Travel

A lot of people have dreams of traveling or moving outside of their comfort zone. Its romanticized. Baguettes, bicycles, giant landmarks, running through fields (clearly we’re in Paris) but then reality sets in and you freak out about leaving your twin size bed, friends and everything you’ve ever known.

To my explorers, I want to introduce you to one of the absolute best. My friend Patrick. We met our freshman year of college, wore matching Hollister outfits, ate copious amounts of Jimmy Johns, were each other’s sorority + fraternity function dates. (so cute). Patrick went to study abroad our senior year, came back for a semester and then jetsetted off into the sunset back to London. BOLD. He is fearless and has so many poop jokes. Today he gets real with us on living abroad…No BS, like has he really seen a Spice Girl is true form?

Meet the Aboard Expert


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What persuaded you to move abroad?
I first moved abroad when I in my final year of undergraduate for university. I had always had my mind set on London… Europe even but there was something about London that was so alluring, and there still is. I’ve now lived in London for nearly 3 years, I was mostly persuaded as I wanted something completely different from what I was used to. Being from a medium-sized rural town in Illinois, there is not much room to really find your identity and true passions… So I wanted to move to an international capital and pursue a different lifestyle and new chapter of life.

What has been your favorite part about living aboard?
I’d say the proximity of travel is the best! I am going to Iceland in March for about $50 return ticket. Paris is a two-hour train away, Ireland is an hour flight. The closeness of other countries and the low cost is such a steal.

I also love the diversity of people I’m able to surround myself with. I have friends from all over, and I have to admit its a privilege so gain insight to so many backgrounds!

Do you identify more with Mary Kate or Ashley in ‘Winning London?’
Oh god, I can never tell them apart… but whichever ‘will always be known as the girl who barfed at the Dodgers game’ is totally me. That scene is very Gretchen getting diarrhea in Barnes & Noble in Mean Girls. Neither of which has happened to me, but made me lol as I’m so clumsy and unfortunate sometimes that my friends never let me live down embarrassing situations.

What was the hardest adjustment?
Ugh honestly, living abroad can really kick your bum. Being so far from my family and dogs was really hard, especially with a few family health problems it was tough not to be there. It’s also tough when you aren’t used to a particular healthcare system, and your ill without your mum to take care of you!

What experience have you had that you would have never had at home?
Getting home from a night out at 11AM the next day! Well, as well as going to gigs, film premieres, fashion shows, working, so many things that make me think ‘I srsly cannot believe I’m doing this, in London of all places’.

I also started doing drag in London! That gave me a great platform I think. I was in a major film in drag, went to London Fashion Week in front row, and performed a few times. There are so many opportunities in any city you are at to make something of yourself!

Have you seen the Spice Girls?
I’ve seen my favourite Spice Girl, Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) LOADS. She’s gorg.

What have you learned about yourself in your time abroad?
I’ve learned to be a confident, motivated, and earnest person- personally and in my work life. I’ve worked really hard to be here, and to be where I am. So I’ve learned so much about hard work and trusting your instincts.

Does London feel like home?
Yes, I think most places can feel like home once you settle in and find yourself and surround yourself with the right people.

Was it everything you thought it would be?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I imagined London would be idyllic with white pristine flats like you see in Chelsea. But true London is grimey, and rough which I love. There are so many juxtapositions in London… some good, others not so much. You can have a beautiful skyline of the City of London in Liverpool Street filled with the Shard and luxury flats, but also surrounding it you can find rough council estate blocks (public housing)

What advice would you give someone who wants to move far from home?
Do it. Everyone should get out of their comfort zone, and where they were raised at least once in their life. We live in such a massive world, and the issue with America is while it is a huge place, it is not the only entity. There is so much culture and perspective to gain from outside of the states. You’ll learn more about yourself than you thought if you take that leap!

Hey, its me again. Like how cool is this guy? HE SAW BABY SPICE. Annnnnd, overall is really chasing his dreams. Special thanks to the wonderful Patrick Jordan for taking the time to share his honest insight with us, along with a laugh. Follow him on Instagram + Twitter.

