FEELING DOWN IN BARCELONA AND IMPORTANCE OF BEING CONNECTED

The weeks leading up to my trip to Europ last fall was filled with busyness and deadlines. Very early mornings and very late nights. My head was so buried in all of it, I did not notice how those things had pushed me further from my anchor  until I arrived in Barcelona on November 17th.This was not my first solo trip and it was not the most challenging trip, but for one reason or another I was in a foul mood my first day in Barcelona.

I was checked out of my Paris hotel at 6:45 a.m for the hour commute to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport. My excitement to get to Barcelona was on overdrive. Barcelona was a last minute addition to the Europe 2015 itinerary, but it was the one I looked forward to the most. I had a decent, comfortable flight. The luggage was slightly delayed (but nothing extraordinary). I found the shuttle bus from the airport to city center easily. There was a mix up at my hotel when I arrived, but the tray of sweets and complimentary cava made up for the mix-up - so why was I in a crappy mood.

After checking in to the hotel, I went on a walk through La Ramblas- surely strolling the streets of Barcelona and fresh air would lift my crappy mood - it did not. The events that transpired the rest of the afternoon did nothing to improve my mood. Eventually , I gave up trying to get into the tourist mode in Barcelona and returned to my hotel room. I was on an incredible three-week excursion through Europe. I was in Barcelona living my dream, but I was unraveling. Why ? Then it occurred to me - I have been unanchored.

What anchors you ? Who or what keeps you grounded ? My relationship with God is what keeps me anchored in the busyness and instability all around, but it had been several weeks I had a proper interaction with God. Something more than the quick prayers whispers as I dashed out in the morning or shut my eyes. Also, It had been over a month since I talked to my bestie, communications with family was limited to text and wasapp informing my mom I was departing a city or arriving, I was disconnected from what mattered most, I was off center. 

I arrived back at my hotel and did what I should be doing every day (maybe multiple times a day); I turned on my worship playlist and had a worship session on the bathroom floor of my Barcelona hotel and prayed - not for anything in particular, but just telling God about my day and the fears and triumphs.  Nothing asked for, just a conversation with God and as I did this, I felt that horrible mood lift and peace and joy flooding my heart. A short while later, I skyped with mom and we chatted for about an hour. By the time I called it a night - my crappy mood was completely gone.

Yesterday was another moment of feeling disconnected, I knew exactly what was off and what I needed to do. Without meaning to, I had allowed everything that did not matter take my focus and time away from my anchor. As much as this post is unlikely for a travel blog, I hope if you have ever felt disconnected, you find some encouragement. It is important that we dont allow busyness and schedule overload to pull us from our source or what and who keeps us grounded. This post is also a reminder to myself not to allow my "to-do list" pull me away from my source.

 

MY FIRST VISIT TO THE NATION'S CAPITAL - PART 1 <> WASHINGTON D.C.

I am elbows deep in a digital declutter and with that comes a lot of going down memory lane. Last week, I was cleaning out my Washington D.C 2010 folder and stumbled on pictures and memories about my very first visit to D.C. I have been back several times since them, but that first visit is still my favorite of them all. 

I had been living in the states for almost ten years at this point and was yet to get to D.C, so when a conference opportunity in D.C. landed in my inbox, I decided to head to the city a few days before the conference to explore the city. I flew into Washington National airport on Satuday night , took the shuttle to my hotel which was perfectly located - only about a 20 minute cab ride to the National mall. I arrived too late to see or do anything. I ordered room service and called it a night.

My Conference was scheduled to start on Tuesday Morning so I had about 48 hours to explore. There is so much to see and do in D.C. I had to narrow it down to a specific area to avoid being overwhelmed. I am a history and architectural buff so I chose the monuments and the surrounding areas as my focus. I saved other D.C. activities for another trip. [See rundown of my subsequent trip to Georgetown here].

