I’m Still Here! (Just Distracted by the Olympics!) Tuesday, Jul 31 2012 

So sorry for my absence this summer. I’ve been busy- in the midst of moving, still, if you can believe it. Apartment hunting soon, traveling with the kitties, and lots of back and forth from the Cape. Can’t complain. Lots of fun summer projects, not the least of which is absorbing every bit of Olympic wonder.

Whether it’s ferociously devouring every Kate sighting- how GORGEOUS did she look in this picture from the Royal Academy of Arts last night? And she just exudes all sorts of adorable during her Olympic sightings-or cheering on Missy Franklin, and my fellow Massachusetts (Falmouth!) resident Aly Raisman, I’m stocking up on lots of blog posts for when I can get back to posting.

 

I’m also slightly obsessed with the best “Call Me Maybe” cover yet. Check out “Call Me Lochte”– how yummy is Ryan, by the way?

 

And huge congrats to Michael Phelps, who now has the most Olympic medals of any Olympian ever. Very cool for a FAC swimmer:)

How is everyone enjoying the Olympics? What’s your favorite event? Besides Kate watching, of course…

 

 

Go Team USA!!!

first photo courtesy of tressugar.com

second photo courtesy of gossipcenter.com

third photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com

fourth photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

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Yoga Mat Yumminess: Part One Monday, Jun 4 2012 

As part of my get-ready-for-Beach fitness plan, I have kicked my Pilates workouts into high gear.

Whether you prefer a mat workout or to sweat and stretch on the Reformer or other machines, you need to surround yourself with quality equipment. An essential part of any Pilates or Yoga workout is a great mat. I have tried my fair share of yoga mat variety over the years, and a clear winner has emerged.

 

I am partial to the “The Mat” by lululemon. I have a bright pink version and LOVE it. I pretty much worship everything by lululemon, but this mat is actually made of superior materials that prevent slipping and scrunching throughout the workout. The rubber and cushioning are all perfect for any pose you can imagine. I also indulged in the “strap mat” which makes trekking to and from the gym (and keeping my mat perfectly rolled up during storage) a cinch.

 

 

 

 

There are certainly other viable options for quality yoga and Pilates gear. I’ve tried almost every material, color and size of mat. Everyone will find their own preference through their own journey, and my favorite is my wonderful pink lululemon friend.

 

What is your favorite yoga mat?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of flexionfitness.com

second photo courtesy of shop.lululemon.com

third photo courtesy of shopcrazy.com

Bountiful Beach Bag Thursday, May 31 2012 

With Beach Season having arrived in full force here in South Carolina, the time has come to put together my always-ready Beach Bag. In the summer months, I pretty much always have a durable tote full of my beach essentials by the door ready to go. When it’s time to hit the beach, you don’t want to spend minutes (or hours) searching for your sunscreen or favorite sunnies.

Here is a quick run down of what I always have in my Beach Bag:

Sunscreen. Duh. As a pale redhead, the sun is not always my friend. As much as I love to lay out and soak up the sun, I’ve had plenty of bad sunburns to learn my lesson. I like Neutrogena and Aveeno for non-greasy coverage. SPF 30 or higher at all times!

 

Sunscreen. I am very rarely at the beach alone, and have come to be known as a reliable sunscreen provider. But, as I mentioned that Neutrogena and Aveeno are my faves, they are not cheap. And when I’m doling out dollops to sometimes dozens of my hubby’s friends who are running in and out of the water every fifteen minutes, I could easily go through a tube every few days. So, I always have a cheaper spray-on, waterproof back-up to generously hand out to fellow beachgoers. Let’s face it, the boys don’t care if the lotions are greasy or clog pores! I also like to carry multiple levels of SPF protection, and save the higher SPF numbers for fellow sunburn victims.

 

Sunscreen. This time for my face. I am obsessed with the Neutrogena Face Stick- the perfect, non-greasy, non-yucky, non-makeup ruining, non-skin clogging sun protection, and the only thing I’ll use on my face.

 

Hair brush. Sometimes we go right from the beach to grab some drinks, and who wants to be the high maintenance girl who has to stop at home first to brush her hair? My trick is to dip my head backwards into the ocean, slick it back, and then brush it through to avoid tangles.

