What to Pack : Beach Vacations

Things I'm coveting for my trip to Mexico.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com
How good does a beach vacation sound right now?!  So I’m prepping for a trip to Mexico later this week and you know I had to do a little shopping.  And since one of my summer bucket list items is “wear shorts” (you know you are stupid and old if your summer bucket list item has something about wearing shorts…) on it, I thought a beach vacay would be the perfect time to try some out.  I picked up those adorable black ruffle shorts (bottom right photo) from Ascot + Hart and can’t wait to wear them! (Dang it! These look like they are all sold out.  Check out their other fun short options here!)  Of course I need a spray tan first but then I’m going to wear the sh*t out of those shorts.  I’m also ellipticizing (I know this isn’t really a thing but if you can Jazzercise I really think you oughta be able to ellipticize) so hopefully my thighs won’t clap together as I wear my shorts around the resort.  And I have been making awesome food choices.  I see a little bit of a difference in my body and am totally going to stay on this healthy food business until at least my Palm Springs trip in August.  Of course I want to continue it after, but I really think I need a weekend where all I eat is cake.  I really like cake.

So um, Sharon, how is this post about packing for beach vacations again?  Oh right.  So another item I picked up for my trip, and summer in general, is this fantastic ruffle bikini top by Roxy.  This is perfection for small boobed, birthing hips gals like me.  It helps to balance out the silhouette and guess what else?  Ain’t nothing going to fall out of anywhere.  This would be a great bikini top for playing smashball in the sand (whoa, that sounded so 80’s, right there) or being more active than just lying on your towel.  This is going to be my go-to top for swimming with my kids.  Why are little hands so grabby?  Like, OH NO I think I may be drowning!  You know what will save me?  My moms triangle top bathing suit!  And I’m realizing that this isn’t much of a “how to” post.  It’s more of a “you should totally get these items post.”

And the other items in that photo?  All wish list items.  I keep seeing this round beach towel and it wants to be part of my family.  This white Cleobella kimono is perfection (holy crap!  This item is no longer available either! Here are some other great kimonos and jackets).  I can’t stop dreaming about these Nena and Co. bags.  One day I will break down and buy one.  The colors make my heart happy!  This Tacos and Tequila shirt should be mandatory when even thinking about Mexico.  And I’ve seen these rad little booties in action and think they want to be on my feet.  I can’t even tell you the last time I wore heels, so these would sort of be like training wheels.  That thick heel is right up my alley and I love the color.  All I have at the moment are black shoes and that is just too heavy for an easy, breezy oceanfront dinner.

I really like shopping, so I picked out some other things I would want for a beach vacation:

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Things to do on a Quick Trip to New York

Streets of New York // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI love New York!  I was beyond excited that we got to stay in the city for #PuffDay14.  Tori and I discussed the trip before hand and we both knew that we wanted to pack in as much stuff as possible no matter how tired we were.  Mostly this meant we wanted to eat a lot.  I figured out that we had about 15 hours of awake time in the city that was all ours.  And I really think we did make the most of it.  There are a lot of things to do on a quick trip to New York and I’m sharing a few of my favorites. 

The St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in New York has super comfy rooms and beds // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAlthough I didn’t have anything to do with choosing the hotel (this was set up by the PR company handling the Puff Pastry event) it was awesome!  I highly recommend the St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in the Murray Hill area.  The neighborhood was pretty quiet but still had tons of stuff to do.  It was a close walk to Grand Central Station and a short taxi ride to La Guardia airport that I flew in and out of.  The rooms were spacious and comfortable and way larger than I was expecting for a hotel in New York.  

Gorgeous bathroom at the St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in New York // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd the bathrooms were GORG!  Mine was very large and it was so well designed.  It had Molton Brown amenities and excellent lighting. [Read more…]

Where to Stay in Palm Springs

palm-springs-hotel-title-image-revisedPalm Springs is so hot (haute) right now.  No, like it’s literally 110 degrees.  And like, literally the most trendy place you can vacation.  I grew up going to the desert to visit family so there is something so natural about being there for me.  There is nothing like that first blast of hot air as you get out the air-conditioned car upon arrival.

Palm-Springs-signLiving in Orange County, Palm Springs is a little over an hour away and super easy to get to.  What once was a place that I went with friends or my husband has turned in to a place our kids like to go as well.  This post is not particularly family focused I simply wanted to share my favorite hotels in Palm Springs.  These are not listed in any particular ranking.  For me, choosing the hotel is based on many factors such as who I am traveling with and the overall mood for the trip.

ace-hotel-palm-springsI love the Ace Hotel.  And yes, so does everyone else.  This is the most hipstery of the bunch but also just really well done.  I have never had anything other than a great time here.  I have stayed her with girlfriend’s, my husband and my family all on separate visits.  The atmosphere is totally casual and relaxed.  The rooms are well-appointed with good amenities.  Concrete floors, slat walls and cool furnishings abound.  If you go, be sure to book a room with a patio.  It gives you the extra space to hang out and have friends over if you go in a group.  For families, they offer an awesome room that has a king size bed and two twins along one wall.  The staff is always friendly and my soul feels good here.  And they play really good music at the pool and serve adult snow cones.  Done.  This is not downtown so you will need to take a car to get to some of the best restaurants.  But there is a great little Koffi shop within walking distance across the street.  You should plan on eating at least on breakfast at King’s Highway, the hotel coffee shop.  They get it right every time.