I started my day shortly after 1 p.m. I took a cab from my hotel to the national mall. I was dropped off close to the walkway leading up to the Washington monument. I could either walk from there towards the Lincoln memorial or towards the Capitol steps. Without much thought, I began walking towards the National mall and the capitol steps. The National mall is lined with musuems and historical sites.  

My first stop was at the National musum of American History, I could have spent all day here satisfying my inner history nerd. From the flag that inspired the national athem to the collection of inaugural gowns of the first ladies - including the dress Jason Wu designed for Michelle Obama for the first inuaguration (Swoon). There is much more to see, but I won't list them all so as not to ruin it for you.

My next stop was the Smithsonian office located in the Castle (an architectural favorite). Don't miss the garden in the backyard  or the U.S. Botanical garden that is also located on the mall. Then, on to the National museum of Africana arts. The history captured here is overwhelming and humbling. Add to that the interior architecture and you have the making of some of my favorite things. I had a decision to make about my next stop - China town or continue along the National mall. The National Mall won. I made stops at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garde, National Museum of Natural History (perfect stop if you are traveling with kids) and the National gallery of Arts.

I stopped into most of the museums along the path to the capitol steps. At some point, I grabbed a gyro sandwich from one of the food trucks, perched myself on a bench and just people watched folks playing flag football, freesbies, picnicing, laying out in the sun. It was nice to be doing nothing. My stroll from the Washington Monument to the Capitol steps took about five hours because I made several steops along the way The experience was incredible and worth it. My only regret was not wearing a more comfortable shoes.

PORTLAND | GRACE PRINT SHOP IS OPEN

"We travel because we need to. Because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. And when we get home, home is still the same. But something in our minds has changed and that changes everything"

I draw a lot of inspiration from travel and my travels (and the beautiful discovered around the world) have greatly impacted on my life, work, and home. I wish I could travel at the drop of the hat, but that is not always feasible with time or money. I wanted to do something that kept the beautiful of the world around me at all times. I started taking intentional pictures during my travels and displaying them in my home. More than being surrounded by the beauty of the world, I found that these fine art photography prints inspired me to dream, to be creative and to live beautifully and I want to share that with as many people as possible. I launched a travel inspired print shop to do just that.

The first collection in the shop is the New York collection. The plan for the shop was inspired by walking around Central Park last summer, followed by endless hours at a very special coffee shop in the Flatiron district writing up the plan and tweaking it several times. Fast forward, ten months and I'm ready to share my dream with you.

Along with the New York collection, I am also releasing the Antoinette collection inspired by Marie Antoinette's quarters in Versailles, France. I planned to photograph a fall day in Versailles for a 2016 release, but the weather had other ideas. It rained for days while I was in France. Thankfully, I did not cancel the shoot. I shot the collection in the rain and with gray skies overhead. I am glad I did, because I cannot stop drooling over the shots. The Antoinette collection is available for a limited time. It will return to the vault in the Fall when we release our next collection. 

These prints are available in a variety of sizes. They are perfect for a gift basket, building a gallery wall, in your workspace, above the fireplace, in the powder room and just about any room of your home. Several weeks ago, my friend and all round amazing photographer Debra of Mozdez shot the collection as displayed in my home. I wanted to show you how great these look in every and any space.

For more information, check out the FAQ. Wondering what size to get, check out our size guide.

In honor of the launch, all orders placed through midnight on May 13th is 10% off with the code "LAUNCHPARTY".

Portland | Grace Insider. Get on the insider list by clicking "Join our mailing" list at check out. You will receive a code for 10% off your next order. You also get the first look at new releases and collections ; Special offers and freebies ; access to preview sale and monthly travel tips and behind the scenes of what we are working on at Portland | Grace. 

Join us on Instagram for our week long launch celebration with giveaways and discounts.

