How To Plan A European Adventure – On A College Budget

Good Afternoon Loves!

Eric and I made it safely to Florida yesterday afternoon and have been enjoying a day (with a late start) full of last minute errands before we head out on our graduation cruise tomorrow! Woo! If you’ve been following on my journey the last few months, you may already know I recently graduated from Arizona State University and am now a full time employee at a local Landscape Architecture firm in Scottsdale – so basically I’m a real adult now.. it’s been a crazy transition but I am oh so excited to no longer have homework – ever!

For my final Spring Break (ever) I planned an European Adventure for myself and two of my best gal pals, Alex and Lauren. This was Alex’s first time abroad so I wanted to make sure we hit the hot spots to get the best experience out of our short week of travel. In typical Crystal fashion, I began the planning process about 10 months in advance and was able to score some amazing flights!

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No really – we booked our flights from Los Angeles to Barcelona for $139 one-way, and our return flight from Paris for $158! So really, if you’re on a budget and you don’t think you are able to make a trip abroad happen – you totally can! My best words of advice to do so are to check SkyScanner for flights. I would honestly recommend Norwegian Airlines to anyone looking for an affordable airline with amazing service. I used Norwegian for my flights to France two years ago when I studied abroad and visited 12 countries!1

So, to give you an idea as to what really happened I have included a few pages of the Plan Book I made to keep us all organized – I’m a tad bit OCD about organization if you haven’t noticed… But it came in handy! From an overall itinerary to a more detailed Daily schedule, we had all of our bases covered with wiggle room for last minute adventures (like our last minute decision to go to Paris Disney!)

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So really, if you’re on a budget and you don’t think you are able to make a trip abroad happen – you totally can! Just follow some easy money saving tips that I have outlined below!

Finding Cheap Flights

Like I said earlier, I 10/10 recommend SkyScanner but if you’re looking for flights abroad and are willing to fly out of one one of the major hubs (Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York) then I would say Norwegian is the best airline with amazing low-cost flights. When using Norwegian, there is a calendar tool that gives you a full month view showing flight prices to allow you to choose the cheapest date.Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 5.21.55 PM.png

Finding Cheap Transportation

Aside from the typical recommendations of getting around town via Uber or Lyft, I recommend downloading the local transportation maps and utilizing the public transportation (if available in the city you are visiting). This saves you money when purchasing the bundle tickets and gives you a real experience as a local by navigating your way around town.

Finding Cheap Eats

I 100% recommend using Yelp when you are traveling to be able to search for literally anything! Restaurants, Shops, Entertainment, Tattoo Shops (we got matching tattoos in Barcelona via Apple Maps recommendations). Prior to your trip, I recommend assembling a list of restaurants located around town or around the spots you plan on visiting so that you have restaurants in mind to visit.

Next week I will post about the specifics for each location – Barcelona, Munich and Paris! So check back for that – in the meantime, feel free to comment below with any questions or tips that I should include!XOXOged!

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A Desert Engagement

What can I say – dreams really do come true! After a crazy last year of college and the road to adulthood, a fun new adventure lies ahead. My dream wedding with my dream husband – it is coming to life! This man of mine has been my best friend for the last three [almost four] years and our journey has been nothing short of a wild-ride… in all the best ways!

Just after St. Patrick’s Day, Eric popped the question [which I will share more about in a later post] and I of course  said yes – which brings us to today! Earlier this week we took a drive to Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction, Arizona to snap these engagement photos right at Golden Hour. Arizona is known for its sunsets and I love my desert home, so what better way to capture this engagement than to seek the beauty in the desert that surrounds us.

Keep reading to see the magic that happened in the Desert!View More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagement

How did you two meet?

Funny story – one that I will not  be telling my future children I assure you… Eric and I met my Freshman year of college at a Frat party. We went to the same high school but he was a year ahead of me so we didn’t quite cross paths too often. I was involved in the Student Council and so were a few of his friends, so I had seen him around but we never interacted as I thought he was a jerk in high school… he still is, but I love him!

We finally “met” at this party and as the night continued, the party took a toll on my friends. The crazy night led to my friends staying in his room since he lived at the fraternity house so I offered to let him stay at my place – which was a bunk bed [on campus housing was an adventure itself]. He walked me back to my dorm a few times that night – to get my car, to get clothes for my friends, etc. and we eventually made it back to end the night. My main focus was to take care of my friends so as soon as they were settled, I was able to sleep! And that’s how the night went.

