Saturday, April 12, 2014

Au revoir, Les États-Unis!

See you in (a little less than) two weeks, America! Edwin and I head off for Paris on Monday - we stop over in Norway before arriving at CDG on Tuesday to begin our adventure. 



I'm starting to get nervous that I won't be able to:
sleep on the plane
communicate
stop spending money
stop drinking wine
stop eating, therefore gaining outrageous amounts of weight 
avoid paying unreal baggage fees because I cannot help how much I am packing/how much I am likely to buy

I am excited for:
everything... (no, seriously)
but especially macarons, crepes, vin rouge, bière, eating lots of bread
seeing a totally new country/place, especially where my family is from (Ireland, you're next)
staying in various apartments
going to Fontaine (in the Champagne region) and touring wineries and vineyards
Paris in the spring


Be prepared for probably forty-five Paris posts when I come back - and for your Instagram to be blown up by probably everything that I am seeing and eating and drinking and experiencing (@littleallygator).

Love you guys! 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

On Independence (?) and Anxiety

I've always thought of myself as being fiercely independent - someone who likes time with others, but can totally do my own thing and be thrilled with it. I mean, I've always lived alone (minus college and living with my parents, obviously), I've traveled to Africa and China without knowing anyone else, I hate working out/doing yoga/running with other people, etc. so I absolutely MUST be an independent person. 

However, I've learned this past year that when I am alone, it's when my anxiety really gets the best of me. I've struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember - it's mostly overthinking things, but to such an extreme that I always thought was completely normal. Someone not responding to a text or phone call becomes spun into the worst case scenario, where I'm running through every single possible scenario of why this person clearly does not like me, and this spirals until I do hear back from them (which I always do). I've learned how to combat it to an extent - using facts and realism helps ("Really, Allison? You did absolutely nothing and this person hates you? Does that sound probable?"), but it doesn't make the thoughts go away. 


Being in a relationship and dealing with anxiety is really difficult too - it's where Ed has never given me any reason not to trust him, not to believe that he's faithful to me - but what if? What if situation xyz occurs and that is thrown? What if he's out and meets someone prettier or with better skin or skinnier or funnier than me? It's ridiculous, but it's so debilitating at the same time that it's hard to escape from that thought pattern. 



I feel like, especially with the presence of social media where we're just inundated with smiling faces, nights out where everyone looks phenomenal, couples holding hands and laughing - we start to think that maybe there's something wrong with us when we're: fighting with our family or significant other, when we wake up and look like shit, when we're wearing yoga pants for days because we didn't do laundry and have nothing left, etc. 

There isn't a lot of honesty from people talking about their emotional problems - we shove them away and act like everything is fine. I do it too - I wrote a whole post on my birthday and all the phenomenal aspects of it, but I also didn't write that I got way too drunk and threw up in my parking lot after getting home, or that I was upset because Edwin wasn't really spending time with me when we were out at the brewery. We keep those struggles and those aspects to ourselves, because it's easier to make it seem like life is really good. 

I've also realized that unless I talk about what's going on - to my best friends, to my parents, to the person I'm in a relationship with - they never go away. The anxiety builds and builds, and becomes all consuming where I do isolate myself, but not in a way that's healthy. 


Last night I was out with a friend, and he told me that I need to stop relying on other people to make me happy - I need to find that happiness within myself. It's true - I'm so affected by the actions of others and it throws me off for so long, where I spend time just beating the shit out of myself (figuratively) for being so overemotional. We are ALL emotional though - whether you express it outwardly or not - and we are all entitled to be upset, to be happy, to be angry, etc. So I will be working on owning my emotions, on feeling things, and on working my New Year's resolution to be a little less hard on myself - while working on that balance of healthy independence. 

 
 
 
All images via Pinterest

How do you deal with negativity - whether people, feelings, or situations? 
What are your favorite things to do on your own? 

Currently - taking a short break from reading Eating Animals, and listening to NPR. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Birthdays Was the Worst Days...

Now we sip champagne (or craft beer) when we thirst-ay. 

