Beach Bones
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Dreaming of warmer days

Fact: I have never talked about the weather as often as I have living in Portland. Sunny days are a gift that I eagerly unwrap without hesitancy or patience. It also definitely makes me wistfully look back on my life in Texas.

So you can imagine when the sun peaked through the clouds on our Beach Bones photoshoot, we were ecstatic. These are my favorite shots from that day. From hunting good flower bushes, strategically rearranging furniture, to snacking every second we got - it was all-in-all a beautiful day. 

Jewelry: Beach Bones
Photographer: Celeste Noche
Stylist: Est Ovest Style

PersonalMargaret Alba
Iceland Guide
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Two days after I arrived from Japan, I bought my tickets to Iceland...

And much like my ticket to Japan, it was bought spontaneously without an ounce of thorough research. It wasn't until months later that I learned that yes, going to Iceland is cheap ($500 roundtrip through Icelandair) but staying there is hella expensive. 

As somebody who was going alone and already on a pretty tight budget - I was stressed for months leading up to my trip. But I'm here, I survived, and I'm writing this to help anyone else who wants to make a similar journey to Iceland.

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Things I wish I knew:

Food is more expensive than I thought

We're talking about $20 per meal. If you're staying at a place where you can cook, you can buy groceries at Bonus.

I didn't need to pack so much thermalwear

I took the Ice in Iceland pretty literally and being the warm-blooded Texan that I am - I packed as many layers as possible. In reality, all I needed was a good wool coat. Granted, I visited in April - so there was no snow. But my baggage was filled with clothes I didn't even use. 

Northern lights tours end April 15

And I arrived April 18. I thought that I could drive to secluded places and see the northern lights - no luck. It didn't get dark until 10:00 PM and it got light at 4:00 AM.

I didn't really neeeed a four wheel drive car

I drove around the Golden Circle, Vík, and to Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon). I didn't go off road often so I felt a bit ridiculous with this 4 wheel drive SUV for one. Not to mention it needed diesel gas and cost about $80 to fill. I should note that it wasn't snowing, terribly windy or rainy.

The blue lagoon costs about $100 for a ticket (which you must buy in advance)

Was it worth it? I'm still on the fence about that. But I truly enjoyed the experience! I got the comfortable package which comes with a free drink and a clay mask. It felt like a luxurious spa and I certainly didn't regret it.

You have to pay for several things

Especially if you're staying at a hostel. You have to rent towels, locks, sometimes even sheets.

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Things I'm glad I brought:

Flip Flops

These are so handy at the hostel's showers and hot springs. They take up so little space - so why not? I've had these flip flops for yeeaarrss. They're so sturdy and last a while.

instant Oatmeal

I am so grateful I brought oatmeal. I bought about a pound or so in the bulk section before my trip. It was perfect because it was filling and everywhere I stayed had an electric kettle. Later on in the trip I bought a jar of peanut butter and raisins at Bonus for toppings. 

Locks

A little hostel-life specific. I stayed in a co-ed room complete with bunk beds and cubbies. Even though I doubt anyone would steal my passport or my clothes, it gave me peace of mind. Before I go out, I would lock my bags and my designated cubbie. I got two at Marshalls for about $5.

Quick Dry Towels

My new favorite travel item. This towel is lightweight, takes little space, and dries so quickly. It was handy for the showers. Though I didn't need it for the Blue Lagoon. I plan to bring this with me to all my future trips.

Wool Socks

Didn't have cold toes the entire trip. 

Swell bottle

Don't buy water in Iceland.  The water there is so pure, you can just drink tap. I have a mini one I brought everywhere.

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Important stuff:

Where I rented my car

Blue Car Rental

This was my first car rental experience and it was soooo easy. I rented a 4 Wheel Drive Kia Sportage. As mentioned above, I don't think I needed such a heavy duty car - but I loved driving it (and that's coming from someone who hates driving). 

The hostel I stayed at

Oddson

Although the hostel was cute - I think I would have rather stayed somewhere more central. The Oddson was a 15-20 minute walk from downtown and as much as I love walking, I found myself going back and forth way too often. 

