Monday, January 14, 2019

Vaca Recap Part 2 ~ Sweden

Happy Monday! I’m back with part 2 of our vacation recap, Sweden. 

We arrived in Stockholm around 3:00 in the afternoon on Friday. We grabbed our bags and took an Uber to the hotel. Y’all. I never thought we would encounter over 2 hours of traffic to go 25 miles. But I didn’t realize their rush hour is earlier than ours in the US. Rookie mistake. We should’ve taken the train at the airport to downtown. Oh well, we know better for next time. 

We stayed at the Hilton Stockholm Slussen and it was a gorgeous hotel. We had a room on the executive floor which meant complimentary breakfast and evening reception, as well as a large corner room with incredible views of Stockholm.



Since we were there for 5 nights I will go through some of the highlights of our trip so it’s not so text heavy. We took a lot of time in Stockholm to leisurely spend time together. We took strolls, sat in cafes for hours talking, and had hot cocoa parties in our hotel room. I will always cherish all the quality time we got to spend together relaxing on this trip. 


The Nutcracker at the Swedish Royal Opera House-
This was such an interesting Swedish twist on the classic Nutcracker story. They took the traditional Nutcracker as we all know it and interwove the Swedish children’s Christmas story, Peter and Lotta’s Christmas, into it! The performance was top notch and we both agreed it was one of our favorite Nutcrackers we’ve ever seen. Not to mention the opera house was STUNNING. I’m pretty sure David and I walked around with our mouths open the entire intermission taking in all the gorgeous architecture. 





Christmas Market-
We went to the Christmas Market in old town Stockholm, Gamla Stan. They had everything from elk jerky to ornaments to mittens. David found a Sami bracelet, a traditional Scandinavian handmade bracelet made from reindeer hide, tin bead work and shed reindeer antler. A very cool souvenir!






Storkyrkan Cathedral
The oldest church in Stockholm the cathedral is Gothic style from the 13th century. Since it is located directly next to the palace it is used for major events like royal coronations, weddings and funerals. It is stunning inside and has a famous wooden statue of St George and the Dragon. We spent some quiet time here praying and lighting some candles for loved ones. It was a very peaceful experience. 




Hot dogs-
Hot dogs are a major part of a Swedish cuisine. They top them with the familiar ketchup and mustard as well as everything from mashed potatoes to shrimp salad. (You can read about that delicacy, tunnbrödsrulle-here). Although we weren’t brave enough to try that variety we tried a few with mustard and they were pretty good!



On our 3rd night in Stockholm I felt a slight tickle in my throat. I decided to take a nap and when I woke up it was the flu! I spent the next 2 days pretty miserable and didn’t leave the hotel. David was a saint and found a pharmacy and after some translating came back with ibuprofen, cough drops and a cough suppressant. The plane ride home wasn’t fun but I’m so grateful I wasn’t ill the entire time. 

All in all it was a wonderful trip that I’ll remember always. It was so much fun to pause during a usually hectic season and take a trip together, just the 2 of us. We didn’t have a real agenda to go off of, we woke up every day and did what we felt which was such a treat. It was also really fun seeing the different cultures during Christmastime. All the decorations and lights and markets made for such a fun experience I’ll never forget!






Gott nyt år, or Happy New Year in Swedish! Thanks for reading, have a fabulous week ahead. :)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Vaca Recap Part 1 ~ Norway

My husband David and I traveled to Norway and Sweden for our 10th wedding anniversary. Our anniversary is actually Jan 16, but we wanted to experience European Christmas markets and the Nutcracker ballet so we decided to plan the trip during the holidays. 

We flew out of JFK overnight to Oslo. We flew on Norwegian for this leg of the trip and had a nice experience. The flight was only 6 hours and service as well as in flight entertainment was good. I wouldn’t say it was impeccable but I have a very crucial eye for everything on-board the plane (perhaps it’s the flight attendant in me). 

Once we made it through customs (they only had 2 agents working for a full flight-we were in line over an hour) we grabbed our bags and took the “Flytoget” train underneath the airport to downtown Oslo. The airport is located pretty far outside the city but with the express train it’s only a 20 minute ride. 

Once we arrived at the central station we had a very short walk to our hotel. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza and it is connected to the station by a sky bridge. It was our 1st time staying in a Radisson Blu and I cannot recommend it enough. It was so centrally located to everything we wanted to do, was extremely clean and had a very good breakfast. Here is the view of Oslo from our room. 




