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Why China is Where It’s At

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Are you bored with the same old routine? Travelling is a fantastic way to escape the confines of everyday life, and it doesn’t just broaden your horizons – it has a whole host of other benefits. Deciding to head off into the great unknown is scary, exciting and will change your life. If you’re looking for a destination that ticks all the boxes of a good adventure, China is the answer. Here are my top reasons to visit this amazing place…

 

Something for everyone

The size of China makes it a diverse land that has spectacular scenery to suit every possible taste. Hainan is the tropical region that has been compared with Hawaii – so if you want to kick back and take in some rays, this is the perfect spot. The north west of China is desert country, and features spectacular views that would not be out of place on a big budget movie. For lush lakeside views, you can’t go wrong with Hangzhou – a gorgeous feast for the eyes that you’ll never forget. There are so many different types of terrain and climate within China, you can’t fail to find several places that are perfect for you.

 

Lots of people

China has more people than anywhere else in the world, so you won’t be stuck for someone to talk to. Western travellers are generally very warmly welcomed, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to strike up a conversation with some locals. This is your opportunity to find out more about the rich melting pot of ancient traditions, culture and technology that makes China so fascinating – so don’t be afraid to ask questions and show an interest.

 

Fascinating history

China is one of the oldest nations in the world, so there are lots of intriguing details to be discovered while you’re there. If you’re booking China tours in 2017, visit The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven in Bejing to get great insights into Chinese culture and historical background. And of course, you can’t make the trip without visiting one of the most famous sights in the world: The Great Wall of China.

 

Cosmopolitan city life

Forget New York – if you want to see impressive modern architecture carved into the horizon to create impressive skyline views, Chinese cities are where it’s at. Visit Shanghai to see the stunning riverside views of the Bund, which is an area comprised of an unforgettable skyline – with the Pearl of the Orient Tower, the jewel at its center.

 

Almost as many types of food as there are people

No matter what your taste, you will be able to find delicious food when you travel to China. Areas like Sichuan and Hunnan are perfect if you like a bit of a kick to your food, with lots of spice being the order of the day. If you fancy trying barbecue food, Chinese style, tuck into shao kao – a burger at home will never seem the same again!

 

If you want to learn lots, see a whole host of impressive sights, and eat some of the best food in the world – visit China.

Why I Chose My Major

Lifestyle

Why I Chose My Major

One of the questions college students probably get the most is “What’s your major?” and this is often followed by “Oh, okay…so what are you going to do with that?”. It can be a frustrating thing to answer when your major doesn’t have a set career to go with it. I started college at a university as an English major before transferring to a community college (a long story for another post). During the process of transferring colleges, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study anymore. A lot of people had actually brought me down about being an English major, since liberal arts are often seen as a “waste of time” or just assumed I wanted to be a language arts teacher…which I didn’t. I just knew that I wanted to pick a major, transfer from community college to another university, get my degree and move on. I juggled different ideas from psychology to veterinary technology, but I’ve finally come to a solution that I’m comfortable with.

i followed my passion

As corny as it may sound, I followed my heart and decided to choose English again. Why? Well, writing and reading are both things that I’ve always been passionate about and I’m good at both of these things. To be talented in something you really love is a truly amazing thing and I didn’t want this to go to waste. Being an English major was just something that felt natural to me, so I decided f*** what everyone else thinks and went back to it. I’m a firm believer in not letting others dictate your life choices. Sure, some people get the most satisfaction out of a major that pretty much guarantees money, like engineering or medical related subjects. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing wrong with studying an art if that’s what you want to do. A quote that I absolutely love that ties in is “Medicine, law, business, engineering, those are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” (Dead Poets Society). I feel like artistic passion is something that’s belittled in society. As artists, we are always told to think more realistically, to play it safe. We are forced to believe that our role in life is to wake up, go to a 9-5 job that we can barely tolerate, go home, pay bills, and repeat. This is not the life that I want, I want to choose the life that I lead. The first step towards this is making the decisions that I want despite what other people may think. That is why I am proudly and unapologetically studying something that I love.

