A European Adventure

Hello everyone! I know I have been a little MIA since the new year began, but I have been pretty busy enjoying time with my family and also going to Europe! As I mentioned in a post last year I decided to book a trip to Europe with my Gramma for my last two weeks of Christmas break.

On January 8th, my Gramma and I left Detroit, Michigan on a flight for London, England. We spent 3 nights in London followed by 3 nights at one of my old host families homes from when I lived in France, and finally we ended with 3 nights in Paris.

I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I had with my Gramma on this trip so I will give some of my favorite highlights!

For years now I have been obsessed with Les Miserables and I have dreamed about seeing it live. When my Gramma and I found out that there were shows when we were going to be there we booked tickets (IN ROW 5!!) right away and I’ve been excited about it for months. It was by far the best musical I have seen live and I spent 90% of the show with my mouth open in awe. We also went to Kings Cross station to visit Platform 9 and 3/4 and I even got to ride the trolly into the wall to visit the school (*cough* *cough* my next year abroad).

When we left England we took a flight to Paris where my “French grandparents, Mamie and Papi” picked us up. Not only did I get to see Mamie, Papi and their kids but I also got to visit Flore and Laurent (my second host family) which was really nice. It was a little weird going between English and French (because Gramma does not speak French), but Gramma really started getting the hang of it and could even make sentences with a little help.

We finished our trip off in Paris, staying in a tiny tiny hotel room which made it that much more authentic. Both Gramma and I had never been to Versailles so we took a train out to go and tour it. It was so amazing to see it in person after learning so much about it and always seeing it in pictures. It was a little rainy but we did still get to see the beautiful gardens and we’ve decided to go back in warmer weather for a picnic. Because we couldn’t have champagne in the gardens, we decided to splurge and have a glass in the chateau and shut up, it was amazing!

On our last night we decided to go to a restaurant that I have dreamed about since seeing it in 2014. The little restaurant is in Bercy and their speciality is aligot (a mixture of mashed potatoes and cheese). It is seriously the coolest and tastiest food ever and we might even try to recreate it at home.

Our trip was so good we have already started planning where we want to go next, so far Spain and Italy are on the list.

Love always,

A Fresh Start to 2019

For those of you that know me, you know I love shopping. I’ll admit, I have a slight shopping addiction. I love finding good deals and I have been known time and time again to buy things just because they are on sale, or are under $5.

Since 2017, I have been following a women on Instagram called Meg or @meghall on Instagram. This year she is doing #NoShop19 meaning that she will not be purchasing any clothing, shoes or house related items for herself all of 2019 unless it needs (needs) to be replaced. She has been talking about doing this for a few weeks and it got me to thinking about my slight shopping problem. When I was trying to stuff the new clothes I got for Christmas into my already full drawers I realized that I needed to make a change.

Yesterday I decided to start the New Year off right by cleaning out all of the clothes that I do not wear anymore/ clothes that do not fit me. This lead me to having a massive bag that I was going to donate to goodwill. My mom also suggest that I put some clothes online to sell (stuff that hasn’t been worn, or in good condition) and I did just that.

This year I am going to try to buy less than I do every other year. That means, not going shopping every weekend because I feel like I deserve a treat and instead embracing my (if I say so myself) fabulous wardrobe that I have spent way too much on already. Of course I will probably go shopping while in Europe next week, but I will still have my mindset of buying less and buying only unique pieces, instead of average pieces just because they were a good deal.

I hope that this gives me a new perspective going into 2019 and I hope this year is filled with experiences and memories instead of items.

Love,

P.s. If you are looking for some super cheap and cute clothing to start your New Year off right you can follow me @libbeyjeanscloset on Instagram to see the pieces I am selling!

My Scuba Experience

In May I decided that I wanted to learn how to scuba dive. I was going to get my certification in Canada but with work I didn’t have too much time and diving in a lake does not sound that appealing to me. I decided that I would get my certification in Barbados and I am so glad I did.

I finished my exams on December 12 and I signed up for my Open Water Certification class for the 13th, 15th and 16th at Barbados Blue. I called my Mom after I finished diving in the ocean on the 13th and all I could say was “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”, “THAT WAS AMAZING” and “I LOVE SCUBA DIVING”. Seriously it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, which is why I decided right away that I wanted to sign up for my Advanced Open Water Certification. And I did just that.

On the 17th I did an e-learning course for the Advanced course and then I started in water training on the 18th. With the advanced course I got to dive to 100ft which is literally crazy when I think about it now. I also got to dive through some shipwrecks which was super cool.

I got to see a ton of aquatic life on all of my dives including sea turtles, sting rays, lots of coral and fish, sea snakes, eels and even some super rare seahorses. Sadly, I did not have an underwater camera with me so I couldn’t get any pictures in the water but next semester I will hopefully get lots of cool pics.

