Back to School

As soon as August hits, I know the end of summer is near and back to school shopping begins. Though this year my school uniform will be an assorted array of bikinis, I thought that I would do a “Back to College/University” fashion guide, in honor of no one in my family being in high school anymore. With Ivy going into her second year at the Wilfred Laurier University and Elle attending the University of Waterloo, their style game has got to be perfect. I’ve already given them the inside scoop and today I’m going to share that with all of you.

5deca13c1472dd7ff9d2aafb4098a4d4.jpg

To see this look click here!

An oversized knit sweater: This is a fashion must have! When sitting in lectures in a freezing cold auditorium you’ll be happy to have a cute and cozy layer! In September and October, be sure to wear a light shirt underneath so when the afternoon sun comes out you can transition your outfit like a pro.

42922ca220efe203ac56b6cc9f848e64.jpg

To see this look click here!

Stripes and Black Jeans: I love everything striped and checked because it is so easy to dress up and down! This outfit is chic and casual at the same time (you don’t want to look like you are trying too hard!). If you don’t own a pair of black jeans be sure to put them on your shopping list, not only do they match everything but they can be worn from school, to work, to dates!

4560dd4b488b0932fe7554f49d4f9b7b.jpg

To see this look click here!

Who says you can’t wear white after labour day?: In personal experience, in some classes you have to dress nicer than others, whether it’s to stand out, impress the teacher or even fit in with everyone else! This outfit is a perfect example of how to “dress up” when going to class! My key rule is you can wear white jeans until it starts snowing (otherwise you will blend in)!

6e01eeb86c8b168eb20bba83035abaac.jpg

To see this look click here!

No more bad hair days!: College/ University comes with many new found freedoms and in my cases no dress code. You can now take use of your entire wardrobe, even when you’re in class! Throw on a hat when you’re running late and no one will even know you were having a bad hair day. Work the accessories girl!

fc4432a93f22213c128a8e90cf1faf2a.jpg

To see this look click here!

T-shirt dress: I love a good t-shirt dress and they are perfect for back to school and fall. Add a jean jacket or army coat when you need a layer and you’ll have the perfect outfit!

Overall, just be yourself! Wear what makes you comfortable because that is what’s going to make you happy! Have fun back to school shopping and a huge good luck to anyone going into their first year of college/uni (especially my little sister Elle Belly).

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

If you are in need of more ideas be sure to check out my Spring Style post! You’ll be sure to find some other great options for this weekend and for Spring!

Northern Living

Well, I’ve been living in Northern Ontario for over a month now and I am loving every second of it. The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy with work and I apologize that I haven’t been able to post anything for a while. With limited internet access and cell service, Ivy and I tend to spend as much time outside as possible to pass our time. The weather here has been gorgeous and it has been perfect for swimming and kayaking, which we do a lot of here. Last week I went wake boarding (snowboarding on water) with two girls I work with and had so much fun. Even though I only stood up for a few seconds every time, they were super impressed and said next time I will for sure get the hang of it! The day after I paid my dues though; my arms, legs and back were in pain and I felt like I was 100 years old (LOL).

Last week, my parents came up to visit and we had a great time. We spent lots of time outside and in the water, relaxing and taking in the gorgeous sunshine. The last two days they were here it rained which meant we were stuck in the cabin but we still made the best of it. It’s crazy to think that in 25 days I am going to be getting on a plane for Barbados. Speaking of Barbados, I have been participating in a bunch of conference calls regarding exchange, payments (which have been coming in in buckets full) and meeting faculty at UWI via video. It officially hit me that I am leaving. I knew this was going to happen, as it did when I went to France on exchange but I have been waiting for that “a-ha moment” and it has finally happened. Because I am only going to have few days when I get home before I get on a jet plane, so I’ve been doing as much online shopping as possible to get everything I need before I go.

I hope that wherever you are reading from that your summer is going great and you are taking advantage of the beautiful weather. After all there is only 21 weeks until winter begins and this year I’m only going to have to deal with it for one month instead of four.

