Hollywood & L.A.

Top & Jeans Zara  Bralette Urban Outfitters  Earrings (similar pair) 

About a week ago I ventured out on a family trip, clear across the United States, and contemplated ever coming home! I totally loved it out there!  So many things to do and see. So many places to eat and shop! Like most travelers, I fell in love Hollywood & L.A.

Here are some of my recommendations on where to eat, stay, and shop!

Shopping 
  • Rodeo Drive- this is the main street for upscale shopping! Even if you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money it’s still a neat area to check out and walk around
  • 3rd Street Promenade- This shopping complex was near our hotel. It had a variety of different stores consisting of all the brand names!
Eating 
  • Urth Caffe- my brother took us here the first afternoon we were in L.A.!  Their pizzas/flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, & desserts were great!  we sat outside and enjoyed our lunch! This cafe was definitely a hot spot! It was very busy… but now I know why 😉
  • Lemonade- one of my sorority sisters actually recommended this restaurant & it was amazing! Their salads were delicious!
Hotel 
  • Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel – since we only stayed at 1 hotel, it’s all I can really recommend! However, we gave it a 5 star rating! The rooms were very nice, modern, and clean! At night we enjoyed sitting outside around the fire pits, sipping on our drinks!
Places to See
  • Venice Beach- This is a fun little area to walk around! They’ve got entertainment on the streets, food booths, and lots of little knick knack shops.
  • Santa Monica Pier- If you’re in the mood for a sundae or ferris wheel ride, check out the pier! I recommend going at sunset! You’ll have the prettiest view of the beach!
  • The Ellen Show- this was pretty much the main reason we went to L.A.! If you can get tickets, go!!! & check out the Warner Bros Studio as well!
  • Griffith Observatory- Although we didn’t have time to tour the facility I would’ve loved to! If I ever go back I’m going to have to check it out! We drove by it when we were looking for the Hollywood Sign and it seemed pretty neat!

I’m hoping to head back out there sometime in the near future! If you have any other recommendations send them my way!!

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My Trip to The Ellen Show!

Dress Red Dress Boutique  Shoes Steve Madden

(excuse some of the blurry photos! I just wanted to throw them in there for y’all to see!)

My aunt and cousin somehow lucked out and both got tickets for the Ellen Show, on the same day! From what I’ve heard it’s extremely hard to get your hands on tickets. Typically people will go and wait on standby hoping they get in. My cousin, Kate, got online one night and it said tickets avaialbe. Her and her mom ended up calling and going through a long process to get these tickets. They got approved and each had 4 tickets a piece! That’s when they asked us if my mom and I would want to go!  Originally, I wasn’t planning on going to L.A.  Things have been so crazy lately I just didn’t know if I wanted to take another long trip. So my dad and mom said they would gladly take the tickets and they would go!  Up until last Wednesday it was just them going.  Then my brother called and said he wanted to go to L.A. and I should come too.  We booked our tickets and made it a family trip! Couldn’t tell you the last time the 4 of us (my mom, dad, brother, and I) just went on a trip.  So this was great!

My dad gave up his Ellen ticket so my mom and I could go together! We woke up Monday morning, got ready, and headed out to Warner Bros. Studio.  It was about a 45 minute drive from Santa Monica and the whole car ride up there we were worried we were going to be late. From everything we read it said, “get there early.” “Be at the front of the line.”  Right at 11 A.M. we checked in, got our stamps, and then went to grab lunch. We were told to report back at 1:30 and from there we would start entering the studio. This is when we hopped in line and luckily got in the very front. Our group had #’s 7-14. Which means we got to go in pretty early. As we walked in to be seated my cousin and I asked if we could sit in the front row. I think since we were some of the first ones in there they happily said yes! and just like that, we had the best seats in the house.