It is crazy that I did two different certifications in six days but it was so worth it. I did get pretty sea sick on the 16th and when I got back on the boat on the 18th I instantly felt sick again. Because I was usually doing two dives in the morning, we would get dropped off of the boat, go diving for 45-50 minutes, get back on the boat and wait for anywhere from 45-60 minutes (to allow excess nitrogen to leave the body), and then go diving again for another 45-50 minutes. The main issue for me was the wait time in between dives, so I ended up floating in the middle of the ocean beside the boat so I would not feel the boat rocking.

Next semester I plan to go diving as much as possible (and as much as I can afford to) because I will never get a chance like this again to go diving whenever I want to in the Caribbean Sea. Overall, I think everyone should try scuba diving once in their life but be warned, it is super addicting.

Love,

After I finished my PADI Open Water Certification
My instructor Kane and I after I finished my PADI Advanced Open Water Certification

All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan

I know it has been a few weeks, but I have been studying away trying to pass my four 60% exams of death. Thank goodness they are over and I am now back to going to the beach everyday and living on island time. 

ooooooooh don’t ya think it’s a pretty good plan, all I want for Christmas is a real good tan. ~ Kenny Chesney 

Thanks to Kenny, I actually have a Christmas song that I can relate to. And it’s true I am working on my tan so that I look like I am a true beach bum and to hopefully beat my Aunt Karen’s incredible tanning skills. I am officially finished my exams which means that I have to recuperate from sitting in room for the past two weeks studying. Let’s just say I don’t remember what it is like to look this pasty. 

Yesterday, was probably one of the best days of my life. I took my first class for my PADI Open Water Scuba Certification and it was amazing, awesome, wonderful, beautiful and crazy exciting all mixed into one. My instructor Kane is really nice and he said I was a natural. I spent the morning in the pool with him learning skills and then he was like “okay time for the ocean!“. And I was like “whattttttttt“. Let’s just say I was not expecting to go diving in the ocean in my first class. But I am so happy that I did. We dove to 40ft and we saw some sting rays, sea turtles, a seahorse and some shipwrecks. Literally now my snorkeling seems so lame compared to what I was seeing under water. I have now spent 48 minutes underwater and it only goes up from there. I have a completely new respect for the ocean and the earth in general, I still can’t believe how lucky we are to live in a world filled with all these different wonders and beauties. 

Today, was my break day so this morning I went to go and pick up my passport because my visa was ready. After I got back from the immigration office in Bridgetown, I went to the beach with Meike and Emma and Tyler met us there. We spent quite a bit of time there and let’s just say my pasty skin did not take too well to being reintroduced into the sun for that long. When I was sitting on the beach I was thinking about how bittersweet it is going to be to leave the warmth and ocean. 

Tonight we are headed to Oistins for the last Friday night fish fry of the year! Tomorrow I go back to scuba and write my exam, so wish me luck! 

Love, 

Use The Good Crystal

Hi everyone,

I’ve been invited by Libbey to do another guest blog and although I readily agreed I didn’t think that she was going to insist on a deadline. So here you are my darling granddaughter even before the deadline.

It’s not surprising that she jokingly proposed a time limit because if not I would still be procrastinating or doing one of the other “jobs” on my list. It baffles me that a retiree can be so busy.

Tons of things have been going on since my last blog. Earlier this year a dear family member unexpectedly passed away. When a young healthy person is suddenly gone you start looking at your own life and those around you in a whole new perspective. You realize your time here is fleeting. Even the bible in James 4:14 says,  “For what is your life? For it is a vapour that is appearing for a little, and then is vanishing;”.

Trying to remember this has led me on some whole new paths. A path that includes first and foremost trying to be kinder, more understanding, more generous, and more helpful to others. Sentiments that should just be so natural and yet somehow get pushed aside in a busy, it’s all about me world.

Second TRAVEL!!!! I have been very blessed this year to have gone on so many wonderful trips with some pretty special people. First was Cuba with a few of my sisters, nieces and Libbey. It was wonderful a week of fun and sun.

Next it was off to British Columbia with my sister Karen to visit our brother Douglas and his family.

In August my beautiful daughter Jennifer, sisters Christina and Karen and I drove 17 hours north to surprise Libbey and Ivy who were working at a provincial park there. It was a wonderful surprise for them and we spent the week “glamping”. There were a lot of laughs, campfire stories, and barbecuing of some pretty spectacular meals. I even managed to slip a craft in and despite all the groans it turned out to be one of the highlights of the week.

