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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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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Pops of Color in Cacti

Have you been searching for a fun way to add color to your walls or to just have a fun DIY girls night? Then this is the perfect craft for you!

This craft sort of sprouted accidentally as I noticed I had several blank canvas piling up on my desk [craft supply hoarders, I know]. With our pop-up shop at The Farm the following weekend, I figured I should spruce up the plain white canvas with some BRIGHT colors to attract attention and hopefully some buyers ( ;

So here’s the step-by-step with some freedom!

Supplies:

  • Any size canvas (I used 8×10 pieces from a bulk pack at Michael’s)
  • Acrylic Paint in an array of colors
    • Honestly, I had several neon colors laying around and figured I’d put them to use. Find your paint, and start arranging them in fun groups of colors you like!
  • Various paint brushes
  • Pencil

 

Creative Freedom starts here

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As you can tell, I chose about 5 colors of paint and used them for each piece. By having a vibrant background it allows the true piece to stand out – perfect since I love my plants!

All you really have to do is sketch an outline of something you like (I found the Opuntia and Saguaro to be the easiest) and just go with it! Don’t stress about perfection, let your creativity flow!

I’ll be sure to add templates for paintings in a future post, but for now – let your mind wander and try painting your favorite plants or landscapes (I promise, it’s relaxing).

Have a creativity filled day Loves!

XOXO

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The BEST of Seattle – The Emerald City

If Seattle isn’t on your bucket list of  ‘U.S. cities to explore’ add it now! Coined the Emerald City for the vast greenery that meets the Pacific Ocean. Today however, I am not going to talk about nature, it’s all about downtown – the urban jungle and why this place makes it to my top 10.

Quick Guide to Downtown

  • Parking
  • Pike Place
  • Waterfront
  • Space Needle
  • Monorail

Parking wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, found a great spot at the mall, Westlake Center (underground public parking). The cost of pricing was typical for a big city- $20/day. The mall itself had several levels of retail space, including typical anchor stores like JC Penny, Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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Iconic Pike Place

Five minutes from Westlake Center is one of Seattle’s top attractions, Pike Place Public Market. This bustling farmers’ market is filled with handmade goodies, gallery worthy artwork, fresh seafood, fruit, beautiful flowers, pet toys, and quirky trinkets galore! Make sure you stick around to watch a tourist complete the perfect catch from the playful fish vendors. Visiting from out of state? They can ship anything. It is also home to the original Starbucks.

Tourists beware* Plan on spending HOURS browsing the hundreds of goods and chatting with the talented artists and craftsmen eager to chat. I didn’t keep track, but I am pretty sure it took me over two hours and I know I missed a handful of booths.

The Waterfront

The walk to the waterfront takes about 15-20 minutes. There’s a ton of steps or at least it felt that way… and unfortunately they’ll still be there on your way back! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

There are however handful of ‘stops’ you can make on your way down to keep you entertained. The ‘gum wall’ is there ready for some epic selfies, local breweries, and multiple galleries, you can pop-into to break up the walk.

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Waterfront park is sandwiched between the Seattle Aquarium and Pier 57. The aquarium has a package deal that includes a cruise, but they also have an ‘a la carte’ price list, see below or follow the link for all their attractions and fees.

Aquarium only

Adult (ages 13 & over) $24.95
Youth (ages 4-12)* $16.95
Child (ages 3 & under) Free

I have always loved ferris wheels and I couldn’t pass up the ‘Great Wheel’ on the Seattle waterfront. The views are spectacular. The attendant gave about 3 go -arounds worth; it was nice to sit, relax, and soak up the city from 152 ft.

The Seattle Space Needle

It’s a given, you cannot visit Seattle and not see the Seattle Space Needle. Built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, the 600 ft+ landmark offers a 360 degree view of this captivating city. Bustling with people young and old, it is easy to see the fascination. Home to the Children’s Museum, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Science Museum, Museum of Pop Culture, you must set aside multiple days to see it all.

I’ve gone ahead and added links to each of the museums for your reference.

Monorail

Exhausted yet? I sure was. I recommend the monorail, conveniently built just steps from the Space Needle. What’s the cherry on the top? The monorail drops off at Westlake center, on the top floor of the mall right where I started!

Do you have any ‘must see’ attractions or restaurants in Seattle we should add to our list? If so, please do share your recommendations with us in the comments section below.

Until next time!

Plants for all *digital* occasions

Are you ready for this week’s stock photo round-up? If so – feast your eyes on these beauties!!

 

 

These are only a few of my favorites, if you’d like to see the full set click the link below. Don’t you feel slightly more relaxed just by seeing plants? I could easily go on about the health benefits of having plants around but to make it simpler for us all, how about just seeing them? If you’d like to Pin these photos you can check out our Leaves board ❤

Need more stock photos? [who doesn’t] Have no fear, we’ve assembled the following for you: Plants that rock your stock and our favorite stock photo sites.

 

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