The breakfast buffet was about $20 and wasn't incredibly spectacular - just your average oatmeal, bread, deli meat, cheese, etc - but it was food! I would eat as much as I could in the morning to fuel my day. 

The airbnb I stayed at:

Jón and Martina

Possibly the best Airbnb I have ever stayed at. Their backyard had a waterfall, horses, sheep, and chickens. The best part was that they provided an authentic Icelandic breakfast with 99% coming from their farm and garden.

Jón was the one who recommended that I go to Diamond Beach and I'm so glad he did! It was absolutely beautiful and I would have been so sad if I left Iceland without seeing this spectacular beach.

PlacesMargaret Alba
Playing with After Effects

A week ago, I installed After Effects and I've been teaching myself how to do animations ever since.

It's incredibly addictive. I find myself staying up at night working on a project just for fun. 

I'm not a professional by any means (I still haven't mastered the basics of keyframes). But here are literally the first four animations I've done so far.

Tangz

A friend of a friend is about to graduate music producing school. His stage name is Tangz (obvs) and I thought this would be a good graduation present.

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Cars and Clarkie

There's a bit Clarke and I do during road trips to pass the time. We pretend we're hosting a podcast and talk about the cars that pass by us (he really likes cars).  The podcast's name is 'Cars and Clarkie' and I surprised him with these animations.

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ProjectsMargaret Alba
Fall in Portland
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It's the first day of Spring and I'm already looking forward to Fall. Especially after stumbling upon these photos from last year.

These are shots from when Katie Harland and I explored the neighborhood, reminisced about Texas, and bonded over Blue Star donuts. 

 

 

 

PersonalMargaret Alba
Inspiration Sketch Series 001

I’m starting a series of portraits of my favorite people and why they mean the world to me.

Just as a way to get in the habit of creating outside the computer again, but mostly to show appreciation and love to the people who have made an impact on my life.

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001 // Sasha

 As one of my first friends in college, it’s inevitable that we share so many memories together. Sasha loves her friends fiercely and is so deliberate with her friendships. 


We bonded over countless road trips between Waco and Houston. She and I got our first tattoos together. Went to our first ACL together. She was one of my first models when I was experimenting with photography. We joined the same business fraternity. We can talk forever about well-executed design and marketing. 


Sasha has encouraged and supported me for the past six years, starting from the first day we met over chicken nuggets. 

ProjectsMargaret Alba
A Timeline of my Hair
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What I've learned...

  • Leave it to a professional when dyeing black hair.
  • You don't realize how fast your hair grows until you dye it platinum blonde
  • Maintaining dyed hair requires time, attention, money, and a whole lot of love. Especially if you want it to look healthy.
  • Pixie cuts are liberating.
  • When your hair is dyed, you want it natural. When it's natural, you want it baby pink.
PersonalMargaret Alba
Vancouver
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What do you give someone who essentially has everything they need?

I've asked myself this question months leading up to Clarke's birthday. Potential gifts ran from practical (wireless headphones) to ridiculous (a blow-up dinosaur costume). And after several google search wormholes, I nixed all that and decided to go towards the 'give an experience' route.

I planned a surprise trip to Vancouver, B.C.

Booked the airbnbs, googled restaurants based on food he likes, and made a pretty impressive spreadsheet that I will keep bragging about until I die. Here are the highlights...

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Eat & Drink

Yolks

A brunch place that perfected the eggs benedict. 

Miku

Bomb sushi near the waterfront. 

Shameful Tiki Room

Tiki drinks.

Keefer Bar

Classy bar in Gastown

Osterio Savio Volpe

The finale - our last dinner in Vancouver and my personal favorite.

Explore

Granville Island public Market

Impressive array of food

Gastown

Filled with amazing bars and boutiques

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

A beautiful bridge located in the beginining of a hiking trail. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PlacesMargaret Alba
Los Cabos
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Cabo San Lucas felt like a dream. The warmth was divine and the food was amazing. Although Cabos San Lucas is a tourist town, it was the kindness and generosity of the people who call it home that truly made this city such an amazing experience. 