The episode we attended aired yesterday. The special guests were Heidi Klum, Billy & Emily England (roller skaters from America’s Got Talent), TunDe Hector and Chris Wright (they had an act of kindness story), and Billie Lourde (American Horror Story).  Throughout the show I kept thinking to myself, “This is so surreal. I can’t believe I’m witnessing this.”  But at the same time all the guests seemed so real and genuine. It was like they are normal people too!

This experience was definitely one for the Bucketlist and I’m thankful I got to check it off!  It’s not everyday you get to go watch Ellen Degeneres. So happy I booked that last minute ticket out to L.A.  It was a wonderful show and trip, along with some good quality time with my fam!

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Cup of Piper’s & Bell Sleeves

Top MakeMeChic  Jeans TopShop  Belt Merona  Slip-On Sneakers Guess

Located in downtown Paducah (my future residence), tucked away in the corner of the old Coca Cola Building, you’ll find Piper’s Tea & Coffee! I went for the first time about a year or two ago, with C, and I have been hooked ever since! It’s the Matcha Grenadine that has me always coming back! It’s probably one of my all time favorite drinks!! During blueberry season they also serve a blueberry matcha drink that’s to die for! It’s a close second on my drink menu! Clint prefers the classic Cold Brew and that’s always a good choice as well!

If you’re ever around Paducah I highly suggest checking out this spot!! It’s a great place to unwind, sip on some coffee, or enjoy a croissant!

Visit their website to view the menu & read about how they got started!

As for my outfit, I’m wearing this darling, bell sleeve top! It’s made from cotton and is super comfy! The three tiered sleeves add a fun mix to it and make the top a little more dramatic! It’s a great, casual day look!
Shop it from the links above or by clicking on the pics below!

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My deepest thoughts on India

 Everyone always says, traveling is good for the soul. I couldn’t agree more! Not only do you learn things about another place and the culture, you learn little things about yourself along the way.

My time in India was short but so eye-opening. Throughout the entirety of the trip I kept telling Clint all the things I was thankful for and I wanted to share them with you all, along with what I learned. Today’s post kind of ties up my Indian travels. I’m leaving it on a real note with you all in hopes to give you a glimpse into my emotions/feelings. Most of y’all only see fun pictures, but I promise there was much more to it than just that!

My tips, thoughts, blessings, and suggestions:
  • Be Prepared to Travel- tickets, e-visas, credit cards (call them before you leave – I had trouble with mine), medicine, passport.. if it crosses your mind, take it!
  • Travel with someone you love. I know that sounds a little silly, but seriously. This trip Clint & I never left each others sides. Everything we experienced, we experienced together. It changed us and our perspective of what’s really important in life. Going on a trip like this is life changing and you want to share it with someone you genuinely care about. Not to mention you’re with them 24/7
  • Ice. In India it’s rare that you have ice in your water. Since we always ordered bottles they would bring it out with just a glass. It wasn’t until I didn’t have ice that I realized how thankful I really was for it.
  • Count your blessings twice. We all say it, but do we really ever do it?  This trip made me reconsider everything special in my life and what I hold dear to my heart. I learned that material things aren’t what matters. It’s family, friends, and God. Over there I witnessed how individuals get by on so little. They survive not off money, cars, and the finer things in life, but just off what they can make. They take it day by day. Their focus isn’t on what they can buy but how they can live. Imagine if that’s what we were all like. Aside from material things think about how much love we could spread.
  • Thank goodness for Amazon Prime…. like I take 2 day delivery so forgranted. Over there Amazon Prime is irrelevant and they all get along just fine. I’ll order groceries, food, medicine, clothes, books, gadgets, accessories, & etc. only to have it delivered within the next 48 hours. Do you know how lucky we all are to have that in our lives!?
  • Sewage system and America’s infrastructure. Kinda weird I’m thankful for these two things? Not really, I just needed an experience to make me realize. On our drive from Agra to New Delhi it started storming. It felt like the rain was never going to end. The worst part about it was that the rain had nowhere to go. It just flooded the streets and sidewalks. It got to a point where I didn’t know how we were even going to make it our hotel. I leaned over to Clint and said, “this would never happen in Kentucky.” When it rains, we hop in our car, and go about our daily business. In India they have to shut everything down and hope people escape from the flooding.
  • Grocery stores and markets. It’s no secret life in India is very different. Where we go to shop at Wal Mart or Target for the things we need, they shop along their sidewalks. Booths were set up, garages and shops were open,  their were moving fruit wagons, and food/drink carts were everywhere. This is how they get their supplies. Forget going to SAM’s Club or Costco.
  • Appreciate what you have. This kind of goes along with count your blessing twice.
  • Be Thankful for everything.. good, bad, sad, wrong, happy.. Seeing India in a new perspective made me think, no matter how big my problems are or the troubles that are thrown my way, it could always be worst. My worst isn’t even the worst.

