with sharks. And alligators.

I didn't die or get Taken or anything, so I don't know if this was a good idea. I assume it was. My husband wanted me to get Taken so that when the Taken-ers called him, he could tell them he had "a very particular set of skills" which is true - he does...except if I get taken I don't think being really good at restoring antique fans or photographing owls is going to save me. I mean...I don't think so. Maybe. Probably not.




8.) We're staying in hostels, so I brought an extra blanket and some toilet paper. I mean...I've never stayed in a hostel before, and I don't like to be cold and toilet paper...well...I'm probably going to pee at some point.

The blanket was a good call - one of our rooms was really cold. Everywhere we went had toilet paper, so that was unnecessary.

9.) I pre-posted scheduled facebook/twitter/blog posts for every business that I own and/or manage social media accounts for. Vacation should not mean disappearing. If all goes well, no one should even notice I'm gone. I mean...except for the fact that I just told you I'm not here. I mean, I'm here, I wrote this here, today, but when you see it, today will be yesterday and I'll be over there instead of here. Obviously.

This was also a good idea and ended up working perfectly. I was ahead while I was gone. Now that I'm back, I'm behind. Basically, I should plan like I'm going on vacation all of the time.

10.) I bailed out of everything I'm supposed to do the day I come back. I hope I don't have jet lag, but if I do, I want to be prepared. 

I have hardcore jet lag. I didn't even realize what jet lag was until I had it, and just so you know, it sucks. My sleep schedule is ten different kinds of screwed up, and I can't seem to get it back in order.

Oh, hey, look, it's 4 am and I'm wide awake but exhausted, again, because jet lag.




When I go to Europe again - because I'm absolutely going again - here's what I'm going to do differently:

1.) Pack less. You just don't need that much stuff and it's a giant pain in the ass to cart around a gigantic suitcase. No blowdryer, no extra shoes, no dresses, smaller blanket.

2.) Research the food. I wanted to try regional food, but I had no idea what I was ordering, ever, and a couple of times that really went bad for me.

I ordered goulash and dumplings, you guys! Guess what? I hate goulash and dumplings!

3.) Duolingo - Knowing even ten phrases would have been helpful

4.) More time in each city. We did a new city every other day, which meant that we were on trains quite a bit and were very tired and sore when we arrived to our next destination.

5.) Sign up for street art/urban garden tours. The street art was amazing and there are tons of options for alternative tours throughout Europe. I found a bunch on my own - I would have loved to have seen more.





6.) Dramamine. Turns out I get train sick.

7.) Stay longer. 10 days was great, but if I could ever work it out, I'd like to do 15 - 30 days.

8.) Go in warmer weather. I didn't mind the cold too much at first, but when everything you want to see is outside, it can be a little brutal after several hours.

No big deal. Just freezing in Berlin.


9.) Look into the history of the cities I'm visiting. The Charles Bridge was amazing...but I still don't know anything about it, other than the fact that it's beautiful.

The upside to being wide awake at 4 am, is that you get the Charles Bridge pretty much to yourself.

10.) Buy a weird German sweater. Seriously. I saw about 10 that I wanted. I don't know why I didn't get one. They were so weirdly amazing.

In the absence of a weird German sweater, I would totally take this skyscraper sloth sweatshirt. For Christmas. Do you need my address? I'm a medium.


Coming up next  - a city by city breakdown...the cost, the food, lodging, the best parts, the worst parts and the weird parts...

How to Create Your Own Vision Board: Part 1


Jessica is off on a European adventure, so today's post is brought to you by Hey Lola intern, Mariah!





So I bought a white board about a month (or so) ago with the purpose to create a vision board. Mind you, I have never made a vision board before but it seems to be a fun project, plus the purpose of a vision board is pretty legit. I even have my board theme already: a mantra, “Health, Wealth, Love, & Perfect Self Expression.” Cute, right? So why the heck is it taking me so long to make this freaking board!? Turns out I actually have no idea what I’m doing! So I did my research.



