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Outfit: Friday Flare

faux leather jacket (old, similar) // top // jeans // hat // sunnies // boots (old, similar) // bag

I have always loved flared jeans. But let’s be honest, I love anything that makes me look taller. Paired with boots and hemmed to just the right length, flared jeans definitely elongate the legs. I love these Hudson flared jeans (and these Madewell jeans too) because they have just the right amount of flare -- more than a boot-leg jean (remember those), but not too much that you look like you’re wearing bell bottoms.

Also, who says you can’t wear Lilly Pulitzer year round? I love transitioning my Lilly pieces into fall and winter whenever possible. I used to be a big fan of the Else blouse, until I discovered this Tye top. It is infinitely more flattering (I think the Else has just a but too much volume for me). I really hope Lilly makes more of this style top!

Have a great weekend!


Ashley B
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Best Beauty Products for Travel

Needless to say, I have been traveling a lot this year! Santorini, Ischia, Munich, Venice, and Cappadocia, and that’s just since mid-September. Traveling can take its toll on your skin and hair, not to mention the difficulties of liquid and weight restrictions when packing. Fortunately, I have pretty much mastered my travel beauty routine and I thought I would share some of my favorite products and secrets.

Facial Cleansing Cloths - I don’t necessarily use a particular brand (I really like Rodan and Fields back home, but I can’t get it abroad). I find that they all work basically the same. For travel, these are so handy, because they are your cleanser, eye makeup remover, and toner in one (and as an emergency airport shower when layovers get long).

Moisturizer with SPF - When we travel, we don’t realize just how much more we are out doors and exposing our skin to the sun. I love Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30. It’s lightweight (so no breakouts) while still providing ample moisture for my skin when traveling.

Blow Pro Hair Powder - If my trip is shorter than 4 days, I won’t even bother bringing shampoo and conditioner, because this stuff is a life saver! Thanks to this miraculous powder I can go four days in between washes, which makes doing your hair while traveling so much easier and less time consuming (bye, bye blow dryer). Plus it is a powder so you don’t have to worry about liquid restrictions. The Blow Pro shower cap is also amazing. It keeps your hair perfectly dry and frizz free while you shower.

Amika Dual Voltage Curling Wand - This curling wand is magic. I don’t know how it does it, but it creates curls that last for 3 days! Now everyone’s hair is different, but for me this wand has been my travel must-have all year. I take the time to curl my hair prior to departure, that way I have tighter curls for the first day of travel, looser curls the second day, and a soft wave the third day. All without having to re-style my hair!

A Good Eye Cream - Your eyes are the first to start looking tired and haggard with travel. For this reason, I always invest in a good eye cream. I am currently loving Dr. Dennis Gross’s Ferulic + Retinol eye cream. The retinol stimulates the skin to regenerate more quickly, giving you a fresher and more youthful appearance.

Chanel Les Beiges - This multi-action, all-in-one BB cream by Chanel is amazing. It keeps your skin looking hydrated and fresh with just enough coverage.

Makeup Forever HD Powder - Since I take a ton of pictures (and my skin is super oily), I like to top my BB cream with this HD powder. I swear it makes my skin look super smooth and pore-free. And since it doesn’t have any pigments, you can reapply throughout the day.

A Great Red Lip - I believe in the power of a red lip. Paired with over-sized sunnies, a great red lip will keep you looking chic and put together, even if you’re running on zero sleep thanks to a intense travel schedule or layovers. My current favorite is Nars’s Heatwave.

What are your favorite beauty products for travel?

Ashley B
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Postcards from Cappadocia: Part 2

I had no idea that hot air ballooning was on my bucket list. I knew watching 100 balloons ascend above the Cappadocian landscape at sunrise was, but not actually riding in one. After seeing all of the balloons at sunrise, and talking with my tour guide and hotel, however, I knew I had to experience it. Let me tell you, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Hot air ballooning is incredible!