We unpacked, ordered room service (fish & chips and chicken club-both very tasty and fresh) and took naps. I wasn’t feeling the best (I tend to get migraines when my sleep schedule is off) so David walked to the train station and bought us Le Baguette sandwiches for dinner and we decided to get a good nights sleep and start fresh in the morning. 

Only staying for 2 nights in Oslo meant we wanted to hit the ground running the next morning. After breakfast we took an Uber to the Viking museum. This was something I thought was going to be more enjoyable for David but I found it so fascinating! The museum is so well put together with a short video projected on the wall about Viking life, 2 fully recovered Viking ships plus the remains of a 3rd as well as all the artifacts found inside. 

We learned everything Viking from what they ate, how they buried the dead, and all about the routes they travelled. Standing next to these ships was quite incredible to imagine rowing inside them and being tossed around in the winter Scandinavian sea. After David picked up a “Build your own Viking ship” postcard to send to his friend, we called another Uber and headed downtown Oslo. (The Viking museum is located pretty far from downtown, it isn’t walkable but there is a bus stop not too far from the museum). 


Downtown we headed straight for Steen & Strøm department store. It is a gorgeous 6-story store housing everything from handbags to chocolates to bed linens. We went to the basement to check out the food court and they had so much variety! Burritos, sushi, fresh squeezed juices, you name it. We tried Mamma Pizza and it was excellent. We had the Margarita pizza and the pasta carbonara. Food is not inexpensive in Norway but this meal was definitely worth it!


After lunch we leisurely walked miles and miles around Oslo before heading to the Christmas Market. Being bundled up and breathing the fresh winter air while looking at window displays and twinkly lights is one of my favorite winter things to do. But one thing that was very difficult to adjust to was the amount of daylight. The sun rose at 9 and set at 2:30! Walking around in the afternoon in pitch darkness was pretty disorienting! 

The Christmas Market was lovely and had a little bit of everything. We tried glogg-my favorite thing of the whole trip. It’s mulled wine with current juice and spices. So delicious! It was originally used to revive outdoorsmen of Scandinavia and I can see why! A piping hot cup of glogg is exactly what’s needed on a freezing cold Norwegian night. We also tried raclette-a Swiss dish where a wheel of cheese is placed over a heater and the melted bits are scraped onto a plate of sautéed potatoes. Omg. Not calorie friendly but oh so delicious. 



After the market we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. After being outside walking around for 6 hours it felt so good to take a hot shower and slip into the feather bed. 

The next morning after breakfast we packed up and left our bags at concierge. We had a few hours to kill so we walked back downtown to the shopping district, Nedre Slottsgate, and hit a few stores before heading to the airport for our flight to Stockholm. The sales help in Norway is some of the sweetest and kindest I’ve ever come across. They were so accommodating and helpful and not the slightest bit snooty.

After a few hours we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and walked to the train station and took the “Flytoget” back to the airport. We did our tax refund and breezed to the gate. We flew on SAS to Stockholm and it was the easiest one hour flight. 

Norway was such a pleasure and I honestly wish we had more time there. Everywhere we went the people were so kind and welcoming. The city is extremely clean and safe and there’s so much to see and do-we would love to return someday very soon!



Do you have any upcoming trips or destinations on your travel wish list? Let me know down below, I’d love to hear from you and am always looking for ideas to plan our next trip.

I’ll be back with part 2 of our vacation, a Sweden recap soon. Thanks for reading, have a fabulous weekend. :)

Monday, January 07, 2019

Winter Skincare Faves

Here’s a quick rundown of some perennial favorites for the cold, dry climate this time of year in my neck of the woods:


Clinique Comfort hand and cuticle cream-$24
The best hand cream I’ve found to date. It’s unscented, super thick without being greasy. It’s also convenient that it’s 2 products in 1. You can never go wrong with Clinique in my book. 

                               


Lancôme Hydrogel sheet mask-$15
This item is a bit of a splurge for being a one time use mask, but I love using these before an important night out, or the morning after a late night. Just one of these masks contains 30ml, equivalent to one whole bottle of Lancôme’s signature serum! I feel like it also locks in more moisture than the paper masks. Plumps and hydrated your skin in just 10 minutes. Very good on sensitive skin too.

                         

Laura Mercier Crème Brûlée Sugar Scrub-$50
This is such a luxurious treat in the shower. It smells heavenly and the sugar truly scrubs away any dead winter skin while improving skin tone. It comes with the cutest little scoop so you don’t have to stick your fingers in the jar. Also, I know it’s pricey but my last jar lasted me almost 6 months. 
                 