(image source here)

·         What is a vision board? A vision board is a poster board filled with pictures, quotes, anything really that will inspire you to do better. Most folks use a vision board as a visual map-out of their life goals. The point of the vision board is to ultimately achieve the goals you posted on your board.

·         STEP 1: PLAN

o   Write down your vision – in the words of Erykah Badu, “Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch shit get real.”
o   Believe in your vision – sit down and honestly ask yourself what it is you want and what you CAN do to get there. With that being said,
o   Make specific, attainable goals – Use pictures to portray your specific goals. My goal is to limit my sugar intake. I’ll probably use a picture of a soda pop can with a red X through it on my board as a reminder to cut down my sugar intake by not drinking pop.


(image source unknown)


·         STEP 2: Get the Right Materials, for example:

o   A pile of magazines
o   Scissors
o   A stick of glue (or tape.. or rubber cement…. Something sticky)
o   Markers
o   Glitter, stickers, fabric - anything that will make your vision board attention grabbing 


(image source unknown)

·         STEP 3: Create your board, aka the fun part!

o   Use effective images – it’s easy to take a pretty picture. Choose pictures that speak to you. I chose Oprah because to me she represents a woman who came from nothing and turned nothing into everything.
o   Write out captions as reminders of what the pictures mean to you.

·         STEP 4: Place the board where you can see it everyday.

o   Because what’s the point of having a vision board that you can’t see…? (there’s a pun somewhere in there).


OK - So now I have a better idea of how to make my vision board. My goal now is to have my new (gold) board filled the next time you hear from me. This should be interesting. **cues cheering children**


In the meantime, check out popular YouTuber Tyler Oakley’s video where he explains his own vision board! 


Tyler Oakley's overall vision board theme is similar to the board I want to make.

Until I come back with a finished product, check out a couple of vision board inspiration sites that I found while doing my own research. Vision board site # 1 is here and vision board site #2 is here.





How to go to Europe: A list of stuff by someone who doesn't know anything about Europe


I'm going to Europe! This trip was really spur of the moment, I literally scraped pennies together pay for everything (seriously - I almost broke the change machine at the bank), I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to Europe! I've wanted to do this my entire life, but there's never been enough money, and I'm really busy, and I have obligations, and blah blah blah...

It dawned on me about 6 months ago that none of that is probably going to change very soon (if ever), so I can either keep talking about how I'm going to go to Europe someday, or I can eat Ramen for a while and go to Europe today.

So I'm going to Europe.

I made a list a mile long of what I need to do, with these ten items seeming to be the most important:

1.) I called my cell phone carrier and made sure my phone would work in Europe, had them activate it for international calling, bought a 10 day package to make international calls, and learned how to shut off international data roaming. Apparently data roaming in other countries can get expensive. I did the math on what it would cost me if I went over my allotted international limit, using the amount of data I normally use in America. $20,000. I'm not even kidding.

TWENTY GRAND. 

Do you have any idea how much cake you could buy with that?


Apparently this cake was twenty grand. Because Kim Kardashian.


2.) I exchanged my money here. Everyone told me to wait until I got to Europe, but here's the thing: I don't know what I'm getting into over there. I don't speak the language, I don't know where ATMs are, I don't want to spend valuable super-fun-Europe-time hunting down cash machines...I just want to get there and go. So I exchanged my money here. 

3.) I put travel notices on all of my credit cards, so they wouldn't think my overseas purchases were fraudulent. If I want lederhosen, no one is stopping me from getting lederhosen. Damnit.


I'm probably going to do this in Germany. With this guy. In this field. (picture via Pinterest)


4.) I booked hostels in different cities for our entire vacation, based entirely on reviews, and no real knowledge of the cities we're visiting. Adventure, you guys!