The next morning I drove him back to his home and I sent him a text later that week to thank him for helping out my friends that night. We tried to hangout a few times after that and it took a while before it finally worked for our schedules. I swore I didn’t like him, because he was in a fact, a “frat boy” – but here we are… he won me over!

A few dates and a few parties later, we basically lived together and figured we may as well become an official couple. Nearly four years later and we’re engaged – a wild ride!

View More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagement

View More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagement

View More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagementView More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagementView More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagement

Who is the magician behind the lens?

The most wonderful human! Robin K. Photography took time from her day off from a crazy work schedule to snap these shots for us out in the desert – which wasn’t the shortest drive for any of us. She is a total rockstar and I truly believe she is a magician behind the lens. Going above and beyond to get these shots is an understatement – heck, she even got a cactus stuck in her foot and kept snapping away! That is true dedication and it shows in these photos.

Eric and I aren’t the easiest to take photos of, as we both have a habit of forcing smiles.. But – Robin made us both feel so comfortable that we didn’t have to feel forced or staged one bit. We took these photos on a Monday afternoon right before sunset and she was able to get us all of the edited photos within 24 hours – I love her to pieces and highly recommend her to absolutely anyone looking for a fantastic photographer!

View More: http://robinkayphotography.pass.us/crystalericengagement

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I assure you all, I will keep you updated along this journey. Keep following along on Instagram and reading up on the blog as the adventure continues!XOXOged!

Working Women Have Their OWN Space in Gilbert, AZ

Welcome to ThriveAZ – a space for women to work alongside like-minded individuals and empower each other while doing so. A space – to create! I mean, for me it definitely was [check out this fun new piece I made during my “work” break]!
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Let’s Get S**t Done!

Now if you’re like me and you have a habit of being easily distracted in your own home while trying to get work done – then you NEED to visit ThriveAZ and seriously consider joining!

I spent the second half of my work day at Thrive earlier this week and cannot believe how productive I was – I mean really – I never focus like I did at Thrive! I am not one to force my friends to do anything I wouldn’t do, so this is me being real and recommending something I believe in. Thrive is a community built around strong women, and I believe in that.

So, are you anything like me when it comes to being productive? If so, take a look at Thrive – I promise you’ll love their space!

Below are the amenities included in your membership, and for only $400 for the year you get access to all these goodies + and more!

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never focus like I did at Thrive! I am not one to force my friends to do anything I wouldn’t do, so this is me being real and recommending something I believe in. Thrive is a community built around strong women, and I believe in that.

So, what do you think? Ready to take the next step and visit Thrive? If so, let me know and I’d be more than happy to meet you there for one of their Wine & Whine nights!

XOXOged!

Upcoming Workshops and Markets

Good Mornings you beautiful humans!

2018 has been off to an amazing start – I set my intentions to focus more time and effort into the shop side of Sunday Mornings and MUCH more time into transitioning this blog into a DIY + Tutorial blog (more on that coming soon). Alongside this whirlwind of a new year, I have been much more involved in the communities around me and will be hosting several workshops + selling at various markets in the next few weeks [eek, very exciting!].

See below for the dates and location of the planned events through April [as of now]:

 

February 8th, 2018 – Workshop

Gilbert, Arizona @ The Art House

https://arthouseclasses.com/products/embroidery-101-workshop-arizona-love

 

February 10th, 2018 – Workshop

Avondale, Arizona @ Universal Cup Coffee

https://www.facebook.com/UniversalCupCoffee/

 

February 15th, 2018 – Workshop

Phoenix, Arizona @ PinspirationAZ

https://www.verlocal.com/pages/payment_page?listing_id=22664

 

February 17th, 2018 – Workshop

Phoenix, Arizona @ The Farm at South Mountain

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-embroidery-plant-edition-tickets-41922475252?aff=efbeventtix

 

March 31st, 2018 – Market

Chandler, Arizona @ Rawhide Event Center

Pinology Market

 

April 7th, 2018 – Market

Gilbert, Arizona @ The Art House

https://www.facebook.com/thearthousegilbert/

 

Wishing you the very best that 2018 has to offer,

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XOXO,

Crystal

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Epic Birthday: Exploring Havana, Cuba!

