london calling, part one


You know what's cool about London? Every. Damn. Thing.

This city on the other side of the planet felt like home. The food, the people, the carefully balanced way in which all of its weirdness coexists with the posh upper class that makes up its other side.  It's just a very unique place, and I got to wander around for five days doing it all. 

Starting on Monday, I hit the Tube with a Oyster card and an Ellie (!!!). We covered all the corners from Paddington to Liverpool, stopping for everything edible, or instagrammable. This means we did not make swift progress, but we did see London from above at the Sky Garden, drown our hunger in vanilla milk at the Cereal Killer cafe, and drink Boba tea in Topshop Oxford Street. 

That was just Monday. 

x J 

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just hold on

Wenn du liest das, ich bin unterwegs zurück im California. 
Deutschland, danke fur eine ganze tolles zeit.

In the words of the great poet Aubrey Graham, “Just hold on, we’re going home.” As you read this, I am somewhere in the middle of a 17 hour journey home. (If my taco truck isn’t where it’s meant to be after all this, I’m going to be very upset.) I can’t believe it’s been three months either. It feels like just twelve weeks ago that I was *SURPRISE* running off to Europe. (With my parents permission.) I’ve gotten to see and eat so much since then, and my life is forever a little bit more exciting because of it.

I can’t WAIT to see what happens next. It’ll have to be pretty big to top this.

Maybe the flight attendant will actually bring me the water I asked for two hours ago. 

x J 

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man do I love mannheim

all photos shot with a fujifilm x30

I haven't written a post in a week which is like twenty years in blogger time. Hopefully you all remember who I am. If not, you're probably already confused enough, so I'll spare the (re) introduction.

In my defense, I have spent the last week running around the internet like a madwoman because LONDON ON MONDAY. (And this weeks episode of Empire was really good, so I got a bit distracted.) I'm so excited to finally see the place everyone automatically assumes I'm from, and to properly binge out in Topshop + LUSH Oxford Street. Topping that, I'll be hanging out with ALL OUR BRITISH FAVES. The photos will be endless (please make sure you are following me on instagram, it will never be this interesting again). I'll be there all week, then two days later, like Drake, I'M GOING HOME.

I spent last week with my family in Mannheim, just hanging out and eating a lot. On Saturday, we went to Heidelberg, where we, in this order:

1. Visited a 900 year old castle that had a grotto and apple strudel.

2. Used a selfie stick at a massive tourist landmark and were looked at very strangely. This is how it is now people.

3. Wandered into the old town, and had a cappuccino that was thissss much coffee and THIISSSSSS much whipped cream.

4. Got the best french fries I've ever had. I then proceeded to spill them down my sweater, which turned out to be convenient because...

5. I looked up, and thERE WAS A LUSH WITH CHRISTMAS LUSH STUFF. I know I work there but I still get excited, ok?

6.Got on the wrong train, and used the next hour we spent on it to observe that every boy between the ages of 12-25 in Mannheim has the same haircut. It's a thing.

We spent the last day eating ice cream that it was much too cold outside for but #noregrets. I also honed my "packing a weeks worth of outfits into a carry-on" skills which is great because Ryanair + their luggage policies/prices are thieves of joy, money, and style.

 (JK Ryanair baby I still love you + your 15 euro fares)

x J

ps. Yesterday, something incredibly tragic rocked not just Paris, but the whole world. Read my in-the-moment reaction to it on MTV.  

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selfie queen in a printed magazine

all photos taken by Marcel Frommer

Had a secret, and I kept it, took this one to the pages... OF LOCAL WOLVES.

I've been a big fan of Local Wolves magazine for ages (my babe Kami is a regular writer for them) and so was waY TOO EXCITED when they asked to feature me in their #GIRLPOWER issue. I was even more excited when they printed my #1 piece of selfie advice.

Settle in, you're gonna want to read this.

x J
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we survived childhood | HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Happy BIRTHDAY baby, we officially survived childhood on the internet.

Five years ago today, a series of semi-related events led to a very fortunate outcome that none of us saw coming. In a very particular order, this is what happened:

- I decided to nag my mum one more time about starting a new blog

- I sat at the dining room table far longer than usual trying to come up with names
- My brother had a stroke of genius (watch the video)
- I drank coffee for the first time (this probably had something to do with it)
- "A Bent Piece Of Wire" was uttered out loud for the first time. 
- My mother challenged with six fateful words.
- I created the fourth gmail account of my young life.
- I didn't listen to my mum. 

Five years later, not listening to my mum is still one of the best decisions I ever made, and one I will probably never repeat because luck like this doesn't strike twice. 

Thank you for five years of absolute adventure, and here's to a million billion more.

x J 

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built in bavaria

You know what? I don't think King Ludwig was crazy. However, after going to Bavaria for just 24 hours to see his castle, I'm thinking I might be.

Okay, so this one started out a bit rough. I had to wake up at my usual bedtime in order to catch the overnight train to Munich from Frankfurt. Then it was 40 minutes delayed, and once it arrived, was a sleeper train. I learned 20 minutes into the four hour trip that I am about six inches too tall for sleeper bunks. Wonderful. Once we got there though, it was worth it.

