Paris, France Day 2: Everything Here Looks Expensive

Friends. I am so, so, so sorry.

All of those posts from Europe I was planning on doing? Well, I took about a bazillion pictures on my trip (I’m back now), but I had many problems with uploading pictures, WiFi connections, charging my devices, etc., etc., etc. I couldn’t even use my Nikon for about half the trip!

But good news. I’m still going to do all of the posts I was originally planning to do. They’re just a couple weeks late. 😉

Let’s start with Versailles, shall we?

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This isn’t actually part of Château de Versailles, but we walked past it on our way. I thought the colors were really cool.

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Let me tell you something about the amount of time I stood in line to get into the building . . . close to two hours. It also happened to be sweltering outside. At one point, an ambulance actually came to help someone who was suffering from the heat. I took this picture as we were closer to the front, but the line actually snakes around and back several times. 😟

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Everything was gold. 😯

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Once inside Versailles, I was completely blown away by the architecture!

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There were kind of a lot of statues . . .

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(One of my favorite pics.)

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I took this picture in the Hall of Mirrors, my favorite place in the whole castle. Look at those chandeliers!

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And the ceiling, too – amazing.

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In one of the bedrooms – I can’t imagine how much dust must be in this couch.

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The artwork is incredible! I believe that this is a painting of Mercury, one of the Roman deities.

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The expansive gardens.

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Louis XIV was called the Sun King, which is why there are so many suns/gold thingies featured in the castle. He reigned for 72 years.

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Translation: To all the glories of France.

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One last look at Versailles. Isn’t it huge?

My feet hurt soooooo bad after we were finished – or rather, halfway through the tour. They actually started tingling and felt like they were going to fall off . . . oh well. It was worth it. 😉

XOXO,

–  Morgan

 

Paris, France Day 1: I Love Crêpes

Bonjour, mes amies!

*Tries to type with fake French nails*

*Cause I’m in France, by the way*

*In case you didn’t figure it out already*

Okay, I swear it is basically impossible to type like this. But here goes anyway.

So . . . I’m in Paris. And it’s pretty amazing. I opened my window this morning and the air smelled like pastries. I’m not even kidding.

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This is the street right by our hotel. Over on the left (you can’t see it), I ate my first real French croissant. Definitely does not compare to the frozen, fake, flake-free ones I eat at the coffee shops in Alaska.

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After breakfast, we took the Metro to-

Wait, hold up. Can I just say how IMPOSSIBLE to use the Metro? I mean, it’s obviously not impossible, since we used it four or five times today. But there was a lot of standing around, trying to figure out where to go. It’s so confusing.

Anyway, I was about to tell you we went to L’Arc de Triomphe this morning. It was so much bigger than I thought it was. My dad and brother and I climbed to the top (a lot of stairs!) and got our first birds-eye view of the city. My mom opted to stay below.

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Underneath the Arc. It’s the biggest arch in the world, and was commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz.

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My first complete view of the Tower, too. So amazing.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The flame is rekindled each evening at 6:30.

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The architecture here is to die for.

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Ooh, what’s this?

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(I think we know, Morgan . . .)

Built in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle, the Tower stands at 1,063 feet from base to tip.

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The gardens surrounding the tower were so green and lush.

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So, it was a little scary to be all the way up there, since I’m afraid of heights, but you could see all of Paris!

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The river Seine.

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Everything is green, white, and beige. 😂

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A little waterfall in the gardens.

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Does anyone know what these flowers are?

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So this is a little blurry since it was getting dark out, but this is where I had my first French crêpe – Nutella et fraises. As in Nutella and strawberry. I don’t love Nutella, but it was seriously the most incredible thing I’ve eaten on the trip so far! It was like a flat pancake with warm melted chocolate spread and the best strawberries ever. It could have been the beautiful views that made it taste so good, but I think otherwise.

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A little café we passed on the way back to the hotel.

And that’s it for today. I have an early morning tomorrow.

Bonsoir, chères amies. 

Bisous!

-Morgan

What’s In My Carry-On | 3 Days To Go!

Andddddd I’m back.

That didn’t take long, did it?

Here is part two of my packing for Europe mini-series. In my humble opinion, carry-ons are much more fun to pack than suitcases. It does involve a bit of planning ahead of time so you make sure you’re not forgetting anything. And on a long-haul flight like ours, you definitely don’t want to do that!

