My 21st Birthday

Between work, school, and trying to maintain a social life I haven’t had any time to post about my 21st birthday. It’s funny how when you’re genuinely enjoying life you aren’t as worried about social media as usual. I mean, I went out just last night and didn’t post not one snap chat, didn’t check in on Facebook, and literally did not take one photo. Which is cool. I didn’t feel the need to brag about what I was doing. It’s nice to just live in the moment sometimes.

Alright, so back to my birthday. Firstly, I have to say my best friend Kate really went all out with planning it. Everything was perfect and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We decided months before to get a room at the Monaco in Old Town, Alexandria VA. If you’re familiar with the area then you know that the Monaco is right in the heart of Old Town on King Street. The atmosphere of the hotel is very welcoming, despite the fact that I was told it was haunted by a man formerly known as James Jackson. [History Fact] James Jackson was the proprietor of a boarding house during civil war times (Late 1850s early 1860s). This boarding house just so happened to stand on the same exact property as Hotel Monaco, and Mr. Jackson just so happened to be killed in that boarding house. So rumor has it that he roams around the hotel haunting people. Fortunately for us we didn’t have any paranormal encounters.

The birthday festivities commenced on my actual birthday, which was Thursday, April 7th. We went out to a local bar and celebrated with a small group of friends and family. It was great and that night there just so happened to be live music. It was a couple with a girl known as Jessica Jane Flowers who was singing, and her boyfriend known as Juan John playing the guitar, and occasionally singing as well. Their chemistry radiated throughout the room and I was awestruck by how strong their love for one another effortlessly showed. It was amazing and on top of them being amazing in general, they were also extremely talented. The whole bar sang me happy birthday, and Jessica even shared the mic with me once to help her sing “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.

A few pictures from my birthday night.

   I took the day off on Friday because I knew I would need that time to recuperate and also get things done for the big day Saturday. I felt like it was my wedding day. So Friday I spent the day exchanging my license at the DMV, shopping for a last minute outfit, and getting a mani/pedi.

Saturday I arrived at the hotel and to my surprise Kate had the whole room decorated, including the door to our room. It was so cute!

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Before entering the room!
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I thought that chair accented the decorations perfectly. There was a banner that read “Happy 21st Rachel” and cute confetti circles on the beds.
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I like to think that it was my throne for the weekend 😉

The hotel knew we were celebrating my 21st, so they left a complimentary bottle of champagne along with two cupcakes from Lavender Moon that I ended up eating for breakfast the next morning.

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Kate and I!

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Kelly on the left and Carly on the right ❤

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Jessica and myself 🙂
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Jessica by herself 🙂

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Pictures at the hotel before the dinner party!

The absolutely stunning dinner table at Virtue Feed & Grain where all of my closest family and friends gathered to celebrate.

More pictures from Virtue.

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Photos from Magnolia’s on King where we had the cocktail party and also where I had my first legal drink of the night. Probably the best mojito I have ever tasted. They also made me 2 cakes! The atmosphere at Magnolia’s was very intimate and the servers/bartenders were extremely welcoming.

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Kate, Kelly, and I recovered the next morning with brunch and mimosas at the restaurant attached to Hotel Monaco–Jackson 20. Afterwards we took a stroll down King Street, ordered some coffee from Starbucks, and sat by the water for a while. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. I am so blessed. It has already been one month since this weekend and I have been filled with nothing but happiness and love ever since. I keep telling everyone that I wish every weekend was my 21st birthday 🙂

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Toki Underground

If you are a lover of food like I am, then you will know that recently all the food hype has been about ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle and broth bowl that consists of anything from pork, chicken, soft-boiled eggs, seaweed, spinach, etc. Basically it’s a bowl of deliciousness.

Since I’ve only ever had the American college-style ramen, I was interested in trying the real thing. But let’s face it, Southern Maryland is full of nothing but chain restaurants so I’d specifically have to travel into the city to get authentic ramen.

My new beau, Anthony, suggested we go to Toki Underground since they have some of the best reviews for ramen in the Washington DC area.

Located in Northeast, Toki Underground seems at first to be a “hole-in-the-wall” joint. When you enter the building you have to walk up a narrow set of stairs where you will meet the hostess, typically there is a wait so she takes your number and texts you when your seats are ready. This is exactly how our experience went. Luckily the street that it is located on has a variety of bars to choose from to pass the time. We ended up at Granville Moore’s for a half hour before we received the text that our seats were ready.

