I’m back from my American adventures and a bit jet lagged. So while I get myself together and start writing city-based guides, I wanted to share some handy general America tips with you if you’re planning a trip.
ESTA is required for international travellers who wish to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program due to enhanced security requirements. You will have to pay a $14 fee.
♥ Travel insurance
Don’t even think of entering America without comprehensive travel insurance. You could end up paying thousands of dollars in medical bills if something unfortunate happens to you on your trip. Buy this the second you book your travel!
The concept of tipping is a little foreign to us Aussies, but it’s a vital part of survival for those in the American service industry. Tip around 20% for restaurants and cafes (unless the service is terrible), $1/drink at a bar and around 15% for taxis.
I used this handy site to book all my restaurants across America, from West to East coast. While not all restaurants take bookings, it’s very handy to book with one that does especially on a Friday or Saturday night, or when in Vegas (there are always queues in Vegas!) You don’t want to waste your precious holiday time queuing, do you?
Another site I used regularly, especially for booking a last minute taxi to the airport at 2am ;p They send you an email confirmation and will give you a call prior to double check. Sure beats standing on the street hoping to hail one down.
♥ Buy a SIM when you get there
Make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave and upon arrival hit up your local T-Mobile stand for an American SIM card. I paid $20 for the card plus $40 for a month of unlimited calls and internet (very important for Google maps and Instagram!) While ofcourse you could rely on your roaming (very expensive) and wifi (not always available) I highly suggest getting a local SIM card as it made my life immensely easier – from receiving confirmation calls from taxis, to checking my location on Google maps when I was lost.
♥ Buy heaps of makeup
Makeup is SO much cheaper in the States and I spent a lot of money at Sephora, but saved heaps in the long run. For example my foundation is $90 in Australia and $60 in America, and my blush is $45 in Australia and $29 in America. Stock up!
Do you have any tips on travelling to America? Share with us below!
My last (but certainly not least) guest post comes from the lovely Amy of Oh, My Design Blog. Amy’s blog was one of the first Aussie design blogs I read (and commented on!) and I am a huge fan of her work. Her taste is second to none and she has rounded up some gorgeous travel accessories for you all to covert.
Hi there, Love Swah readers! I’m Amy, a graphic designer, and I blog over at Oh, My Design Blog. Today I feel super special because the lovely Swah has invited me to guest post! Since Swah is off travelling the States (lucky her!) I have done a little round up of my favourite travel bits and pieces. I have been travelling a lot recently, but for short periods – I pack my little over night bag and off I go. My trips have made me a little more savvy in the packing department than I used to be!
1. Keep Cup: I bought a Keep Cup about five years ago and it’s still going strong. I fill mine with green tea for long car trips. If you use it instead of throw away cups, you help the environment, and you can design your own on their site by selecting different cup, lid, band and plug colours.
2. Country Road tote: The classic Country Road tote is my overnight bag of choice. They’ve been around for years and years and now they do them in every colour and pattern imaginable. And they are tough, really tough.
3. Sense & Sensibility designed by Mr Boddington: I’m a bit old school with my books. I don’t have an e-reader, I much prefer the feeling of turning the pages of a book. Mr Boddington designed some lovely Penguin Classics covers which are too gorgeous to resist.
4. Aesop Jet Set Kit: I always take miniature versions of my toiletries when I travel. I usually fill up plain little bottles with my usual body wash, shampoo and conditioner, but if you’re after a treat there’s this lovely little set from Aesop.
5. VS EcoDry Dryer: It’s a bit sad, but I can’t go anywhere without my hair dryer! It’s just one of those things. I travel with this one, its pretty small but still packs a punch.
Thanks Amy! My already exhausted credit card will need to obtain all these things, now! ;)
I LOVE deconstructed food styling. Food can become minimalist art, patterns or even typography. I first talked about it here nearly 3 years ago when sharing the gorgeous photography from the IKEA baking book. This technique has been echoed repeatedly lately and these are some of my favourite interpretations.
Next week I’ll be jetting off to LA and I can’t wait! This trip has been in the works for 6 months and it’s crept up awfully fast – in fact I am suddenly begging time to slow down as I try and get work finished before I leave. Never mind, I’m super excited and hope you can share your USA tips with me too!
I’ve been to America several times before, but am always on the hunt for great restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and the weird and wonderful (for example, I plan on going on a water slide that goes through a shark tank in Vegas). I’m visiting:
♥ Los Angeles
♥ San Fransico
♥ Las Vegas (Never been)
♥ New Orleans (Never been – and we’ll be there for Halloween!)
♥ New York
So please share any suggestions you have and I’ll be eternally grateful xxx
I’m not very good at relaxing. I always have to be doing fifty million things at once in the fear I might get bored and…. self combust? I’m not sure what I think will happen. But after working far too many 70+ hour work weeks in a row, my body had a little breakdown and I got very sick. So I thought now would be the perfect time to try something I have always wanted to do… a relaxing holiday, at a yoga retreat!