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

 

 

100 Posts and 100 Thanks

I’ve hit a milestone on my little blogging adventure, 100 blog posts. 100 different stories, adventures, cries and above all a lot of laughs. In 2014, I started The Blonde Traveler so that my family and friends could read about my adventures while I was living abroad in France. My goal was to publish a few stories and when my year was done I would shut down the blog.Alexa's Adventures.png

3 years passed by and I developed a love for writing, telling funny stories about my day-to-day activities, living in the moment and of course giving fashion advice. I decided to start using The Blonde Traveler as a way to share an inside look at my life and I am extremely proud of how far this blog has come. The Blonde Traveler has been viewed in 56 countries all around the world from North America to Africa to Asia. To the thousands of people who are reading about my adventures and stories each year, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would not be where I am today without all of you readers and you have inspired me to continue my blogging journey.

I am extremely excited to be bringing the traveling aspect back into my blog when I leave for Barbados at the end of August. I hope that I will find a way to bring you smiles and laughs as I share my adventures on my second year abroad.

Thank you again for all of the love and support,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

The Blonde Traveler Readers 2014-2018

Two Months Today

It’s officially official. I am moving to Barbados (how freaking cool does that sound?!?). Yesterday I booked my flight to Bridgetown, Barbados for August 26th. It’s really happening and I have thousands of emotions running through my head, but overall I am excited for this new adventure and chapter in my life. The past week I’ve been finalizing my acceptance to UWI – Cave Hill, finishing my visa requirements and handing in a bunch of paperwork. When I haven’t been focusing on my exchange things, I’ve been working (my new job) and enjoying the beauty of my summer home.

Last week I moved more than halfway across Ontario for a job that I didn’t know much about; and I have never been happier. I decided that I needed a change in my life and this job opportunity was just that – a big change. I’ve been living in Northern Ontario just outside of a town called Hearst for over a week now and I have already done so much. I am working at Fushimi Lake Provincial Park as customer relations rep and inspections officer. This job was a huge jump for me, since I haven’t worked in Ontario Parks for three years and it is unlike anything I’ve done before. I have so many things to do, which is perfect because I am always busy and the days have been flying by. The main component of my job is to inspect everything in the Park, make sure everything is in working order and is in compliance with the standards and write a report about it.

Because I have to leave my job early (since I need to go to Barbados), I have been working a bunch of extra shifts in order to make up the days I won’t be here for. As of right now I will be coming home on August 21st and then will be leaving from Detroit to Barbados on the 26th. I have already started to make lists, checklists, and more lists about everything that I need to do in the few days I am home before I leave.

Another update for everyone! My university is officially not on strike anymore, so I have been finishing up a few little assignments and waiting for my marks to start coming in. I am so glad that I didn’t end up losing any of my classes or year because of the strike and I will be able to continue my schooling as normal.

Everything is starting to fall into place, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Love always,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

From Chicago to Cambodia

Sometimes you meet people when you’re little, you stay friends with them for a few years and then move on with your lives. Well that is not the case with Bella or any other member of our girls group. About 15 years ago a group of us got together and we became friends for life. Today, some of us are living in Canada, the others in the U.S and Bella all the way in Cambodia. But we still try to see each other at least once a year. No matter how long we are separated we always pick up the conversation right where we left off, and that my friends is a great friendship. I am delighted to have this beautiful woman on my blog today and I hope that you enjoy reading a glimpse into her Cambodian life. 

Love, Libbey 

Two years ago I unexpectedly found myself living in Cambodia-home to the historical burdens of a genocide and communism, Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia and shares a border with Thailand and Vietnam.

Being brought to Cambodia by a job opportunity, the original plan was to stay here for 2 months. 2 months easily turned into 2 years as more of my energy was invested into a counter-trafficking project and the Cambodian communities.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 8.21.50 AM

Many of my co-workers call me “Khmer” (Cambodian people are commonly referred to as being Khmer).