Things to do:

1. Get yourself diving certified and explore the depths of the pacific ocean

2. Ask the locals where to eat.

After our dive, we asked our guide on restaurant recommendations. She led us to a classic hole-in-the-wall restaurant away from the main road. I still have dreams about those tacos.

3. Swim with whale sharks.

But plan a whole day for it - it took a whopping 7 hours for us to actually enter the water. This was because the Mexican government made new rules to protect the whale sharks. Only a few boats and people were allowed to enter the water at a time.

4. Drink aguas frescas whenever and wherever.

5. Wake up early to watch the sunset

 

& If there is anything I learned, it's that I feel most myself in denim cutoffs and a white tee shirt.

Preferably on the beach, always in the sun.

PlacesMargaret Alba
Tulle in Love
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Fun Fact

I bought this black tutu at the thrift store. And I was thiiiiss close in passing it up because what grown adult wears a tutu in public?

Needless to say, I've worn it every month since I've gotten it and now this is what it looks like when it's on my head.

PersonalMargaret Alba
If you slept on my couch

Set scene: This is your first time visiting Portland. All you know about this city is that there's great coffee and beer and that it rains a lot. 

My mission? Take you to all of the places that Portland is known for (aka a curated list of tourist areas that are actually worth visiting)

 

Day One

1.  Breakfast at Screen Door

Prepare to wake up early because I intend to be there when it first opens to avoid the line (1 hour wait usually).  Screen Door is arguably the most famous brunch spot in Portland.  Get the chicken & waffles!

2. Explore Downtown

We're going to walk off breakfast and explore the Pearl. Some necessary stops include:

3. Let's Eat

Okay. What are you craving? We're in the middle of downtown so we have a few options...

4. Explore Mississippi

Time to cross the river again. We're going to one of my favorite streets and hitting up these spots:

5.  Dinner at Tasty N' Sons

Next - an early dinner at Tasty N' Sons. It's a bit pricey during normal hours, but I intend to take full advantage of their happy hour menu.

If there's a line, we can explore the next-door boutique  In God We Trust or if you're down for coffee at night (I always am) we'll step into Ristretto Roasters.

6. What there's still time?

If you're still down for one more activity after dinner, then we're going to go soaking at the Kennedy School's Soaking Pool. It's only $5 and we can have a drink at one of the bars afterwards (or maybe a movie if you're feeling ambitious).

Day Two

1. Brunch at Proud Mary Cafe

We're waking up early again, because surprise! Lines are terrible. 

2. Explore Alberta

If you're still hungry, we can cross the street and grab ice cream at Salt & Straw.

And of course, I'll take you to some of my favorite shops:

3. Road Trip Time to Cannon Beach

We're going on a road trip! Probably stop by New Seasons and stock up on some snacks. 

I usually put Mo's on Google Maps and just go there. Primarily because there's always parking and we're going to eat there anyways after we walk to the Haystack Rock and back.

This isn't budging - Mo's has the best clam chowder. 

I'll probably put on my karaoke playlist to sing all the way there and will probably sleep on the way back. 

4.  Let's get drinks

Tired? Me too. But we're sucking it up because it's your last day. We're going to Hale Pele - my favorite tiki bar. It's such an experience and the drinks are amazing. I'm having Lava Flow because if I were to be honest - I've been thinking about it all day.

PlacesMargaret Alba
Santiago
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Santiago taught me to become a different kind of tourist. 

Instead of seeing monuments and landmarks, we visited the local markets and churches. We bought groceries and cooked dinner. 

And maybe that's what's so wonderful about this unassuming city. You fall in love with the smallest details - the cobblestone alleyways, the aromatic smoke surrounding a restaurant, the stone buildings. You find yourself in the city's currents - walking the same pace as the people going to work, standing in line behind students at a food stand. 

When it came to it - leaving Santiago felt like leaving home. 

PlacesMargaret Alba