 

Chap stick. Lip protection is as vital as anything else, and I am always armed with an arsenal of anti-chapped lip weapons. NIVEA, Chapstick, Blistex, you name it, I have at least 4 in my beach bag at any time. A good tip to avoid a melted stick is to hide it in my sunglasses case and shove it to the bottom of my beach bag.

Baseball cap. No matter how much Neutrogena and NIVEA I slather on my face, those delicate eyelids can still get burned if I remove my sunnies for even a few minutes to avoid raccoon eyes! So I worship the sun gods from the safe umbrella of a pink Red Sox hat.

 

T-shirt. Even if it’s tissue paper thin, I use this more than anything. To protect my face from the sun as I lie on my back, to pillow under my head if I’m on my stomach, or to throw on if the sun starts to set, taking the warmth with it. Especially if you’re boating, a comfy, soft, 100% cotton T-shirt is an absolute must!

 

 

I usually pack snacks (BBQ chips are my faves on the beach!) and bottled water or, depending on what beach I’m hitting up, a nice cold beer in a cooler. Another must: a clean, dry, sand-free Ziploc bag to protect my phone and iPad. Sand somehow gets everywhere, and plastic baggies come in every size. They seem to be the only way to keep all those pricey electronics safe.

What is your must-have in your beach bag?

Happy Summer! See you on the beach!

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of capecodbeachchair.com

second photo courtesy of drugsdepot.com

third photo courtesy of latestbeauty.com

fourth photo courtesy of hotcouponworld.com

fifth photo courtesy of newenglandusa.com

sixth photo courtesy of thegreenestdollar.com

seventh photo courtesy of beachpassion.com

Date Night Out Thursday, Apr 19 2012 

Every magazine and relationship expert will tell you how important “date night” is to a lasting marriage. Getting busy and bogged down with work, kids and other obligations can let romance fall by the wayside, and imposing a “date night” strategy will help keep your connection to each other alive.

One major problem I have with this is the incredible discrepancy between this “date night” philosophy, which is all about closeness and intimacy, and the comfortable options available to today’s couples. Let’s face it: a number of options are not quite “cuddle”-friendly.

Old movies like Grease embody the adorable drive-in date nights of decades past. But today, the dependable “dinner-and-a-movie” evening plays out in a series of uncomfortable seats. Most movie theaters today have horrible seating, with-get this- armrests that do not lift. How does that mitigate cuddling for couples, or even the ever-popular stretch-then-arm-around-the-shoulder? Come on, even airplanes, in all their infamous glory, let you lift your armrest!

Sure, some novel theaters (like the 21+ Luxe Level at the Patriot Place Cinema at my home theater in Foxboro, MA) do feature a plusher movie-watching environment, complete with first-class cushiony seats and a selection of beer, wine and snacks. But unless you want to fork over serious cash (for a new release, you could pay upwards of $25 per adult evening ticket) you’re stuck in the too-tight, too-cramped stadium seats that force you to stand up any time someone in your row wants more popcorn, sticky armrests locked in place.

Sure, some theaters do feature the fancier seats that allow the armrest to lift between seats, but not nearly enough. We all know how important cuddling is!

With all the FABULOUS new movies coming out this summer, why not bring back the Drive-In? You can cuddle up in your trusty old car, where you spend most of your commute anyway, put your feet up on your own dashboard, and sprawl out as you please. I would much rather go see The Dark Knight Rises in my hubby’s comfy Volkswagen Eos than be stuck in a dark room of strangers squished together, subjected to those annoying beams of light from not-so-subtle iPhone glances all evening long.

Drive-ins have proven to be a more enjoyable, intimate date experience- just look at all the happy couples who got to enjoy them back in the day. Younger couples today face more stresses, demands, less free time and of course, the ever-looming and rising statistic of divorce. Why not re-charge our date night attitude and invest in a future of happy date nights for years to come?