I laugh because although I eat the street food, speak a basic level of the language, ride a motorcycle and have taken on many mannerisms of my community etc.- I will never be Khmer, nor should I strive to be.

I am an American. Growing up in this nation is embedded into me in both conscious and unconscious ways. Wherever I go, I bring with me the foundational beliefs and values of our nation. To deny the American in me would be to deny a core of my being.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 8.22.14 AM

Although I have made a home in Cambodia for an extended period of time, I am a guest. As a guest in Cambodia, I can kick my shoes off and relax, but must do so respectfully with a full understanding of my place in the Cambodian community. In doing so, my ability to take a continuous learner’s perspective comes naturally.

Although it has been two years striving to understand Cambodia- the behaviors of its people, the possibilities for growth and burdens of the country, I am always finding that any conclusion or insight I find always has a deeper layer to it.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 8.22.42 AM

The reasons for traveling or living internationally can be broken down into 2 motivations. Either an individual is 1) running away from something 2) running towards something. Whether you fit into either of this motivations, the perspective you take on as a traveler will determine your ability to benefit from your traveling.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 8.23.10 AM

These pictures serve as a tribute to those people who have helped me understand my role as a guest.

~ Bella McKay

On To New Adventures

The past two summers (and the start of this summer) I have worked at Talbot Trail Golf Club. I am very sad to say that yesterday was my last day working at Talbot Trail Golf Club and I am moving on to a new adventure with Ontario Parks. I am absolutely blessed to have made many new friends and “family” members during the time I worked there. I have grown in many different ways, gaining new strengths (and learning my many weaknesses), developing a new appreciation for bartenders and cooks, and trying to make people smile on a daily basis. I will forever be in debt to my coworkers as they have not only taught me many different skills, but life lessons that I will never forget. Each and every single one of the people I worked with share a bond that I’m sure will last a very long time. I’m grateful that three years ago I was given the chance to work at a course that means so much to my family, and it is with a very sad and heavy heart that I am leaving.

Today I am making the 15 hour drive to Fushimi Lake Provincial Park where I will work for the remainder of the summer. I am very excited that I get to return to the Park where I worked my first summer job and spend the summer with my sister Ivy.

Thank you to everyone for their love and support the past few days, it has meant so much.

Love,

A European Adventure

Hi everyone! Today I am super excited to introduce one of my childhood best friends Jessie to The Blonde Traveler. Jessie is here to tell you about some of her adventures from her cross Europe tour she took in May!

Love, Libbey

Oh hey there readers of Libbey’s blog. I’m Jessie and I went to Europe for the month of May! I have previously done the “backpacking thing” and didn’t want to go through the whole planning process again so one my best friends and I decided to do a Contiki tour and then a couple countries on our own afterwards. The tour was great! It took care of all the transportation and accommodations and I met some absolutely amazing people! 

My trip began in London and then I travelled to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice, Rome, Paris and Brussels. I covered a lot of ground during the three weeks I was in Europe, so I’ll just mention some of my favourites.   

Numero uno: Elan Café in London. One of my favourite things we did while in London was going to the Elan Café. Not only did they have fabulous desserts, but its décor made for some totally insta-worthy pictures. The one we went to was within walking distance of Hyde Park so we spent the day there and then headed over to the café for dessert and tea.

2) Edam. During our stay in Amsterdam, we took a short drive to this little town that’s known for their cheese. We all got to ride granny bikes and see how beautiful this place was and then we made our way to a clog- making demonstration with a cheese and wine tasting. This is where I also discovered my love for stroopwaffels- they’re flattened waffles with a delicious syrup in the middle.

3) In Prague we took a guided bike tour of the city. It lasted about three hours and it was amazing how much we got to see during that time. The architecture in Prague is beautiful and it was just nice to walk around and explore. Some of my favourite things included their chimney cones (basically a donut cone stuffed with ice cream) and beer garden which had a beautiful view of the city. It was also fun getting to write on the John Lennon wall. 