Once you get into the restaurant it is very small with a bar that sits 4 people located in front of the cooks, and seats at a bar that is wrapped around the wall. Our seats were perfect. They were in front of the main window that overlooks H Street so we could people watch while we ate. And of course it made for great photo lighting 😉

When we first sat down our server gave us two glasses and a vase of water. Maybe it was because we were in the city, but the water did not taste very filtered, so naturally I asked for sparkling instead of still. Anthony ordered hot saki, a rice wine that is served hot. I wasn’t a fan.

The atmosphere of the restaurant has an urban, New York City-style feel/aesthetic. With stickers on the wall and skateboards that trail the floor underneath the seats. The music playing was the newest rap, it was loud and unedited, which gave it that New York vibe.

As far as pricing goes, it is about $15 for a bowl of ramen at Toki. I thought that was reasonable considering the area. When it was time to order we decided to get the popular fried chicken with steamed buns as an appetizer. Surprisingly this was priced the same as the ramen, $15. Personally I wasn’t impressed by the steamed buns. They were tasty for sure, but not worth $15.

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Shown above is the curry chicken ramen that I ordered. It was probably all I expected and then some more. It was delicious! The only thing I did not necessarily care for was the chicken that was in it. The chicken was cooked the same way as the chicken that came with our steamed buns and I would have liked to seen it cooked in a different style, maybe shredded. Other than the chicken, everything else in the bowl was amazing.

Overall I would give it an 8/10. If you are ever in the area or if you just want to try good ramen, I would definitely recommend this place!

Play! by Sephora

It’s a typical Wednesday morning, I wake up and of course the first thing I go to do is check my phone, texts, snapchats, and emails.

I always receive Sephora promo e-mails, and typically I try to avoid them because let’s face it ladies, those promo e-mails are pure evil in the eyes of our bank accounts, however, this specific e-mail caught my eye because it read “By Invite Only: Join Play!by Sephora”, and I thought to myself “hmmm, I should check this out”. So I open the e-mail and it was an invite to join Sephora’s new monthly membership program called “Play!”, just like Ipsy’s Glam Bag or BirchBox, this is a monthly subscription box that contains 5 or 6 deluxe samples, and of course just like any other subscription box there is a monthly fee of $10.

I’m not exactly sure about the amount of samples it contains because in the initial e-mail sent to me it stated that there will be 5 deluxe samples, but in the e-mail sent to me after I signed up it stated that there will be 6 deluxe samples. I’m hoping for 6!

Personally I have been contemplating which monthly box I want to subscribe to, which is why I haven’t up until I received this e-mail. I am a loyal Sephora customer, I am a Beauty Insider, and I have committed to purchasing most (if not all) of my make up from their stores. This helped me in making my decision.

When you are a Beauty Insider with Sephora you receive 1 beauty point per every dollar spent. The minimum points you need to collect a deluxe sample is 100, meaning you have to spend $100 to get a deluxe sample. BUT with the new monthly subscription box you only have to spend $10 to get 6 deluxe samples. Meaning, if you were getting these samples through your Beauty Insider points, you would’ve had to spend $600 just to get these 6 deluxe samples! That reasoning was another factor in making my decision.

Whether you are with Ipsy, Birchbox, Julep Maven, or Popsugar, I think this whole new Play! by Sephora is worth taking a look at! The e-mail I received said that it was “invite only” but if you already have an account with Sephora I believe you can subscribe by using your e-mail address.

Once I receive my first box I will post about all of the great samples that comes in it =)

 

xoxo,

Rachel

 

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Instagram: @rachellevee

Twitter: @rachellevee

Leah’s 16th Celebration of Birth

This past week was my sister Leah’s 16th birthday, so I told her to celebrate I would take her and a few friends out to her place of choice. She invited 2 friends (Nadia and Amanda) and I invited 2 friends (Jessica and Shay). We decided on Old Town Alexandria for lunch and shopping, then Georgetown for more shopping and macarons.

 

 

We couldn’t decide on a restaurant for lunch, at first we were going to try Majestic Cafe, but Leah said she didn’t think she would like anything on the menu, so we ended up at Nando’s Peri Peri. Out of the 6 people with us I was the only person who had ever eaten here, so it was cool to show the girls around and tell them about the menu. The pleasant thing about Nando’s is that their food is quality food and extremely affordable. Above are some pictures of the hummus we got, I will forever rave about how delicious their hummus with Peri Peri drizzle is, it’s tasty and this may sound weird, but it has a fluffy, light-weight factor to it, which I enjoy.
After lunch we walked around and (of course) took some pictures.