Bring back the cuddling in date nights! Who’s with me? Would you prefer the drive-in or comfier movie theater seats?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of assoconcierge.com

second photo courtesy of cinemaretro.com

third photo courtesy of eralving.com

fourth photo courtesy of cepro.com

fifth photo courtesy of theater.com

Big Spoon, Little Spoon Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

When it comes to staying healthy and watching what you eat, there are many tips, tricks and secrets out there. You can pour liquid all over your plate after you’ve finished half your food, or follow the three-bite rule, or eat only green foods. Everyone has their own weird food idiosyncracy that they like to remember as their healthy eating mantra. As I prepare for the warm weather-which will be here sooner than I’m used to- and accompanying skin-baring styles, I turn to the method I like to call “spooning.”

It’s not anything like that. I like to follow the “big spoon, little spoon” rule when it comes to serving sizes! Each set of flatware from our wedding (love you, Sur la Table!) comes with two sizes of spoons.

One is larger, about a tablespoon-plus size, and one is much daintier and slighter, perfect for stirring my tea. I use these as my guidelines.

If I’m eating something healthy, like a helping of my Kashi cereal in the morning or a nice bowl of creamed spinach, I’ll use the big spoon. If I’m enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (shhhh) while catching up on Modern Family, I reach for the little spoon.

 

Numerous diet and health studies have shown that when you use a smaller spoon or a smaller plate for your helping, your eye tricks your belly into thinking you’re full more quickly, and you end up eating less.

 

I think to myself “Big Spoon Protein, Small Spoon Sugar.” I use this to track how much I eat of one thing, and make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients and not too many bad, empty calories on a daily basis. If it’s good for me or a “superfood” like kale, carrots, avocado, or eggs, I’ll use the big spoon when dishing out my ingredients or if I’m eating it out of the bowl. Peanut butter is my exception, and requires a big spoon- there’s protein in peanut butter, right?

This rule can also be applied to forks- use the big forks for veggies and healthy meats, and the small forks for pies and carbs. There’s a reason they’re called “dessert” forks! Forget Mary Poppins and her giddy song- a spoonful of sugar is not good for you. Unless it’s a little spoon:)

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

second photo courtesy of surlatable.com

third photo courtesy of foodnetworks.com

fourth photo courtesy of beststuff.com

fifth photo courtesy of eatlovefood.com

sixth photo courtesy of last.fm

Happy Valentine’s Day! Plus My Top 4 Hotel Experiences Wednesday, Feb 15 2012 

One of the most luxurious things in the world is being treated like royalty in a gorgeous hotel. Room service, turn-down service, fresh towels delivered every day- the entire time is a sort of magical whimsy of irresponsibility and being pampered. I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in some seriously wonderful hotel experiences around the world.

 

In honor of Valentine’s Day (a huge hotel holiday even for married and co-habiting couples) I’ll be counting down my four favorite Hotel Experiences from around the world. Even though Valentine’s Day is of course a romantic holiday for couples in love, these particular hotel experiences (with one exception) were enjoyed while on family vacations with my parents and sister when I was younger. As a long-distance couple all through our dating years, the hubby and I saw a few hotel bills, but let’s face it, the hotels we stayed at were nowhere near as nice as what my parents could afford! Still, it’s fun to remember.

 

 

 

 

4. Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

My dad went through a “Western” phase when I was about 12, and we traveled out to Sun Valley Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming for several summers. The adventures are some of my favorite memories of my childhood, but the accommodations were what really made the trips memorable. Located on a beautiful butte with breathtaking views of the Grand Teton mountain range, this little spot of luxury in the Wyoming wilderness offers the nicest of “cabins”- we would call them suites or villas anywhere else. You walk up a flight of stairs to your private two-bedroom abode, complete with two bathrooms and a sitting room. The décor is adorably rustic- but the thread count of their sheets is pure elegance. Their restaurant, The Granary, is on dozens of fine dining lists around the world, and the views from the dining room’s balcony is paralleled only by the tenderness of the filet mignon. Also, I was too young to enjoy the spa, but my mom said the massages were the perfect thing to pamper the sadde-sore away.