So, I turned 26 on February 3, which is an extremely anticlimactic birthday. 

I kept my birthday this year very low-key. I was surrounded by my favorite people in a relatively small group at the brewery that Edwin and I go to every week. It was just a great group, lots of laughs, an insane amount of beers, and delicious food. 

Just like with New Year's Eve, a bunch of the bartenders who were on and off duty ended up coming out towards the end to celebrate with us too, which was so much fun.

Silly boys.

The bartenders tried to give me an EVEN BIGGER glass for free birthday beers.. I said no because I was terrified of experiencing liver failure at 26.
 
 
 

The actual day turned into a snow day, since the Northeast winter of 2014 was a brutal one. This was an extra happy birthday gift to me though! (Until they took our spring break away from the district calendar, but that's another story). 

The man raised by wolves in complete isolation checking the accumulation of snow. 

Gifts from my wonderful and thoughtful friends who came out to celebrate with me. Craft beers, red wine (from my best friend who does not even drink red wine), and a bag filled with things I'd need for Paris - summer scarves, a cheese slicer, wine opener that I can bring on the plane, note cards, and lots more. So cute.

The theme of gifts this year was either alcohol or Paris, and I am not angry about either - my adorable mom definitely knows how to spread the word and plan a theme. 

I have always been an absolute sucker for cards - they mean more to me than any tangible gift, so this made me extra excited! Also, my mom's best friend always sends cards with confetti inside the envelope, so when you forget and open the envelope up, your table/floor/wherever is littered with theme confetti. 

My dad has never been a card person, or a sentimental person, but apparently when he was on a business trip on the West Coast, he picked up this card just for me - and filled it with quarters (enough for 10.7 ounces at the brewery!). 


My birthday gift to myself - brightly colored roses. 

Do you still have large celebrations for every birthday? 
What little birthday things make you happy?

Monday, March 10, 2014

January 2014 Catch Up.

Isn't it sad that I'm already playing catch up for this past year? I feel like everything else is definitely going to fall by the wayside for now (sorry, awesome things from 2013, I still hold you in the highest regard).

2014 was kicked off to a really fantastic start, with time with friends, at a local brewery (that Edwin and I go to every single Sunday without fail). We figured that since it is our regular haunt, and since for $60 it was all you can drink/all you can eat, which for our area is an absolute steal (especially since most places were having at least an $80 prix fixe dinner with just a glass of champagne at midnight - no thank you).

We were able to be dropped off and picked up, so sufficed to say, it was an absolutely insane time, filled with lots of homemade macaroni and cheese, craft beer (including an Imperial Double IPA that was my absolute downfall), and great company.

Thankfully, this beard is now gone. I was not a huge fan of my boyfriend, Grizzly Adams.
 

Edwin and our friend Tim apparently coordinated outfits that night. This was fine at first, but the more we drank, the more similar they looked.

Classy. 

The more we drank, the more you could also tell that both Tim and I are teachers, because we began creating and having everyone else create haikus. 

Once midnight came, we were all feeling delightful, and were joined by the bartenders working that night to toast for 2014. The little glasses are filled with Tripel, a special reserve beer typically only sold by the bottle that was saved for MONTHS so it could be used for the midnight toast.

Happyyy 2014!

I started the first day of 2014 with a raging hangover (thanks to the Weapons Grade IPA, a double Imperial IPA with lord knows how much of an ABV %), but with great memories of a fun night with Edwin and our friends at the brewery.

January also brought Edwin's nephew Dominic's circus themed first birthday party, which is my nightmare because I hate clowns with all my soul, but it was cute (and I avoided the creepy ass clown who was there).

He is easily one of the cutest, sweetest kids I've ever seen.
 

We also ventured into Queens for hot pot, which I haven't done since I was in China, which was REALLY fun. We went with a ton of Edwin's high school friends and did a lot of eating, drinking, and then eventually another table came over to shotgun beers with some of the people at our table (I was not one of them, this is not college). We got home from the city at 5 a.m., which is when I realized that I am too old to be in the city until 5 a.m. anymore - it took me like, three days to bounce back from that one!


