Checklist for Victoria, British Columbia

I was in Victoria for little over a month, the first week I was there was all it took for the city to completely take my heart. The city has the country feel with city ambiance, it’s magical. My favourite memory is sitting on these steps between two restaurants(The Local and Darcy’s)  at Bastion Square, listening to a busker (Fintan O’neil) who’s there most Sundays definitely look him up urg amazing! Looking into the distance at the port where water planes are landing. It was a home away from home feeling. 

(Bastion Square- Finton O’neil busking)

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A Weekend in Vancouver

How a day trip to Vancouver turned into a weekend.

We went out the Friday night to Sticky Wickets, our favourite place in Victoria, and end the night earlier than usual but still at McDonalds. Because we were getting the first ferry out to Vancouver. We say goodnight and four hours later we meet back at the parking lot with a good morning.

That McDonalds was not enough for dinner, after bar snack and breakfast…so unfortunately we stayed in line for breakfast on the ferry the entire way and got mediocre eggs but filled bellies for tons of walking.

Off the ferry we get a day bus pass because we plan on seeing most of this city in the next 10 hours… Beginning with Granville Island. It was really cute. Reminded me of the distillery district in Toronto but surrounded by mountains and ocean. The food there was amazing. Grab some fresh bagels & smoked salmon, calamari, fish and chips and settle yourself a little picnic. SO delicious my stomach is growling writing this.

Next stop… we walked all around the pier. The 2008 Vancouver Olympics was an exhilarating time for me. I was old enough to understand and get the hype of the olympics plus they were in my country how could one not get hyped about it. So seeing the flaming torches was incredible and brought me back to my grade 8 excited self. Saw the huge cruise ships ready to doc to Alaska. It was a lovely walk, saw bridal parties, a hobo fishing for change in the fountain, lots of dogs… what a great stroll.

We then rented bikes from a store called Spikes, and rode them all around Stanley Park. I rode an old school bike and made the stroll so much better. It was a beautiful ride. Even my friend Maria, who is not into biking at all and really did not want to partake in this touristy activity, loved it. The ride was amazing and seriously so many spot for pictures and selfies with the group or by yourself. ALSO sooo many great spots for a picnic, literally anywhere. You can choose a spot with a mountainous view or a beach view, a great people watching view.. I may have seen a semi nude beach riding along.

**Still to this day when I’m bored I think to myself ‘’man if I were living in Vancouver I’d be riding my bike around Stanley park’’**

We went around for an hour, returned our bikes and all took a little siesta in a patch of grass in Stanley park. Ahah living that tourist life, nap wherever you can. We then went to Ladurée, the famous Macaron store, but the only one in Canada. MMMmmm it was definitely what I was waiting for. That salted caramel sweetness. Ate dinner at Milestones, ahah I know not to local but it was right there and we were hungry. After a great meal took our buses and trans back to the station.

We get to the station and the machines aren’t working, they’re not letting us buy a ticket to the ferry to Victoria. We go to the counter and ask to buy a ticket with the attendant, and she replies with ‘’it’s gone’’… that’s all she says. She looks up and realizes our blank stares, ‘’the last ferry is gone, it left at 9:30’’. We turn to each other, AHAH WHAT! There is 6 of us, how did that tiny bit of information slip all of our minds. We immediately start brainstorming. What do we do…

We are on the phone for about an hour until we find a motel in West Vancouver. Thank gosh. Our other option was to sleep at the airport. Now our next mission is to get to the motel before our day bus pass runs out. There we go take two trains, two buses, telling everyone on our way how dumb we are and how we’re in this situation now. Everyone just courtesy laughs. I mean we’re those crazy strangers.

We get to the motel, but on the phone we said there were only two of us soo the rest of us have to sneak in. Just our luck our room is two doors down and directly across the front desk.. So we really have to sneak in. This little room was not bad.. Although with all of our smelly shoes, leftover food, and sweaty bodies the room was not smelling so nice. But for a motel was not to bad, have definitely stayed in worse… don’t ask.

We wake up at 6am and get the first ferry back. Oh man we were all in moods. But it was just the cities way of telling us that one day is just not enough.Lesson learned always check the times, no matter how many there are of us.