4) A Mozart and Strauss concert and Prater park in Vienna. My tour group went to a concert in the Grand Opera Hall in Vienna. We all got to dress up and listen to some beautiful music and opera and then later on we went to Vienna’s amusement park, Prater park, and spent the night on roller coasters.

5) Perogies in Krakow. I have had perogies before, if you count the kind that comes frozen from the grocery store, but they are nothing like true polish perogies. While in Krakow, they had a market set up with tons of little booths and vendors, some of which sold perogies, some fried, some not, both delicious. I also tried dessert perogies stuffed with raspberry jam and they were also super good.

6) Architecture and food in Brussels. I love my fries and I’ve heard that the ones in Belgium are wonderful so for that reason, Brussels made it onto my list of countries to travel to this summer. I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed, the frites came in a huge cone and they were super yummy. I was also a fan of their waffles, my fav were the Liege ones because they were super sweet. The architecture in the Grand Place was gorgeous during the day and at night it was fun just walking around the city. My inner science nerd also loved going to The Atomium.

I had an incredible trip with incredible people and I can’t wait until my next adventure. It truly was the trip of a lifetime and an experience I’ll never forget.

I also would like to shout out Romana Gelateria for having theeee BEST gelato and Libbey- it was an honour to make a guest appearance on your blog!

Xoxo,

Jessie (a brunette traveller)

Adventure to The Holy Land and the Ancient City of Petra

Hey everyone! Today I am super excited to have one of my best friends as the first writer of my Traveling Girls segment on the blog. I’d like to introduce Sabrina Gilmour who I met on my first day of orientation at Glendon College. Sabrina embodies everything Gilmore Girls and the fact that her last name is Gilmour is the finishing touch. We both share a passion for exploring and traveling all of which Sabrina has been doing the past few weeks. I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures and much as I did.

Love, Libbey

Last week I embarked on a trip of a lifetime with my family to Israel and Jordan. When someone first learns that you are traveling to one of these places the first question that usually comes up is, “is it safe there?” Well, you can’t always let this question get in the way of where you want to go. Despite people’s comments, Israel’s bad reputation and it’s ongoing conflict with Syria, Iran, and Palestine, we still decided to go.

Our first destination was Tel Aviv and from there we traveled the majority of Israel. It was like seeing the Bible, my history books, and all the documentaries I’ve watched all come alive right before my very eyes. In Israel, we followed the footsteps of Jesus. From Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus to Nazareth, where Jesus spent his childhood days, all the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was crucified and his empty tomb has been placed. We also visited the traditional sites where Jesus performed His many miracles such as the Wedding Church of Cana where He turned water into wine and Tabgha, where He performed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. We even rode a boat on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. It was an incredible feeling to be walking and riding along the same places that Jesus and His disciples did hundreds of years ago.

In the Old City we visited the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. Thousands of people go there each year to pray and place their prayers in the cracks of the wall which I was lucky enough to do. Each day I traveled, I became more aware of my body and my existence as I was able to reflect and pray in some of the holiest places in the world.

Onto the less religious side of the trip, my family and I rode a cable car up Masada and walked through the ruins of King Herod’s fortress. Moreover, I floated in the Dead Sea which is 1,400 feet below sea level and the saltiest body of water on earth. I instantly became aware of every single place I had a cut on my body. And of course, I had to cover my body in mud because of all the wondrous things the minerals have said to do for your skin!

For the remainder of our trip we were in Jordan. We visited Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land. We then traveled to Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world. The rose-red city was first established sometime in the 6th century B.C. by the Nabataeans. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the formation of the rocks, stone carvings, and colors. Nothing prepared me for seeing such an amazing place. It was like traveling back in time, and you wouldn’t think you were anywhere near modern civilization. I definitely had my Indiana Jones moment.

In Jordan, we also rode a Jeep in Wadi Rum where “Lawrence of Arabia” was filmed. I even rode a camel for a good 20 minutes in the blazing heat. It was truly an out of this world experience. It started raining while we were there which is apparently good luck considering it rarely rains in the desert.

