MY CURRENT SUMMER SHOPPING LIST

MY CURRENT SUMMER SHOPPING LIST

It’s quickly heating up here so it’s time for a wardrobe change. I wanted to drop by and share my current summer shopping list.  I know many of you have been requesting summer dress recommendations and hot crop top options — hopefully, this little list can be a great starting point. It also gives you more insight into where I shop!

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Summer At Life By Olivia

Hello Lovely,

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As far as I’m concerned we’re officially in the summer season. School closes in two weeks and the heat is merciless. So I just wanted to quickly share my summer plans with you guys.

As you know this is a very difficult time for my family, with the loss of my cousin. That is why I took the past two weeks off to grieve and collect my thoughts. I’m back next week with all new posts for you featuring new recipes and fashion.

As always I’ll be taking July off to travel and create content without the pressure of a deadline. So the last post before my summer break will go live on June 21, the day I head out for my cousin’s funeral. My summer travel plans this year are very simple (given the circumstances). I plan to visit Toronto for the first time (I connected there overnight but didn’t actually get to enjoy the city). I’m excited to go downtown and see all of the major attractions, while hitting up some local festivals. This will be my first truly solo travel in that I’m not meeting anyone when I go and I will be alone the whole time. It’s a little scary, but here’s to adventure!

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Posts will resume on August 12, with the usual 3 posts per week. I’ll be sharing my summer adventures as well as my back to school plans. In addition to travelling, I’ve decided to spend the summer completely immersed in art projects. Once a week, I’m going to pick a craft project, whether it’s sewing, painting or some other DIY as well as one photography adventure per week. This is my way of healing and I’m hoping to start an art journal that I can’t wait to share with you. I’ll definitely try to go to the beach about 3 times this summer since I have like 6 or more (probably more) swimsuits. Even if I have to go by myself, I’m going to embrace doing more this summer instead of dying in the summer heat in the house.

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Swimsuit Details: You can purchase this Brush Print Scoop Top With High Leg Bikini Set from SheIn for only $13!

Here’s to an amazing summer! See you soon!

5 Things I Need To Do Before Summer Ends

Hello Lovely,

Can you believe summer is almost over? I went back to work on Monday and next Monday, school officially starts for us. I am SUPER excited about this. I know a lot of people love summer, but I'm just not one of them. Sure, I love the beach, vacations and festivals, but one thing I don't love is the heat. Summers get hotter and hotter every year. And in The Bahamas we have summer 98% of the year. Some people envy that, but weather that almost never changes can get depressing after awhile; leaving me longing for sweater weather and steaming mugs of cocoa. If you've been living it up this summer, that's awesome. But if you're like me and mostly stayed in to avoid the heat, then you may feel like you missed out. So here's 5 things I want to do before summer officially ends.

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1. Go To The Beach

Can you believe that I didn't go to the beach even once this summer? How crazy is that? I live on an island and visited 4 other islands this summer and still never went to the beach! I'm ashamed!

2. Go To The Movies

I am not in any way a movie person! I have a pretty short attention span but if I go to the movie theatre and it's a blockbuster movie, I'm all in. The movies I have my eyes on are The BlackkKlansman, which is already out and The Hate U Give and Operation Finale. If I'm going to watch a movie I like Marvel comics, Star Wars, psychological or racially drive/historical movies. I finally got to go to see The BlackkKlansman this weekend but I won't go on about how horrible that movie was.

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3. Grab Ice Cream with a Friend

I love Froyo but the last time I had it was November of last year because the next day I was terribly sick. I was afraid to go near it again because that nightmare was not worth repeating, but I think I've learned my lesson and I'm ready to have a small amount of it (as long as it's dairy free). I also got some this past weekend after the movie. I stuck to Red Velvet, which a teaspoon of graham crackers and granola, you know, to make it healthy.