This experience taught me to live life with love. Put my heart first and not my head.  Until next time India… and to wherever my heart takes me next.. Thank you Lord!

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

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Taj Mahal

Dress Red Dress Boutique  Gladiator Sandals (similar pair)

If there’s one thing I learned from this trip, it’s that traveling is good for the soul. Especially when you get to visit a once in a lifetime destination. The Taj Mahal, one of the new 7 wonders of the world, is too beautiful for me to even try to portray.

Let’s recap the day. We got up super early that morning (around 7 A.M.) to try to beat the crowds and heat. Right before we walked in there was a line of photographers asking if we wanted them to take our pics and we could purchase them at the end. At first we were like, nah we got this, but then I told C might as well. Which looking back, I am so glad we did! We didn’t have to fool with the hassle of stopping every couple of minutes and interrupting our tour to get pictures. Plus I consider these a keepsake that will last forever!

Overall we spent about two hours exploring the gardens and the Taj Mahal. It was so nice because it wasn’t super busy and we could take our time. Inside we got to really admire the marble, stones, and architecture. Our tour guide told us from October to April it’s normally so packed you can’t even stand inside. We went when it was considered their off season. Lucky us!!

They also just happened to be cleaning the Taj Mahal when we were there. This is normally a 4 year process, that they complete every 25 years. So if you notice the scaffolds in the back that’s what those are for! It still didn’t take away from the beauty of this palace. Pictures honestly don’t do it justice. When you are up close, witnessing it all, it’ll leave in you in awe. The marble is the most fascinating part. Inside everything is symmetrical. All the designs you see with stones and settings had to be done twice. Think about how long it would take to cut the blood stones, turquoise,  onyx, jade, and etc. into the same shape multiple times. Years and years and year. That’s why it took approximately 20 years to complete, with over 20,000 workers!

Did you know that the king built this just for his wife? He wanted to have something in memory of her. The sad part is he was thrown in prison (Agra Fort), by his son, because he was spending too much money on building the Taj Mahal. Therefore, he never got to witness the palace. He only saw it from afar. Inside the Taj Mahal, in the very center, there are two marble stone tombs. One for the king and one for the queen. The kings tomb is actually a little taller than the queens. That’s the only thing that isn’t symmetrical about the Taj Mahal.

I could probably ramble on all day about the history of the Taj Mahal and share tons of facts with you all, but I’ll keep it short! If you have any questions just send them my way! And if you haven’t inferred, this is a sight I totally recommend seeing in your lifetime!

I’m adding the 7 wonders to my bucket list now! But I have a feeling this might be my all time fav!  When you plan a trip and need suggestions, let me know! I’m all yours!

xoxo, T

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Travel Guide to India: Jaipur, Agra, Dellhi

All last week I shared some of my favorite moments from my India trip. Today I’m launching the travel vlog, tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Taj Mahal pictures, and Wednesday I’m writing about what India taught me  (traveling, life, blessings, love.. all of it!) Honestly, I could probably share blog posts over the next week or two from this trip but to keep y’all entertained I’m picking and choosing.