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This is the backpack I’m taking for my carry-on. We’re flying on Condor airlines, and their carry-on restrictions are very . . . restrictive, size-wise. This travel-safe backpack is from Oscaurt on Amazon. I’ve used the backpack a few times at school and to be honest, I find it very difficult to get into. I’m sure it comes in handy when you’re trying to keep thieves out of it, but on a day-to-day basis, it can be pretty irritating as the zippers don’t work super fabulously. I’m a little worried about it being accessible when I’m squeezed into a tiny airplane seat. 😣

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The first two items are my Apple earbuds and definitely-not-Apple headphones.

Tip #1: Even if you wear earbuds/Airpods on a regular basis, bring headphones as well.

Earbuds can become pretty uncomfortable if you’re wearing them for an extended period of time.

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Second, my Nook!

Nooks (e-readers) are essential for any trip. If you’re an avid reader like me, the struggle of deciding which books to pack is very real. An e-reader will solve all of your problems, my friends. 😉

Tip #2: Invest in an e-reader. You can download hundreds of books onto a tiny device that will fit easily in a bag.

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Since our world is so connected through technology (and since I’m taking like five devices on this trip), I’m bringing a bag for all of my electronics.

Tip #3: Take your chargers in your carry-on bag and not your checked luggage. That way, if you wind up separated from your checked bag once you reach your destination, you can still use your devices without the worry of them dying.

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Tip #4: Bring an extra change of clothes! You never know when you could be stuck in a hotel for several days due to a canceled flight. You do not want to be wearing the same clothes the entire time . . . *shudders*

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Flights, and airports in general, can make you feel super gross. Plus, they’re germy. 😅

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These two are in case of an emergency: a mini first aid kit and a face mask.

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An RFID-protected wallet.

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A flashlight (another in-case-of-emergency item) and my extra glasses.

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Pens! Super important for any writer.

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And now the fun part. 😂 As I mentioned in my last post, I always take three bags of toiletries when I travel (and when I say always, I mean this is the first time).

This is the first bag. It’s a TSA-approved quart bag for my liquids, all three ounces or less.

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Tip #5: Have your liquids separated ahead of time, so security is less of a hassle.

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The second bag is for all of my non-liquid toiletries.

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Tip #6: NEVER forget to bring a toothbrush in your carry-on. Smelly breath and dirty teeth are definite no-nos.

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And this is the last toiletry bag. This one actually goes in my suitcase, but I wanted to show it to you with the other toiletries. This bag is for everything that I won’t need immediately during our flights.

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More hair stuff, a bigger toothbrush, regular-sized deoderant, makeup remover, and my awesome hair bun-makers.

And jewelry, of course.

Please note that does not include any of my makeup. 😂 This is why it’s hard to travel as a girl. I use all of this stuff on a regular basis, I promise!

Not shown:

  • Camera (with charger, extra SD card, and extra battery!)
  • Laptop (with case and charger)
  • Cell phone (with charger)
  • Sleeping mask (which I need to find)
  • Journal (another thing I need to find)
  • Flight pressure earplugs (so my ears don’t hurt)
  • Snacks, candy, and gum
  • Water bottle
  • And anything else I’ll regret not remembering when we’re on the plane! 😉

This will be the last travel post before we get to Europe. So I’ll see y’all in about five-ish days!

XOXO for now,

Morgan

 

A Bit About My Europe Trip | What’s In My Suitcase | Packing Tips & Tricks |Wow This Is A Long Title

Hey guys.

(Why can’t I think of an intro . . .)

Anyway, it’s summer for me! My last day of school was Tuesday and I got A’s on all my finals. 🙂 So that’s exciting. When do you guys get out of school?

(This isn’t very exciting so I’ll move on.) 😂

I finally got around to packing my bags (or bag, rather) for our trip to Europe and I figured that maybe you guys would like to see a little bit of what I’m taking (and if you don’t, feel free to skip this post!)

First off, I’d like to start by taking y’all back in time to when I was just a young child.

Just kidding. This was only four years ago. Remember when Grace was the American Girl of the Year? Or, as someone I know calls her, “The French One?”

Yeah. That’s kind of when I became obsessed with going to France. When I pitched the idea to my parents, I was definitely not expecting them to go for it. And honestly, they kind of didn’t. Instead, my dad made a deal with me.

Our conversation went something like this:

Morgan: Hey Dad, can we go to Paris?

Dad: Um sure.

Morgan: Really?

Dad: Sure. You learn to speak French, and we can go to Paris.

Flash forward four years, and I’ve tested biliterate in French.

Twice.

So now it’s time to go to Paris. But of course, when you live in Alaska and it takes absolutely forever to get there, you may as well swing by a few places outside of Paris. So we’re going to Normandy and London as well. I’ll be taking you guys along with me each day with a new post about what we did, with pictures to go along.

And that’s enough of that for now. Onto the packing!