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4. Try a new lemonade recipe

I think the last lemonade I made was Martha's Spiced Lemonade and that was two years ago! So I can't wait to try my hand at a new lemonade recipe like this Sparkling Mint Peach Lemonade, Mango Ginger Lemonade, or these Coconut Peach Lemonade Slushies

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5. Go to a Summer festival

I have not been to a single party this summer season. Between travelling and my anxiety from changing jobs, I just haven't been on the social scene much this summer and I know, that's terrible. I've been to small gatherings at friend's homes for drinks but I haven't actually been to a PARTY and that definitely needs to change before summer ends.

What's on your summer bucket list? Did you complete everything or are you missing a few things like I am? Let's chat about it in the comment section below!

Summer Vacay Style by Zaful

Hello Lovely,

I have big news for you! I recently became an affiliate of the online shop Zaful. You can get great coupons at the end of this post to help you save some money on your next order. Of course the site always has sales which you can't miss. I worked with Zaful before and thanks to them I got really beautiful clothing pieces in my closet. I can't wait to order some new items from Zaful because the clothing is so unique and gorgeous. I'm going to break down each piece: how well it fit, fabric quality and wow factor!

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Before my vacation this summer, I was counting down the days until I jetted off! I don't know about you, but a part of my trip planning always includes finding new clothes to wear while on vacation. For my London trip, I waited until I got there because I was really excited to go to stores like Primark, Next and Top Shop. But for this trip, I ordered my clothes in advance and picked them up from my aunt when I got there.

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In my order, I couldn't decide between two dresses so I ordered both of them but only one (the orange halter dress) fit, so I gave the other one (a black and white slip dress) to my cousin. I wore the orange halter dress in Puerto Rico and I felt like a movie star walking through Old San Juan (even though I can't wear a bra with it). I wore the two piece suit in St. Thomas, but I wasn't able to get a good photo of it until a wine tasting earlier this month. I was really happy to wear my yellow two piece outfit in Houston, but with the heat, I sweat so much, it wasn't a pretty sight after awhile. The fabric wrinkles very easily and is not breathable at all, so I've only wore the halter top since (again I can't wear a bra with this, but I'm not complaining). I wanted to wear my sexy black swimsuit in Houston but we never found time to go to the pool so I wore it at a sorority pool party when I got back home. It's really not flattering on anyone with breasts bigger than a B cup and you will have nipple slippage so invest in nipple covers if you get this.

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And don't get me started on how chic the accessories are! Of course I've included photos of me in the outfits to show how they would fit. Just so you know, I ordered a Large in everything because I was afraid it would run small and I have pretty big boobs for my frame. The top on the first dress, definitely could've been bigger, but at least I didn't have any malfunctions. Out of all the clothing pieces, it was definitely my favourite because I love the way it moves, it's totally breathable and I just felt gorgeous in it!

I've also included links to each item in case you want to them:

Striped Palazzo Pants Two Piece Set 
Color: MULTI 2568951031 $21.99

Striped Midi Shift Slip Dress 
Color: WHITE 2639187011 $18.49

Striped Strappy Handkerchief Dress 
Color: ORANGE 2512058041 $22.99

Lace Spliced Halter High Waist One-Piece Swimwear 
Color: BLACK 1760618011 $17.49

Metal Sun Design Frame Mirror Round Sunglasses Color: PINK 2124852011 $9.74

Rimless Cat Eye Sunglasses Color: BLACK 2538061011 $7.98

Alloy Faux Gem Triangle Leaf Ring Set Color: GOLDEN 2127226011 $2.85

Teardrop Leaf Flower Gypsy Ring Set Color: SILVER 2115185021 $2.89

Circle Tassel Hoop Earrings Color: YELLOW 2283402011 $3.75

Face Hollow Aolly Stud Earrings Color: GOLDEN 2300875011 $2.81

Flannelette Ball Stud Earrings Color: PINK 2010197021 $1.99

Tassel Layered Hook Drop Earrings Color: PINK 2187491021 $3.25

Faux Gem Drop Tassel Chains Earrings Color: BLACK 1933046011 $2.88

Halter Backless Crop Top and Shorts Set 
Color: YELLOW 2464898011 $19.99

What do you think, did they suit me? Don't forget to find the discount code at the end of the post to snag a few items for yourself. You might not have a getaway in the works, but that doesn't mean a little virtual window shopping won't help you pack your bag the next time you do. And Zaful isn't only for vacation outfits. Zaful has great outfits you can wear every day that suits every style! Beach gal, bohemian goddess or slay queen, they've got you covered!

