Monday, May 29, 2017

White Hot Summer

Good morning, everyone!

I hope everyone is having a lovely 3-day Memorial Day weekend. I just wanted to take a moment to honor the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Thank you for your service in helping to protect our nation and our lives.

This morning, I thought I'd take some time to blog to get my ideas going for the day before I hit the books. I find writing to be a great way of mental release and relaxation...especially when it is accompanied with hot cup of coffee. Am I right?

Overall, this month has been mentally tough. Life has been pretty busy and stressful, but I am optimistic that I'll get through this hurdle. I guess you could say my mind is on overload right now. With that said, podcasts have really been helping me out a lot lately. My favorite podcast is the NPR Ted Radio Hour. If you haven't checked it out already, I would highly recommend the episodes: "Decisions, Decisions, Decisions", "The Meaning of Work", "Disruptive Leadership", and "Quiet".


On a brighter note, one thing that definitely put a smile on my face this weekend (other than BBQ) was being able to catch up with my family over dinner last night. It was refreshing and much needed. Of course, playing a game or two of tag with the little ones didn't hurt either.


Last evening's outfit was inspired by summer and a little bit of old Hollywood. I've always been a huge fan of classic movies, and this ASOS pleated jumpsuit was definitely giving me Marilyn Monroe meets Katharine Hepburn vibes. The pleated culotte bottom was so dreamy and comfortable, and the minimalist back detail was fit for a Greek goddess. I loved how simple, comfy, and clean the jumpsuit was. It'll be a great and versatile piece to dress up or down in the upcoming warm summer months.

For accessories, I paired the jumpsuit with an old leather woven belt and a straw fedora. For eyewear, I wore a pair of fun,  Giant Vintage "Cobain" inspired sunnies. To finish off the look, I wore a pair of Xhilaration wedges from my closet. 

As much as I'd love to keep going, it's crunch time. I hope that you enjoyed this look, and I can't wait to see your summer style. If you have any questions or want to share your weekend looks, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @Tran_gerine. 

Until next time, happy styling!

Melissa




Monday, May 8, 2017

In the Business of Preserving Memories

Why do I shoot? The answer is simple. To immortalize fleeting moments. To preserve memories.
How many times have you looked back at an old photo and thought to yourself, "Wow, I can't believe I did that?", or "Wow, what a great/terrible day that was!"


Photography holds a dear place in my heart because of its ability to capture moods, emotions, and minuscle details that would otherwise be forgotten by the human brain. There's something about a photo that has the ability to tug on those heartstrings, or even create a sense of euphoria or nostalgia. 


I love wandering around by myself with my camera. There's something magical about being able to blend in my surroundings and just take everything in. No unwanted attention. Just incognito mode. 


My favorite subjects to shoot in my spare time are landscapes and cityscapes. I enjoy looking at the "big picture", and how things fit in relationship to one another in the grand scheme of things. It's a refreshing perspective to take on, especially when my work life focuses a lot on keeping track of many small details. 


All my photos are taken with love. No monetary motivation. Just out of pure enjoyment. I love finding beauty in the ordinary, and I shoot without inhibition. Some of my favorite photos are the candid ones that I take during my walks. By walks, I mean literally just that; enjoying the moment, and allowing my surroundings unfold around me. If I stumble on something out of the ordinary or striking, I'll capture it. That's not to say that I have my camera out all of the time. I very much enjoy the full immersion of my experiences sans camera.


What is a hobby that has changed your life or inspired you? I'd love to hear all about it. Feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram or Twitter @Tran_gerine. Talk to you all again soon!

Until next time,

Melissa

Monday, May 1, 2017

Olha Como a Vida é Boa - Lisbon, Portugal

April 22 - Bom Dia!

Arrival
We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal after a quick one hour flight from Madrid, Spain. The flight itself was rough and choppy, which resulted in a little bit of motion sickness on my part. We nonetheless, arrived safely at Lisbon airport and were in great spirits. I was excited to catch up with my fav Portuguese local, and to be spending the weekend in this beautiful city.

Sea Me
First stop: lunch! We headed directly to Sea Me, a Japanese and Portuguese fusion restaurant. Upon arrival, we were whisked away to the basement of the restaurant, where a gentleman introduced us to the different varieties of seafood offered at the restaurant. He was not shy to pull the lobsters out of the tanks, nor did he hold back from answering our questions.

Terrifying.

That dish that looks charred to a crisp is actually seaweed wrapped fish. So good.

We were spoiled with the freshest and most flavorful seafood I've ever eaten. As a side note, I finally tried raw oysters for the first time and was amazed at how good it tasted. I was very impressed. Sea Me definitely tops the list as one of my favorite restaurants in Portugal.