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Me and Leah. 

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(left to right) Leah, Amanda, Nadia. 
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Once we left Old Town we went to Georgetown and spent some quality time at Sephora, we were all too busy to take any pictures 😉 I purchased a Smashbox Be Legendary Matte Lipstick in the color “Infrared Matte – True Red” along with a Sephora brand Rouge Gel Lip Liner in the color #12 “The Red”, and a mini Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.

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Me wearing the Infrared Matte True Red lipstick by Smashbox along with the Rouge Gel Lip Liner from Sephora. 

After leaving Sephora we walked to Olivia Macaron, this was everyone’s first time going so we didn’t really know what to expect. I will tell you that we definitely were not expecting these macarons to cost $2.50 a piece, we all found the price to be a bit ridiculous, nevertheless we were there for the experience and that’s what mattered the most, so I spent $17 on only 7 little macaroons for Leah and I to share.

 

 

We waited until we arrived home to eat them because we wanted to really indulge and appreciate the taste, so I made some hot tea and we sat down to try all of the different flavors. Lydia, our youngest sister, was with us at this point so she joined in on the tasting.

When you take your first bite of these delicious pastry treats the outside shell has a bit of a crunch, but once you get to the center they are soft and all around heavenly.

Here is what we thought of the flavors we tried:
Vanilla- the vanilla tasted like real vanilla as opposed to vanilla extract, which was refreshing and overall tasty.
Wedding Almond- The wedding almond tasted exactly how I expected it to, it tasted like an almond. The outside shell was a light, sort of baby blue color, and the middle was just a white almond filling.
Salted Caramel- I did not try the salted caramel, Leah and Lydia and our friend Jessica did. Jessica raved about it (but she also raved about ALL of the flavors), Leah said she there was too much caramel, and Lydia seemed to enjoy it. 
Espresso- The espresso was delicious, it tasted what you would expect espresso to taste like, although it was not bitter, it was espresso with a sweetness to it, kind of like a latte in the form of a macaroon.
Red Velvet– The red velvet was by far my favorite, it wasn’t too sweet and just like the others, it did not have an artificial taste to it.
Rose- The rose flavor was the most unique out of them all. At first it tasted like a normal, sweet macaroon, but after a few seconds the flavor hits you and it tastes like you are eating a bar of rose scented soap. It’s always great to try new things, and this is one of those things I was only willing to try once.

 

 

Overall Olivia Macaron was good, however it did not live up to my expectations. I would probably go there again if I was in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way specifically to go there.

I would say the weekend was a success. We all had so much fun, we got some cool new pictures to post on our social media, and we got an experience together that will always be remembered. Days like these I do not take for granted, the smell of spring was in the air, the weather was gorgeous compared to Maryland’s recent weather, everyone was out with their families and dogs and children. Overall it was just a refreshing day full of love and laughter, great friends and great food. I think we all need a day like this every once in a while, it made me look forward to warmer weather.

Until next time!

xoxo, Rachel

 

P.S. If you liked these photos check out our Instagram pages!

Me: @rachellevee

Leah: @_leahelizabeth

Amanda: @_.Amandie._

Shay: @ishayyo

Jessica: @jessh_93

5 Things Every Insecure Girl Should Hear

1) You are not alone

So many young women (and grown women, too) suffer silently from their insecurities. Whether it be the way you smile, the awkwardness you feel when making eye contact with other people, those love handles that won’t seem to go away no matter how much core yoga you do. My point is, everyone has that one thing, and some of us have many; the key is learning to accept those things you consider “flaws”. Instead of hiding it, flaunt it. People love a person with confidence and when you can genuinely accept yourself, you will see that others will, too.

 

2) That girl looking at you in the grocery store IS NOT hating 

More than likely she is admiring you and she just has a really bad case of chronic resting bitch face syndrome.

 

3) You can’t always rely on other people’s opinions of you 

At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own. You know yourself better than anyone else, and for that reason you should learn how to listen to yourself and make decisions based on how YOU feel, not how others feel.