Click here to use this coupon!

Click here to use this coupon!

Getting Wet at 27 Charcos in The DR

Hello Lovely,

The last stop on my summer tour is The Dominican Republic. I was really excited about this one. And why shouldn't I be? The mountains, the culture, the coffee! Okay can I just go on record as saying that every time I travel to a foreign country, I must buy coffee. Especially if it's not a predominantly English speaking country. I absolutely hate American coffee (Dunkin Donuts being the only exception) and my favourite is Haitian coffee. Although I must admit, as I write this post, I'm enjoying the hazelnut New Orleans coffee my dad bought me. I prefer medium roast, tolerate light/blonde roasts and basically just NEVER bring me a dark roast.

Whoo! Sorry that was a long, random tangent about coffee. Back to what really matters. The DR! This was my favourite stop! In researching it, I saw that we were going to Amber Cove, which was described as a cay off the DR mainland, so I was a little bummed. But when we arrived and I saw that Amber Cove is actually just the name of the port the ship docks in, and it's very much attached to the DR mainland, I nearly did a cartwheel!

I chose to spend the last stop with my dad and new step mom and sisters. It was the first time I had spent any time with them since the wedding. We were all kind of doing our own thing on the ship. Once we left the ship it was just chaos. The walk felt long in the heat; it's probably the same length as the walk from the ship in Grand Turk. After walking through a gift shop, we were met with various excursion options like ziplining and waterfall adventures. We opted to get a taxi that was supposed to take us on a full tour. Our taxi driver spoke very little English, but we tried our best to use the little Spanish we knew. So a lot of things weren't really explained.

When we first started the tour, there were a lot of empty lots, filled with lush green lands. We passed a lot of businesses and I was surprised to see the price of gas was so high (my calculations may have been wrong but it was about $8 per gallon). Our first stop was the 27 Charcos, one of the waterfalls that can be found in the DR. We thought we would just be going to look at a waterfall, take some pictures and continue the tour. We didn't realise we would have to walk a path to get there. When they started giving us helmets, life jackets and water shoes, we all became increasingly aware of our mortality and wondered what the heck we were getting ourselves into. They said it's a 15 minute hike to the waterfall, once we got there we would jump off and then it would take another 15 minutes to walk back. They strongly advised we carry bottles of water to stay hydrated. At first we weren't going to since it was only a 15 minute walk, but eventually we agreed and trust me, you need to get that water bottle. IT TOOK TWO HOURS!!!!!! We climbed up stairs and steep mountains in dangerously high rainforest temperatures. Then as we approached the top, they told us, we wouldn't be jumping once, but SEVEN times!!!! My camera battery actually died after the first jump.

Here is the video of our trek:

Climbing 27 Charcos on vacation in The Dominican Republic. It takes about 2 hours to do the entire course and you MUST stay hydrated. My camera battery died so I couldn't record all of the jumps.

This is where we actually got annoyed. While the experience was truly amazing and I would recommend it to everyone I know, it was very misleading. Had we known it would've taken 2 hours out of our day, we would've planned better. We could've made it our last stop, or split the group so that half did it, while the other half continued the tour. I felt guilty that the half of the group that didn't do the hike had to sit there the entire time and couldn't leave because they didn't know when we would be coming out. If you're on a cruise with only so many hours at port, this may not be the activity for you if touring is more important.

