What I’m Reading on the Web

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Hey friends!

I just got home from two weeks in Redding, CA at Bethel Church’s worship school. It was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to write about, but first…rest.

My mind  and body both need a little breather before I dive in, so in the mean time I’ve been catching up with blogs and articles circling the web this week.

Here’s are my three favorite articles that I’m reading on this day (ok, two days) of rest.

1. Networking for Introverts by Cupcakes and Cashmere.
Why I like it: I get lectured about networking all the time during the school year, and this piece was a great way to sharpen up those skills even though school is out. It’s also great for newbies like me who may be a little intimidated by this whole networking thing.
Favorite line: “If the connection is real, it won’t require a calendar reminder.”

2. What I Instagram vs. What Was Really Happening, or My Entire Life is a Lie by Olivia Muenter
Why I like it: This lighthearted and sarcastic piece reveals a truth that most selfie-lovers are afraid to admit: we stage our Instagram posts to make our lives look prettier. This piece will make you laugh and think twice before you post your next gym selfie.
Favorite line:  “I start my day with green tea and fresh fruit everyday, at the crack of dawn. I like to check my emails as the sunrises, right before I head to yoga.”

3. Love and Lynchburg by Lexie Daché
Why I like it: I met Lexie and the Living Room Writers Weekend back in May, and I’ve loved following her blog ever since. Her writing is authentic and captivating, and I love the way she wrestles with life and always offers hope in the end. Her latest post, “Love and Lynchburg,” is definitely my new favorite.
Favorite line: “Physical surroundings and dream jobs and cool people are no comparison for God’s presence.”

Bonus: Fairytales are Real: These 12 Photos Will Change the Way You Look At the World by World of Wanderlust
Just because I felt like throwing a little pixie dust into the mix. Sometimes, when you’re as worn out as I am, it’s just nice to look at pretty things and dream.

Enjoy! I’ll be back soon with brand new adventures and stories to share with you.

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I Don’t Want to Explore Oxford

I wrote this piece last month while traveling through Europe for five weeks.

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I’m in Oxford, UK, and I don’t want to explore. Actually, exploring Oxford is the last thing I want to do right now.

Here’s the deal:
On a family trip to Colorado a few years ago, my mom and two brothers wanted to sit in a coffee shop and relax (I’ve heard it’s called “vacationing”), while my dad and I, ever the adventures, wanted to get out and see some of the beautiful state we were visiting.

So we left the lazy bums behind and headed to Black Canyon, which was covered in snow and SCARY slippery for us flatlanders. We almost died trying to see the view, but in the end we were left with a great memory.

From that moment on I’ve always poked fun at those who go to exotic places and choose to simply sit in a coffee shop or relax in their hotel rather than exploring.

Why would you waste your time doing nothing?

Well today, with one foot in my mouth, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Oxford, UK, where I am simply sitting with no plans of exploring this quaint and historic university town.

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The C.S. Lewis nature reserve in Oxford

Usually I get up with the sun and hit the city, exploring as many streets as me feet can bear to take me down.

But today I can’t. Today, I’m tired. Really, really tired.

I’m tired of being on the go constantly, tired of a strict itinerary and, as much as I hate to say it, tired of sightseeing.

Today I need to rest, and more than that, I need to be okay with giving myself that luxury, even though it’s against every part of my nature.

Two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. I don’t need to see every site, learn every historical fact or take every artsy Instagram picture I can to experience all that a city has to offer.
2. If I want to keep traveling, keep sightseeing and keep up this pace, I need to take a break.

Although my schedule allows me to see amazing sights and experience even more of Europe than I even imagined, it isn’t sustainable. And it’s okay to give myself time to catch up.

IMG_6711And hey, if there’s anywhere I’m going to just sit in a coffee shop, read and write, what better place than Oxford? Some of my favorite authors spent time in this very city doing exactly what I’m doing today.

So, to anyone I’ve ever mocked or looked down upon for relaxing instead of exploring, I’m sorry. While I still don’t think spending an entire trip on your bum is the way to go, I now recognize that rest and rejuvenation are more than necessary to keep going.