In September there was a bit of a lull travel wise but certainly busy with other events. Libbey, Ivy, and Elle were leaving for school so we hosted a back to school bash. It was quite a sendoff. A few weeks later brother Doug was back home for a visit so Michael hosted yet another get together. This brought 8 of my 9 siblings under the same roof, quite a feat itself.  We had an awesome celebration!

The Bratt Family

October came and I was back in flight, this time with my husband (finally), two sisters, and a niece, for a visit again to the west coast. Seeing Douglas and his wonderful family for the fourth time this year. We also got to visit some brilliant friends; it was a great introduction of this beautiful province to Michael who was a first time visitor (and now can’t wait to go back).

This month brought us to Barbados to visit Libbey. Boarding a plane in freezing weather, with Karen, and my bestie Karla, heightened our desire to dodge to the hot, tropical island. Again another week of laughs, sun, beach, with Libbey proudly showing us around her beautiful temporary island home. But alas, we had to return to the freezing temperatures albeit with great tans.

Back home now starting to redecorate the dining room, painting, wallpapering, and trying to declutter (ugh). Which brings me to my third path. Use the good crystal!!! For over forty years we have had a hutch filled with fine crystal, what are we saving it for? To pass on? To use only for company? To walk by the cabinet and think what pretty glasses? All of those questions sound ridiculous, so guess what. We have now moved the crystal to the kitchen cabinets and are using it everyday. I feel so grown up, gone are all plastic glasses, one of a kind, chipped or scratched glasses and we drink from crystal!

I guess what my new thinking in a nutshell is, live for the moment, take chances, spread joy, and thank God everyday for special blessings.

Love, 



A New Level of Tan

You know it’s bad when WordPress emails you to let you know it has been awhile since your last post. 22 days to be exact. Well for the past 20 days I’ve been telling myself, “Okay Libbey, today you are going to put out a new blog.” And finally, here I am sitting at my desk typing out the words that can  hopefully be pieced together to make a good story.

Well, on November 7th my Gramma, Aunt Karen and “Aunt” Karla came to visit me in Barbados, and every single minute of it was awesome. We stayed in an Airbnb only 3 minutes away from my school, so I pretty much got a week’s vacation which was obviously a way different experience than what I have been living since I’ve been here. Let’s just say that I have never, ever been this dark in my life and it was a pretty proud moment to be at Aunt Karen’s level of darkness. It was a super relaxing week (I don’t want to go into too many details because one of my favorite guest bloggers aka Gramma is going to write about the trip, which should be up in a few days). Obviously, I was sad to see them go, maybe not as sad as they were to leave and head back to the snow, but in about a month I will be headed back for Christmas vacation. 

Time is just flying by and next week is pretty much the wrap up for all of my classes, so then I have a week “off” before exams start. I have been busy finishing up last minute assignments and studying for my scuba diving course. I am so EXCITED to get my certification, I’m counting down the days until I get to goto the bottom of the Sea. 

So other than that, I’ve just been doing the typical; school, beach, sleep.  Maybe the order of those aren’t accurate, but it will please my mother thatI put them in that order. 

Keep looking for my Grams post coming later this week!

Love always, 

Two Months

Two months ago, I was beyond scared and excited to be leaving on another exchange. Two months ago, I was stepping on a plane in Detroit as someone who I am not today. These past two months have taught me so much about myself and the world, overall giving me a new perspective on life, opportunities and taking chances. And I am in shock that I am already writing a blog with the title Two Months. The past two months have flown by. I am officially at the half way point for my first semester, and before I know it I am going to be getting on a plane headed to Detroit for Christmas.

The past few weeks have be insanely busy, which is why I haven’t written anything in a while, so I apologize! They have also been a roller coaster of emotions, but I will leave out the bad today and only discuss the good.

The University here puts out a draft exam schedule to make sure that no students have overlapping exams before they put out an official schedule. As of now, I will have my four exams from December 4 – 12, which means I have a 10 day vacation before I come home for Christmas. I am super excited because I am going to take my PADI Scuba Certification during that break which should be a lot of fun. Mom keeps reminding me that more people die from vending machine deaths than sharks so I hope the odds will be in my favor.

Last week I was looking at flights to Europe and they had some pretty good deals on, so I thought what the heck, I want to go to Europe during my break in January! After mentioning to my Grams, she decided she wanted to come too, so in January we are going to London, Paris and to see my Mamie and Papi in France! I’m still in shock that we just casually booked a trip, but I am so so excited.

While on the subject of Gramma, she is coming here in 12 days with my Aunt Karen and her best friend Karla! I can’t wait to see them and get out of residence for a week! I am hoping that the weather is nice and that it won’t rain as much as it has been the past few weeks.