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and here’s what i’m doing with that passion…

Of course, as much as I am a dreamer, I also like to go into things with a plan. I don’t expect to just spend a few years learning about things that I think are interesting and then being clueless about what to do when I graduate. I think anyone can make a career out of any major, you just have to think creatively in some cases. My goal in life is to travel the world no matter what, but I’m hoping to do this by being a full time travel/lifestyle blogger, turn my website into my own little business, and ultimately just be my own boss. I don’t really need a degree for this, but studying English will help me be the best writer that I can be for it. On top of majoring in English, I plan to minor in business so I can have some extra knowledge on the business side of my goal.

These things do take time though, which is why I plan to teach English as a second language in other countries as a way to make some money while traveling and building my blogging business. I don’t plan for teaching abroad to be my long-term career, but I’m super excited to spend a few months to a year in countries all over the world, making a difference in others’ lives while fulfilling my own dreams. I’ll be writing about these plans more in the future, but Japan and South America are definitely on my list! Finally, if I need a break from teaching English in other countries and I’m still working on my blogging career (because I refuse to give up!), I wouldn’t mind working in editing, publishing, or even teaching English as a second language to adults wherever I choose to live. I’d even love to publish a few books. The point is, I don’t feel scared or stuck with an English degree. I’ve already explored plenty of possibilities and I’m happy with them. Maybe what I want isn’t for everyone, but it is my life after all and I’m actually excited for my future.

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Moral of the story

Believe me, I know that the decisions you make in your young adult years come with an extreme amount of pressure from other people. Plenty of people that I know have decided to give up whatever dream they were pursuing in order to study a major that would guarantee them a big paycheck. If that’s not what your heart tells you to do, don’t do it! I know that I may never be rich, but as long as I’m comfortable and get to see the world I know I’ll be more than happy. I know that the major I chose is the right one for me. It’s not silly or childish to follow your passions. Other people have succeeded in whatever it is you want to do and that’s because they decided to take a risk and pursue it. The first step you take is one of the most important ones and if you decide that one of these steps is going to college, then my advice to you is to study something that you’re genuinely interested in. Do what you love and the money (and lots of happiness) will follow.

 

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

Travel Tips United States of America

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

When most people think of travel, planes, cars, trains, and even cruises come to mind. Bus travel is almost never considered as a way of long distance travel, at least in the United States. Is it time to consider booking a bus for your next trip or should you stick to whatever you normally do? I can’t give you a direct answer for this, but I can tell you all about my own experience!

A few months ago, I decided to take a Greyhound bus from Florida to New York. This was because I had already spent quite a bit of money to fly from New York to Germany, as well as fly back home. I’d never taken a bus out of state before, but as someone who loves saving money (who doesn’t?), it was time to give it a try! Here are some bus travel pros and cons I learned from my journey:

traveling by bus is really cheap!

The only reason I considered taking the bus from Kissimmee to New York City in the first place was because I assumed it would be affordable and I was completely right! It was actually cheaper than I expected. I’m not sure about other bus lines, but Greyhound actually gives you a discount code for your first ride if you create an Road Rewards account with them (this is NOT a sponsored post by the way, just a useful fact). In total, I only paid $59.20 for a one way trip. This means that if I had chosen to do this round trip, I would have only paid $118.40. Considering the fact that a round trip to New York by plane would normally cost me hundreds of dollars, this was amazing. 

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The bus has wi-fi and charging outlets

As a blogger (and just a 20 year old in general), having wi-fi and a way to keep my devices from dying on the road is a great perk. As I was booking my bus trip, seeing that I would have access to these things actually brought me some relief. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping myself entertained on this incredibly long trip (I’ll get to the length of it soon).