And PS, I did end up exploring Oxford once my weary little soul was rested, and I loved it! Definitely a trip highlight that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was still exhausted.

How do you find rest when you’re traveling? Any tips for this newbie? 
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My 5 Favorite College Cosmopolitans

Today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite people. There are friends who one way or another, embody what it means to be a college cosmopolitan. If you haven’t already, read about what The College Cosmopolitan is all about here.

Caroline K

Caroline KI’ve lived with Caroline for my entire college career. Little did I know when we were randomly assigned as roommates that I’d gain a same-named best friend. More than that, she’s my confidant, biggest cheerleader and the girl I can question life with.

She also embodies a cosmopolitan lifestyle because of her beautifully simplistic, yet full, way of life.
She also doesn’t ask for much, but yet she is open and vulnerable when she needs to be.

She makes her own way and grapples with questions until she’s found her own satisfying answers. In the past three years, she’s gained the ability to accept everyone no matter their lifestyle, and that’s a trait that I think could take her all over the world.

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My friend Jenna is the queen of pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.

She spent a summer studying in Oxford, England in high school before moving thousands of miles away from her hometown in Texas to Malibu, California for college.

After a year in Malibu, she dove head first into a year long study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Talk about a citizen of the world!

I love catching up with Jenna when we’re both home in Texas and hearing stories from her travels. With each new adventure there is an evident change that takes place inside of her. She grows, transforms and becomes more herself each time she explores another piece of the world.

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My younger brother Zach is making West Texas laugh a little harder, one stand-up comedy routine at a time.

He moved away from our suburban paradise of a hometown last year to the crux of small town Texas: Lubbock. And he loves it!

He’s truly made a home for himself in his college town, and even though he’s only a freshman he’s pioneered several new comedy initiatives at his school. He definitely isn’t afraid to put himself out there. He also lived in the Middle East for three months. No big deal.

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This ever-so-handsome guy that I’m dating is a great example of a cosmopolitan.

He spent three months studying abroad in the UK this past semester, and even though his time was limited, he still got involved in a church and experienced life as a local when he went on a weekend retreat with the college group.

Along with pretty pictures of historic places and souvenirs, he returned to the US with new friends and a broader understanding of the people that make up our world.

DebDeborah

Deborah inspires me as a college cosmopolitan not because she moved out of state for college, or even that she spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria (although that is pretty dang awesome), but because after high school she chose to take a year off and stay home, and she rocked it.

She had plenty of options after graduation, but she chose the one that would prepare her best for her future, and after a year of nannying she was able to pay for her entire first year of college.

What I love most about her story is that in that year, even though she wasn’t in a new place, she grew. She met new people and experienced things for the first time in her own hometown.

She embodied what it means to grow where you’re planted. She didn’t need anything but time and a little space to look inside of her and figure out who she is.

Who are the cosmopolitans in your life? Tell me about them! 

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Local Adventures: A Night at the Drive-In

drive inNestled between Georgia mountains and resting under the big starry sky is a beautiful place: The Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater.

Marshall and I went there at the beginning of this summer, and it was perfect. For $7 a piece we could park under the stars and cozy in for two feature films still in theaters.

Not only was it romantic, but talk about a cheap date! We left after the first film (The Amazing Spider Man 2) because of the long drive back to Tennessee, but we both felt like we got more than our money’s worth.

Whether or not you’re with a significant other, going to a drive-in movie is an awesome experience. There’s nothing like laying in a truck bed or on the hood of your car, being surrounded by beautiful scenery and feeling like you’ve stepped back into the 1950s. It’s perfect for summer.

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Wherever you are, I highly recommend that you find the closest drive-in theater and make the trip.

Outdoor theater’s are typically only open during warmer months, so grab some friends and take advantage of thisf local adventure this summer! I promise it’ll be an evening for the photo albums.

Have you ever been to a drive-in? Tell me about it in the comments!
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How to Stay Connected to Home When You Move Far Away

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I wrote this piece when I was home in Texas last month.