Obviously, this is just a small part of what I have been doing the past few weeks but I hope you enjoyed reading about my upcoming adventures. I can’t wait to share more with you all in the upcoming weeks!

Love,

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Just Keep Swimming

Since the summer I found a new found love for sea turtles. All summer I talked about them and how much I wanted to go swimming with them. Well if you follow any of my social media accounts and have seen an overload of sea turtle pictures, it’s because last Saturday I finally got to go swimming with them. And it was AWESOME!

I didn’t realized when I booked the tour that I had done so through a third party site, so when we got to Barbados Blue Diving, they had no idea we were coming. But, they were super quick and amazing and brought us on our own personalized tour which was great! If you’re ever in Barbados, I highly recommend them. We ended up getting on the boat with a bunch of scuba divers, and once we dropped them off we had the whole boat to ourselves! We not only got to see and touch the turtles but we also got the chance to see three shipwrecks.

Overall, it is pretty hard to explain how happy I was that day because pretty much that was the main thing I wanted to do while I was here; and check!

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Tyler, me, Raymond, Emma, Grace, Meike

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My Face the Entire Day

Also if you want to learn more about sea turtles and how you can protect them you can visit Barbados Sea Turtle Project. Simple things such as using reusable bags, water bottles and straws go a long way! Don’t hurt our oceans!

Love always,

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Transition Into Fall Flawlessly

Fall is probably one of my favorite seasons. It isn’t too cold, the colors outside are beautiful and most importantly fall fashion is gorgeous! Because I am living in the year round summer sun, I thought I would share some of my fall favorites that will allow you to transition from your end of summer vibes into full pumpkin spice.

Fall 1

Click here to view this look!

Fall is all about neutral colors and plaids, so why not mix the two together? This is a perfect example of doing just that and also layering. It often is cooler in the morning and in the evening so be sure to wear layers, so you aren’t too hot during the middle of the day!

Fall 2.jpg

Click here to buy this sweater!

Jean skirts are the perfect way to show off the last of you summer tan before it gets cold outside! Pair a jean skirt with a knit sweater for the ultimate fall look.

Fall 3

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Who says you can’t wear white after labour day? My rule is that as long as there isn’t snow on the ground, white is a go! Pairing jeans with a cute sandal or wedge is a great way to transition into the fall weather.

Fall 4.jpg

Click here to view this look!

I love all things knit and this knit dress is giving me the feels! Pair long sleeved dresses with a short bootie for a classy and cute fall look.

Here are some more of my fall favs:

Fall 5

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Fall 6.jpg

Click here to view this look!

Fall 7.jpg

Click here to view this look!

Fall 8.jpg

Click here to buy this super cute cardigan!

Well I hope these looks give you some inspiration for your fall wardrobe. As for me, I’ll be in my bikini for the rest of the weekend soaking up the sun.

Love,

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One Month

Well today officially marks four weeks in Barbados. Four lovely, hot and glorious weeks in this beautiful country. This month has been about learning new things, trying new foods and reminding myself every single day how blessed I am to be living this life. Don’t forget that no matter where you are in the world, you are so so lucky to be living in this beautiful world. Over the past few weeks I have heard the words “well aren’t you afraid” several times. Here is my best advice to that: get busy living. Don’t be afraid to try new things or go new places because you think it might be scary. Try EVERYTHING! You will look back at the things you didn’t do one day and regret all of it. So what if you get lost, or scared or end up not liking something. At least you tried it, that’s what is important.

This week was the first week I have actually been really stressed out about school. All of my classes have some aspect of group presentations (some more than others) and it I find that it is super hard to work in groups to get even a simple project done. Because not too many people live on campus, not only do you have time to meet, but then some people don’t do their work or I am busy and can’t get to things at a certain time and it can get really stressful. Classes seem a little disorganized here as well (ex. not having enough chairs for everyone, people showing up and leaving when they want etc.) I guess it is just the little things that I’m not used to that I will have to learn to adjust to.

This weekend I knew I had to do homework/ presentations to get done, so I devoted my mornings to the beach and the afternoons to studying. On Friday though, a group of the other exchange students and I went to Oistins which has a massive Friday night fish fry on the South Coast. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen, hundreds of people walking around and eating at picnic tables, listening to music and watching people dance.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty relaxing, mainly focusing on school (which is so hard to do here, when the ocean is calling my name). Later this morning I am going into Holetown with Meike to do some grocery shopping and to maybe pick up some souvenirs! It’s nice to walk around the little towns here, because it seems that every one of them has something different to offer.

I hope that everyone has a relaxing Sunday and a great week at, school work, or home if you’re lucky enough to be retired (aka Gramma). Please let me know if you have any questions about my exchange so far or if you want to see something special on The Blonde Traveler!

Love,

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