Next catch up will be February, and then I can hopefully get 100% caught up with it all! Fingers crossed - it's good to make goals, right?

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend - happy Monday! xox

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

J'Adore VoxBox

Apparently the internet gods (or those over at Influenster, who are pretty equal in my opinion) sensed that I was heading to Paris, because I received the J'Adore VoxBox shortly after Edwin and I booked our trip - fate, I know.

In case you don't know, Influenster is an awesome site where you use your influence in the social media community to complete product reviews, get entered in to win various prizes or opportunities, etc. based on your influence through Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube, Google+, etc. (If you're interested, let me know and I'll shoot you an invite!). 

This is my second VoxBox, and I seriously love it (and it arrived in a hot pink box - hello, gorgeous!).

I've tried out each part of the box at this point, and am going to review each item honestly, despite the fact that I did receive this box from Influenster for free.

1. Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses.

Uhm, these are chocolate. The end. 
Just kidding - you know, I'm typically a dark chocolate person, so at first it was weird to try milk chocolate after not consuming it for SO long (I know, my life is very difficult). Seriously though, they're delicious - which I'm sure you already know. What I didn't know though, is how much you can do with them! 

This blog has 101 desserts using Hershey's Kisses - including Almond Joy magic bar pie (ohhhh my god, hello). 

Seriously though - who knew Kisses were so versatile? 

2. Kiss false eyelashes.

I had a love/hate relationship with these - once they were on, they were gorgeous and really did look more natural than a Kardashian or Elvira lash (sorry, they're the same in my book). The glue drove me crazy though - I thought it was really messy and hard to apply, so I wish that aspect could have been improved. 

Jury is still out on if I would buy these again or not, because I hated the glue THAT much. 

They did look cute in my makeup drawer though..

3. John Frieda Frizz Ease 3-Day Straight.

Okay, so I've never been one who can NOT wash my hair every day. It falls flat, barely holds a curl, and looks gross and greasy the next day, NO MATTER WHAT. It's terrible, especially when a blow dry is very expensive, and it's gone in a cloud of smoke the next day. 
I loved this product though - it prolonged my straightening, had it look shiny and beautiful and light. You know when you put product in your hair and it just feels heavy? With this, I couldn't tell that I had anything in my hair. 

Note: I only straightened a little for this picture - I don't have time in the mornings to totally flat iron, but it is a LOT wavier/curlier in the mornings without, and this product definitely helped me out a TON!


4. Red Rose Simply Indulge Tea.

This stuff is fantastic - it has a rich, delicious flavor that lasted for two steeps per tea bag, and comes in a ton of awesome flavors. I was given three Creme Caramel and one Lemon Chiffon. The Lemon was my favorite - I'm actually going to the store later today to pick more of this up, because (and I KNOW this sounds lame), it really does taste indulgent. I've been trying not to consume refined sugars at night, and this was such a treat and had a delicious, dessert like quality - in a natural way. I'm all about Red Rose now. 


5. Boots Botanics Mask

So, my first attempt at using this, left a green, watery consistency all over my white sink, which I was NOT happy about. However, once I shook the container, the consistency hardened up more, and was more mask-like (my sink was thrilled!). It goes on dark green and then dries up to a more pale green, which I thought was cool because you can actually see when it's time to wash it off. 
I felt that my skin was tighter afterwards (though I don't know if it was more of a placebo effect) - I couldn't use this every day (which you're not supposed to with masks), but I enjoy having it on. It left me feeling like my skin was definitely cleansed - and Edwin tried it too and agreed with me. 

Please pardon the no-makeup - makeup doesn't really work very well for a mask. 


Overall, I LOVE my VoxBox - I'm already planning on buying certain products again thanks to being able to try them again! 

Have you gotten a VoxBox before or tried any of these products? 

Seriously - let me know if you want to join Influenster - I have five invites at the moment and would love to connect. 

Also, merci beaucoup to everyone for their wonderful suggestions on my upcoming trip to Paris avec Edwin. Keep suggestions coming - I cannot WAIT.

You're all the absolute best. xox