…but the wi-fi sucks & the outlets might not work

Sadly, the Wi-Fi was worse than just using my phone’s data, so I just ended up not really using it. It worked because I was able to use it on my laptop to finish a quiz for one of my classes at the last minute (oops), but it was very annoyingly slow. You can forget watching Netflix on the bus because loading videos was pretty much impossible, at least for my ride. To make things worse, the outlets on the entire side of one of the buses I was on didn’t work at all. I had to transfer buses a couple of times and the first one was fine, but this was only about an hour trip. On the second bus I couldn’t charge my devices at all and neither could anyone else on my side. This was apparently due to some outage problem on the bus, so it’s probably not a common issue. However, I’d advise taking a portable charger.

the ride felt extremely long

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this bus ride felt like forever. I’ve taken planes to other continents and these didn’t feel half as bad as this bus ride up the east coast. Driving to New York from Central Florida (where Kissimmee is) takes about 16 hours. Taking the bus ended up taking about 30 hours. This is because there are constant stops along the way, many of them requiring you to get out of the bus and wait for hours to board again. From Kissimmee to New York City specifically, the stops included Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah, Fayetteville, Richmond, and Newark. If you’re feeling adventurous I suppose you could try and check out what’s nearby during the longer stops, but the bus driver made it very clear that they leave right on time and wouldn’t wait for you, so it’s not a risk I was willing to take.

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the food at the stations is decent

Unless you bring your own food, you’re going to have to buy something at one of the stations to eat. Honestly, I was a little worried that the food would be gross, but it’s not. I remember having fries with cheese and bacon bits at one station, chicken tenders at another, and buying some juice. The quality of the food is comparable to what you’d get at a fast food restaurant, which to me isn’t bad. The prices for food are affordable, too. Basically, your meals won’t be anything to brag about, but you definitely won’t starve.

comfort is extremely limited

You’re going to want to bring a neck pillow and blanket if you plan to take a bus trip because the seats are nothing special. I would compare them to your standard airplane seats; nothing awful, but nothing extremely comfortable. The awful thing is actually that when you finally manage to fall asleep, you’re randomly woken up to get off of the bus and wait at a station. Trust me, being woken up at 3 am to sit on a freezing cold bench in a tiny station is definitely not a fun time. When I think back on this bus trip, I vividly remember being cold and tired beyond belief.

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Conclusion: you get what you pay for

Like most things in life, you really get what you pay for when traveling by bus to another state. The price is extremely affordable compared to other methods of transportation, but it will usually take much longer to get to your destination. By the time you arrive, you’ll probably be exhausted. The bright side is that you can use the money you ended up saving on transportation for activities or accommodation. For me personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to take the bus to travel again because it was a long and uncomfortable experience. That doesn’t mean I would never do it again, but I would only do it if I desperately wanted to go somewhere and really couldn’t afford any other way of getting there. While it’s an annoying experience, it’s not so bad that I would miss a trip somewhere just to avoid it.

I do recommend this mode of transportation if you’re missing out on traveling simply because plane tickets are too expensive for you, but I wouldn’t do this just for the fun of it, because there really isn’t much (if any) fun to it.

Have you ever taken a bus to another state? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two

North America Tennessee United States of America

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two

After a busy first day in Gatlinburg, I was very eager for my second day of exploring this beautiful little city before heading back home the next morning. Here’s what day two consisted of:

Hiking Great smoky mountains national park

The most popular attraction in Gatlinburg is, without a doubt, the Great Smoky Mountains that surround the city. It also happens to be a beautiful hiking spot, especially during the fall. The Smokies are something that I saw in some way or another my entire time over there, but I never got tired of looking at them.  My family and I decided to actually go into the national park and hike the Baskins Creek Trail, which led to us to a waterfall called Baskin Falls. I believe that this trail was 3 miles each way and there were a few rough, steep areas. I’m not much of a hiker personally, so for me the walk was kind of difficult (I actually fell). It was a good workout though, I have to admit. Be prepared to keep your balance if this is something you want to do!