~stay tuned for videos of this crazy weekend! ~

XOXO

Jac

My Top 5 Things to do around Victoria

Victoria has my heart! These are my top 5 things to do in my favourite place. As you will notice by the end of this post, yes they are all outdoorsy things. If you’re not an outdoorsy person push yourself to go on at least one of these because the view and the Insta pics are worth it!

1.Sooke Trails

This is one of the best hikes I have ever been on. It’s got tons of inclines, tones of tree roots to climb over. It has amazing classic BC views along the way. Bring lots of water and snacks! The beach is a great end point. We stopped and ate lunch with an amazing view of the snowy mountains across the ocean in Washington Park. 

2. Sooke potholes

This is by far the coolest place on the island… well that I’ve seen. You’ll need to be quite adventurous for this place. There’s a hole in the fence that you have to climb to go through. Climb down a rocky hill and you’ve found these pockets of water between rocks and some have little cascades and waterfalls. If you climb around you can jump in. Most places are deep enough to jump, but just a warning check the pothole before you jump!! There are rocks everywhere so be careful! I could spend every weekend there if I could.

~I didn’t bring my phone or camera for pics because knowing me I would have left with water damage to both… but soon there’s a BC video so stay tuned for those vids! ~

3.Mystique Beach

Definitely worth IT! I would say this was a highlight of time in BC. It was a bit out of Victoria, a 2k hike, with roots and inclines but don’t stress. I didn’t get the memo that we would be hiking to the beach… I thought we were just having a beach day… so that’s what I wore…flip flops and jean shorts but it was still fun. There’s a beautiful suspension bridge and huge trees. The beach is like no other. It was simple picturesque with a rope swing… which is way harder than I thought. A day well spent. When we were packing up I saw many people getting their camping gear ready so I’m assuming it’s a great place to camp as well.

4.Town of Duncan

This town is small, very small. We stopped for an hour on a Sunday and that was all we needed.There’s 80 totem poles around the whole town, with beautiful architecture. It has a large First Nations population and it is definitely apparent in the boutique stores, very cute stores. (The ones that are open on Sundays)  

5.Goats on a roof – Town of Coombs

This was interesting… very interesting. There’s grass on the roof tops so that the goats can feed off of. It’s a lovely little street with ice cream and souvenir shops but goats on the roofs… like how? What? I woke up from a nap when we arrived and thought everyone was just fooling me. But no there are goats on the roofs of the stores. They are so cute.

~ my BC video will be out soon where I show the really cute little goats on a roof! ~

If you check out any of these places don’t forget to tag @thebrokegirlsofficial so that I can see all the awesome adventures you went on

XOXO

Jac

Must Try Pubs and Restaurants in Victoria!

Food is always one of my favourite things to do on vacation…well in my everyday life too. But I mean while on vacation checking out new restaurants and local specialties is one of the most exciting things about the trip. During my time in Victoria, BC I tried to go to as many local places as possible. Most of these places are well in the student budget and I guarantee will fill your belly for more exploring and walking!

1. El Furniture Warehouse – @elfurniturevictoria

This place is awesome! Whether you’re on a low budget or want to feast on many things! This place is your place! EVERYTHING on the menu is $4.95… yea EVERYTHING! I had french onion soup on the side of a grilled cheese, but let me tell you about this grilled cheese! Oohh it was like the Joey, a friend we made in Switzerland who fed our pour asses made us dutch grilled cheese! This grilled cheese had goat cheese, white cheddar and cream cheese, urg so good my mouth is watering thinking about it… and the cost.. Did I mention it was $4.95!!! Also they’re open till late.. Like 2 am! So yea I know they have these everywhere but when you’re travelling why not eat somewhere to save a few extra coins.

2. Red Fish Blue Fish (best food truck in Victoria)

This is a Victoria must… fish and chips from a food truck… looking at the water.. I don’t need to say anymore other than it’s really good.

3. Bard and Banker @bardandbanker

THIS PLACE IS A MUST! I walked into this place every time I passed by. It’s an old bank from 1885, that in 2008 got turned into a pub but they left all the original staircase and lights. It has a Gatsby ambiance that makes you want to stay for hours. They serve lunch, dinner and amazing drinks! Also live music every night! It is an older crowd but definitely worth a visit! SO much Fun!