Hotel - NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade
After lunch, we ladies retreated to our hotel, the NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade, where we spent a relaxing afternoon on the rooftop. The view was breathtaking and surreal, and we were able to see the clay rooftops for miles. I was seriously in heaven. The weather and the cocktails made for the perfect afternoon in Lisbon.

Can you believe that this is the view from the rooftop of our hotel? Me neither.

 Cheers to the best girls European getaway!


Rossio Square/Restauradores/Praça do Comércio/Lisbon Baixa
After settling into our room, we decided to go out and to explore the city. Having a free afternoon to ourselves, we decided to walk down the main walkway parallel to our hotel and found ourselves in the center of Lisbon. We spent a little bit of time walking around Rossio Square, Restauradores, Praça do Comércio, and Lisbon Baixa. The period buildings and beautiful tiles were so impressive. It was a struggle to keep my camera down...haha.

If there's anything that a photographer loves more, it's a clear shot like this.


 My favorite street view of Lisbon by far. Just look at that hue of pink on that building!

 I challenge you to a Where is Waldo Challenge: Find the creepy bride street performer in the pic.

Praça do Comércio

We didn't have time to ride the trolley, but that's okay! It was still fun to watch.

Portuguese Tiles
I absolutely loved the Portuguese tiles. If only I had more time to track them all down! Here are a few of my favorites:




Castelo de São Jorge
This was a highly recommended to go watch the sunset. Little did we know that it would be quite the steep hike up to the Castelo de São Jorge. As someone who wore a thick knitted sweater and black pants onto the hike, I was sweating profusely. Despite the heart racing climb, I really enjoyed seeing all of the graffiti art on the way up.

Favorite graffiti art.

We made it to the castle sometime after 7pm, just in time to witness the sunset. I'll never forget the view. It was the most magnificent sunset that I've ever seen in my life. I still remember leaning over the wall to hear the soft breeze, and watch the airplanes take off in the distance.

Best city view!

Just look at that sunset!

Before leaving, we came  some across wild peacocks and stray cats. It was random, but nonetheless, a pleasant surprise. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea that peacocks could fly until that night. It was the most mind-boggling thing to see it in person.

Palacio Chiado
After watching the sunset at Castelo de São Jorge, we went back to the hotel to clean up before dinner. Having heard great things about Palacio Chiado, we decided to make it a night on the town and dress up for dinner. The gastronomic destination definitely did not disappoint. With so many culinary and drink experiences, it was truly a foodie's dream. Although we were only planning on staying there for a little bit, we ended up staying there for several hours. I really enjoyed their Kiwi Mojito, which was fruity and tart. Overall, the vibe and the service was top notch, making it for a very good dining  experience.

I don't know why, but this room reminds me of the Titanic clock staircase.


The entire building was so amazing. Just look at that gold lion!

Bartender's choice cocktails. 

Kiwi Mojito.

Thanks to our server for taking care of us! Really great food, drinks & service. Clean up crew part 1.

Clean up crew part 2. Not too shabby for a Saturday night, eh?

Afterwards, we headed to Red Frog, a speakeasy for mellow vibes before calling it night. Red Frog was more subdued than Palacio Chiado, which was a nice change of scenery. Their cocktails were as refreshing as they were beautiful. After staying out all day out, it was finally time to call it quits.

April 23 - Praia, Praia, Praia

A Ginjinha Espinheira
Post lunch, I suggested that we try the ever so popular, Ginjinha, or "Ginja" for short. Ginja is a dark Portuguese liquor with soaked cherries inside. You can opt to take your shot with or without cherries. While I'm no liquor connoisseur, the consistency and sweetness of the shot reminded me a lot of Disarrono. I made the mistake of eating the cherry all in one go and was in for a sour surprise. While the flavor of the liquor wasn't exactly my favorite, I felt indifferent about the taste of it. I say if you're curious on your trip to Lisbon, you should just go ahead and check it out.


Faz bem ser o sorriso de alguém. 🙂 Cheers to the best lil' Lisbon bunch!

Jerónimos Monastery/Padrão dos Descobrimentos/25 de Abril Bridge/Torre de Belém
Moving onward with our itinerary, we hit the road and headed westward. Beautiful views awaited us on the westside of Lisbon as we explored the coast. The architecture was breathtaking. I couldn't help but be in awe at the concentration of buildings and monuments all in one place.

Details, details, details.

 Golden Gate bridge, is that you? Nope, it's just the 25 de Abril Bridge.