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 sNOW TUBING at ober gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg is a small amusement park and ski area located in the mountains of the city. You have to take an aerial tramway (or cable car) to get here, which was an adventure on its own. An aerial tramway is pretty much a huge, enclosed skylift and also happens to be the safest method on transportation in the world. It’s hard to believe it when it starts rocking back and forth thousands of feet from the ground while it’s pitch black out, but it’s definitely true.

Even though it wasn’t actually snowing in Gatlinburg, I still got to experience the fun of going snow tubing (thanks to snow making machines)!  Snow tubing is basically getting to race down a hill of snow on something that resembles a pool floatie. You go down super fast along with the people next to you and it’s so much fun! For 25 dollars I was able to go down the hill as many times as I wanted for an hour. Even though I’m definitely not a little kid anymore, I had a great time doing this and think that people of all ages would have a blast snow tubing in Gatlinburg.

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baymont inn and suites

Okay, this isn’t really an “activity”, but I thought I would mention what hotel I stayed in. Baymont Inn and Suites is a pretty well-known hotel chain and the rooms themselves weren’t anything out of this world, pretty much what you’d expect from your standard hotel room. Decent amount of space, two king sized beds, bathroom, Wi-Fi, TV, etc. What I really enjoyed about staying here were the little Gatlinburg touches. The view from the hotel balcony was so charming, it was right over a little creek that ran next to the mountains and in front of the cabins. It was a perfect little mountainside country scene. I’m also the kind of person who really enjoys the little things, so the fact that the continental breakfast included bear shaped waffles really won me over. Bears are pretty much the mascot Gatlinburg and there were bear statues in various areas of the hotel. The location of the hotel was also pretty good, since it was easy to get everywhere we planned to go. When I do return to Gatlinburg, I wouldn’t mind staying here again at all (but the goal is to stay in an actual cabin next time).

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If you enjoyed these posts about Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you should watch my first ever travel vlog about my trip on YouTube! Be sure to like and subscribe! 🙂

 

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Need A Change of Scenery? The Countless Benefits of Traveling

Are you bored of the daily grind? Desperate for a change of scenery and a shakeup in your routine? If so, traveling is always a good idea. Here are just some of the many benefits of spreading your wings:

 

Unique experiences

 

When you travel, there are often things you want to see and do. Perhaps you’ve planned an itinerary around all the sights or maybe you’re hoping for spontaneous adventures on arrival. Wherever you go, it’s highly likely that you’ll do things you’ve never done before and you may possibly never do again. The world is such a vast and diverse place. It’s a shame not to get out there and see its wonders for yourself.

Image from https://pixabay.com/en/sperm-whale-fluke-whale-watching-867433/

 

Self-development

 

There are few things in life that can teach you more about yourself than traveling. Jetting off on a plane is not just about visiting famous monuments and reclining on palm-lined beaches. It’s also a voyage of self-discovery. According to this article listing these nine ways to be more positive, taking time out gives you a chance to think about your life, assess where you want to go and what you want to do, and learn more about yourself. Doing new things and meeting new people can give you clarity and inspiration. Perhaps you’ll decide that you want to change career or you’ll make a concerted effort to do more to help others when you get home. Traveling can also give you a new lease of life if you’ve been struggling. It can make you stronger and more independent, and you may find that you’re better equipped to deal with obstacles after your trip.

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/photos/mountain%20climber/

 

New skills

 

When you travel, you’ll undoubtedly learn new things. This may include lighting a fire or catching fish if you’re out in the wilds or speaking a new language if you’re working abroad. It always good to strive for development and to try and improve yourself continually. Nobody will ever get to a point where they know too much, or they have too many skills. The things you learn will set you up for life and make you a more well-rounded person.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/search/camping/

 

Learning to prioritize

 

When you’re away from home, it can make you understand and appreciate what’s important. There’s often an assumption that success is defined by money and possessions. But when you’re camping out in a hut in the middle of nowhere, you get a sense of what really matters. You’ll probably be more grateful for everything your parents do for you and the bonds you have with your best friends when you get home.