4. The Sticky Wicket Pub & Restaurant- 919 Douglas St

Oh dear this place! The first couple days all our friend decided to go here. When I called to confirm the where everyone was I understood it as Sixteen Witches, so there I was going up to anyone on the street asking for directions to sixteen witches and every local was like ‘oh no that must be new’… which is why I though maybe thats why it  wasn’t on google maps… nope just my brain.

So eventually we figure it out after about an hour, but seriously every town should have a place like this. It has an amazing rooftop patio with heating lamps (those are important) and and AND a volleyball court! The downstairs portion has a great big bar with tones of seats and then in the back… a dance floor that turns into every into a hot, sweaty Shakira. So this place has really got it all.  

5. The Local – 1205 Wharf St.

This place so yummy! Patio food with Insta story worthy patio pics, facing the water.

6. Milestones – 812 Wharf St.

Oh man my favourite restaurant! Monday nights girls nights! Seriously the view from this place is like no other! Right on the boardwalk port! Facing parliament!

7. High Tea at The Fairmont Empress-721 Government Street… But it’s really expensive if you still want the experience of high tea in Victoria find a sugar daddy … maybe you’ll have better luck than me! But I hear it’s an amazing place to feel bougie ! Maybe one day!

8. Darcy’s Pub-1127 Wharf St. 

OOOOOoo yea ! Again this is just beside the local and is your basic pub but with an amazing view. At night they have live bands and great people walk in, definitely a lot of opportunity to make some friends.

9.Chocolats Favoris- 1010 Government St.

Ah-Mazing place for a little sweet craving! I recommend getting the smallest size because it can be so rich and that’s coming from me! I love sweets! So you can pick your ice cream and then what ever flavoured chocolate you want it topped with. My go to was chocolate ice cream with s’mores chocolate coating! mmmmm Mmm mouth still watering.

10. The Joint- 1219 Wharf Street 

This has the best pizza in the city. Best for mid day snack touring around or midnight snack after a night on the town. Right beside the restaurant to the right theres a window… that sells mac and cheese and it is beyond amazing. Sometimes if you go at the right time, they may give you a free one… also fun fact BC is very eco friendly so their forks are wood…adds flavour.

 

~A video of my Victoria Adventures are to come!!~

XOXO

Jac

Saving that vacation $$

Most of us know that travelling is one of the best experiences you can have. It allows you to immerse yourself in new cultures, learn more about other parts of the world, gain independence, and have a lot of fun. However, it is not usually the cheapest thing to do, and as a broke girl sometimes the thought of affording a trip seems unrealistic. I’m going to share with you guys how this broke girl saved her butt off to afford a 2 week trip through Europe with her girls. This is going to be a documentation of personal experience, but hopefully you can relate it to yourself and use some of the tricks I used.

To begin, you should know at this point I had already saved the money and had paid for my flights. This was just money I had saved from working over the last while, and what I am saving for in this piece is the rest of the trip (accommodations, food, shopping, fun, emergency money etc). The trip was on May 24th, and I finished my last year of university on April 30th, with about 100 dollars to my name, meaning I had a lot to save and very little time to do it. I also was working a minimum wage job at the time, with only about 10-15 hours a week. It didn’t really make sense to get a new job, as most places won’t hire you to work less than a month before leaving for vacation, so this was it.