I was worried that it was going to be scary. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I imagined it would be a much rougher ride. It is exactly the opposite, perfectly smoothing and secure feeling. The only downside is that you have to get up incredibly early, but honestly it’s worth it.

I went with Voyager Balloons, and like everything else in Cappadicia/Turkey they had the process down to a science. They pick you up from your hotel and bring you to their store front. There you sign the waivers, pay, and enjoy a little breakfast. Depending on how many people are in your balloon, it costs between 160 to 225 euros. I went with the medium-sized balloon, which held 16 people (that might sound like a lot, but it really wasn’t bad). Once you’re checked in, you head to your launch site and watch your balloon get blown up. When it’s ready, everybody hops in and you start to ascend as the sun begins to peek out over the horizon. The ride lasts about 1.5 hours and takes you low into lunar looking valleys and then supper high to see everything. The landscape coupled with the rising sun and 99 other colorful hot air balloons all around you, makes it a breathtaking and once in a lifetime experience.

After toasting our successful balloon ride with champagne (apparently this is a hot air ballooning tradition), I headed back to my hotel to fuel up on some delicious breakfast for another day of sight seeing. My guide picked me up at 10 and we were off to see the famous Fairy Chimneys, the Zelve open air museum, and the Devrent Valley.

Our first stop was to see the so-called Fairy Chimneys. These are actually natural rock formations named for their interesting appearance. They look like fairy chimneys because of their unique rock composition and how it has eroded over time. The area was formed by volcanic eruptions, which created mountains of mixed minerals and rocks. As erosion slowly cut into the valley, the soft rock wore away while the hard rock remained. That heavy and harder rock compressed the soft rock that it sat on top of, preventing it from wearing away as well. The end result, after thousands of years, is funny looking darker rocks perched precariously on thin rock columns, which the locals termed fairy chimneys.

Our next stop was the incredible Zelve open air museum. What is today an open air museum was once three rock valleys that housed a Byzantine Christian monastery. Like other rock valleys in the region, these early Christian monks honeycombed the valley with interconnecting tunnels and caves. They even cut a large church into the rock. With the decline of the monastery, the valleys were inhabited by local residents until 1952, when the government deemed the area too dangerous after part of one of the valleys collapsed.

After another delicious Turkish lunch, we stopped in the Devrent Valley to see more interesting natural rock formations. Unlike the Fairy Chimneys, this valley’s erosion produced lots of different and unique rocks shapes. It is game to see what shapes you can detect. I immediately saw a camel in the last picture above (do you see it?).

As you might have guessed, after getting up at 4 am and seeing lots of incredible sights, I was pretty exhausted by the afternoon. Fortunately, there was plenty of Turkish tea to keep me going and time to relax a bit at a carpet-lined cafe before returning to the airport for my flight back to Rome. It was a quick, but amazing trip. One that I will remember always!

You can read about part one of my adventures in Cappadocia here!

Thank you Argeus for an incredible tour!
Ashley B
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Outfit: Thigh’s the Limit

coat // sweater (old, similar) // blouse (old, similar) // skirt // thigh-highs (old, similar) // shoes // bag // sunnies

Fun socks, knee-highs, tights, and thigh-highs are the best parts of fall! I love all forms of hosiery, but I especially love thigh-highs. They elongate the legs and add just the right amount of interest and fun to an outfit. They are also versatile. Depending on how you style them, they can be everything from sexy to school girl.

I paired mine with this adorable plaid skirt and long camel coat. I actually found this coat at the Rome train station, while killing time before a train. You can’t go wrong with a great camel coat and this one was a steal! I was surprised to learn that Mango (the brand) is sold in the US (it’s much cheaper here, but still nice to know there are options!).


Ashley B
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Postcards from Cappadocia: Part 1

Cappadocia was a dream! This magical destination has long been on my bucket list and when Argeus Tours invited me for a weekend in Cappadocia, there was but one answer... YES!