Image credit https://pixabay.com/en/best-friends-friends-girlfriends-1425552/

 

You often hear people enthusiastically prasising the virtues of traveling. If you haven’t traveled much before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. The truth is that it’s very easy to get bitten by the travel bug. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. The world is such a fascinating place, and there’s so much to see, do, and learn. If you’re after a change of scenery or you’ve reached a crossroads in your life, why not consider embarking on an adventure? You won’t regret it!

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day One

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Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day One

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a gorgeous town located in the heart of the Great Smoky mountains and such an underrated place to visit! I didn’t even know it existed until a few months ago, but I couldn’t be happier that I went. My family and I like to do random little trips every so often and this time we decided to spend a couple of days in Gatlinburg right before Thanksgiving break. This was really the perfect time to visit because the weather was nice and cool and the leaves were beautiful shades of red, orange, and gold, which made the mountains look even more beautiful. As someone who lives in Florida (where it feels like we only have two seasons: summer and slightly colder summer), seeing mountains and fall colored leaves is so exciting on its own. However, I was surprised to see that there’s actually a lot more to do in Gatlinburg than admire the scenery! With only two full days there we didn’t get to do a large amount of things, but we did enough to leave with amazing memories and a promise that we would return and see more one day.

Edit:  Unfortunately, just a few days after returning home from Gatlinburg, wildfires spread across parts of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I actually had this post up and ready to go the day I found out the news, so I decided to unpublish it and add my support before publishing it again. Gatlinburg (and nearby Pigeon Forge) is really such a wonderful place that I’d love to see again and my heart goes out to those affected by the fires. I really hope that this beautiful little city makes a strong and speedy recovery. If you’d like to help the people of Gatlinburg, I found a link with different ways you can help here . 


Day One

Sugarlands Riding Stables

There’s nothing like riding a horse through the Smoky Mountains in the fall. This was actually my very first time horseback riding and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! I’ll admit I was a little nervous about it because as much as I love animals, I had the irrational fear of the horse kicking me off. A few minutes into the ride I realized that the horses here really do know what they’re doing and I was able to relax and take in the views and believe me, they were incredible. At Sugarlands Riding Stables you have an hour to ride your horse up and back down part of the Smoky Mountains where you get to see the other mountains surrounding you, beautifully colored trees, and babbling creeks. This was probably my favorite activity in Gatlinburg and I guarantee that every nature lover would really enjoy this experience.

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Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine

It doesn’t get more Southern than drinking moonshine in Tennessee. At Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine you can actually sample shots of several flavors of moonshine like coffee, pumpkin pie, margarita, peppermint, and more and you can also buy bottles of the flavors you liked. Of course, they check your I.D. so I couldn’t try any myself (about 4 more months to go!), but my parents loved them and this is something I’d really like to experience first-hand when I come back.

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Arts and Crafts Fair

I just happened to stumble upon this fair while walking around the town and it was a really cool experience. This craft fair had a lot of different handmade items from bath bombs and body butters to Christmas decorations and wind chimes. The people at the stands were really friendly and there were a lot of really cute, unique things to buy, like candles that can be used as lotion when melted. Something I didn’t know until I left and researched Gatlinburg craft fairs is that Gatlinburg has a really strong arts and crafts community which I think is awesome because I really love seeing the things that other people create.

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Sky Lift

I think that the best possible way to take in the scenic town of Gatlinburg is by taking a ride on a sky lift. This is an open-air chair lift ride that goes up to 1,800 feet over the Smoky Mountains with a perfect view of Gatlinburg. It was breathtaking to say the least. I’m still in awe of the fact that such a beautiful place exists. In fact, during the sky lift ride I couldn’t help but get that overwhelming feeling that I get when seeing a new place that I love, that feeling that reminds me (as if I really need reminding) why I love traveling. Basically, the feeling of “wow, the world really has some beautiful places”. I’ve been saying “beautiful” a lot in this post, but that word especially sums up the sky lift. It’s a little difficult to get good pictures when going up the lift, but once you reach the top you’re able to get off and take pictures and also shop at a little gift shop before going back down and taking in the view again.