3.  Loews Coronado Bay, Coronado, California

I was visiting my now-husband when he was out in San Diego for a week in the Spring of 2009. We used the wonderful website Hotwire.com to secure our stay at this top-shelf Loews hotel. The beach views were spectacular, and the March weather was perfect for driving with the rented convertible top down all the way up to Rodeo Drive for some lust-worthy window shopping. This little spot of sun-soaked sumptuousness made for one of our most memorable weekends all through our dating years- and not just because I stepped too close to put a toe in the freezing Pacific Ocean and was treated to a pair of salt-soaked jeans and fits of laughter. Everyone at the hotel was absolutely wonderful to two college students on a happy spree.

 

2. George V, Paris, France

For two miraculous nights in the Spring of 2001, my family and I enjoyed nothing but bliss along the beautiful streets of Paris. One of my most lasting memories is from a wonderful dinner of prawns in the hotel’s restaurant (during which we witnessed an actual flaming Bananas Flambe being delivered to a neighboring diner) and my 8-year old sister accidentally bit into a delicate crystal water glass. The George V staff had an internationally renowned doctor at our table within 8 seconds, and the kindly piano player played American Disney songs all night long for us, including “The Pink Panther Theme”- what more could a 12-year old American in Paris ask for?

 

 

 

1. San Clemente Palace, Venice, Italy

One day I will treat you all to an account of my horrifying cruise ship experience in the summer of 2007- nothing compared to recent tragic news, but still quite traumatizing. Eventually, though, we arrived in Venice, the last port of call on our Mediterranean nightmare. We stepped out of the train station into the bustling city of Venice around 8pm, and were greeted by a gorgeously lit up city full of gondolas. It was straight out of a movie- music was playing, lights were twinkling on the water, and we were soon whisked away on a private boat “taxi” to bring us and our luggage safely to a breathtakingly beautiful island. An island? I was shocked- compared to our cramped cruise quarters, we suddenly saw horizon and fresh air everywhere. We were greeted by the cutest of Italian bellhops to carry our bags into the stunning hotel (yes, the name really was Palace- and it did not disappoint!) while we enjoyed some much-needed White Russians on their beautiful patio at midnight.

This was my favorite hotel experience, not just because of the magnificent mahogany doors leading into each sprawling suite, or the granite and marble bathrooms that I now want to model my entire house after, or the fabulous walk-in closet, or the five-star service. My entire family had a wonderful, relaxing, delicious time at the San Clemente Palace. This place was just what we needed after our Millenium cruise ship ran aground on the first day of our cruise and we were stuck in the fishy-smelling port of Civitavacchia, Italy for the remainder of our ten day excursion. The San Clemente Palace brings a new meaning to “breath of fresh air”, providing water taxis to San Marco Square whenever we desired, and even bringing us little water bottles for the trip back to the island after a long day of touring. Perfect, perfect, perfect time all around!

 

Well, there you have my most luxurious, delicious hotel experiences! What about you? What has been your favorite hotel? Where will you be spending Valentine’s Day?

 

Media Credits:
first photo courtesy of townandcountrytravelresort.com

second photo courtesy of nydailynews.org

third photo courtesy of sandiego.org

fourth photo courtesy of theopensite.com

fifth photo courtesy of brownsbest.com

sixth photo courtesy of sanclementepalacevenice.com

My 7 Irrational Fears and Phobias Thursday, Feb 2 2012 

It’s a scary world out there. Watching too much 24 and Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit makes it even scarier. But to get through the day, I like to believe in the sunshine side of life, and focus on everything good we have in our lives. A tip I heard from (my idol) Giuliana Rancic is to start your day by saying OUT LOUD 5 things you are grateful for.

 

I followed Giuliana’s advice and like to talk to myself out loud in the car first thing in the morning about everything good . With everything Giuliana’s been going through, she is such an inspirational role model for being thankful for what we have in our lives. It can be something as silly as “I’m grateful I made that red light,” or “I’m so lucky that my hair is cooperating today.” I also think about how grateful I am for major life blessings like that I am able to spend so much time with my new husband, that my parents are healthy, my pets, $0 in student loans, etc. It really feels good. When you think about all the horrible problems plaguing our world right now, anything we complain about seems so petty and silly.

