Friday, April 29, 2016

Mother's Day Gifts: Do, Make, or Buy


Mother's Day is just around the corner and I'm highlighting some of my favorite gifts to give or receive.

Initial Jewelry

Initial Jewelry is beautiful & timeless.  My BFF has the Roberto Coin necklace which I am in love with but there are many options at different price points.  These necklaces would look great with the kids' first initials or even just the initial of the person receiving the necklace.  You can't go wrong with this gift!  Hint Hint Hubby..... :)


Watches

Watches are an accessory that can change an outfit!  There are so many beautiful watches.  Oversized watches for women are very popular right now.  There are so many in various colors and sizes.  I wear a rose gold watch which is my favorite but I really like white or yellow gold as well.  I don't usually buy watches for myself so I always love receiving a watch as a gift!

DIY: Picture on Wood

I made this DIY Picture on wood a little while ago and it was fairly easy!  I love the way it turned out and get lots of compliments on it.  It could be just my babies cheekies that get me the praise although, it did turn out pretty amazing I must say!

This is a very thoughtful gift that doesn't cost a lot of money and takes just a little bit of time.  Any mom would love it!

I plan on doing a DIY Tutorial early next week.  Stay tuned......


Pajamas

Pajamas are a great gift for anyone!  For whatever reason I always neglect to buy Pajamas for myself. I prefer a little sexy and a lot comfy.  However, there are a lot of great styles and price points to choose from!



Home Made Breakfast/Brunch

Breakfast foods are no doubt yummy!  Making your loved one breakfast so they can either stay in bed or just lounge around is a perfect gift for Mother's Day.  I don't typically eat a huge breakfast during the week simply because the mornings are pretty busy.  So, a weekend with a full breakfast or brunch that I DON'T have to prepare sounds lovely!

One of my new favorite recipes is Ricotta Pancakes.  They are protein packed, light and fluffy, and taste A-mazing!   And, they aren't totally shrouded in guilt after eating since they are made of natural ingredients with lots of protein.  

I'll be posting the recipe next week in time for Mother's Day.  Don't forget to check back!


Whatever you choose to do, make, or buy it's sure to be a sweet surprise!  I hope all the mommy's out there have a fabulous day!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Good Friends are Like Stars: A Girls Night Out in NYC

"Good friends are like stars.  
You don't always see them 
but you know they are always there."
- Christy Evans


This weekend 5 of my college girlfriends got together for a fun filled girls night out in NYC.  It's not often we are all in one place at the same time but it always promises to be a night filled with lot's of good food, drinks, dancing, and abundance of laughter!  What more could you ask for?


We started our night out at Print Restaurant which was an urban farm to table restaurant in Hell's Kitchen.  The food and atmosphere were outstanding but the company and conversation even better!


After dinner we made our up to the rooftop bar The Press Lounge  with it's stunning views and creative cocktails.


Sorry for the grainy photo!  I wanted to give you an idea of the gorgeous view!


I am loving rompers lately since they are so comfortable and look great for either a night time look or even dressed down for daytime.  I was wearing a black jumpsuit (similar here and here), this belt, these earrings, and peep toe booties (similar here and here).  


We were looking for live music so we made our way over to Times Square and ended up at The Playwrite Tavern listening to live music by Enda Kegan.  This definitely took us back to our college days singing along to good music and enjoying a few drinks.

Our night wouldn't be complete without some dancing!!!  We ended the wee hours of the morning at 3 Monkey's Bar.  This is the city that doesn't sleep after all and we were following suit!

Needless to say we had a GREAT night out!  There is no substitute for time with your girlfriends to keep you feeling young and refreshed!   We are already planning our next trip!  Can't wait!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Family Day Out: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Rejoice!  Spring has finally sprung in New York!  We wanted to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather so we decided to take drive to one of our favorite NYC spots, Brooklyn Bridge Park!  

View of Brooklyn Bridge from Pier 1 @ Brooklyn Bridge Park

There is so much to do at the park, especially for families!  We parked in the neighborhood streets close to Pier 6.  Brooklyn Bridge Park spans from Pier 1 to Pier 6.  There is also a garage at Pier 6, however we always opt to find parking in the neighborhood streets and walk a bit to the park.

Little J is wearing this jacket, jeans (similar here), and sneakers (similar here and here)

We stopped first at the playground area where there are swings, giant slides, climbing structures, and in the warmer weather an amazing sprinkler play area for the kids!  This first stop is key since it gives our boys time to run it out and get hungry for lunch.

Little J is wearing swim suit/rash guard  size 3T (similar here and here) &
Little T is wearing this swim suit/rash guard size 12M.

For lunch we usually pack up some food for Little J and Little T and then find something for ourselves. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a great place for a picnic!  There are plenty of areas to sit in front of the water or on one of the piers.  There are also some grassy areas in and around the park.  We opted for lunch at Fornino where we purchased ready-made salads and sandwiches.  Fornino is also known for it's wood fired pizza which looked and smelled YUM!

After lunch we took the kids to another play area at Pier 5.  They had a blast climbing the rope structure and playing in the toddler area.

This picture was take in August 2015 at Pier 5 Brooklyn Bridge Park

After running them around for a bit it was just about nap time which gave us a chance to take them for a walk up the park to Pier 1.  The views of the city were stunning on a clear day.  Totally worth the walk!  The kids enjoyed it too since it gave them some time to mellow out and for Little T to eventually fall asleep!

I'm wearing this top and this tank. Some of my favorite athleisure wear.