Do you guys have any questions for him? Leave a comment or shoot us an email at thebrunetteblend@gmail.com.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Hello from Chicago, but we’ll quickly transport to New York shortly. Buckle up and prepare for take off.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Airplane

After a delayed flight, we land in New York, hop in a cab and I began singing Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York in my head. Its only fitting, right? Right.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Times Square

G and I scrambled to our hotel room to get ready for my long awaited birthday gift- Wicked at the Gershwin Theater. We had dinner at a cute Italian restaurant and walked to the Gershwin for me to cry at the beginning of show, at Defying Gravity and For Good. I’ve seen this show three times and I never fail to tear up at these exact moments. Mad love for Wicked.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Wicked

A memorable part of the night was on our walk back to our hotel. Weaving and ducking through crowds in Times Square, stopping to see a dance battle and continuing to swim through a sea of people. We finally reach the stretch where its a little less crowded and in the far distance, I can see our hotel. We pass a very small man in a reflective orange vest. We hear footsteps hitting the ground rapidly and heavy breathing. Finally about 100 yards away we turn and this man had ran at FULL speed to catch up with us to extend his arm with a piece of paper and say, “Cheetahs?” Oh, no thank you. That was odd, what was Cheetah’s anyways? We continue to walk on until a few more feet and see the ever important “Cheetah’s.” You know what Cheetah’s was? A GENTLEMAN’S CLUB! I couldn’t keep it together.

The next morning we went to brunch at the Plaza (no, not Cheetah’s) and came across my version of paradise. A four floor Kate Spade store. You guys, I kid you not, I was embarrassingly giddy. I won’t bore you with written words about it, pictures tell much more:

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade Store Front

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade Jewelry

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade Decor

Isn’t it the best?! She’s seriously living colorfully up in here, while I snapped over 50 photos on my phone. #SorryNotSorry.

The rest of our trip was quick, but the most undull thing in the world. A highlight being seeing Hilary Duff on the streets of New York. I never knew what I’d say/react to seeing someone famous. Now I know. I acknowledge their exisitace and status in my head and keep walking. What I really wanted to do was run up to her and tell her how I listened to Metamorphosis on my walkman in grade school and then again on the floor of my sorority house years later. Maybe next time.

A trip for the books for sure. Anyway, stay tuned for a birthday reflections post AND my latest makeup trick (I’m LOVING it).

Talk soon!

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Arizona is like a page torn from a Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Out of this world beautiful. It would be a crime if I didn’t share some snaps we took along along the way.

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway

This was my first trip to AZ and I wasn’t disappointed. With needing a getaway and finally celebrating a marriage milestone (officially have been a Mrs. for six months now!) this was a perfect escape and the perfect excuse to wear my new romper out. If I could have, I would have spent the entire vacation in it. (Isn’t vacay the best to try new outfits?!)

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Romper

We roamed downtown Scottsdale, had a scoop of ice cream in the cutest pink restaurant, and took bikes to catch breathtaking views of the mountains. The only thing better would have been to have baskets and baguettes in the front of the bikes, but hey, not bad!

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Sugar Bowl

If you haven’t been to Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale– GO and take a ton of pictures!

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - in N Out Burger

Actually, #Grateful and #Blessed we don’t have one in Chicago, because I’d be hitting it up FREQUENTLY! Such a treat per Grant’s recommendation. I can’t still taste it *eye roll*

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Prickly Pear Marg

We were lucky to meet up with some friends while we were in town and went to the most picturesque dinner spot. (Drinks and great people? WIN) Prickly Pear Margaritas were a HIT and now I’m determined to recreate this pink drink. If its a success, I’ll be sure to share. If not, I’ll save you. You’re welcome.

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Arizona Biltmore

Hands down, one of my favorite spots at the Arizona Biltmore. After a day of traveling, we arrived to a different hotel, only to find they overbooked and didn’t have a room. All is well when you are moved to another hotel with a killer view.

The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Mountain View2

Back home in Chicago, back to the work grind, but so grateful for a wonderful trip with my wonderful husband. [Insert photo of Grant here, he gets camera shy sometimes] Missing the view, but the view of Lulu snuggled in a ball is pretty nice, too. I love vacations, but what a feeling it is to come back to your space and FINALLY shower with moisturizing soap– haha!