 

4) It is all in your head

In order to fix that little voice in your head telling you how terrible you look, you need to be conscious of it. Whenever that voice appears, shut it up. Try thinking the exact opposite of whatever it is telling you. I promise you will be surprised at how much control you have over the way you feel once you have control over the way you think.

 

5) You are B E A U T I F U L

You are beautiful in your own special way and you should go out and embrace that beauty!

 

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xoxo Rachel

Christmas 2015

Ending this Christmas weekend with a joyful spirit. It seems the older I get the more I enjoy Christmas not because of the gifts, but because of time spent with loved ones, and of course time celebrating the true reason for the season: the birth of Jesus. 

Christmas Eve my family and I went to the 7:30 pm service at our church, New Life, and it was great to say the least, the pastor and the worship leaders never cease to amaze me.

 

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Before leaving for the Christmas Eve service (from left to right) My mom, Lydia, myself, and Leah. 

 

After the service we went home and put on our Christmas pajamas and drank hot chocolate with a ridiculous amount of marshmallows. My mom, Leah, Lydia, and myself all had matching pajama pants, and my mom’s boyfriend, Sam, and his 3 boys all had Christmas shirts with comical quotes on them. It was pretty cute.

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My delicious hot chocolate with a TON of marshmallows.

 

Christmas day was busy for me, I had 5 houses to visit! My mom’s, my best friend’s, Derrod’s, my other best friend’s, and my aunt’s. Although it was crazy, and mid-day I did get a little grumpy (I needed a nap), it was still great to be able to see all of my loved ones.

Here are some pictures of my siblings and I with our cousin Courtney.

Pictures with the family. Leah is in the red blazer, Lydia is in the burgundy skirt, my brother Japheth is in the middle, my cousin Courtney is in the gray sweater, and I am in the silver dress.

 

My sisters and I ended our weekend with shopping! We spent all of our giftcards at the mall. I will be posting about all of the great things I picked up sometime this week, but for now I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday as much as I did. Have a great week and try not to be too bummed out about going back to work on Monday. I love you all!

Xoxo

Top 5 Holiday Festivities in the DMV

1.) ZooLights at the National Zoo in Washington DC. 

Once night falls the National Zoo lights up into a magical Christmas kingdom, fun and enjoyable for all ages.

Not only is this festive activity fun for the family, it is also FREE!

The ZooLights run from November 27th-January 2nd between 5-9PM, with the exception of December 24th, 25th, and 31st.

You can find more information on ZooLights here.

ZooLights at the National Zoo 

 

2.) Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating

What says holidays more than ice skating? Nothing, obviously.

The great thing about Pentagon Row is it is right next to a multitude of shops and restaurants, including the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Although this activity is not free, it is affordable and fun for the family, romantic dates, or even just an outing with friends. You can view admission and rental pricing here, along with hours and location.

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Outdoor ice skating rink at Pentagon Row 

 

3.) Washington D.C’s National Gallery of Art Ice Rink

If you don’t want to travel all the way to Virginia for ice skating, have no fear, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. also offers an outdoor skating rink.

Located in the Sculpture Garden, this activity is not free of charge but again, it is great for families, dates, or just hanging with friends and enjoying all that the city has to offer.

And while you’re there you might as well check out the art and grab a bite to eat at their cafe, I recommend the gelato.

You can find more information on rates, hours, and location here.

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Outdoor ice skating rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

 

4.) Maryland’s National Harbor

The National Harbor is a great place to go if you want to feel the holiday spirit. Between holiday performances on the plaza, their humongous Christmas tree, and the ferris wheel lit up in Christmas colors, you are almost guaranteed a great time.

There are plenty of events every weekend, too.

Gaylord National’s ICE, the Holiday Market, and every Saturday there is a Harbor Holiday Movie that plays out on the big screen right in front of the Peeps store.

You can find the calendar of events for the National Harbor here.

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Christmas tree at the National Harbor

 

5.) Old Town, Alexandria

Listed as one of the Top 10 Christmas Towns by HGTV, Old Town Alexandria offers something unique that cannot be found just anywhere. This historic town will get you and your loved ones in the spirit with their Holiday Market, Candlelight Tours, and Holiday Dining.

You can find a full list of events here.

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Christmas lights in Historic Old Town, Alexandria

 

So whether you are looking for an affordable activity, or simply just looking to have a good time with friends and family, the DMV has some of the perfect places to celebrate the holidays!

 

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these photographs.