I’m currently sitting on my parents’ large, brown leather sofa while a small fluffy dog sleeps next to me. I’m home.

I love this place.

I love spending quality time with my family and reconnecting with the sweet hometown that raised me.

I moved 900 miles away from this place for college three years ago, and while I will never regret that decision, I often find myself longing for home.

I miss the people from home who made my life so full. I miss the smell of Carolina Jasmines in my backyard. I miss the tree-canopied streets that I first learned to drive on. I miss everything about home.

But I also love my new home. I love the community I’ve found in college. I love my little house and the independence it gives me. I love finding my way in this world and making a place that is completely mine.

It’s a strange line to walk: loving where you came from and where you are. How do you stay connected to your roots and still dive headfirst into your new life?

Here are my tips:

Daily reminders

The best reminder I have of home is my thirteen-year-old truck that belonged to my grandpa before he passed away. It was the first car that was ever completely mine – it took me to school, football games, church and eventually, Tennessee.

My truck reminds me both of Texas and the wonderful grandfather that I lost too early. It’s my favorite earthly possession.

Daily reminders could look different for everyone. Maybe it’s the coffee mug you drink from everyday, or the home state drivers license that still sits in your wallet. Whatever it is, use those daily reminders to produce remembrance and thankfulness.

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Work for the relationships you want to keep

When you move far away, some relationships will naturally fade like the traveled road in your rear view mirror. But it’s okay.

Some relationships are meant for certain seasons, and if they aren’t fitting into your new life, don’t try to make them. I’m not telling you to drop all of your childhood friends; however, forcing old relationships to fit into a new mold leaves them strained and disconnected.

There are also some relationships that transcend distance. No matter how far away you are from each other, you will always share a close bond. Instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to maintain every single relationship, identify the ones that transcend the distance, and work to maintain those.

Invest into those people at least weekly, and see them in person whenever you can.

You should also fearlessly pursue new relationships in college. By the end of your four years you will have a full community of lifelong connections.

Cherish every visit home

When you move far away from school, weekend visits home aren’t possible. Instead, we live for the weeklong school breaks and Christmas spent at home.

Cherish these visits.

Use them to rest and reconnect. Spend time with your family, see old friends and hit up your old favorite restaurants. Netflix bingeing and sleeping the day away has it’s place, but you also want to use this time to soak up as much home as you can before school starts again. When you head back, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to jump into college life.

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My sweet friend Deborah visited me in Tennessee. We’ve been friends since 4th grade!

Bring your two worlds together

Last week one of my best friends since fourth grade visited me at school, and it was almost a euphoric experience watching her meet my friends and see my new world for the first time.

I used to think that my two homes would always be separated, but in the past three years I’ve taken roommates and friends home to Texas with me, and had family visit in Tennessee.

When these opportunities present themselves, jump. There’s no experience like introducing the people from your childhood to the new world that you have made for yourself, or showing people from your new home the world that made you who you are.


Moving far from home for college isn’t always easy, but it’s also nothing to be scared of. When done with careful effort, it’s possible to stay connected to home and make a place for yourself in college at the same time.

How do you stay connected to home? Let me know in the comments. 
Photos by Haylee Robinson and my iPhone. 

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This Summer: Want to Come on an Adventure with Me?

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I’ve got a bit of news to share with you today. Really, really exciting news!

This summer is my summer of travel. 

It’ll start with five weeks in Europe. For two weeks I’ll study abroad with my school (and Haylee!) in Italy and Greece, and for three weeks I’ll backpack through the UK with my mom and sister-in-law. Talk about a dream come true!

After I return from Europe I’ll have a few days at home before flying off to Redding, California for a two week long worship training school at Bethel Church. I’m am so beyond excited for this opportunity, and if I’m honest, a little intimidated.

I’ve always wanted legit worship leading training. I led worship for my church in high school because, well, I was the only option and could play keyboard decently well. I loved the experience, so I’m thrilled to have actual training under my belt {with Brian and Jenn Johnson!}, even though I’m nervous.