The first thing I did was calculate exactly how much I would be spending on accommodations. To make sure we were prepared, my friends and I booked our hostels and air b&b’s in advance, meaning I knew the total amount of money I needed to make sure I had a place to sleep at night, which was about $600. Next, I spoke to some friends and relatives who had done the backpacking trips before, and just vacationing in general. I asked about the cost of food, and fun, and how much they would say they spent on average throughout the trip. It may seem easy to say you just won’t really spend much, but even when you do it frugally, you have to eat, and many of the attractions you will see cost money. Also, while travelling you may want to buy something nice you see a long the way and have some general spending money. Finally, and this is a tip I HIGHLY recommend, I went to a banker and asked their thoughts on budgeting. I told them approximately how much I thought I would be spending and they talked me through saving tips, and how to take your money farther. They told me I would be smart to start with $300.00 in cash to begin with, and only take a little bit with me out at a time, leaving the rest of it in my bag in the hostel. They also told me a smart tip to save as you travel is to use debit when you are at restaurants or stores. This is because it costs a lot of money to take cash out from an atm machine in another country, and places like this will not charge you to use your debit. Saving cash is key. Finally, when I went to them with the total amount of money I had saved, they helped me come up with a budget for food and fun to try and stick to, to ensure I didn’t run out. The best part of speaking to a banker, was the fact that they were accounting for the exchange rate I did not think of when I was doing my own calculations, because 5 euro’s is approximately $7.50 Canadian, which really adds up.

Once I had calculated the average cost of spending money, and added it to my $600 I needed for accommodations, I knew I had 24 days to get about $1500.00 This meant I was left with 900 dollars for spending money, which seemed like a lot at the time but really isn’t a ton.

The key for me over the next 24 days, was to make as much money as I could, and save every penny. Let me break down how I managed to save 1500 in less than a month.

  1. My part time job. Although this didn’t pay a lot, I was making about $300.00 a pay cheque, and in this time period I received 2 pay cheques. However, this was not the only thing I had to pay for. My first pay cheque had to cover some of my credit card, and paying back a friend for some flights. So I ended up with about $300 from work.
  2. Graduation presents. Now I was lucky, and was going right after I graduated, so as a present from my mum, I asked for a bit of money. She ended up giving me 200 dollars which was very generous, but even 100 would have been great. I was also given 100 from my grandparents, and 150 from my aunt, which was extremely kind and helpful.
  3. Odd jobs. Again family and friends blessed me hard here. I used my spare time to offer my services and help family and friends. My best friend’s dad was starting a business, and had me come in a few times to do some clerical work for him, formatting documents and what not. He paid me hourly, and after working for him a few times I had about 200 dollars. After this, I had my 600 for accommodations, plus an extra $50. I was also paid $500.00 for cleaning and organizing my house top to bottom (including the basement which was a huge mess of garbage and bins)
  4. Taxes. I was travelling around the time that taxes were due, and I ended up with money back. I thought I was getting 300 dollars, however when the cheque came in the mail (the DAY I was leaving) it was only for 150, because I had owed money I didn’t know about.
  5. Empty bottles. I collected all the empties I could from my student house, my friends and my family, and brought it all in to LCBO, giving me about 30 extra dollars.
  6. Government cheques. I get government cheques for approximately 50 dollars every month, so this months cheque went straight to the savings.

After this I ended up with 1680 dollars. Which worked out quite well with the exchange rate added in, but here was the struggle; not spending any of the money before the trip. That first 2 weeks I sparingly used the 100 dollars I had when I started the summer, and a bit of my first work paycheque. For the last week and a half before the trip I did not spend 1 single dollar. This was not easy, but worth it for me. Here’s how I did it, it’s quite a simple concept really.

  1.  I did not spend money with friends, instead I suggested we did fun things outside, or made food as a group at home. When the group wanted to go to a bar, I offered to be DD so I wouldn’t buy a drink, and opted for just water.
  2.  I made sure I brought all my meals and ate them at home instead of going out to eat and buying food (which I have a terrible habit of). I also brought my tea and coffee in travel mugs whenever I thought I would be tempted to buy one.
  3. I avoided malls. I LOVE to shop, and I knew I would spend money easily if given the opportunity, I was going on a trip, I had to look my very best right?! Instead, I went through my whole closet, and put together outfits I liked with clothes I already had.
  4. I didn’t drive far. Luckily I worked close by, and many of my friends were close, but I didn’t have the money to spend on gas, so I would walk everywhere I could. If I had to drive I would, (like I mentioned before, I was DD when we went out) but I avoided going too far without having someone else who was willing to drive. This wasn’t bad considering many of my friends had cars, and I did feel bad not offering to drive, but in the span of a week and a half no one was going too far anyway.
  5. I had (almost) all my money in cash and cheques. The cash I had is what I used to change to Euros and hold in cash. The cheques I didn’t deposit until the day before I left, and I asked anyone e-transferring me to wait until the few days before I left. It makes it really easy to not spend money when it seems as though you have none to spend.
  6. Finally, on the day I left (my flight was at 10 pm) I broke out the change jar. This is something I recommend for everyone to do, keep lose change in a jar. You will be SHOCKED by how fast it adds up. I have a bad habit of spending the money, or forgetting to add my spare change, but I ended up with about 30 dollars in change. That morning I went to the bank and asked for it to be made into bills, and used that money to buy the last things for my trip. This included a new tooth brush, travel toiletries, and snacks for the plane.