Overall, an amazing day out with the family!  Get yourself out for some sun, fun, and beautiful views at Brooklyn Bridge Park!  You won't regret it!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Why I Chose a Destination Wedding: Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy
It's been almost 7 years since our wedding in Rome, Italy. As I'm sure many women do, I think about my wedding often, sometimes daily. It was easily one of the best times of my life from the planning to the day of the event.  Our friends and family still talk about or wedding to this day, many telling us they want to go back or that we have inspired them to travel.   Often, when my husband and I are talking about our wedding with others they ask questions like "What made you decide to get married in Rome?" or "How did you plan your wedding from New York?".

Arch of Constantine, Rome, Italy
Why a destination wedding?

Why not?  In my opinion the destination for one of the biggest days of your life should represent who you are as a couple.  For us it represented our love for travel, embracing other cultures, our heritage, and our religion.  It set the tone for our marriage.  I'm not saying that it didn't come without sacrifices because it certainly did.  However, we, as a couple, needed to follow our hearts and we have no regrets.

Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, Italy
Tips for planning a destination wedding

Here are 5 things we learned before, during, and after our destination wedding:

1.  If your destination does not include a wedding planner, hire one!  It's not easy navigating around another culture or even another US location.  Customs, expectations, the best vendors are all difficult to determine without some guidance.  A good wedding planner should be available to help you navigate the "system" and guide you on the easiest path possible to get what you want.  They should become your advocate, especially if you are dealing with a language barrier.  Also, who wants to be dealing with wedding vendors over the phone and possibly in different time zones!  Not to mention it takes a lot of pressure off the day of when they are running around doing the last minute coordinating.  Trust me.  You will thank me for this one!

Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy
2.  Keep expectations about your final number of destination wedding attendees reasonable.  Expect to lose some guests who you really wanted to be there.  Let's face it, traveling anywhere can get expensive.  In our case, our wedding happened to hit when the Euro was reaching it's peak at around $1.60 to 1 Euro.  That's almost double the cost!  We realized we wouldn't have everyone we wanted there.  We actually accepted this fact prior to our final decision to have our wedding abroad.  We did invite over 300 people and ended up having around 85 guests.  We thought that was pretty exceptional since we were asking people to spend a lot of money for travel.

Trastevere, Rome, Italy
3.  If someone extra special can't make it then do something extra special to include them in your wedding.   This can be a big or small gesture.  In our case, none of grandparents were able to make it.  It was very hard for my husband and I not to have them there since we were very close to them.  However, for multiple reasons they just couldn't make it happen.  We did several things to include them in our wedding.  My grandmother gave me jewelry of hers to wear and we dedicated a speech we did at a gathering the night before the wedding to them.  My mother is of Chinese heritage so we incorporated Chinese accents into the decor and details.  I also changed into a Chinese qipao dress and gold jewelry to honor my Chinese heritage.  The biggest feat of all was skyping our wedding ceremony to my grandparents from the church which took advanced planning and some really techie brothers and father.  That was truly amazing! Paying respect and homage to our grandparents who had marriages 50 years+ was a symbol of our love for them and enabled us to feel as though they were present even though they were unable to be there. 

Cutting our Italian Wedding Cake, Villa Miani, Rome, Italy

4.  Stay within your budget.  This is a no brainer but my tip lies in picking and choosing items carefully.  For example, you may LOVE a certain flower, however, your destination grows a flower that is easier to obtain.  Choosing this flower could potentially save you tons of money in your budget.  For our wedding, we splurged on the Venue, Villa Miani, with great views & amazing food.  However, when it came time to decide on a cake we went not with a traditional tiered wedding cake but instead a simple Italian Napoleon wedding cake which was much more cost effective and followed our "Italian" theme.  It was also D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!!


5.  Give back to your guests.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you this but I'm going to anyway!  Your guests have traveled far, spent a good deal of money, and are extremely excited to celebrate with you.  Yes, they got a great trip out of your destination wedding but they did it for YOU.  Do everything and anything within your budget to show them how much you appreciate their generosity, excitement, and love for you.  We started by custom making welcome bags for our guests which included Italian goodies, maps, and recommendations of what to do in Rome.  We then had our itinerary attached which detailed when we would be at the hotel to greet people.  This last decision ended up in an impromptu gathering in the portico of our hotel, Hotel Santa Maria.  We also planned a guided walking tour of Rome the day before the wedding as well as a cocktail party the night before the wedding.  Throughout the days leading up to, the day of, and the day after we made plans to meet up for lunch, go out to dinner, and meet up at the squares in the evenings for drinks just to have more one on one time with our friends and family. I realize this sounds expensive but I assure you we didn't fund every outing.  We shared a lot of the expense and the experiences with our friends and family.  These gestures of appreciation are what really made the trip memorable!

Last and most important BONUS tip:  Enjoy every single moment!!!!  Try not to get caught up in the detail.  It will all fall in to place.  And, if something does go wrong at least you are in a beautiful place with the people who love you most!  Cheers!

Here are some items I recommend for your destination wedding:  
This passport case is so cute!  I have a simple one that someone gave me at my shower.  It comes in handy during all our travel.  Love these travel bags which compartmentalize your clothes and other items inside your suitcase.  Both my husband and I have these and I gave all of my bridesmaids a set also.  This portable luggage scale is awesome!  I can't tell you how many times our luggage has been over the weight limit and I've had to open our suitcases at the check in desk...ugghh!  This little gadget has helped prevent that so I highly recommend.  You have to get a travel jewelry case for all the items you will need during your events.  This or This are both cute and functional.  By far my favorite item and most useful is a travel steamer (here and here for more budget friendly options).  These little things are awesome and way better then an iron. You also never know what kind of iron you are getting abroad.  Our hotel made my husband's friend iron in the hallway!  I still whip out this baby at home too!

Details about our wedding:





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