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circa 2010

After California I’ll have another week home before heading to Guatemala with my church. We’ll be holding an International Leaders School of Ministry for pastors and missionaries on the field. Our heart is to minister to the spiritual leaders of the nation so that they can better pour into the people of Guatemala.

If you’re interested, you can help fund my trip to Guatemala here. I appreciate any and all support!

I’ll return from Guatemala on August 6 and head back to Tennessee for my senior year of college. And that’s my summer! Crazy.

I am aware that I am incredibly blessed to have even one of these incredible opportunities come my way. The fact that all three of them are working out completely floors me.

Thanks to the beauty of scheduled posts, I will still have fresh blogs for you twice a week.

I will also pop in with quick updates from my travels as often as I can, and once I’m back at school I’ll write more about my experiences. But if you want to keep track of me over the summer daily, be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram.

I’m so excited for the adventure that this summer will be, and I want to take The College Cosmopolitan community along the ride with me.

What does your summer look like? How are you finding adventure?
Photo by Haylee Robinson.
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How to Survive Long Distance

Remember how I told you I’m going to get more personal? Well, this is the beginning.

Today I’m going to introduce you to a guy. This guy.

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Fall 2013.

Marshall and I have been dating for a year and a half, and it’s been the best time of my life. This past semester, however, he was studying abroad in England. So for three months our relationship was long distance.

Really long distance.

The experience was of course hard, but it was also transformational and beneficial for our relationship. I learned so much about myself, and I got to cheer Marshall on as he changed and grew during his time traipsing across Europe.

So now, since it’s been a month since he’s been home, I’m ready to share some wisdom with you about making it through long distance dating and coming out stronger than ever.

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Sending him off in January.

The most important piece of advice I can give is this: don’t wish the days away.

It’s sounds really unromantic, but if you’re going through long distance, I don’t think you should keep a countdown until the day your significant other returns, make playlists that remind you of him/her or fall asleep FaceTiming every night.

I think you should live your life.

This semester was a transformative one for me because of the people I met, new experiences I had and places I traveled to. I had an internship at a magazine in downtown Chattanooga and took a job as an editor at my campus newspaper.

I went on adventures. Like this onethis one and this one.

I’m not saying that I couldn’t have done those things with Marshall here, or that I didn’t miss him, but at the beginning of the semester I knew that I had two options: I could sit around and cry because I wasn’t with him, or I could live my life with the same zeal as any other season.

So I chose to live, and I think you should too.

My friend Deborah went through a similar period of distance last year and described it really well. She said it’s beneficial because you learn to develop independence under the umbrella of a committed relationship.

I love that.

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NYC Spring break. Photo by Shane Tretheway.

People have trepidations about entering a relationship because they think they have to kiss their independence goodbye as soon as they kiss their new significant other hello.

Take it from a girl who prides herself on her independence: it’s not true.

Yes, there is a level of independence that you lose when you give up singleness, but there is also a level that you can keep. There’s a balance between commitment and independence while you’re dating, and when it’s found, it produces a beautiful, healthy connection with another person and your own self.

You can be in a relationship and be your own person.

Your partner could be on the other side of the world, and even though you’ll miss him/her, it’s okay if you’re fine. It’s okay to live your life, take advantage of every adventure, make new friends or maybe invest more in existing ones.

This semester my roommate Haylee and I got way closer because we spent a lot of time together. We went on a hike together, did zumba together, started blogs together and just got to know each other better. If I had spent the whole time whining about missing my boyfriend, she would’ve gotten tired of me.

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I’m beyond grateful for this crazy friendship.

When you’re going through long distance, don’t spend all of your time in the past reminiscing about the good times with your significant other, and don’t dwell on the future, counting down the days until you’ll be together again.

L i v e  i n  t h e  p r e s e n t .

Live your life, and share it with your significant other from a distance. Realize that your relationship will look differently in this season, but with strong communication and a little grace, you can still come out more connected than you were before.