Sarah Happ Lip Slip Balm-$24
If a super thick balm is your jam, then this one is for you. It is the faintest color pink, has a nice light scent, and is one of the thickest lip balms I’ve ever used. I enjoy using this in the morning under lipstick and at night as a mask for my lips before bed. I also have a coconut lip scrub from this brand, very good as well. 
                                         
Bath & Body Works Pocket Bac 5 Pack-$6 for 5
A winter skincare list wouldn’t be complete for me without some sort of antibacterial hand product. With flu season in full force I don’t leave the house without it. (This little guy is cuteness overload and I think I need him.)
                                           

What are some of your winter skincare essentials? Let me know down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a fabulous week. :)

Friday, January 04, 2019

How to Save $ Shopping Online

Hope you are off to a marvelous 2019! Starting the New Year conscious of being healthy financially, I thought I’d share a few quick ways I make my moolah go a little farther while shopping online:       

                                


Card Pool
This is a site where you can purchase gift cards at a discount. Whenever I’m making a large purchase online I always like to see if there’s a gift card available for the store I’m shopping at, sometimes you can save up to 30%! Also once you open an account with them they generally email you the gift card info pretty quickly. 
Also, you can also sell any unwanted gift cards back to them for up to 92% of their value.


Mr Rebates
I actually made this my homepage on all my devices. Just click through this site to wherever you’re shopping and receive a percentage of cash back on your purchase, depending on the store. You can request a check be mailed to your home whenever you wish. I’ve made over $1000 back with them just in the last few years.


Loyalty Programs
This is obvious, but sometimes there is really some money to be made when you sign up with a store’s loyalty program. Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and Macy’s are just a few that come to mind that offer free shipping, returns as well as reward programs for shopping with them (no store credit card required.)


Coupon Codes
Don’t forget to check websites like Retail Me Not before checking out to make sure you don’t miss any discount codes.


Shop Runner
Shop Runner is the newest thing I’ve been using while online shopping to receive free shipping. Over 100 stores participate, and when you sign into it at checkout you get free 2-day shipping and free returns. Right now they’re running a promotion and a whole year is free!


Price Matching-
I knew this concept existed but never tried it until recently. You can shop with confidence that you’re paying the lowest price available in a specific timeframe after you’ve purchased an item. It’s also very simple to do, most times I’ve just started a chat with customer service or sent them a quick email. I usually get refunds back to my card in only a few days. I’ve done price matching so far at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Target. 
                           

I’m so excited for tomorrow night, David and I are going on a date to see the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II. It should be a whimsically fun evening.
                                              

Do you have any tips or tricks for saving some dough while shopping online? Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Let me know down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous weekend. :)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year & Weekend in DC Recap



I can't believe it's NYE and last day of 2018! We’re staying in tonight and having a traditional Swiss fondue and I'm looking forward to it very much. I’m excited to stay in so we can snuggle up watching all the New Years TV while sipping some Asti-the only time of year I drink it, such a special treat!







Without further ado I want to recap a trip we took a little while back:

Every year the 4 of us (my parents, my husband David, and I) plan a pre-holiday trip together. It kicks off the holiday season for us and it’s something I look forward to every year. Last year we went to Chicago and had an absolute blast. This year we decided to drive down to Washington DC in early November. 
We dropped my 3 dogs off at the kennel (or “camp” as we like to refer to it as) on our way down, grabbed a quick bite at the Jersey shore, and we were on our way.

We stayed at the charming Madison Hotel, which was recently acquired by Hilton. Its the best of both worlds having old-world charm, but also incredibly clean with the always amazing Hilton breakfast. It was also very centrally located to everything we wanted to see/do while in town. 

The first morning we were there we drove around the city taking pictures of all the national monuments. It was a clear, sunny brisk day and it was so much fun cruising around looking at all the stunning architecture.  
                        
                                        
                         
                                              
                                         

While we were there we also visited Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of David’s paternal grandparents and uncle. I don’t have the exact words to describe how beautiful yet somber Arlington is. I felt so fortunate to be able to visit during our stay. 
                                       

After that we went to see Beetlejuice the Musical. It. Was. Incredible. It was in previews in DC before heading to Broadway in April. We enjoyed it so much (it was a little risqué, yet incredibly funny) that I can’t wait to see it again when it comes to NYC. 
                                        
                                   
                                     

We tried rpm Italian for our fancy night out and I was a little underwhelmed to be honest. I guess because David ate at the Chicago location a few months ago and raved about it. I had to send my spaghetti back twice for being raw and the service was not very attentive. We still enjoyed ourselves and had good conversation and excellent cocktails. 