There’s so much to talk about with you all I’m not sure where to even begin. If you’ve been following me for a while now, then you probably know about all the troubles we encountered with this trip. For starters, our e-visas weren’t approved in time. We had to reschedule the entire trip. It was such a mess. Then the day we get ready to leave C forgets to print his e-visa (insert laughing emoji). I told the entire story in this post. On top of all the little things, I think the hardest physical thing about this trip was the time change and jet lag. I never really adjusted to the 9 1/2 hour difference. My sleep schedule was all thrown off and still is. Every night, around 3 – 4 A.M I wake up and can’t get back to bed until around 8.. It’s so bad.. I’m hoping melatonin fixes this issue ASAP! But I’ll take a little lack of sleep for every moment I got to experience. I’ve said it a million times, and I’m saying it again, “this trip was AMAZING.”

Here’s a look at our overall itinerary:

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday Morning- Tour Jaipur- The City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Textile Shop, Stone Jewelry Workshop, The Palace of Wind, Amber Fort & Palace, The Monkey Temple, Flower Market, Spice Shop, Brila Temple, The Water Palace, & Camel Ride)
  • Sunday Afternoon – stopped at the
  • Monday- Visit the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, watch craftsman make marble pieces
  • Tuesday- Tour Brila Temple in New Delhi, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Foreign Embassies, India Gate, Lotus Temple, & Qutub Minar

And a roundup of Instagram Pics!

 

Tassel Romper // Black Wool Hat // Maroon Tee // Tassel Pom Pom Shorts // Sandals

To expand a little more on our itinerary and a recommendation of the places you must see/visit if you’re traveling to India!

In Jaipur:

We spent our first two days in Japiur and I felt as if we could spent our last three there as well. There were so many things to see and experience.

  1. Jantar Mantar- The Astronomical Sight! Clint really enjoyed this!
  2. Visit a Wood Block Printing Textile Shop- So neat to see how the design textiles and fabrics!
  3. Watch craftsman shape and polish stones into jewels- The ruby stones were my favorite! (even though amethyst is my birthstone)
  4. Stop by The Water Palace (although you can’t go in it, it’s beautiful to see!)

In Agra:

  1. Taj Mahal- If you only see this, then I think you’re set for life! It’s the main attraction!
  2. Sheraton Four Points Hotel- we stayed here and highly recommend it! The rooms were perfection and they had a great assortment of restaurants and food!

In Delhi:

Since we only had 1 day here (well like half a day because we went to the airpot around 5 P.M.) we tried to squeeze everything in! It was a great day but also very tiring! I recommend spending two days there!

  1. India Gate – it’s a must
  2. Brila Mandir Temple- I told Clint this temple reminded me of Disney World. Something about the architecture was so whimsical.
  3. Lotus Temple- truly an amazing work of art! seriously, a building that’s a work of art.. you gotta see it!!

 

Hope you all have enjoyed all the posts up until now! Please let me know if you have questions or comments!! And I would love feedback on my vlog! This is my first one, so it was definitely a learning experience! It took me forever to edit, cut, add music, sound over.. and I probably could’ve spent even longer on it. For now, this is what I’m working with & I’m pretty proud of it!! There will definitely be more to come!

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The Monkey Temple

Pants |  One Shoulder Bodysuit | Shoes (I promise I planned on sandals then it started raining..) | Earrings

Ask me what my favorite animal was as a kid! Go ahead, do it! Ask my parents what I begged and begged for all my life!? Go ahead, ask! Ask my friends what they would get me for my birthday or what my 15th birthday theme was!? Yeah, I give you permission to ask.

Judging by these pics though, you probably already know. A monkey.. 5 monkeys, 10 monkeys.. just some type of monkey. And no, not a stuffed animal one. I wanted a living, breathing one! Once, I did a project on Orangutans and after that I was hooked. In my mind I came up with this grand scheme of how I could put one in our basement and turn the room into a jungle. I was really just trying to convince my parents to give in and get me one. They probably knew what I was asking was out of the question and I was a bit crazy. But hey, that didn’t stop me. I kept on and on.