After putting in about a months worth of leg days climbing the mountain to its gates, I felt much like I do visiting Cinderella's castle. I had insisted all along that I wanted to see a "real" castle, and this was truly it. Neuschwanstein isn't just a castle, it's THE castle. Ironic, considering it was one of the last ever built in Europe. It's a symbol, not just of Germany, but of Europe as a whole. And Disneyland. Inside, it's absolutely gorgeous, and a little sad. It's depressing to think that this man built himself a fairytale castle in the sky, with styles and pieces borrowed from kingdoms long done and dusted, so he could escape a reality that was already pretty close to a fairytale. Then, not only did he die/get murdered/whatever, but once he did, they just stopped working on the castle. It was never finished. His last vision, never completed. Also rarely photographed. Bit of a bummer. All the good parts were done though: the massive windows so he could see out over his lands, the winter garden inside, and his beautiful golden throne room, set out to look like a Byzantine church. It never actually had a throne in it, but he apparently just hung out on the massive marble platform, because like...why not?

Other things I did in Bavaria:
- met several Australians (love 'em)
- ate some rather good curry wurst
- was throughly educated on bayern munich by a slightly intoxicated teenage boy

I think the grand lesson in all of this is to build your castle while you can, because you never know when someone is going to come along and drown you.

Also, that if you want a cave built into your fourth floor, and you are a king, you can do that.

x J

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noi andato a roma

photos taken with fujifilm x30

I know, I said I wasn't going to do this insane photo dumping anymore, but you know what? If people always did what they said, then a new season of Gilmore Girls wouldn't be happening. So there.

Here is the thing about Rome: it is a tourist trap. A very old, very beautiful, very impressive tourist trap I was incredibly excited to visit, but one all the same. Coming from a home state that is splashed across the background of pop culture, I'm just gonna call this one what it is. Everywhere you turn there's someone trying to make twice as many euros as they're worth off the freshest bus of tourists. The tourists who, apparently, have no idea where they are or why they're there. If I had a dollar for every time I heard "Oh honey, I could probably paint that, dontcha think?" in the Vatican, I could pay my way out of my gelato debt. (Primarily incurred at Frigidarium, thanks Hannah) Like come ON people. I don't know your life, but no, I don't think you can paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I'm always uneasy with the commercialization of holy places, and the Vatican did nothing to assuage my anxiety. With that said, if you're visiting, I very much advise buying a "skip the line ticket". ((Don't get talked into paying for a tour though - once you're inside you're just going to lose them (and your extra 25 euros).)) It is truly stunning inside. A lot of the big tourist pulls are - they're ancient, and have seen so much history happen. It's insane what people who are truly inspired can create, and how long it will last. I suppose that's what pulls millions of people to Rome - they want to see this city that outlived its residents.

The food is exactly as good as you want it to be. Pro tip: nowhere in the free world should pizza cost you 19 dollars. Take a map and get off the main streets. In a side alley near the Trevi Foutain, I paid 2 euros a slice for massive pieces of handmade wood stove pizza made by a cute boy with pretty tattoos.  Woooorth it. I also honored Ethan Kraft and ate spaghetti (if you don't get this reference you need to do better research on Rome). Rome's cafe culture wasn't as prevalent as Vienna's, but they still have these gorgeously old and classical cafes. Beware of the tables though: if you sit down anywhere in Italy, you will be charged a cover charge for the tablecloth, service, etc. It can make your quick caffeine charge a very expensive ordeal.

The highlight for me was probably singing "Hey nOW HEY NOWWWW THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF" at the top of my lungs while in the middle of the crowd at the Colosseum, and having a random Italian boy join me. But because everyone knows how that movie ends, I swiftly avoided him.

Spoiler alert: Paulo is a punk.

x J

ps. It's actually a miracle that I'm alive to write this, because Italians in general do not know how to drive, and will hit you before they bother obeying a stop light.

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we said goodbye

This is not a post I expected to ever write. I mean, I thought I would have to eventually, but today wasn't supposed to be the day. It was supposed to be way in the future, or maybe never, if technology got there fast enough. I was never supposed to have to say goodbye to my Rexi. 

Everyone loves my dog more than they love me, and I completely understand that.  I got Rex when I was in the fourth grade. His name was Hunter, and he was a 14 week old little thing with these massive paws we pulled out of a backyard full of trash. My dad paid $20 for him, and we went home. He had fleas, ringworm, and scabies, and that was just what we could see. In his brain was a whole set of other problems, things we never really fixed. He had never been socialized, and so was half feral. He bit, and I have evidence of it all over my body, scars that I never want to heal over.  But he was my golden-eyed wolf baby. He got bigger, and bigger, and grew beyond the expiration date the vets put on him. We took him to trainer after trainer, until I finally figured out that he'd do anything for cheerios, and trained him myself. He learned how to shake with the right paw, and how to fist bump, and he slept in my bed when he thought I wasn't watching. He competed in dog shows, and won even though he was terrible at it. He was beautiful, but hated photos, and knew that my phone had a camera in it. One time I made him be in a blog post with me and he ignored me for three days. He let my friends hug him but didn't like when I did it, so I had to be sneaky. I'm good at being sneaky, so I have lots of glorious photos and videos of my baby, and so do a lot of you. I would say sorry, but let's be honest, I'm not. He was prettier than me, and that deserved documentation. He could put his whole head on the dining room table and used that to his full advantage. He got skunked twice in the last year after eight years of never so much as stepping in dog poop. He protected me from everything from squirrels to weirdos in the park, and helped me be cool. His hair is all over my room and probably in my lungs. He smelled like sugar and clean dirt and he was my beautiful runt. I said goodbye before I left, and I think he did too. He let me kiss him, and hug him, and take twenty selfies past his usual limit of zero. 