Don’t get me wrong: distance is hard, time differences suck and missing each other can seem unbearable. But it also shows you that if you were an independent, committed person before your significant other left, you’ll be an independent and committed person when they’re gone. Likewise, if you were an overly-dependent person before they left, you’ll be an overly-dependent and miserable person when they’re gone.

It’s only for a season, and once you’re on the other side, you don’t want to look back on that season and only see misery.

Don’t wish the days away.

You can have fun. You can grow, change and develop as a person.

And when the distance ends, after a better-than-you-even-imagined reunion, you can share your new self and adventures with your significant other. You can reconnect like you were never separated and get to know the new people you have become at the same time.

And that’s romantic.

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Our first (blurry) picture back together in April.

Have you ever dated long distance? Tell me about your experience! 
You can also read about Marshall and my egalitarian approach to dating on his blog, The Train of His Robe, here. 
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Local Adventures: When Judah and the Lion Plays a Concert Next Door, You Need to Go

Last week I experienced the actual definition of a local adventure when Nashville folksy-Christian band Judah and the Lion played a house show right next door.

Literally…it was about six steps from my front door.

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The band tweeted about being in the area and wanting to play a spontaneous house show, and my neighbors responded! Social media can be a beautiful thing.

I knew it’d be a great experience, but I was in the middle of studying for my hardest final exam, so I wasn’t sure if going was the smartest idea.

But hey, how often does this kind of thing happen? So I threw caution to the wind and my books out the window (almost) and went to the concert.

And I’m so glad I did.

The show was short lived, thanks to a few irritated neighbors, but it was still such a cool experience. The band was down-to-earth, fun and talented – they played a mix of their own songs and a few surprising covers, like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

I love big stadium shows, but there’s something so unique about hearing a band play to a crowd of 30 from a small, quaintly lit front porch. The intimacy allowed them to interact with us in a personal way that bigger shows don’t.

Unlike rehearsed stadium concerts, that show will never be played again, and that experience will never be repeated. How cool is that?

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Haylee, me, Caroline and a lion

This local adventure isn’t as universal as ones I usually try to write about – chances are Judah and the Lion didn’t randomly play a show six steps from your front door (unless my roommate/most faithful follower Haylee is reading this right now – your chances are pretty good).

But there’s still a valuable lesson from this experience.

Some adventures have to be discovered, sought after and pursued. But some just happen. Some simply present themselves like an opportunity knocking at your {neighbors} door, and when they do, you should always take them. Who knows when that opportunity will come again?

And hey, I still did well on my exam! Maybe a jam sesh with Judah and the Lion was just the study break I needed.

What adventurous opportunities have come knocking on your door? Tell me about them! 
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3 Links to Get You Through Finals Week

Well…it’s finals week. As I type I’m putting off studying for two exams, planning a presentation and assembling a research portfolio. But. I. Just. Can’t. Focus.

My latest favorite thing to do when I’m feeling distracted is flock to my favorite blogs and vicariously live through their glamorous, non-exam filled lives. As a new blogger, I convince myself that this is just another form of “studying,” and that reading their blogs will make me a better blogger. It’s true, but this is not the time for that. It’s time to study.

Still, I thought I’d share some of my favorite blogger finds with you before I hit the books again. But I really do love reading about and seeking inspiration from other’s adventures. So, if you’re studying your heart out this week (and even if you’re not), check out these three links from some of my favorite adventurers, and remember that you’re almost done! Soon it’ll be your turn for a summer adventure. Just remember to read these articles through the lens of inspiration instead of feeling jealous or discontent with where you are, and you’re study break will be perfect!

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This is how Lilycat feels about finals.

1. Dream List by the College Prepster. Carly is one of my newer favorite bloggers, so I promise I didn’t plan for my blog name to sound like hers! She started blogging in college and recently left her day job to blog full time, so she’s definitely an inspiration! I love this post about the dreams she accomplished this year, even when she didn’t realize it.