5.) I declined every offer of assistance getting around Europe. I appreciate that someone has an aunt in Brussels that would be willing to show me around, but I'm just not that keen on being on someone else's schedule. Like the whole ATM thing, I just want to get there and go, but at my own pace.


Being lost is part of the experience, right? Guys? GUYS?


6.) I have a European phrasebook. I can't pronounce anything except "Ich Bien Ein Auslander" which means "I am a foreigner." I didn't learn this from my phrasebook. I learned this back in my days as a cage dancer in an industrial club...true story. It's a song and it's the only German I know, and I just keep saying it over and over again.

7.) I printed out all of my emergency contact information for my husband and my traveling companions, clearly marked it "EMERGENCY CONTACTS" and put copies of it everywhere. If I fall into a canal, somebody will know who to call. Unless the paper gets wet. In which case, I hope the water isn't too deep. Or infested with sharks. And alligators.

8.) We're staying in hostels, so I brought an extra blanket and some toilet paper. I mean...I've never stayed in a hostel before, and I don't like to be cold and toilet paper...well...I'm probably going to pee at some point.

9.) I pre-posted scheduled facebook/twitter/blog posts for every business that I own and/or manage social media accounts for. Vacation should not mean disappearing. If all goes well, no one should even notice I'm gone. I mean...except for the fact that I just told you I'm not here. I mean, I'm here, I wrote this here, today, but when you see it, today will be yesterday and I'll be over there instead of here. Obviously.

10.) I bailed out of everything I'm supposed to do the day I come back. I hope I don't have jet lag, but if I do, I want to be prepared. 


image via Business Insider

I already drew eyeballs to stick under my own glasses when I return, so I'm prepared should I be called to do anything important while I'm sleeping. Because rest assured, no matter what anyone wants me to do when I get back, I'm going to choose sleeping.



I'm supposed to come back December 4th, unless I decide to pull some Eat, Pray, Love thing and just...eat, pray and love all over Europe for the rest of my life.

That's probably not going to happen.I'm probably coming back. I have to open my store back up for your holiday jewelry needs. And I have a husband. And dogs.

We'll see how what I thought about going to Europe before I left compares to what I know when I come back...see you then!







Effie Trinket Inspired Party Dress


For Halloween, I found this lavender clown wig in my closet, stuck some holiday decorations in it, covered my face in glitter and wore my birthday dress from the year before...which was actually my wedding dress, re-worked. I don't know what I was trying to be, other than dressed up, but someone decided I was Effie Trinket a la the Hunger Games, so I just went with it. 

I throw a big party every year for my birthday, and always wear something over the top (because why not?). This year I decided to keep the Effie Trinket inspiration going and make a dress inspired by the Capitol City crowd.

On a budget, of course.



I found a deep blue version of this dress at a thrift store for $5.99, with the original tags still on it, marked down from $90.00. (I had pictures of the original dress, but all was lost when my phone exploded)




I bought a bundle of teal holiday poinsettias for $6.50, originally marked at $13.99.






Tulle is basically my favorite party dress accessory ever. Every dress is a party dress with tulle. I bought two rolls, at approximately $2.50 each.





White feather butterflies and glitter teal butterfly floral picks. The butterflies were the most expensive, at about $1 each.





I already had the butterfly punch. The glitter paper cost $1.99 per sheet.






I basically scrunched tulle up and sewed it around the neckline of the dress, making it as poofy as possible. I sewed strips of tulle to the skirt of the dress, making that a little bit poofy, as well.





My sewing skills are terrible. I hot glued the poinsettia leaves, butterflies and floral picks onto the dress, hiding bad sewing and using the tulle to cover the glue marks and anchor everything in. I glued myself to myself approximately 17 times in the process.




I glued the paper butterflies absolutely everywhere.




Glitter, fake eyelashes, fake hair, and more butterflies. I ended up taking the fake hair out - in an outfit that was designed to to be over the top, the fake hair made it TOO over the top.





 More glitter. Our house looks like a glitter bomb exploded, but the dogs are feeling very shiny and pretty.