So today, we are both at peace.

There are thousands of Rex's waiting to happen. If you're looking for a dog, please, please start at a rescue. It will take work, and it will be hard, but that dog will love you so much, and you will save its life. If I hadn't gotten Rex, and he had ended up in a shelter, his only saving grace would have been his looks. Big dogs aren't popular once they're adults, and thats not fair. They might not fit in a purse or a stroller, but they do look much more impressive in selfies.

x J

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andiamo a roma

all photos taken with fujifilm x30

I acknowledge that my Vienna post was a little photo heavy, so I'm just going to split Rome up. 
Like a gladiator. (I need to stop watching Scandal. I. Need. To. Stop. (I can't))

The first thing I noticed about Rome, as we were landing (this morning), was the massive Roman aqueduct leftover that was sitting in someones  field. It had a chicken on it. I thought I was hallucinating due to having woken up at 2am in order to catch a taxi. (To get to a bus, to get to a plane, to make it to another bus.) But no, this is just how things are in a city that is literally as old as dirt. 

Since arriving, I have forced my second semester Italian on nearly every person I've spoken to. Mainly to order food. I've been here less than 24 hours and already eaten two kinds of pasta, two kinds of coffee, two kinds of gelato, and a very interesting presentation of chestnuts. I have also had what Rick Steves would refer to as "a spot of bother". I call it "universal balance". The price I paid for getting an entire row of seats to myself on the plane. The Trevi Fountain was not only drained, but half of it was gone, off for "archival reconstruction", and the Spanish Steps were closed for some mysterious reason. To top it all off, my gelato dripped down my arm and into my sweater.

Here is the secret to not being bothered by any of it at all: coffee. I used to make fun of the Warwick Bros. for their coffee obsession, but mine is spinning away. Latest discovery is a Viennese Cappuchino, otherwise known as "Leslie Knope Makes Coffee". It's basically just whipped cream with a little bit of espresso and chocolate at the bottom. Heavenly.

I am learning a lot of things on this trip, like how to not get upcharged on your coffee (drink it at the bar, do not sit down) and how to pack a weeks worth of outfits into a suitcase and have it weigh under 20lbs. (this was hard) But another thing I am learning, (ironically, while being 6k miles away from them), is what majestical people I am surrounded by at home. My friends are all incredibly talented and interesting individuals, and our group chats are legendary. Today, however, three gold star stickers are owed to Sallie. She's on the front lines of my entire life and handles it like an expert (she's one of the very few). She would also like it stated that she sincerely enjoys stalking your guys' instagrams, so please keep commenting on mine so she can do it.

Also, I need it to be noted that I am staying in a hotel that involves taking a 19th century elevator to the sixth floor. I am pretty sure it is haunted, but because this is not a Goosebumps novel, I will not investigate. I will just enjoy its endless mirrors and faint smell of spaghetti.

x J

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we went back (and forth) | #BTSS with Simon Malls

Okay, confession: For someone who likes clothes as much as I do, I don't like shopping. There, I said it. Especially back to school shopping. Changing rooms, no snacks, and it's usually just you and your mom arguing over the wash on your new jeans. But I decided to make a leap for Teen Vogue's Back To School Saturday at my local Simon Mall - the Great Mall. 

 The Great Mall is one of the biggest malls on the West Coast, so I got myself some solid backup -Adam volunteered as tribute, and KT was a surprise. The #BTSS event itself was held in the center of the mall, so everyone got to hang out and get flash tats, eat cupcakes, and talk back to school style. (I don't have the photographic proof  but just know that I look good with gold glitter palm trees on my neck.)  They had several talented hair stylists and makeup artists working double time showing off quick looks you can put together when "five more minutes" turns into "an hour late". (As styled on KT, because we all know what happens when you take the bobby pins out of my hair) We also went on a little spree around the mall. Or at least through a quarter of it. I honestly have no way to describe the sheer SIZE of this mall. There are enough outlets for the entire planet. I brought Adam because he has great hair, but then his use as a shopping bag carrier was quickly called into play.  The good news is that theres a million Starbucks and a Chipotle so you can be fully charged up. I'm going to go back with a map and about three more people.

Honestly, the coolest thing about this event was talking style with so many different people. Other than the other bloggers, there were a bunch of teenagers just ~doing their thing~, and each one of them had a different way of expressing that. Even just through the wash on their jeans.

Also, this was the day I got my selfie stick. Instagram was never the same. 

x J 

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