After that we were so hungry, our priority was to get something to eat before it was time to return to the boat. We were horribly disappointed with the food in Puerto Rico so we were really hoping our luck would change at Polanco. The restaurant has free open WiFi and the staff was very friendly. None of the waitresses spoke English so the manager had to translate for us, but the service was efficient and fast. Even better, our food tasted amazing! The fish just melted in your mouth like a cheesecake! I know that's an odd comparison but I was really impressed. 

After lunch, we really didn't have time for anything. We were approaching 30 minutes to get back onto the ship before the doors would close. We didn't have time to see or do anything else. I barely had time to buy two bags of coffee and a bottle of rum (it's called Brugal Coco-Pineapple infusion rum) 25% alcohol per volume and it tastes absolutely divine! Well maybe divine isn't the right adjective, but you get the picture. If you like fruity drinks, this is the one. It's so smooth, you wouldn't even know it's there so I usually mix it with a dark rum for more a bite. I made a cocktail out of apple juice, plantation rum, the Brugal pineapple rum and peach schnapps and everyone loved it! I practically had to fight the cup back from my best friend, Tiana!

Well that's it for my summer travel adventures! I won't be travelling again until Christmas (maybe). I really hope you guys enjoyed my travel guides. Don't forget to leave a comment in the comment section below to tell me what you thought! If you missed any of them, you can check them out at the end of this post. And if you're planning on travelling soon, don't pack without my new packing checklist. I promise you'll never overpack, under-pack or leave essential items again!

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I Went All The Way To St. Thomas to Get Tatted

Hello Lovely,

The third stop on my cruise was St. Thomas. Before going on the cruise, I knew there was only one thing I wanted to do in St. Thomas.  You guys might remember that I went to St. Croix a few years back. I was told that if you've seen St. Croix, you've seen St. Thomas and St. John, but St. Thomas would be nicer. But I didn't see enough of the island to really know. Apparently if you're only taking a taxi to get to a particular stop, and you're not taking the tour, the tour guide won't explain anything until you're off. That was kinda harsh, and while I understand, I can't say that I agree. I got dropped downtown and walked a part of the waterfront to get to the studio: Salt of The Earth. You're probably wondering why I chose to get another tattoo. After my step dad died, I did a lot of soul searching. Around June, I realised that I wanted another tattoo but it had to mean something. I don't see the point in getting inked if it doesn't mean something to you, because this thing is going to be permanent. But before I show you my new ink, I want to share the few photos I was able to take of the island while I was there.

My only regret is that I didn't leave earlier. Had I left the cruise ship earlier I would've been able to see more of the island including a bakery I had arranged to meet with. Eventually I found my way to the arcade (or alley as it's commonly known) where the Salt of The Earth Studio was located. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. I would definitely consider it one of those hidden, off the beat paths. If I had more time, I definitely would've gotten lunch at this gorgeous restaurant.

Salt of the Earth Tattoo is the tattoo and art studio of artist, Kristin Forbes-Mullane. She's super nice and patient and I loved every moment. I wasn't in pain until the shading and even then, Kristen was really friendly and encouraging. Here's how it turned out:

I LOOOOOOVE my new tattoo! It says, "She believed she could, so she did", which is the quote on a bracelet my mum bought me as a graduation present. That quote means so much for me because there's a lot I have accomplished simply because I didn't give up. There have been so many trying moments so I see my tattoo as a reminder of my strength to overcome those negative moments and feelings. I highly recommend her for anyone who likes to collect tattoos from artists around the world. Even if you're not a tattoo person, her artwork is incredible and you should definitely check it out.

Well that's it! I'm almost done with my cruise recap. Have you been enjoying it so far? I can't wait to show you the last stop, which was my personal favourite: The Dominican Republic.

 

What I Loved (and Didn't Like) About Puerto Rico

Hello Lovely,

Our second stop was Puerto Rico. I was really excited to see Puerto Rico because it's filled with rich history and gorgeous architecture. I was also looking for any way to give back to the country after the devastating hurricanes last year. We landed in San Juan and set off on foot to explore. Just as I like it, no signs were in English so we all had to rely on our high school Spanish to get by (not being sarcastic). I don't know why I was surprised to see how modern the buildings were given that it is a U.S. territory, but there's still a colonial theme in their designs.