Cheers to Thursday and future adventures!

xo S
The Brunette Blend - Arizona Getaway - Trees2

The Brunette Blend - Effortlessly Natural Travel Makeup (1)

Greetings from AZ! If you’ve been following along on Instagram ( @thebrunetteblend ) or on Snapchat (BrunetteSnapz) you’ve seen we left Chicago for a mini getaway. Much needed and I cannot wait to report back with a recap– this has been my first time to Arizona and so far I’m soaking it all up and LOVING it! Its incredibly gorgeous and its almost as if its photoshopped. Unreal. 

If you remember six months back, we went to Florida for our honeymoon and I aired out my flying/packing dirty laundry. I cannot and will not check a bag. Carry on only please. If that means rolling and squishing everything I need into my bag, so be it as long as that bag doesn’t leave my sight on the plane. 

This obviously throws a wrench into my skincare and makeup regime, because not everything I own is under 3.4 ounces. Plus, when I’m on vacation, I want an effortless look that is TRULY effortless (none of this, “I spent an hour and half to look natural.”) This is a getaway and I want to take in every moment instead of spending a ton of time in the mirror. Five items and I’m off…. 

The Brunette Blend - Effortlessly Natural Travel Makeup

1. Maybelline BB Cream
Stop. This stuff is INCREDIBLE. Great coverage and takes GREAT care of your skin. It doesn’t clog pores and gives you an effortless, almost dewy finish. I apply this AFTER I put my SPF on. 

2. Smashbox Deep Matte Bronzer 
I recently just got this, because I was so tired of all the sparkles in my bronzer. This wouldn’t be such a sensitive subject if I hadn’t dosed myself in sparkly bronzer in high school and the beginning years of college. #TBT #Nightmares This Smashbox bronzer is great for building color and gives any intensity you’re looking for. Being extremely fair skinned, its great for getting a sun kissed glow. 

3. Stila Custom Color Blush
This self adjusting blush gives you the perfect color for your cheeks. Blush is one of my favorite makeup products because it brightens up your face. If you’re looking for a blush that last (as in you don’t need to replace it constantly) and looks great, I HIGHLY recommend this babe. 

4. Maybelline The Falsies Pushup Drama Mascara
Lashes, lashes, lashes. Mascara is always a great way to brighten your eyes and pull your effortless look together. I’m OBSESSED with the mascara and you’ll frequently get asked is your lashes are real…psssstt and they are! (Side note: when you’re wearing falsies and someone asks, do you tell them? Just curious.) 

5. Lipstick/Gloss
I’m loving a light pink on the lips. Natural, but still color. I’ve been coming up with a combo to great my fav color (I’ll share soon) Anything with a tint, especially Vaseline’s Rosy Lip Tins, are great for a hydrating tint of color. 

There you have it. The latest in the traveling makeup bag. The best part of this, is that all of these products can chill out on your carry on! 

Do you have any low maintenance makeup tricks when you travel or do you just take your whole box of make up and check it? 

P.S. The Brunette Blend is in for some updates so posting may be off, but will be back to a schedule ASAP with a BUNCH of fresh stuff– I’m excited and cannot wait for you to see it!

We’ve officially been married two weeks. I’m flipping through our Polaroid guest book and family snaps to hold me over until our official photos come in. It was over in the blink of an eye. It still feels like a day dream. Needless to say, getting back into the swing after a wonderful wedding and honeymoon is difficult. I’m happy to be home, but I think I’ll reminisce a bit more…
The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon
We chose Florida for our honeymoon, because I’m not about hurricane season and 326348163 hour flights. I plan on visiting a tropical place, but our honeymoon wasn’t the time. We were looking for a mini escape+sunshine and we were lucky enough to stay at two beautiful resorts. If you follow me on Instagram (@TheBrunetteBlend) or Snapchat (BrunetteSnapz) you got a little peek into our newlywed getaway.