All in all it was a wonderful whirlwind weekend with my favorite people. Nothing beats a good road trip!
                               

Where’s your favorite road trip destination? Any fun plans tonight? Comment down below, I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing everyone a fabulous week and a healthy, happy and blessed 2019!!! Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Nail Polish Picks~Dec 2018

I LOVE painting my nails. Give me all the colors, glitters, textures. I love both drug store and high end designer nail polishes alike. I enjoy changing the color based on my mood or outfit or holiday, and although I don’t have the biggest collection, I wanted to share 2 colors I’m loving lately for the winter season. They are also both based off of holiday movies. I've also included a few other picks I’ve been loving. 
                                   
                    




Grinch Collection “Lukewarm Wishes” from China Glaze
                      
Straight from Whoville, this is what I am currently rocking on my nails. It’s a subtle shimmery white, but it has the coolest blue micro glitter in it. When your nails hit the light in certain angles it turns from a pretty snowflake white color to a baby blue glow. Simple yet stunning and nearly impossible to mess up painting yourself. Also with a shade this light, chips aren’t very noticeable. 



OPI Nutcracker and the Four Realms Collection in “Berry Fairy Fun”
                         
Did you see the Nutcracker? I was absolutely enthralled by Kiera Knightley’s portrayal of Sugar Plum. Her cotton candy hair! Her pink eyebrows! Her fabulous sparkly dress! I thought she was stunning, that must’ve been such a fun character to play. In celebration of the movie OPI did a whole Nutcracker collection. My favorite of them is Berry Fairy Fun. OPI describes it as “A gorgeous purple that you will like berry, berry much. This ethereal shade adds a touch of holiday magic to any look.” I like that it is something different from the classic holiday red, yet still has the sparkle and shine that is so fun for the holidays. I'm planning on switching to this for NYE.


I also wanted to mention that I have tried TONS of base and top coats. I am always looking for the newest best way to get a few extra days without chipping nails. With 3 dogs and cooking and general housekeeping I generally can get 4-5 days max out of a manicure. My favorite base and topcoat lately are INM Clear Bond Base Coat and Out the Door quick drying top coat. The best I’ve found so far.


Finally, for the driest winter cuticles I swear by Dior Crème Abricot Nail Cream. I like keeping it in my nightstand and applying before bed. It was created in 1963 so it’s an oldie but a goodie. It strengthens nails and encourages them to grow along with conditioning cuticles. It’s expensive, but one container will last you forever.


Any nail polish colors you’ve been loving? Any base/top coats I should check out? Leave them down below, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous weekend. :)

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Christmas Eve!



What if I tell you the best cookie recipe I’ve perfected so far is only 4 ingredients and you probably have them all on hand right now? 

These are sure to wow Santa tonight, let’s get baking!


You’ll need:
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • Optional-toppings of your choice-these are delicious plain but can also be jazzed up with sparkly decorating sugar, chocolate chips, or even sprinkles

Method:
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla with a hand mixer for approximately 2 minutes. It will start to look like buttercream.

Now with a spatula slowly add in the flour. At this point the dough will be soft. I always pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to make it easier to work with.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and space them out on the cookie sheet, they will spread a bit. Push the dough down with you fingers slightly. Now’s the time to add your toppings if you choose.

Bake approximately 12-14 minutes until slightly browned. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two until they harden slightly and are easier to handle. Now it’s time to enjoy! Try to eat just one, hehe. Bon Appétit!


PS-I also have to share this eye shadow palette that I’ve been loving lately. The colors are perfect for day or night, with a mix of matte, shimmer, and glitter shades. It has great color payout, doesn’t crease, and it’s scented like a sugar cookie. It is also mini sized so it fits perfectly in a cosmetic case or would be great for travel.
                                            
What do you leave out for Santa? Do you have a palette you’ve been loving? Let me know down below, I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing everyone the warmest of Christmas wishes and lots of time spent with loved ones.

Thanks for reading. :)
                                              



Vaca Recap Part 2 ~ Sweden

Happy Monday! I’m back with part 2 of our vacation recap, Sweden.  We arrived in Stockholm around 3:00 in the afternoon on Friday. We grab...