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It’s a beautiful day for travel inspiration, and I’m here to get you hooked on Cuba! If you have an interest in history, architecture, or culture – this is a great place to visit; if you have an interest in gorgeous views, exploring, and bright and colorful building – this is a great place for you! Overall, Cuba has made me top 5 list of places to explore and I can’t wait to visit once more [once the political feuds calm down – bummer] through the help of Norwegian Cruise Lines!

I am extremely fortunate to say that I was able to enjoy my birthday in Cuba and extremely lucky that I was able to convince my sisters to join along in the festivities [granted it didn’t take much to convince them… it was really an immediate YES from everyone]! So after buckling down and confirming our amazing trip through Dreamtrips, we began to pack – 5 months later…. But we eventually made it!

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For our first day in Havana, we enjoyed a LARGE breakfast on board the ship before going through customs. Cereal, fruits, cheese, pastries, and coffee galore – we don’t skimp on our meals when there’s a full day of adventure ahead.

Customs was much simpler than I had originally assumed, we each went into a booth to present our passports, got a stamp and were on our way to the exchange station. Easy-peasie!

The grand day of my 21st: Viñales, Cuba

I’ve always wondered what Cuba would be like. Run down and rugged like the news tells us, or historically well-kept with secrets of gorgeous views (totally unbeknownst to the world) – it was the latter.

Tobacco Farm

After boarding our excursion bus we made our way to our first stop, about 1.5 hours inland to a tobacco farm where we got to see tobacco leaves drying and a skilled cigar master roll a few as we passed around a cup of cafesito [cuban coffee].

After purchasing a bundle of 40 cigars for our loved ones back home, we went back onto the farm and tried some delicious sugar cane – with a splash of rum. Delicious! Then back onto the bus we went for our next stop about an hours away to a gem of a location.

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Enjoying the scenery in Viñales with my sister Perla

The second stop of this excursion was in a small town with a grand view (I mean, look at that!) where we enjoyed an amazing lunch on a cliff-side with a few friendly visitors that included rowdy pigs (fun story about them later) and friendly cats who loved the attention we willingly gave them. With a 3-course meal of local delicacies, we all truly immersed ourselves in the scenery as we were all pleasantly bewildered by the grand view. We spotted a few cowboys riding their horsed down the steep cliff-side to the smaller towns within the valley and continued to gaze at the lush mountainsides behind us.

Remember the pigs? Our rowdy little friends? Well these cuties made a stop at our deck for lunch right before their bath time – and boy did they need their bath. As cute and pink as they were, we weren’t expecting them to be covered in mud. Yup – pink on top and muddy on the bottom. Surely we realized this as they brushed up against a fellow travelers purse and left their ‘gift’ alongside. Soon enough, the farmer next door came on over and shooed them back to their home for a bath. Yet, I still want a micro pig.

Our next stop was in a busier town, with a great market with local vendors. I treated myself to some new artwork because why not, its my birthday 🙂 After walking around for about an hour we went on our way to the last stop of the day – the rum factory for Havana Club! This factory was about the size of my childhood home, with about 10 workers labeling and packaging the bottles of rum. The hustle and bustle of the room increased as the tour group of 30 walked in, so we made our way over to the shop next door for samples and postcards.

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Las Joyas – my best friends for life!

 

This jam packed day of adventure was the best gift I could have asked for – yet we celebrated once more on board the ship with a magnificent dinner spread where we ate for about 2 hours [told you we don’t mess around when it comes to food]. The best way to end any celebration, is with family – and that’s exactly what we did. Cheers to amazing travels, and even more amazing sisters to share these fun adventures with!

Be sure to check back in next week for a continuation of this post as I delve into our trip so that YOU can plan your own Cuban adventure!

XOXO, my very best wishes –

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Ready to Kick-start the New Year?

Welcome back Loves!

It sure has been quite some time since my last post, so please forgive me. Senior year has definitely taken my by surprise and I admit to stepping away from the blog as I focus on my LAST year of college! (In case I decide to get a Master’s, more on that later).

While I have figuratively been away, I have had some time to think about how quickly this year has gone by. I know it’s cliche and seemingly true each year, but 2017 in particular has flown by! So I got to thinking, and decided it would be my personal mission this nee year to embrace each day and make 2018 count! First step – focus on my health.

With that I mean I need to take a break from my fast food cravings (no matter how delicious they taste in the moment, they don’t taste as great once you know the harm they do to your body *major sad face*). Now rather than doing a full recap of my life over the last 4 months since my last post – that will be coming soon since there’s been plenty happening – I want to kick start the 2018 planning by inviting you all to ride the health-kick train with me!