We walked up Recinto Sur Calle, where I saw the most gorgeous blue cobblestone street, and almost got knocked down while I stopped to take a picture of it. Then I saw the colourful buildings I had longed to see. When it comes to architecture, my favourite designs are colourful buildings and Gothic cathedrals. We ducked into a little bar and got Sangria in a pouch for $3. I really thought I was going to get to drink it out of the pouch like an adult CapriSun, but apparently that's not how it works.

We walked up a fairly steep hill to get to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. On the way a strong wind blew up my cousin's dress and apparently flashed everyone. While we were all just grateful that she was finally wearing underwear, this didn't earn us a free ride up the hill. The view from the top of the fort is breathtaking! We didn't go inside but we did enjoy a little photo break. I even got to take a photo of my 14 year old cousin, who up until that point, had been my personal photographer.

My cousin thought it was a must for us to walk through La Perla. La Perla is a historical shanty town in the steep hillside between Old San Juan and the sea where the video for the pop hit Despacito was filmed. My cousin mentioned nothing about Despacito. She was excited because it is supposed to be a very dangerous area that they typically warn tourists to stay away, but given that it was her fourth trip, she felt like a veteran. Afterwards I did some research and found that the little houses that make up La Perla are clustered on the other side of the wall, where the sea crashes against the rocks. Its residents have fought tooth and nail to preserve it, and artists like Calle 13, Ismael Rivera and Ruben Blades have dedicated songs to it. With 1,600 inhabitants, it is one of the poorest communities in San Juan. Drug trafficking largely drives its economy, with the government trying in vain to clear it. On Yelp, reviewers comment on the dangers outsiders risk going there. At one point (thanks to my knowledge gained from Narcos) I identified a few "drug houses" and when two men came out to have a smoke on the rock wall, I knew that was our cue to leave because we weren't welcome. But the graffiti my cousin promised was absolutely gorgeous and worth the walk! 
 

From there we were all really hot and tired, so when we came out by Castillo de San Cristóbal, our first priority was to find a restroom and hail a taxi. Our first stop on the tour was the Bacardi factory. I'll be honest, coming from a country that used to have a Bacardi factory (and actually put Bacardi on the map) there wasn't much that amazed me, but it was still very beautiful. After the tour, you can buy bottles of Bacardi, some flavours are only sold in Puerto Rico. But I'm sorry at $160 a bottle, I can have Bacardi anywhere, because they all taste the same.

After a day of touring it was time to eat. My cousin insisted on us eating at a local favourite called Bebo's. The line was unnecessarily long and slow. I contemplated crossing the road to McDonalds but I had to keep telling myself that I didn't come all the way to Puerto Rico to eat McDonalds.She wanted us to try the national dish: Mofongo. Mofongo is often touted as the best Puerto Rican food. Whether it is or isn’t is debatable with so many tasty options to choose from; however, it’s certainly the most famous. It’s a mashed concoction of fried green plantains with garlic seasoning filled with vegetables, shrimp, chicken, steak, or pork. Think of your favorite mashed potato but oh so much WORSE! I hated it! And sadly it wasn't even the worst thing I ate.  I ordered white rice, mofongo and tostones. Tostones are twice-fried plantain slices. Most commonly known as tostones, they are also known as tachinos or chatinos, Platano frito, bananes pesées, and patacones. I didn't want to trash anything about my trip, but I am not lying when I say there was ABSOLUTELY no seasoning in the food. My dad ate at a different restaurant and he said everyone there hated the food as well. Lastly, my rice was so undercooked, it only could've cooked for about 5 minutes on high. I really wanted an authentic experience, but I'm so sad that I didn't like it.