SHOP NOW

Mother's Day Gift Box featuring Perfect Imperfection in 8 X 10

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Enchanted and Charmed, I'm sure  in 11 X 17"

LE COURS SALEYA ( & MARCHE AUX FLEURS) <> NICE , FRANCE

I believe a full travel experience has to include experiencing a city the way locals do. When I arrived in Nice, I asked the locals what I could not miss while I was there - there were several suggestions and all of them conflicting - the one place that seemed to be a concensus must visit was Cours Saleya, so my second day in Nice, armed with screen shots of directions from my hotel (data charges are a pain), i headed out. I walked through the Pedestrian area of Rue Massena, past the Place Massena, on to Vieux Nice to arrive at Cours Saleya. 

The market was vibrant and bustling with locals picking up fresh flowers and produce. The patios of the restaurants on either side of the market were filled with local reading books and newspapers while enjoying their morning cuppa and of course tourists who (like me) had the look of wonder on their faces while freezing framing time with their cameras.

Cours Saleya is  famous for the Marche aux Fleurs (flower market); however, you can also find food stands and  fruits and vegetable stands . Alongside the food and fresh fruits and vegetables, you will also find olives, honey, soap and spices (don't miss the spice stall). The flower stands is open until about 5:30, but all others close at 1:30. Market is open Tuesday to Sunday. In the summer months, you can find the evening market which opens at 6 p.m. from June to September. 

A visit to Nice is not complete if you have not spent time here, if you are staying in Nice more than a few days, grab a bouquet of flowers for your hotel or airbnb;  pick up an order of Socca from Chez Theresa. If none of that is up your alley, pick your spot at one of the restaurants, order a beverage and people watch or pick up spice (or fresh fruit) from one of the stalls. 

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This week - I am linking up with All about france. Click below to read more france related posts.

Lou Messugo

MY FAVORITE DRUGSTORE FOUNDATIONS

This month's beauty chat shines the spotlight on my favorite drugstore foundations. For the most part, whether travelling or at home, I reach for my drugstore bases before considering the higher end ones. I have always used the Revlon nearly naked foundation and it has worked fab over the last year and half. This year, I decided to branch out and I have found some amazing drugstore foundation that are great for the oily combo gal on the road. These stay in place for a good while, they don't settle in fine lines, easy to buff in and leave zero streaks. 

BH Cosmetics Liquid Foundation. $5.99 from BHCosmetics.com. This is one I pack when I am headed to the beach or pool side vacation. It is also perfect as an everyday foundation. I use the shade deep cocoa for summer and deep beige in cooler months. It gives a natural, your skin but better finish. It is a medium coverage foundation. This one is a bit of a cheat because it is not carried in drugstore, you have to order it online, but it is seriously fab. If you want a natural finish this is the base for you (and the shade range is extensive).

Maybelline Dream Matte Foundation. $9.99 from Ulta. I use the coconut shade. It is a medium coverage with a velvet smooth finish.  This is the one I pack when I want coverage with a natural finish - I pack this or the Covergirl ready set gorgeous foundation when I am on business trips because it is does not require a lot of effort to apply and it has a natural finish that is long lasting.  I recently read the label that encouraged applying the products with your fingers - best discovery, the finish is amazing when the foundation is applied with the fingers. 

L'oreal Infallible Pro-Matte. $12.99 from Ulta. I use the shade cocoa in the warmer month and soft sable in cooler months. This foundation claims 24 hour wear and it delivers. This is the matte foundation for the oily gal and I pack this when my travel involves dress up/fancy events or a lot of photography (or filming).  It stays put all day and although it is recommended to be used alongside the infallible powder, I think it does fab on its on. If you have  drier skin and/or dry patches, I will suggest avoiding this one, because it clinges to dry patches. This is not an everyday foundation for me, I worry that my pores will clog up if I wear such a matte formula all day.

Covergirl Ready Set Georgous. $7.99 from Ulta. I use the shade 320 (soft sable). Another one I pack for work and business travelOh.my.gawd. I love when a product does exactly what it says on the packaging and I have been very impressed with this foundation. It claims to be oil free, does not clog pores, great for sensitive skin and lasts all day. It does all of that while giving a natural finish and medium to full coverage, but it is still lightweight enough that I use it as an everyday foundation.