 

That being said, I am of the opinion that if we’re honest about what we’re afraid of, we’re less likely to be caught off guard. I think we’re all entitled to 7 totally irrational fears, that we don’t have to explain to anyone, but that we are just allowed to hide under the covers from when the thought approaches. Why 7, you ask? I don’t know; it’s a cool, mythical, lucky number. Here are mine, in no particular order:

 

Snakes. Not a fear- a phobia. Physical reactions bordering on almost needing hospitalization.

A fire breaking out in my apartment. (It is for this reason that I keep a pair of slip-on shoes in the kitchen and the kitty

carriers are easily accessible.)

 

Vampires. Sure, Edward Cullen is pretty hot, and I know vampires are super hot right now, but the thought of an undead blood-sucker kind of freaks me out.

 

Something crawling into my ear while I’m asleep. 

 

Teeth falling out of my mouth. At approximately age 9, at the dentist, the hygienist was flossing my bottom teeth and she yanked out a baby tooth. It wasn’t loose or anything- she just pulled up with the floss from underneath, and blood came gushing out of my mouth.  I am forever traumatized.

 

Checking luggage. This is a totally rational fear, because I have been the victim of the worst luggage theft of anyone I know. Three words: JFK. Christmas. Europe. Lost: $3000 worth of sentimental and semi-valuable, irreplaceable wonders.

Something really bad happening to a family member and someone not being able to reach me.

 

 

Maybe putting all this fear and anxiety out in the universe isn’t decreasing the chances of something horrible happening, but expressing our feelings about what we’re happy about and what we’re scared of is one of the healthiest things we can do for our peace of mind.

 

What are your 7 irrational fears and phobias?

 

Media Credits:
first photo courtesy of masterfile.com

second photo courtesy of catster.com

third photo courtesy of luciddreaming.com

fourth photo courtesy of cherrynrouge.com

My First Restaurant Week in Charleston Wednesday, Jan 25 2012 

Last week was an indulgent treat for Charleston residents. No, not because of all the Republican presidential candidates in town, but because of the Restaurant Week program featuring the best local eateries.

 

Lowcountry food lovers could enjoy the best fine dining, selecting from prix fixe menus with options of 3 courses for $20, $30 or $40. As a New Englander transported to Charleston in November, I’m still adjusting to the Southern foods and the plethora of dining options here. This seemed like the best time hit the town and take advantage of a great deal.

On Thursday, January 19, my husband and I met a friend from out of town at La Fourchette on King Street. This adorable French bistro fell into the 3 for $40 category, and we were very excited to experience what this great-reviewed place had to offer. La Fourchette did not disappoint. I lived in Paris for four months, and the “steak frites” and “profiteroles” La Fourhcette served up were as wonderful as anything I enjoyed under La Tour Eiffel.

The servers were friendly-and not just because of the two fabulous bottles of Cote de Bruilly Pinot Noir we ordered. I snuck a few bites of my husband’s “beef bourguignon”, which was brought to the table in adorable red Le Creuset cocotte dishes and was absolutely delicious.

 

I can also highly recommend The Belmont Lounge for a nice après-dinner drink experience. If you’re looking for the perfect place for a date or to catch up with visiting friends, you should definitely try the cozy couches at this place.

 

My first Restaurant Week in Charleston was a wonderfully delicious experience! If you’re looking to splurge on your New Year’s Resolution a little bit (let’s face it, French food is just not diet friendly) for a night out, make sure to catch the next Restaurant Week!

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy to restaurant.com

second photo courtesy of forkandbottle.com

third photo courtesy of lecreuset.com

How I Love the Differences Within the USA Network Tuesday, Jan 24 2012 

Lately, USA has become my 6am best friend. After waking up at 5am to fix my hubby’s breakfast and lunch, I crawl into bed again around 5:45 for a few more hours of sleep before work at 9, and I like to throw on my bedroom TV for some company. Thus, I have been pondering the many layers of this syndication network. They certainly have some great variety, too: my mornings oscilate between dark crime hits full of violence, incest, rape and murder of New York City and then suddenly a burst of light with a happy Hamptons doctor or a Miami spy.