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Blaine’s Grill and Bar

One thing I really love about traveling is eating food. Okay, maybe eating food is one of my favorite things in general. When it comes to the United States, one kind of food I really enjoy is Southern. Blaine’s Grill and Bar is a great place in Gatlinburg to have authentic Southern and BBQ food. I ordered a fried chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, and tomato with a side of potato salad and a lemonade. I couldn’t even finish it because it made me super full, which is unfortunate because it was delicious. The service there is great, too. The food didn’t take too long to be served and despite me accidentally spilling my lemonade (oops), the waitress was all smiles. Even though the food is mostly Southern and BBQ type food, the restaurant looked a lot like an Irish pub which was interesting. Definitely would recommend.

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Arcade City

This isn’t exactly located in Gatlinburg, but in Pigeon Forge (just literally a few minutes away) is a street known as Arcade City. This street is filled with all kinds of bright neon light covered arcades. Arcade City was our last activity of day one and the perfect way to end the night. We chose to go to just Rockin Raceway Arcade (though I think “arcade hopping” around the street would be a cool idea). This arcade works kind of like Dave n’ Busters in the fact that you get all of your points for prizes on a card and you can come back and use this card as much as you want. There were all kinds of games here, from classics like Dance Dance Revolution and ball throwing games to a giant Connect 4 game and a zombie shooting game that you win or lose by how much you get scared (it measures your pulse to check). We decided to go with the 50 dollar card deal, which between 4 people still got us a lot of games. I don’t know exactly when we’ll be back in Gatlinburg, so we didn’t save our points and ended up getting a pink dolphin pool floatie, nerf gun, ball, and some candy with them.

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Make sure to check out part two of this post: Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two!

The Perfect Online Shop for Christmas Gifts: Love Hayley Beth

Lifestyle

The Perfect Online Shop for Christmas Gifts: Love Hayley Beth

I know it’s still only November, but if every store you walk into can be ready for Christmas already, then so can you! Instead of going to the mall and risking searching for hours for the perfect gift, why not do your Christmas shopping online this year?

I had the wonderful opportunity to receive a few things from Love Hayley Beth and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with this adorable online shop! Love Hayley Beth is based in England and all of the items are handmade by Hayley herself. From phone cases to jewelery, christmas decorations, notebooks, and more, there’s bound to be something (probably quite a few things) that will make a great gift for someone you know or even just to treat yourself. Plus, you really can’t beat the prices. Some of the things cost as low as one pound! Not from the UK? No problem, Love Hayley Beth also ships internationally for as low as 3 pounds (shipping in the UK is as low as 1.50 pounds).

I can also assure you that everything will come quickly and exactly as pictured online! I live in Florida and received my package from Love Hayley Beth in exactly a week. All of the items were neatly and individually packaged inside of the box in perfect condition. You could really tell that these were new, well taken care of items that were shipped with care. Here’s what I got:

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Antique Bronze Skull Earrings

 

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Silver Hello Kitty Earrings

 

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Tutti Frutti Antique Style Necklace

 

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Christmas Ornament with White Buttons and Snowflake Charm

 

Super cute right? Plus, all of the jewelry looks great on and everything is amazing quality! I can tell that everything I got will remain in good condition for a long time. They all fit perfectly with my style too, which I really loved because I tend to be a bit picky about the things I buy. I’m very into a simple, vintage look, but also really love cute things like Hello Kitty,so you can imagine how excited I was to have all of the things that Hayley sent me! There’s really such a great variety of things to suit any taste at Love Hayley Beth.

Make sure to visit Love Hayley Beth for all of your Christmas (or any occasion) gift needs and use my promo code LIANNA20 for 20% off of your purchase!

If you have any questions, it’s very easy to get in contact with Hayley through her Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and you can visit the shop directly here.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!