G set up an unforgettable sunset catamaran cruise. Just us and Captain Terry, who was a total BA. He lives on a sailboat, NBD. We were able to see dolphins, sea turtles, and a beautiful sunset. We sat on the back and ate shrimp cocktail. Ended it with a little pop, fizz, and clink. *insert new champagne emoji*

The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon Sunset Cruise

Each night we were able to feel the sand in our toes and catch a sunset after dinner. We had little surprises along the way. A little shark washed up, I tried splashing water on it, Grant tried getting a stick. A family from England came over and proceeded to pick up the undead/dead shark and have a photo opt. Gross, but they did toss him back in the water for us. I guess we were all lifeguards…After that, we saw crabs and tons of beach life (is that a thing?) Here was my favorite thing I found on the beach…

The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon Husband

Here are mini highlights: found a PERFECT sand dollar, fed a giraffe, and one of many killer sunsets. Not pictured: getting a piggy back ride from the beach.

The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon Snippets

Ok, ok! Enough about the honeymoon, lets talk about this deliciously sweet drink I got at dinner.

Fleur D’Lis

@ Chart House
(photo courtesy of yelp.com)

The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon Chart house Cocktail

If you don’t care for a sweet cocktail, move along. This. Is. Sweet.

It is a tropical tasting drink with:

-Malibu Coconut Rum

-Midori Melon

-Peachtree Schnapps

-Splashes of Orange and Pineapple juice

I was only able to get the ingredients , BUT I plan on experimenting and figuring out how to make this exactly. So once I can, I will share! Perfect for a girls night or sippin’ on the porch.

Snapping back into a rainy Chicago night. I made our first dinner that didn’t include chicken– it seems that has become a staple here. I took a stab at a recipe that was similar to something my mother would make. A sweet pea and prosciutto pasta tossed in an alfredo sauce (made from scratch by the way.)

Cheers to warm memories and crisp fall evenings!

The Brunette Blend - The Honeymoon Samantha<

xo S

Hey from 32F! …I started writing this post while I was flying to NYC to participate in AdWeek! (It was a lot of fun and I plan on writing about it soon!) First time to NYC and first time flying solo. As silly as this sounds, this was an eye opening experience. One that screamed, “YOU’RE AN ADULT!” Despite getting married and moving out of my parents house, flying on an airplane illuminated my adult light… A lot has happened this year and after having a birthday two weeks ago, I reflected on what I have learned.

The Brunette Blend - Travels + Birthday Reflections Flight

1. Patience: I always knew the importance of patience, but it wasn’t until after I graduated I realize how important it actually was. I’ve mentioned before that I thought I’d graduate and get a dream job right away. I was a Box Office Manager for a year at a children’s theater company saving money while I applied for other jobs. It was a great out of school job, but I was discouraged seeing a lot of my friends receive job opportunities with great companies. Fast forward a year later, I’m flying to NYC as a Social Media and Public Relations Specialist.

2. Make time: we’re growing up, starting new lives, and are busier than ever. It is important to make time for our relationships and yourself. In a world with technology at our fingertips, its so simple to call or send a, “just thinking about you!” text.

3. Love yourself: Negative body image is an issue that tears individuals apart. We are our worst enemies. We pick apart our bodies for not looking a certain way or even picking apart who we are. We need to be our biggest cheerleaders and love and respect ourselves. Empower yourself and empower others.

4. Don’t be afraid to go to Dress Barn: my first day at work, I wanted to make a statement that said “I’m here for business!” in my mind, that meant pants. Hot pink pants. Turns out these pants were too big and my fly was constantly down. Due to the terrible pants experience, I’ve opted for dresses at work. Dress Barn isn’t for old ladies! Get glam, Kate Spade-esque dresses here for a reasonable price. I love the mornings I can zip up and go. Dresses have quickly become my signature. Sincerely, Samantha, the girl in the dress. Xo

5. “The feeling of nervousness is a lot similar to excitement. You’re not nervous, you’re excited.” With all the changes that have been happening this year, my dad has said this countless times and surprise, surprise, he is right. The next time you have the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, your heart pounding, and sweaty palms, remember you care enough and its always much better to be excited opposed to nervous. How many times have you been nervous and after the fact,you say, “I was nervous for nothing!” Channel the nervousness into excitement. Always be excited for your upcoming adventures.

Be patient, loving, bold, and excited. Happy Monday.

xo. S
The Brunette Blend - Travels + Birthday Reflections NYC