 My dress held up all night...from posing for pictures at 7 pm....




to dancing on chairs at midnight...





...to floating in cages at 4 am...(???)


The total cost for the dress was just under $40 and almost everything on it can  (and will!) be re-used for other projects. Not a bad life for a party dress, right?

How to Use Fake Eyelashes to Mask Your Lack of Sleep

   I used to wear fake eyelashes all of the time, and then, for some really stupid reason, I stopped. Not only did I stop wearing fake eyelashes, I pretty much stopped wearing make-up, doing my hair, or wearing anything that didn't vaguely resemble pajamas. I was tired all of the time, and not only did I not try to hide it, I just kind of embraced this ragged, tired, beat down look.

And then I got the flu and I ended up watching Katy Perry's concert documentary thingamajig 3 times in a row and I realized that I really missed being a girl. I like dressing up. I like make-up and cute hair and cute clothes and fake eyelashes and glitter and dressing like I'm going to a party every single day.

So I came back around. As it happens, when I dress up everyday, my whole day seems to be a little brighter.

Anyway - eyelashes. Now that I wear make-up again, everyone keeps complimenting me on my eyes, and telling me how well rested I look. I'm actually still not getting that much sleep and everyone should know - I'm totally faking it, and you can, too. Applying eyelashes is easy...sort of....for the most part.

Whatever. I spend half of my life accidentally glueing myself to myself. If I can wear fake eyelashes, so can you.




First - you're going to need some eyelashes. These are "Andrea" brand, #53. 53's are probably the best starter lashes, because they're the most natural looking, and you usually don't even have to trim them. (Mine are a little beat up - I re-use them until they fall apart) Make sure you buy this kind of glue. There's a different kind of glue for applying semi-permanent eyelashes. That's not what we're doing here. Don't buy that glue. Buy the glue in this picture. If you ever want to attach rhinestones to your face for any reason at all, you can also use this glue. It's basically the premier glue for glueing stuff to your face.





If the length of the lashes is longer than the shape of your eye, you'll need to trim them. Not the lashes - the strip that the lashes are on. Trim the edge that has the longest lashes to give you the most natural look - the scissors are closest to the edge you would want to trim.




Get your face ready for some lashes. Put your moisturizer on, Put your concealer on, and your powder and your blush and your eyebrows and all of that stuff. And then stand on the toilet, look scared and take a selfie.




Put some eyeliner under the lash line of your top eyelid, but don't line the inside of your eye.




Like - you have to lift your whole eyeball up to get the liner just on your lash line. If you line the whole inside of your eye with eyeliner, you're going to end up with black eye boogers later on, and people won't tell you because they'll think they're being polite, and you'll just look gross. ONLY LINE THE LASH LINE.





When you're done with the inside of your eye, line the top, as close to your lashes as possible. Throw a little mascara on your lashes. Some people will tell you not to put any make-up on your eyelid before you apply lashes. You don't have to listen to them. They're wrong. 





Line the lashes with glue. You don't need that much - if you overdue it, you'll glue yourself to yourself, and I can tell you from experience, that that sucks.






Blow on the glue until it's tacky - about 60 seconds.







Place the lash as close to your lash line as possible, without touching your lashes. Pat it down with your finger to secure it to your skin.







Wait a couple of minutes. I always buy the white glue, because it dries clear. When you can't see the glue anymore, your lashes are dry and you can finish your make-up.







Stand on the toilet and take a weird selfie.







Now look over there, like maybe a bird just flew by or something. When you're done with that, quit playing around and finish your make-up. Once your eyelashes are attached, you can do your make-up the same way you always do.






My make-up is finished, but it turns out this angle is not as flattering as I had hoped.






This is a better angle and my make-up is finished. My face still needs one more thing, though. 







  My glasses. 
 I only slept for 20 minutes this month, but no one can tell. Thanks, fake eyelashes!