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This is what my suitcase looks like . . . really not very interesting.

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This is a sample of the shirts I’m taking. The weather is supposed to be fairly warm, so most of my clothes are lightweight. I’m taking one fuzzy sweater in case we have a chilly day.

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(Oops, this one’s a little blurry.)

Tip #1: Always use packing cubes!

Guysssssssss I cannot stress this enough. Packing cubes literally MAKE MORE SPACE in your suitcase! I’ve never used them before, but I tried this time around and I was super impressed. Not only will they keep things tightly together and not jumbled around in your bag, but they keep each type of clothing separated so picking out outfits will be easier each day.

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Pajamas. I’m bringing two sets.

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Swimsuit.

Tip #2: Always bring a swimsuit. Even if you don’t think you’ll be swimming.

I don’t know if I’ll have any use for this on our trip, but I’m taking it just in case. You never know.

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Scarves are iconically French and can really dress up an outfit.

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I usually only wear jeans, so that’s what I’m taking. 🙂

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This is what all of the packing cubes look like full of clothes. So much neater and more organized than loose in a suitcase.

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I’m taking four pairs of shoes.

Black sandals: For dressier outfits.

Flip flops: For use in showers at hotels/Airbnb’s as they are not always the most clean spaces.

Pink tennis shoes: My go-to’s.

Hiking books: In case it’s rainy in London.

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(Ugh why is this is so dark.)

Tip #3: Bring a laundry bag with you! It’ll keep your dirty clothes separate.

Other things I’m bringing that are not shown:

  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella
  • Toiletry kit

There will be more on the toiletry kit later, when I publish my carry-on packing post probably tomorrow or the next day. (And you will discover the real reason I bring three toiletry bags . . .)

Au revoir for now!

Morgan

Maren Morris – An Honest Review of the Album “GIRL”

Hey friends. Happy almost-summer!

I’ve reached the point where, despite the fact that I only have four days of school left (three days this week and then one next week), I honestly just do not care how much school I have left. It’s become a monotonous rhythm since I got past the point of “four more weeks! Three more weeks!”

On the bright side, I’m beginning to pack for our trip to Europe! *checks sidebar* Only 14 days to go!” Wait . . . that’s two weeks . . . 😣 I have a lot to do.

Anyway, today’s post is about Maren Morris and her new album, “GIRL.”

To be honest, I didn’t even know who Maren Morris was until I started to listen to country music again. And that’s when I realized that this is the same girl who sang “The Middle” with Zedd and Grey. But once I started listening to her album, I decided I liked her own country music much more. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this.

So. Is “GIRL” really worth listening to?

Note: This review is a brief overview of Maren Morris’ album, and does not include every song. Always ask your parents before listening to new music. This review is for mature people, and may include the topics of drinking/doing drugs/profanity/sexual relationships in reference to song lyrics.

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First off, let’s look at the album cover. A bit risqué, yes. But since we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, let’s take a peek at the songs.

The album is named for Maren’s song, “GIRL.”

Girl, won’t you stop your cryin’?
I know that you’re tryin’
Everything’s gonna be okay
Baby girl, don’t you hang your head low
Don’t you lose your halo
Everyone’s gonna be okay
Baby girl

This song is about the struggles that girls go through in life, so the message is very positive. However, the song does include the word s*** in the first line, and Apple Music does not offer a clean version.

I’m going to be honest and admit that I have not listened to every song in this album, after listening to the first few lines of some, I decided the song was too “boring” and skipped to the next one. And I didn’t even try to listen to the one titled “Make Out With Me.”

While we’re still on the topic of the negative side of the album, let’s discuss “All My Favorite People,” featuring Brothers Osborne. The song is about letting loose with your friends and has a few lines about drinking/doing drugs while others do not understand why you are doing those things. While the song has a very catchy beat, it may not send the best message.

Not everybody drinks on a Tuesday night
Mixes their liquor with Crystal Light
With a couple of friends they called out of the blue
And not everybody spends what they made that week
On a tank of gas and a little bit of weed
But all my favorite people do

And to wrap up the cons of “GIRL,” I would like to mention the song “RSVP.” This song includes probably the most suggestive lyrics in the entire album, as it is basically about sleeping with a guy.

Don’t tell me that you got better plans
For those velvet hands, they’re in demand
Don’t tell me that you’re not a little curious
Don’t be so serious, it can be only us 

(And those aren’t even the worst lyrics.)

And now, onto the better songs in this album!

My personal favorite is “Bones.” The song is about building a great relationship with someone you love, and how, if you work on the core structure, you can weather all storms with someone by your side to support you. The song has a beautiful tune describes a very pure relationship. Pretty different from “RSVP,” huh?