I fell in love with Turkey when I first traveled to Istanbul five years ago. I was struck by the history and culture of the city and how the Turkish people beautifully blend past and present. My experiences in Cappadocia only reaffirmed my love for traveling in Turkey and my admiration for its incredible history and fascinating culture.

I also cannot say enough great things about Argeus. They are a fabulous company who handled everything, and who has these tours down to a science. It was hard for me to give up control, but I simply got on the plane and showed up. In the end, I could not have planned a better trip (at a better price) than Argeus. Sometimes it is just worth it to go through a great tour agency.

I traveled to Istanbul and then on to Kayseri Friday evening. Unfortunately, my flight was delayed in Istanbul and I arrived super late to Kayseri. I didn’t get into my hotel until 2 a.m. But that’s ok, because you can see what I woke up to the next morning in the first two photos. I stumbled out of my hotel room and was greeted by one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Breathtaking is about the only way I can articulate the experience. It made my sleep deprivation and illness (which I was still fighting!) fade away.

Argeus also arranged my accommodations. I stayed in the incredible Kale Konak cave hotel. I could not have asked for a better hotel. It sits on the top of one of the mountains, so every morning you greeted by a hundred hot air balloons rising from the valley below. The hotel is a perfect example of how Turkey seamlessly blends past and present. It is a historic cave dwelling turned modern hotel. You get the feeling of staying in an ancient cave, but with a full Turkish bath, comfy beds, satellite TV, central AC/heat, and a waterfall shower. And don’t even get me started on the breakfast. The best hotel breakfast I have ever had!

After eating my body weight in Turkish breakfast, my private mini van and tour guide arrived to take me on that day’s adventure. I felt like a princess, because Argeus tour vans aren’t normal tour vans,  they are palaces on wheels! You should have seen the joy on my face when my guide gave me the wifi password for the van. Yes, that’s right, I had wifi everywhere we went. Turkey gets me. The van also had carpet-lined floors, a cooler for drinks, and large reclining leather seats. Basically they have ruined me for all other travel (I am looking at you Italy).

Our first stop was a caravanserai on the Silk Road! If you are a history nerd like myself, your heart just skipped a beat with that sentence. I have studied and taught the Silk Road--the ancient network of trade routes from China to Europe--but I have never stood on it. That is until last weekend. Walking along this ancient path and getting to visit an eight-hundred-year-old caravanserai (these were the strategic stops along the Silk Road to rest and refuel) was nothing short of amazing.

Our Second stop was Ihlara Valley. This valley is a 10 mile long gorge created thousands of years ago from multiple volcanic eruptions. Turns out the massive gorge created by violent eruptions formed a beautiful micro-ecosystem and the perfect place for settlement. The entire canyon is honeycombed with underground cave dwellings and Byzantine churches cut directly into the rock. When early Christians were being persecuted by the Romans, they escaped and lived here. Today you can hike and explore almost all of the canyon. After stopping for a quick apple tea (because when in Turkey), we continued on to the village at the end of the Ihlara Valley, Selime. Selime has a wonderful preserved ninth-century monastery complete with original frescos inside.

We stopped for lunch (kabobs, kabobs, and more kabobs lol) in a little town on our way to our final stop for the day, the Kaymakli underground city. I wasn’t able to get many pictures of this incredible underground city, because, as you might imagine, the lightening isn’t great down there. But I managed to get one grainy image of myself exploring the caves and you can see just how small and maze-like many of the tunnels are. You can also see the huge stone circular-slabs that were used as doors.

This city underground was built for protection. Inhabitants from the city above could escape below and live there for up to three months. The city extends eight (yes, eight) levels underground and is an engineering marvel. They had fresh water, ventilation systems, a winery, and waste management... almost 10,000 years ago! The complex was started by the first Indo-European settlers in 8,000 BC and was continually expanded and inhabited until the 14th century. After that it was still used periodically for shelter in times of violence and war until the 20th century.