Have you ever been to San Juan or any other part of Puerto Rico? How did you enjoy your trip? Did my guide prepare you for a trip to Puerto Rico? Or maybe you have questions. I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Friday Favourites: Books I've Got to Have

Hello Lovely,

Now that it's officially summer, everyone is looking for a good book or two to read. I definitely don't read as much as I used to, but lately there have been some books that really caught my eye. I love the idea of coffee table books and it's even better when those books are actually filled with fun things to do, like recipes and DIYs. So I've compiled a list of 6 books I've got to get before the summer is over.

1. Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

Can we all just pause for a moment and praise the genius that is Joanna Gaines? I got hooked on her and her husband Chip after being forced to watch Fixer Upper with my mum. Now I'm obsessed with all things related to farmhouse living. When I found out about her book, it skyrocketed to the top of my list for must have books!

Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat
By Chrissy Teigen, Adeena Sussman

2. Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat

Some people call Chrissy Teigen a mean girl. I just think she's hilarious. And after this tweet:

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I knew I had to buy her recipe book! For years, she’s been collecting, cooking, and Instagramming her favorite recipes, and here they are: from breakfast all day to John’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter to her mom’s Thai classics. I know her new cookbook will soon be available so I want to get the first one and start a collection!

3. Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It

I found out about Melissa when I watched my first episode of The Kitchen on Food Network. I think it was the birthday episode and I was absolutely blown away by easy she made everything look. That inspired me to try my own tie dye cake and it actually wasn't so bad. Cakes by Melissa is a mouthwatering collection of easy and imaginative cakes from the creative force behind the delicious bite-size cupcake brand Baked by Melissa. I'm hoping this book would help me to become a better cake decorator.

4. Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts

It's Martha Fucking Stewart. Need I say any more????? Organized by topic from A to Z, Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts contains complete instructions and brief histories for more than 30 techniques, detailed descriptions of the necessary tools and materials, and easy-to-copy templates.

5. 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life: Practical Lessons in Pencil and Paper (Flow)

I've seriously been trying to get back into drawing, but never quite knew where to start or what I want to draw. So I think this book would be the perfect inspiration as it includes step by step instructions on how to draw a whimsically curated list of the things we see and interact with every day: a bouquet of flowers, a watering can, a cat, mittens, favorite plants and vegetables, a cup and saucer, a kitchen table, fruit wrappers, a seagull, a dress collar, an apple tree.

6. A Touch of Farmhouse Charm: Easy DIY Projects to Add a Warm and Rustic Feel to Any Room

I'm obsessed with anything farmhouse related and a book that's basically a live version of Pinterest sounds like a good idea to me. The projects require minimal effort, yet add instant charm to any room. I like a lot of the projects in the book but I wish that they all had photos attached because I'm a visual person and won't make anything if I don't have an idea of what it's supposed to look like.

Are you digging any of these books? What's on your summer reading list? Share your favourites  or anything you're excited to read in the summer section below.

This Quiz will Help You Create a Custom Wedding Cocktail

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Hello Lovely,

Wedding Season is upon us. Everyone is still talking about the Royal Wedding (I didn't even bother to watch) and I'm sure a lot of relationships are feeling the pressure to walk down the aisle in style now! One of the ways you can do that is by creating your own custom cocktail for your big day. I've been to a lot of events where they created custom cocktails for the event and that really made it feel special. But making your own signature drink can be a lot of pressure. What should it taste like? Whose taste buds should you go with? Should you include top shelf drinks?

Brilliant Earth has a super-simple solution. The ethically-sourced engagement ring company just launched its very own Wedding Cocktail Generator to help you and your betrothed create a drink specially tailored to your relationship. The quiz results even provide a mocktail version of the recipe for nondrinkers.

So now, instead of worrying whether “met while bar-hopping downtown” tastes more like vodka or gin, you can get back to the important decisions, like whether to spend your money on an end-of-the-night soft pretzel drunchies bar or a bridal-themed bouncy castle. (I personally want the bouncing castle - holding my bouquet, ladies!)