Moral of the story, I’ve been obsessed with these animals from a young age. And when I saw that this tour took you to visit The Monkey Temple it was all I could look forward to. I was pretty bummed when it started pouring down as soon as we got there but we managed to make the best of it. Noticing by the pictures you can probably tell my hair was a hot mess! It was soaking wet and going everywhere. In some of the pictures you can even see the rain drops on the camera lens. Makes for good memories though.

We waited under cover for about 45 minutes until it stopped. The monkeys aren’t fond of the rain so they were hiding throughout the buildings. After playing the waiting game we headed up to the temple. It’s set up with 3 different levels and the monkeys roam everywhere throughout them. The first level was when we became acquainted by these animals. My pants kept blowing in the wind and one of the monkeys came after them. Maybe they thought it was a toy they could play with so they went running with it. (insert crying laughing emoji here) From this point on I jumped every time one came near me. You try having one chase your pants.

During the time I spent trying to keep my distance from them Clint was soaking up every moment he could get with them. We took a bag of bananas with us to feed them. The moment the monkeys spotted it they would attack you. Literally!!! Clint kept hiding it under his rain jacket and one tried to rip it off! Total savages is how I describe them! Bananas must be their true love (who can blame them though? bananas and peanut butter is my all time favorite meal).

After Clint had five monkeys on him at one time I figured I could try to handle feeding one. We found a secluded area and I attempted to get a banana out. By that time I had 8 set of monkey eyes on me and I got scared. I threw the banana down and took 10 frantic steps back… But I told them I was not leaving the monkey temple without having a monkey on my shoulders. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, right!? (You’ll notice I say that about almost every experience on this trip.) Right as we were leaving I said, “ok Torunn, suck it up.”

When we got to the first level I spotted a small monkey, went and stood by it, grabbed the banana, and let him come to me. I don’t remember much from the moment except that his feet felt like fuzzy rubber. I was terrified they were going to scratch me but their toes are similar to ours so that wasn’t the case at all.  While he was on my shoulder he peeled back the banana and chomped it up before any of his friends came. Within a total of 15 seconds I had a monkey, eating a banana, on my back, and it was pure joy. God thank you for these creatures, that experience, and for not letting my pants get ripped off me.

If you ever have the chance to go to the Monkey temple, go and don’t think twice! Watching these creatures interact, eat, and jump is unlike anything you will ever experience! Their mannerisms remind me of humans. You’ll be in awe and amazement! Definitely a Top 10 bucket list item for me!

Shop my look below or with the links above
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barefoot at Birla

The Indian cultures and rituals are unlike anything I’ve ever heard of or seen. There’s so many that I can’t quite remember all that I’ve learned. It just meshes all together. However, there’s one thing I will never forget. That’s walking through the Birla Mandir Temple barefoot. Here in India it’s very normal to see individuals without shoes. Almost everywhere I look I see men, women, and children walking barefoot. For me, the first time I took mine off was at the temple. At every temple you take off your shoes because it’s a Hindu tradition. The only temples we really got to experience was the Birla one in Jaipur and New Delhi. They were both a great a experience for C & I!

Let me tell you a little more about the Birla Temples. All together there are eighteen Birla Mandirs across India. We visited the one in Jaipur, built in 1988 and the one in Delhi, but in 1939. These temples are constructed by the Birla family. They all tend to be located in a a good area so they can accommodate a large number of people, tourists, and visitors. Inside the temple photography isn’t allowed but outside everyone was taking pictures, including us. I mean, for real though, it’s too beautiful not to photograph. The marble, detailed carvings, and architecture are absolutely stunning. It makes it hard to believe that someone could even create something that beautiful.

My maxi is from Altar’d State! I’m link some of other ones that I love below!