2. How to Beat Post-Vacation Blues by Darling Magazine. This isn’t actually from a blog, it’s from one of my favorite magazines (I’m pretty obsessed with it, actually). Because Easter was so late this year we jumped straight from a four-day weekend into finals week, and readjusting has been hard. I definitely relate to some of these post-vacation symptoms, even though I didn’t take a two week trip across the world.

3. 2014 Bucket List Inspiration by Bucket List Publications. This is just plain inspirational. Seriously, she accomplished all of these crazy things in four months? Whoa. My favorite aspect of her blog is that she uses it to inspire others to try new things instead of just showing off the cool things she’s done. Check it out!

What has your finals week been like? What do you like to do on your cramming breaks?

Happy studying, friends!

Local Adventures: Explore your downtown

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I recently wrapped up a semester long internship at a magazine in downtown Chattanooga. The experience was fun, beneficial and definitely made me ready to get out into the real world. But it also gave me something else: a desire to explore every nook, cranny and unique boutique in downtown Chattanooga.

You see, most of my internship was spent sitting at a desk, but all around me I heard, read and even got to write about some great things going on in Chattanooga, and I’ve been dying to check them out for myself. I’ve lived 30 miles from the city for three years now, and even though I have spent tons of time down there, my internship opened my eyes to new things to do in Chattanooga that I had never ventured before. So this past weekend, my roommates and I traded our books for boutiques and went exploring through the beautiful Scenic City!
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We Started at Tupelo Honey in Warehouse Row for lunch. I’d heard TONS of amazing things about this place, and I was definitely not let down. I ordered my first sweet tea there since I finished the Whole30, and it was absolute heaven. The fried okra and grilled cheese sandwich was incredible too, and the sweet southern but modern style of the restaurant, topped off with a supremely hospitable staff, made the experience perfect. I already can’t wait to go back!

Next we spent some time exploring Warehouse Row, which is seriously a hidden treasure trove. The boutiques, spas and even office spaces were all beautiful, and walking through the romantically lit shopping center had us all dreaming of a metropolitan life in the city.

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Warehouse Row

Nphoto 5ext we headed across the Tennessee River to the North Shore, which is one of my favorite places in the city. Every time I’ve been before had been in the evening, however, so this time I wanted to spend the day exploring the artsy, locally owned boutiques that thrive in this area. We wandered through Luxe Boutique, Go Fish, River City Apparel and Blue Skies. Each new place had a personality of its own, and even though I wasn’t planning on actually buying anything, the merchandise was too gorgeous to resist. So…I walked away with a new pair of pants, a top, earrings and sunglass. Whoops!

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Sweet boutique finds {I didn’t end up getting that dress from Luxe, but I did find a new pair of sunglasses from there that I’m in love with}

Our next stop was Milk & Honey, a North Shore gelato and coffee shop. Again, absolute heaven {although this trip was definitely NOT Whole30/paleo approved}. If you’ve never tried avocado gelato, I now HIGHLY recommend it. Who would’ve thought? We took our gelato (and latte, in Haylee’s case) and headed back across the river for a little rooftop photo shoot. Haylee’s aunt has a great apartment looking over the river, and she let us use the roof for the day! Connections are the best. Here are a few (okay, a lot) of my favorite shots {get ready for a some adorable roommate love…and a little bit of crazy}.

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Not a bad view!

We took a little stroll on the Walnut Street Bridge {A.K.A. the walking bridge} before heading home. It definitely wasn’t out first time on the bridge, but when it’s so beautiful, how can you resist? We also couldn’t resist taking a few more shots….

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Have you had enough pictures yet? I just couldn’t help but show off what an incredible day we had in our small city. The lesson from today’s post is this: wherever you are, there is something to explore, and fun downtowns have so much to offer. Even if you have to drive 30 miles to get to the closest city, do it! Visit new places, eat new foods and if you can, frolic around on a rooftop. I promise that it will be a beautiful day.

What cities do you love exploring? I’d love to hear your stories!

PS – my lovely roommates are also bloggers! Check them out at Hashtag Haylee (who took most of the pictures) and Caroline’s Cup (yes, we have the same name!)