After exploring Kaymakli, my luxurious mini van dropped me off in the town where I was staying, the Uchisar Village. Since my hotel was right next to the Uchisar Castle, I had to explore it before relaxing in the Turkish bath at my hotel (I know, life is tough). The castle is another rock-carved dwelling for the ancient Cappadocians. From the top of the castle, you get an incredible view of Cappadocia’s unique landscape, which looks like it is something out of Star Wars.

After a jam-packed day I was happy to return to my hotel and relax, especially since I had to get up at 4 am the next morning for my hot air balloon ride... but more on that in the next post!

Is Cappadocia on your bucket list?
Ashley B
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Creating Custom Google Maps

Obviously the idea that you can create your own custom Google map is not new. I’ve read several articles describing how to do it in the past, and always thought, “what a great idea.” Despite thinking I should do it, I never actually created one, which is surprising given how much I love to plan and research before I travel somewhere (especially somewhere new).

As I was researching where to find the best spots for blue dome pictures in Santorini, I quickly realized that these spots were actually quite hard to find. I finally found a photographer who gave a good description and the GPS coordinates. I knew I wanted to make sure I could access that info while in Santorini, and that’s when it dawned on me -- this was the perfect occasion to make my first custom Google map!

The process is super easy. You simple log into your Google account and go to maps. You create a new map, name it, and start adding by address, GPS coordinates, business name, street name, or by dropping a pin or line on the map. You can then automize the colors and pin icons (You can find more thorough, step-by-step instructions here). Before I departed for Santorini I added just handful of places to my map and then downloaded it on my phone (I just used the google maps app, but you can also download into other map apps). It was a lifesaver.

But the real value of the custom Google map came when I returned home and wanted to record and share my favorite places and best photo spots. I had several people who were traveling to Santorini or planning a trip in the future who wanted some recommendations. I realized that the easiest and most useful thing for them was for me to add everything to my Google map and then share it. That way they too could access it on their phones while traveling (remember having a working phone in Europe is cheaper and easier than you think).

So here it is, my Google map for Santorini, Greece that you can view and save - just click here!

I am hoping to make one for all of the places I visit, and, of course, I want to make one definitive one for Florence.

So what do you think? Is this a useful addition to the travel section of this blog?
Ashley B
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Outfit: Tres Chic

℅ sweatshirt (tee version) // petite beret (last seen here) // jeans (similar) // sunnies // flats // bag

My friend Kelly makes the comfiest, cosiest, and cutest tees and sweatshirts. She sent me off to Florence with this adorable Tres Chic sweatshirt, and I couldn’t wait for it to get chilly enough for me to wear it. It is perfect for casual weekend shopping, strolling, and coffee with friends.

I couldn’t help but pair my petite beret with it for a little more French flare. I love wearing this sweatshirt because it feels like you’re wearing pajamas, but cute enough that you feel put together. I also love that you can wear a jacket or trench over the sweatshirt and still see the adorable design.

This sweatshirt is indeed tres chic! Thanks Kelly!
Ashley B
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Postcards From Burano

Apologies for my lack of a post yesterday. I have been battling the flu, and let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being super sick in a foreign country. DayQuil, why have you forsaken me? The good news is that I am finally feeling human again, just in time to travel again this weekend. I know, I know, I do this to myself...

But anyways, back to the adorable town of Burano.

Burano is probably the cutest place on earth. I mean seriously, it is almost too cute. It is a tiny little fishing village on an island in the Venetian lagoon, and it is the perfect little day trip from Venice (you can take the “vaporetto,” or water bus, which takes about 45 minutes). This colorful little village is a photographers dream! There isn’t a lot to do on the island, but if you like strolling, taking pictures, leisurely sipping prosecco, and eating well this island is for you!

I even turned one of my favorite pictures from Burano into a print!,
Ashley B
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