I loved this. Clever details and placement of people and symbols.

My favorite part of this stop was staring out into the distance of the Tagus River, and just looking off into the distance at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument and the 25 de Abril Bridge. I felt at peace standing in the midst of the warm Lisbon sunshine combined with the cool spring breeze blowing through my hair. Everyone was in great spirits and it was nice to stroll along the edge of the river.

 I caught this shot when it was slightly overcast. It looks pretty daunting!

 It's crazy what a little sunlight can do!

Pastéis de Belém
This was by far, one of the most highly anticipated stops on our trip. I had been waiting to try the ever so popular, Pastéis de Belém, for a long time. Every blog, YouTube video, and travel booklet that I've read, raved about this egg custard tart. Not only did I get my hands on one pastry, but I felt a little ambitious and opted for two...hahah greedy.

Turkey has Salt Bae. Portugal has Pastéis Bae.

 If I could, I'd probably eat them all. If you know me, you know I'm not joking.

 Bring this tasty pastry to America, please.

Honestly, no regrets. The bakery was very busy with locals and tourists alike waiting to get their hands on Pastéis de Belém. I tried my first pastry with a dash of confectioner sugar and some cinnamon. The egg custard tart was moderately sweet and paired well with espresso. The outside of the pastry comprised of a crispy puff pastry, while the inside was filled with a custard-like filling with an almost caramelized top from baking process.

Cabo da Roca
All I can say is that this was my favorite place in Portugal. Cabo da Roca, also commonly referred
to as the westernmost point of Portugal and continental Europe, had the most amazing beach sunset. Although the drive out there was a bit rough with all of the winding roads, it was worth it. Even the cactus like flowers and plants growing on the coast were beautiful. While we couldn't stay there very long due to the high winds and the significant drop in temperature, but I will never forget that view. It was absolutely magical.

Stunning.

 Cue L's rendition of "The Hills Are Alive".

Welcome to Cabo da Roca. Home of the dreamiest sunsets!

I shot this from the car on the drive back to Lisbon.

Beautiful flowers along the beach.

100 Maneiras
Dinner time crept on us pretty quickly as we made our way back to Lisbon. I was looking forward to
a more traditional Portuguese culinary experience, and 100 Maneiras definitely delivered. While I can't recall all of the dishes by name, each and every single morsel of food was satisfying. It was the
perfect way to end our last night in Lisbon. Amazing food, great wine, amazing company, and good conversation made for a lovely dinner.

The wall lobby of 100 Maneiras (translated into "100 Ways").

Pink Street
Prior to the trip, I had seen a lot of hype through social media, primarily Instagram. Maybe I was tired or out of it, but at this point in the trip, I was ready to go home and sleep. The street and the bars were still bustling on a Sunday night, which was surprising. The buildings along the street were filled with street art and unique art installations, one of which was a "gang" of mannequins on some wooden rafts getting ready to "tag the building", which was interesting. We stayed there maybe a total of 15 minutes before deciding to call it a night.


April 24 - Adeus!

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
After a casual lunch, we strolled over to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara for one final view of
Lisbon. It was the perfect snapshot to remember the city by. Of course, nostalgia began to
sink in from all of the memories of the trip. By that point, I knew it was time to say goodbye.


Adeus!
Like all visits, this one too, finally came to an end. Portugal, by far, was my favorite part of our vacation, winning hands down in the categories of people, food, and coastal views. I am so grateful to have been among some of the most enjoyable company throughout my travels. Being able to bond over wonderful conversations and culinary experiences made the trip even more memorable.

Special thanks to the lovely Mr. G for being an amazing host, destination expert, sightseeing buddy, and local tour guide. I really appreciate him helping us to build an amazing itinerary, hanging out with us, and making the our visit seamless. 5 out of 5 Yelp star rating! Thank you so much!

April 25 - Homebound
This day was probably the longest day of my life. It took us 17 hours to fly home, including our layover and customs clearance. Jet lag slammed me hard that day, and continued for another three days afterward. The not so fun joys of traveling that nobody ever writes about. Anyway, it feels good to be resting at home and to regroup after a relaxing vacation.

I know a few of you are planning on traveling abroad within the next couple of months. If you have any questions about any of the places that I mentioned, feel free to leave a comment down below or message me via Twitter @Tran_gerine. If you'd like to check out my day-to-day shenanigans, you can connect with me via Instagram @Tran_gerine. If you like mellow jams, I recommend this cute song by Mafalda Veiga titled, "Olha Como a Vida é Boa", which roughly translates to, "Looks Like Life is Good". Until next time. See you all on the next adventure!

-Melissa