Good luck saving and happy travels!!

Love always,

Nic

Living ‘the life’ in the African Safari

We drive from Cape Town for about an hour and half to the reserve. We enter the gates and drive down this long dirt road for probably a good 15 minutes. Our white rental car is no longer white. Right when we walk in the wood chalet looking house, were given warm toilettes, ok yes this is the life. It get’s better, we’re then greeted with ‘sangria’, yup ok I’ll stay here for the rest of my life.

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How to find yourself: Post break up

Almost everybody at some point in their life has broken up with someone, and has been broken up with, and if not, you most likely will have to face this one day. Bottom line is, break-ups happen, and although sometimes they lead to an immediate feeling of freedom and relief, but often, they suck. One of the hardest parts of a break up for many comes after getting out of a very long term relationship, when you have to re-learn who you are without this other person. It’s easy to say while in a relationship “I am my own person, I’d be completely okay without this person by my side” but when someone has been a big part of your life for so long, it’s easy to get lost in that friendship and mutual love and you can become committed to that part of your life, and when that ends, often there’s a gap to fill. Although it won’t make it any easier, here are some tips to help you through.

  1. Cry

This may sound like the opposite of what I just said to do, but it is very very normal to cry after a break up. Sometimes you will find yourself crying for days. It’s easy to find yourself distracted during the day, going to work or school, spending time around people, but when you return home alone at night, it’s easy to feel sad and that’s okay. Crying is really healthy for you, and if you don’t let out the emotions you have about the situation, they are just going to become pent up and will get lashed out badly in some other way. But when it feels like you’ve been crying forever, remember that one day you will go about your day, come home, and realize you didn’t cry once all day, and soon after you will realize that you didn’t cry once all week, and when a month is up, and you look back still dry eyed, suddenly it won’t be so bad.

  1. Eat the ice cream

Or drink the wine, or munch on the Pizza, or feel sick to your stomach and avoid food after one bite, but for a minute don’t worry about being healthy or picking the smarter option, because sometimes we just need some comfort food.

  1. Shower and put on some makeup (if you like wearing makeup)

The next day, or two days later, when you take a cry break and the snacks are done, hop in the shower and just let yourself feel clean. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is amazing how much taking a shower can make you feel better, and more in control. Next, put on some make up or do your hair or whatever it takes to feel put together for you. It genuinely peps you up when you look your best and it helps you feel.. maybe not the best but better. More in control.

  1. Spend some time with friends or family

Being around people who make you feel happy and confident and laugh on the regular will not only help you to not think about your heartache for a while, but to remind yourself that there are so much people that love you, always.

  1. Find a passion

If you don’t really have a passion, find one, there are always classes and activities going on in rec centers and what not, and if you already have a passion, throw yourself into it. For myself, this was theatre and fashion. Throwing yourself head first into things you really care about gives you a huge sense of purpose and happiness, and connects you with new people that have like-minded interests.

Sometimes, the hardest part of a break up is having to start understanding who you are without another person by your side, but as sad as it is, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and really find yourself. Hope this helps a little.

Love always,
Nic

15 Closet Staples

Getting creative with your wardrobe is always fun, but there are some things it’s always good to have. They’re versatile, simple, and basic, but also necessary and attractive. Here are 15 closet staples you should always have on hand.

1. Leather Jacket

The beauty of a leather jacket is you can wear it with almost anything. Throw it over a black skirt and band shirt for “rocker chic”, or put it with dress pants and a nice shirt for a more polished look.