USA often features several great marathons consisting of re-runs of hits shows like Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Detectives Benson and Stabler highlight the underbelly of human nature (and NBC), and the gritty realism of New York City is surprisingly a great way to start the day. I often find myself engrossed in the whatever crime ring the disturbingly smart Detective Goran is tackling. This is great, but it actually interrupts my sleep because I become invested and want to see them figure out how to catch the guy. Since I’ve already seen every episode of SVU, I can often drift off to sleep more easily.

However, I personally prefer the USA original series, especially Burn Notice, Royal Pains and of course the eye candy delight White Collar. I affectionately refer to these as the “sun-soaked” side of USA- they’re saturated with bright colors, plenty of sunlight, jewel tones, and gorgeous people, and a literally lighter and brighter color emanates from the shiny box.

Watching Fi and Michael try to track down the latest evil spy or rescue a kidnapped kid, whilst listening intently to explanations of how to break into a federal building or hotwire a car sends me off with a very “can-do” attitude. Of course, falling asleep during the yummy display of male perfection and high-class crime fighting known as White Collar is significantly more difficult. I am not surprised that it has become insanely popular following the premiere of the second season-hey, it has Stanford from Sex and the City!

Of course, nothing even remotely disturbing or distracting ever happens to the adorable Mark Feurstein in the Hamptons, where the biggest problem is whether or not to globalize his concierge medical practice. Entertainment at its best, ladies and gentlemen.

Then of course there is what I call the NCIS grey area. Lighty and witty with plenty of DiNozzo charm, this cult CBS favorite isn’t exactly a dark drama or a sunny pick-me-up. Perhaps therein lies the secret to the Belisarius success story- as much as I love Ziva, McGee, Abby, Ducky and Gibbs, I’ve also seen every episode of every season, and I can very easily tune it out.

Perfect background re-run TV show!

What’s your favorite show on the USA network?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of xfinity.comcast.net

second photo courtesy of tv.ign.com

third photo courtesy of monstersandcritics.com

fourth photo courtesy of popwatch.ew.com

fifth photo courtesy of popculturemadness.com

sixth photo courtesy of forbes.com

seventh photo courtesy of maxupdates.tv.com

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things Sunday, Dec 18 2011 

To celebrate the joyous and wonderful Christmas season, I’m listing a few of my favorite non-material things. Lists for Santa have been submitted, and while the merriment and materialism of Christmas is oh so much fun, I’d like to enter 2012 with some thoughts about the great things that Santa can’t put in your stocking.

Maria von Trapp sang about some of these, but she seems to have missed a few! Seeing my favorite TV stars on Glee perform their rendition of this iconic song only added to the joy.

Whiskers on Kittens: My husband/reddit addict has introduced me to the “aww” section of the cult favorite website. People upload pictures of their adorable little furbabies in precious poses. All I have to say is “awwwwwwww”, and make other noises and faces of glee while cuddling my own kitties.

Snowflakes: Sure, they stay on my nose and eyelashes, but being in Charleston really makes me long for seeing the snow-covered winter wonderland outside my window on luscious winter mornings.

Cashmere Socks: Much better than warm woolen mittens, in my opinion. Something else I miss about cold weather is the delicious feeling of slipping chilly toes into the utter yumminess of cashmere. Curling up by a fire and indulging in the cozy warm moments is made better by head-to-toe cashmere.

Brown Paper Packages: Or any mail, really. I just adore getting mail addressed to my new name at my new address. Somehow, seeing something beyond a mail stop address at school makes my heart happy.

All Things Jo Malone: Candles, lotions, perfume or body wash. White Jasmine and Mint or Nectarine Blossom and Honey. OK, maybe Santa could bring these. I even keep the gorgeous black-and-ivory boxes to display proudly.

Christmas Songs on the Radio: Specifically classics like “Silver Bells”, “Welcome Christmas” or modern hits like Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas” and of course Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Add to this a Christmas cookie-scented Yankee Candle car freshener, and you have a joyful drive home.

What are some of your favorite things?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of sillycatpictures.com

second photo courtesy of freefoto.com

third photo courtesy of dealio.com

fourth photo courtesy of jomalone.com

fifth photo courtesy of wewerepirates.com

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