Ready to ride the health-kick train?

Month of Meal Planning

 

Personally, I’m a ‘planner’ and it’s easiest for me to keep track of, well, everything by writing it all down [and erasing it to make it look neater] and storing it on my desk to see every day. Because of this, I have created a **drum roll** CALENDAR! I honestly didn’t know how to go about it at first and it is not perfect, but I am so excited to share it with you all here: Monthly Meal Plan.

To make life a tad easier (since meal planning is not easy) I’ve formatted the calendar into weekly quadrants so they can be used as a note taking page and work for years to come!

Are you ready to start the New Year and kick-start your healthy routine? I would love to read any suggestions you have about meal planning or even your favorite recipes! Share your ideas with me by commenting below!

I’ve missed you all! Thank you for reading –

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*Freebie* Embroidery Template!

Good Morning Loves!

It has definitely been quite some time since my last post (I apologize!). This Summer has definitely been one for the books – with travel, crafts, moving, and a new job – I’ve been swamped! But never fear, I am back and this time with Freebies! So I have a new weekly post coming your way which will always be tagged as Freebie Friday – If there are any requests on free digital aids, comment below and I’ll do my best to create those for you!

New Goodies IGI figured, what better way to come back to the blog than offer a sweet treat to my readers to share a slice of what I’ve been occupying myself with? SO – for anyone who has noticed my recent obsession with embroidery, now is the time to give it a go for yourself.

If you’d like to see some of the pieces I have already made feel free to checkout our Etsy! Give it a like and share with your friends, I’ll even include a discount code below for all of you for an extra 10% off any purchase.

Thinking about taking up a new craft? How about embroidery! Practice your running stitch with this FREE template!  Arizona Love

 

I can’t tell you all how happy it makes me to come back to the blog and read your comments – thank you all for the support!

Etsy 10% off code: THANKS10

Have a wonderful weekend loves – I’ll be back with more freebies next week!

XOXO

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Peruvian Adventure!

This has been an adventure – to say the least! I was fortunate enough to travel to Peru this week with my college on a group trip. From Cusco to Machu Picchu, and off to Puerto Maldonado’s rainforest! We are currently flying to Puerto Maldonado where we will be staying at the Inkaterra Field Station – I’ll have to share that experience with you all later this week once I return home to The Valley of the Sun.

Check out this adorable baby alpaca? The little cutie I was holding was only a week old and the one next to me was two weeks old. I actually began to shed tears because I was THAT happy!
A bus tour ended with us visiting Sexy Woman hill – well, I don’t actually know the real name but that’s what the guide told us was the Americanized name. It’s hard to tell how large the doorway is – but it’s double my size!I bought a few gorgeous landscape art pieces by local artists and can’t wait to hang them!And look at these babies!!!!!

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts 💕

New in Store!

Guess what, Loves?! We have some great NEW additions to our shop – feel free to give them a look and let us know what you love! I’ve been working on some new goodies for some time now and have just found the PERFECT spot to showcase my work – keep an eye for that to be reveled shortly (as soon as I make exclusive pieces).

Can you say, cacti-obsessed? I know!

I would greatly appreciate your help if you took some time to favorite our Etsy Shop and share it amongst your friends, we’d love to share our work with more amazing humans!

XOXO

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Pastries and Pink

Gooood Afternoon Loves!

This weekend was  jam-filled with work and eventually led me to being quite filled with sweets! I started my first training day at this gorgeous cake-house in Scottsdale and my pastry-chef dreams were reignited! I mean, how can you NOT fall in love with this spot? Macarons, cupcakes, gorgeous custom cakes, boba and more – count me in!

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Macarons, cupcakes, gorgeous custom cakes, boba and more – count me in!

I’ve created two beautiful stock photos of vines found at Ruze Cake House and adjusted their brilliance to work as a simple backdrop for any stock photo need!

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My first day was amazing – and I truly cannot wait to go back this Sunday for my FIRST shift on my own [scary stuff but I’m pumped]! I mean, really, check out the gorgeous backdrop we have in-house for all of our aesthetic-loving customers.

IMG_8457SO – if you’re ever in Old Town Scottsdale and craving a scrumptious macaron – this is the place to be!

 

XOXO

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