The concept of a relaxing holiday is very new to me, as all my previous trips have been action-packed holidays where I try and cram as much amazing culture, history and food as possible into a short space. I generally come home feeling like I need a holiday from my holiday. However, I’ve never been attracted to the idea of a beach holiday – lying on the beach for a week? How boring! Not to mention too much direct sunlight.
I’ve been practicing yoga for around 4 years now and have been dying to try a retreat (it’s even on my 30 Before 30 list). So for the next 5 days I will be staying in a cabin in the bush, doing 3 yoga classes daily, practicing meditation (something I’m terrible at), getting massaged, catching up on reading books and eating healthy food. Exactly what my body and mind needs right now (before I destroy it on my upcoming trip to America! More on that another day).
I will be taking my camera and notebook with me and will be reviewing this retreat in a future blog post if you want to give it a go too. My friend I am travelling with has enforced an internet-ban on me whilst I’m there, so I’ll be quiet on social media for the next few days (how will I cope?!)
Have you ever been on a retreat (yoga or otherwise) or do you want to give one a try?
Food and typography are 2 of my greatest loves in life (after cats) and when a friend showed me the work of designer and illustrator Danielle Evans I was smitten. Using ingredients such as curry powder, chili, coffee and flour to create her designs, she sculpts the products by hand into unique typographic designs.
My favourite quote from her “There is something really exciting about working really hard on something and just obliterating it at the end, it’s so much fun.” I often get that same feeling after slaving over an elegantly decorated cake for hours and then watching someone jam a knife in it and demolish it. Ok, sometimes it’s a little upsetting ;D
I recently made a batch of cupcakes for a 30th birthday party and adorned the Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes with pineapple flowers, an idea I saw Martha Stewart once do. I received several questions on how to make these so I thought I would share the technique, as well as some other easy ideas for decorating desserts.
1. Pre-heat oven to 110°C and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Thinly slice a pineapple (or split pineapple rings in 3 horizontally) and arrange rings on the baking trays.
3. Bake for 30 mins, then turn and cook for another 30 mins.
4. Transfer rings to a muffin tin to cool so they curl upwards and form the shape of a flower.
And now for some other decorating techniques:
♥ Sugar Art
A lot of great sugar decorating options are now becoming available in supermarkets and specialty stores. My absolute favourites are the sugar buttons from Donna Hay. Cheaper options from the supermarket include silver cachous, little pink flowers and they often have seasonal decorations like these cute Christmas-themed ones I found.
Fruit is a simple, colourful and healthy way to decorate your desserts. Berries are always an easy and delicious way to jazz up a dessert. Or try contrasting colours and textures such as kiwi and passionfruit. Get a little creative and top chili-chocolate cupcakes with a chili ganache and small chili, or turn strawberries into Santa hats for a Christmas treat!
♥ Toppers, nuts and more
Purchase some cupcake toppers from a homewares store (or make your own… more on that in another post!), or get creative and make a birds nest out of chocolate and crunchy noodles and top with an Easter egg for an Easter-themed cupcake. Otherwise, nuts make a delicious and crunchy decoration, either spread across the sides of a cake or on top.
I have been collecting numerous decorating inspiration on my Pinterest Board. Some new tricks I am dying to try out:
♥ Cookie Stamping
I hope this has given you some more ideas for decorating your own desserts!
You know when you stumble across something on the internet and think “damn I wish I thought of that”. Well, it happens to me quite often. And when I saw these awesome fashion-inspired cupcakes made by Edsalv Lisa and photographed by Therese Aldgard I knew I had to share. They accurately portray the style of each fashion label through lighting, colour and design, cleverly creating boob cupcakes for Agent Provocateur and a red velvet interior to represent the infamous Christian Louboutin shoe.
Which is your favourite designer cupcake? Are there any fashion labels you would love to see them create?
Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the respect, appreciation and love towards women (although shouldn’t that be every day?!) and honour the struggles of those who have fought and are still fighting for justice to get us where we are today. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is actually a national holiday.
I am fortunately surrounded by a huge array of inspiring women in my life, however we need to reflect on those women around the world who don’t have the same rights, freedom and respect we enjoy in the developed world (with inequality still rife throughout the first world too).
I’m loving this poster made for the International Woman’s Day Special Edition of Kosova Times by Tabi Aziri.
How are you going to celebrate International Women’s Day? (And if you are a fella reading this, there is International Men’s Day too, on 19 November!)
I’ve been seeing some amazing travel videos springing up on Vimeo lately and have been bookmarking each to share them with you. They sure are giving me itchy feet to explore the world again! I’m excited my new camera has HD video – I am looking forward to creating travel and food videos in the near future. Enjoy!
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