While I was traveling, I never felt unsafe or in danger like the news media led me to feel beforehand. I am incredibly grateful to have traveled to two amazing countries and come home safely. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have traveled to Israel and Jordan at such a young age. Usually, these places are still on a person’s bucket list by the time they reach 50. I hope that each and every one of you get to live out your travel dreams in your lifetime. It is so important to travel because it teaches us compassion, humility, and knowledge. It allows us to step out of our comfort zone, experience new cultures and values, giving us a new set of eyes. As the saying goes… “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Thank you Libbey for letting me share my adventure with your readers.

Sabrina Gilmour

20180522_08411420180520_01542320180524_115637(0)20180524_151604FB_IMG_152777165566620180527_09051620180523_09263120180526_192724

My Summer Favorites

Hey everyone! The sun is shining and because today is going to feel like 95F I thought I would share some of my summer favorites with you!

img_7215

Product descriptions counter clockwise:

  1. Chacos – Last year I bought my first pair of Chaco sandals and I fell in love immediately. Not only are they super cute but they provide custom support for every type of foot, including high arch support for feet like mine! I have started spreading the word about these sandals because they will keep your feet happy all year long! You can buy sandals like mine here!
  2. Hawaiian Tropic – This is my favorite brand of sunscreen and suntanning products because it smells great and doesn’t leave your skin super greasy!
  3. Yeti 30oz Rambler Tumbler – Ivy and Declan became obsessed with Yeti’s in the past year, so I took the plunge and bought one for myself! This is not your typical cup, which explains the hefty price tag. This tumbler keeps my ice cubes without melting so my drinks are never watered down, perfect for my pink lemonade! To see more colors or to buy yourself a tumbler click here!
  4. Hair ties – I always have some extra hair ties with me in the summer especially because we have a jeep! I made these ribbon hair ties out of some headbands!
  5. High waisted bikini bottoms – High waisted bikini have started making their comeback and this year the trend will continue. I picked up these bottoms while shopping in Toronto at the Gap!
  6. Sunnies – Because I just got contacts I can finally buy nonprescription sunglasses! Big and bold are in this year so keep an eye out for some cute specs you can add to your accessory closet! I picked up these sunnies at my local winners!
  7. Floppy Hat – This floppy hat is not only super cute but it was only $5 at Target! Hats are not only the perfect way to cover up beach hair, but they are a good sun protector!
  8. A good summer book – I have read The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han every summer since I started high school. I recommend this to every girl who needs a quick and fun read for the beach! Click here to pick up a copy!

So there you have it, the things you won’t see me without this summer! I hope you’re all enjoying the weather as much as I am and wishing you a fabulous week!

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM

 

Summer Thrifting

The other day, my Mom came home and told me she bought some patio furniture at a garage sale. I just gave a “oh” nod and walked away, mainly because I thought it was going to be old ugly junk. The next morning when I woke up and went outside, I saw the coolest, vintage patio furniture sitting in our driveway. I couldn’t believe my Mom had only paid $35 bucks and walked away with some pretty sweet additions for our porch.

I love summer and I love patio season even more. I love waking up and sitting on the porch drinking my tea, or watching the sunset in the evening. Something old does not mean it is junk. This summer I challenge you to embrace other peoples old things and turn them into your “new”. Thrifting is so easy, plus its almost always cheap, and who knows you could find your next “it” piece. I encourage you to stop at a yard sale or your local thrift store and I can almost guarantee you’ll have fun and maybe some laughs!

I fell in love with vintage clothing when I was in grade 8 and it brings me joy to find old and rare pieces that I can make mine. The best part is, the chances of you seeing someone in the exact same vintage piece on the same day you’re wearing it is extremely rare. Find joy in finding the unique pieces that represent who you are, because hardly ever do people talk about the jeans you bought at Abercrombie.

Love,

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.37.10 PM