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Seasons of Change at The City Palace

 

Dress Red Dresss Boutique  Sandals Steve Madden  Wool Hat (linking similar one that’s available in three colors)

The City Palace in Jaipur is truly a work of art. It was the very first place we visited and it immediately blew my mind. The architecture, colors, and design was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. We spent quite some time exploring the grounds and learning about its history from our tour guide. (For the record, our tour guides name was Rajesh (with TAV tours) & he was fantastic. He truly made Jaipur a city to remember and overloaded knowledge on us about everything!! Without him we would’ve been lost! I highly recommend him if you’re traveling over there!) This complex was built in the 18th century and still remains as a royal residence today. I was hoping we might see some royalty but instead we got to walk around the meeting hall, examine old artifacts, and  view preserved clothing that they use to wear. Hopefully, after looking at some of these pics maybe you can imagine you were there with me!

Inside this palace you’ll find a courtyard area with these four doors.

The peacock gate represents autumn and is dedicated Lord Vishnu. You enter the courtyard through this gate and immediately see the three others. They are all symmetrical of one another.

The rose gate represents the winter season. It’s dedicated to the goddess devi.

The lotus gate represents summer and is dedicated to Shiva and Parvati.

The green gate, representing spring, is dedicated to Lord Ganesha.

These doors represent seasons and I’m used to associating seasons with months & temperatures. Days go by and seasons change. Time passes and temperatures adjust (at least in our time zone – EST/CST they do). With that being said I saw these doors in a different perspective.  Through my eyes I think they are symbolizing life changes. As you/we move from door to door, we are changing.. just like we all experience change within our life. As I stood in the middle of the courtyard, taking pictures, I thought to myself, “I’m in a season of life right now. As time passes I’ll enter a new season. just like I would enter through these doors for ‘yearly seasons’.” Are you catching on to the analogy I’m making? In my heart the doors represented so much more than just beautifully designed art, and god’s, and seasons. They represented how I feel about change within my life. Right now I’d like to think I’m standing at the summer door. Not because it’s summer and it’s hot, but because I’m like a lotus flower this year. Blooming to new adventures, expanding the horizons in my soul, and letting my old life fall off of me like water drops. I’m learning, growing, adjusting. Check back with me in a year to see what door I’m at?  And think about what door you would be at and why <3

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Elephant Ride to Amber Fort & Palace

Elephant Kimono Windsor  Gaucho Pants Target  Jersey Tank HINGE  Sneakers

Other Elephant Kimonos!

Never in a million years did I think I would take a ride on an elephant. When the opportunity presented itself, I said, “of course!” But like I said in yesterday’s post, I was a bit saddened by the life these animals live. Up and down, back and forth, is all they really experience. They are prisoners of the Amber Fort transportation.  I recently read a book by Jodi Picot called, “Leaving Time.” The fictional story was centered around individuals who run an elephant sanctuary. The factual context of the book was based off the studies of elephants and their emotions. After I finished the novel I saw elephants in a whole different world. Exactly opposite of what was taking place at Amber Fort.   Poor elephants is all I can think after riding one.

When we reached the top of Amber Fort we spent all morning there. We explored the palace halls, rooms, and balconys.  Parts of the palace overlooked Jaipur.  The views and scenery were absolutely breathtaking. There was one specific garden that I couldn’t stop looking at. I turned to C and said, “oh to have a garden like that back in KY.” Take my word for it, the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s a 100 times more beautiful in person.

You’re also going to notice in these pics and all the ones to come the storm clouds that loom overhead. It’s rained here every single day. Apparently it’s monsoon season and this was expected. Good thing we brought our umbrellas and rain jackets! I went and bought one the day we left. I wasn’t going to but clint literally made me. I’m silently thanking him now..  & speaking of rain, yesterday when we drove to Delhi the roads flooded unlike anything I’ve ever seen!! A couple of hours of rain and you couldn’t get through an intersection. We took some videos on the go pro and I’ll have to include some clips in the vlog. It was so intense it’s worth seeing!! (Can’t believe seeing an India flood made me realize how thankful we are to have a drainage system. Thank you Jesus for the American infrastructure).

Stay tuned for lots more travel blog posts! & thank you all for following along!

xoxo, T

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