When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same
When there ain’t a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we’re facing
Will blow right over while we stay put
The house don’t fall when the bones are good

My other favorite is “A Song for Everything.” It’s kind of sentimental and reminds you of all the times in your life that you went through, both good and bad.

One danced you through love
One rocked you through lonely
Mixtaped your heartbreak and made you feel holy
For the hits and the misses
For the fire and rain
Close your eyes and listen
‘Cause there’s a song for everything, yeah
There’s a song for everything

Most of the songs in the album are about love – “Gold Love,” “To Hell & Back,” “Great Ones,” etc., as country music tends to reflect that topic. Overall, I love Maren’s music (not all of it, obviously!), but I definitely think it’s better for 13+. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and you should definitely research further (preferably, with your parents), before listening.

Have a great week, everybody!

What do you think of Maren Morris? Do you like her new album? Do y’all like country music?

–  Morgan

How I’m Staying Sane the Last Three Weeks of School

Guysssssssss it is that time of year!

Three. More. Weeks.

Or more like 5-6 if you live in the Lower 48. But since I don’t, I am literally so close to the end of the school year and I can. Not. Wait.

In case you don’t already know this, I go part-time to a public school here so I am surrounded by a ton of other kids who are also just as ready to get the school year over with. Meaning, we sometimes get on each other’s nerves. And by sometimes, I mean all the time. So here is how I’m staying sane (or trying to stay sane) the last few weeks of school!

#1: Not thinking about all the fun stuff I’m doing this summer.

So this one has been really, really hard, since I’m leaving for Europe in FOUR AND A HALF WEEKS. But thinking about stuff like that makes it even harder to continue the monotony of going to school. Instead, replace those thoughts with things you have at school to look forward to each week – for example, we’re having a party in my American Sign Language class this week! This keeps me going because school has been getting quite boring recently. 😂

#2: Spending time outside. 

For those of you who don’t live in Alaska, you may not realize that Alaska gets very little sun six months out of the year. So by April-ish, we’re getting a lot more – and that makes it extremely difficult to go to bed on time. But when I spend time after school outside, it boosts my energy and gives me more motivation to finish homework.

#3: Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Okay so this year has been kind of the year I started drinking a lot of coffee. (Like way more than I should be.) I don’t recommend doing this unless your parents let you drink coffee, but if they do, having a cup a couple times a week will keep you from getting burned out.

#4: Being patient with the kids at school.

This is a little challenging as some of my friends have not been having a very easy time at school this last quarter, but I try to be kind when everyone just wants to complain (myself included).

#5: Getting enough sleep!

Sleep is sooooooo important, guys! This rule applies year-round, but especially now more than ever. Sleep is as important as going outside – you’ll actually have some energy to do homework.

#6: Keeping a mindset that these last three weeks are just like any other.

When you continue to think “Three more weeks until school’s out, three more weeks until school’s out!” time will continue to pass at a glacial speed. But when I “pretend” that  we’re still in December or January, the days suddenly feel like they’re going back faster (I am a master at mind tricks, friends!)

And that’s all my tips! If you have some more, please comment below (I can use all the help I can get . . .)

And one more thing – I will be starting to write packing posts very soon! Stay tuned for those, and have a great weekend!

And by the way, WP won’t let me upload a profile picture . . . is anyone else having this problem??

Your friend,

Morgan

 

Welcome, friends!

Hey guys! My name is Morgan McCartie, and I’m the author of Swingsets & Snapshots. Many of you may know me already for my American Girl doll blog, American Girls in Alaska, but if not, hi, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If you know me in real life, hey there, friend. Since you’re one of the few readers who has the privilege of knowing my real name, I’m trusting YOU to keep it a secret. Morgan McCartie is an alias that I use because many of you already know where I live, and that’s enough personal information for right now. 🙂

Swingsets & Snapshots is yet another of the many, many, MANY personal/lifestyle blog out there in cyberspace, and I really appreciate you stopping by. Here, you’ll find posts about reading, writing, traveling, photography, Alaskan lifestyle, animals, family adventures, and so much more. (Oh yeah, did I mention I live in Alaska?)

If this sounds like something you’re into, and I hope it is, hit the “Follow” button on the sidebar to get notifications every time I post. Then, drop a comment down below so we can get to know each other!

This blog is still in the process of being set up, so I hope you’ll be patient with me as I make changes over the next couple of weeks.

I’m really looking forward to the adventures I’ll be documenting on my blog (like my upcoming trip to Europe!), and I hope you’ll have fun reading about them!

Your friend,

Morgan