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2.  Jean Jacket

Similar to the leather jacket, these bad boys go with mostly everything. If you want one that’s a little different, get a jean jacket with embroidery or fur on the collar.

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3. Pea Coat

Perfect for fall and winter, a simple pea coat always makes you look polished and put together.

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4. White button down blouse

Simple and classic, the white button down ties together any outfit. It goes wonderfully with jeans (shorts or pants), a pencil skirt, or dress pants. Perfect for an office setting or a casual day out

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5. Plain black and white t-shirts

These are a given. They go with everything, can go under dresses or paired with jeans. Obviously necessary.

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6. Black pumps

The classic. They match with almost everything you could ever wear, and are always

beautiful.

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7. Booties

The fall staple for sure, great to wear to school, or out to a bar.

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8. Little black dress

A given. The go-to for any setting. Sexy and sleek, the LBD will take you far

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9. Blazer

To professionalize a casual look, or to add an accent to a plain ensemble, blazers come oversized or fitted, bright colours and patterns, or black and white, making them easy and versatile.

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10. Simple watch

A watch is an easy way to look classy and sleek, with minimal effort. A simple watch really adds style to an outfit, and makes you look very put together.

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11. Well fitting blue and black jeans

Jeans will take you from a date, to a Sunday on the couch, to a club. Jeans that look good make you feel good.

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12. Cozy sweater or cardigan

We ALL love being cozy, and having that sweater or cardigan that makes you feel comfortable and warm is a must. Try to find one that’s nice enough to wear out with a pair of jeans, and cozy enough to snuggle up in on the couch.

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13. Denim shorts

The staple of summer, everything goes with a pair of denim shorts. There are endless different styles, so it’s easy to choose what fits you best.

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14. Pencil skirt

A classy pencil skirt will take you far. They always look good at work, with a crisp top tucked in, yet when worn with a large sweater they still look cute and professional. Just take it from Rachel Zane (she is engaged to the prince after all…) 

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15. Classic flats

For the days when your feet hurt too much to slip on heels, or if you prefer to have your feet on the ground at all times, the classic flat is a must. Easy to run to the store in or to wear to the office, a flat can go with almost anything.

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Some additional suggestions…in case you’re looking for a little more.

-Black leggings

-Well fitting dress pants

-A statement necklace

Love always,

Nic

Being a 20 Something…

“Happy, free, confused, and lonely” is a good summary T-swift. It’s baffling how you can be always happy, loving life, dancing, singing and partying one day, and feeling so sad the next morning. You want a relationship because you seek the comfort, the closeness, the excitement that comes with starting out, and yet the thought of dating someone and giving up being single and flirting or kissing whoever you want whenever you want sounds terrible. You’re torn between the guy that’s kind of shitty but intrigues you and makes you want more, and the nice guy who treats you great but doesn’t pull you in. When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror you’re happy that you’re youthful and wrinkle free and don’t have unwanted grey hair coming in, and yet you constantly nitpick at your skin and your stomach and your smile. There are so many things you want to do and places you want to go because you are young and have nothing holding you back, and yet you are too young to have the money to do all of it. It’s so much fun to have freedom, and excitement, and an open future, and yet terrifying to not have any certainty of who you will one day become, will your friends be separated and torn apart, will you get the dream career and the dream house and the dream partner. Maybe that’s what makes us sit in sadness on a Sunday afternoon, listening to slow music, unsure of why we feel so down after such a good weekend. The uncertainty of the future, so scary and so wonderful, the youthful glow and happiness that brings light to everyone around you, yet leaves you crying into your pillow, freedom to do whatever you want and date whoever you want, and crushing blow when the person you wanted doesn’t feel the same. Life is a tough balance, it’s wild, and yet so tame, it’s happy and heartbreaking, it’s adventurous and yet unchanging. But I think the trick to being a twenty something is this; never take it for granted, because this time of your life only happens once, and it is magical.

Love Always,

Nic

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The getting off the plane feeling

Fun Fact: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and spent the first six years of my life there. Do I remember anything… nope not at all. Well that’s a lie I remember hiding in dog house eating the dog’s food which… really had nothing to do with the culture or the lifestyle we had down there. OR maybe the contrary…

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