Riviera-Hotel-Palm-SpringsAnother place I find I return again and again is The Riviera.  This one is a short drive from downtown Palm Springs but on many visits, I never leave the property.  The vibe is all Hollywood Regency here with crystaly chandeliers and amazing patterns all around.  There is something about the beds at this hotel!  I sleep really good when I stay here.  The pool tends to get really crowded on weekends making renting a cabana worth while.  The spa services are fantastic and the on-site restaurants are delicious.  I’ve never taken my kids here but I do see families there every time I go.  Be sure to take special note of where your room is located as all of the buildings look remarkably similar with that graphic wallpaper.  You may find yourself walking in circles, just sure you’ve found your room at 2 o’clock in the morning, only to determine that you haven’t.  Not that this has happened to me…

alcazar-hotel-palm-springsThe Alcazar is newer to town and a nice little place.  It is totally no frills with a slight nod to design.  The rooms are all white with sparse, rustic furniture.  The pool was small and quiet when we stayed here, but that was mid-week.  It might GO OFF! on the weekends.  I love the location.  While you are not directly downtown, you have two amazing restaurants, Cheeky’s and Birba (both run by the hotel) a short corridor away.  There are several other dining options within walking distance making it the perfect place to stay and play with no driving required.  I stayed her with my mom and she enjoyed it very much.  I don’t recall seeing a single handle bar mustache or PBR.  Well maybe at Birba…

Viceroy-PSAh, the Viceroy.  I haven’t stayed here in years!  But I have been back several times to eat at Citron, the on site restaurant.  This hotel also has a bit of that Hollywood Regency vibe.  Everything is on a smaller scale here.  The lobby is tiny and the rooms are comfortable but not especially spacious.  There are two pools on site which get crowded very early during summer, weekend mornings.  If you are with a group, be prepared to get there early or not sit all together in one group.  I have not had any spa services here but several of my friends have fond memories of their time there.  This hotel is within walking distance to the downtown nightlife and restaurants which makes it really fun for going in a group that wants to spend a night on the town.

the-saguaro-palm-springsWho doesn’t love the bold use of color at The Saguaro?  The rooms here did not excite me much.  They were brightly colored but not particularly special.  But the rest of the hotel is awesome.  There are delicious restaurants on site as well as a nice sized pool and bocce ball.  If you feel up to braving the 100 degree weather, you can rent a bike and ride around town (although the hotel is not downtown and the only thing in the area is a shopping center across the street with a grocery store and a few fast food restaurants).  Or hang out in the lobby and play a game of ping-pong.  I love the atmosphere here and their margaritas and guacamole are my fave! I have not brought my kids to stay here yet but totally would.

parker-palm-springs-hotelThere are several other places I have stayed in and around Palm Springs.  And there are several that I really want to check out. The Parker (above) is one of those places.  We have eaten there and played around the grounds, but never stayed overnight.  I hear great things about it.  And if the Jonathan Adler designed lobby is any indication, I know that I would love the rooms.

The Korakia looks ridiculous.  In a good way.  And I would love to check it out this year.  The Colony Palms looks small but fun. Their pool area has an amazing maroon and white striped cabana that is calling my name.  The Hard Rock is taking over what used to be Hotel Zoso in early fall.  You KNOW that is going to be a good time.

For families I also recommend looking in to renting a house with a pool (NOTE:  the north end of town gets crazy windy and can really hamper your outdoor time and make swimming pools pretty chilly).  Having a kitchen makes it really nice for handling meals and snacks with kids.  Looking for a little pampering during your stay?  Hire this private chef to cook you dinner one night!  One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Where is your favorite place to stay in Palm Springs?

 

10 Year Anniversary Trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

leopard shoes luggageA few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Cabo San Lucas.  We knew we wanted to go to a beach and it needed to be super easy to get to.  A neighbor suggested the Dreams Resort, an all-inclusive destination, and we were sold.  The flight was just 2 hours from Orange County, CA and which is the perfect amount of time for a flight for my opinion.

Cabo-AirportIt has been YEARS since I have been to Mexico.  Growing up we took a vacation to Baja every summer and the last time I had been to Cabo was in elementary school.  Stepping off the plane, in what appeared to be the middle of the desert, I couldn’t help but grab my camera and start taking pictures.  Note to self: never do that again.  Someone rushed at me immediately to tell me to stop.  He was kind of mean.  And I instantly started sweating thinking about ending up in Mexican jail.  I imagined I wouldn’t find too many margaritas in there.  And then there was a baby mouse running around part of the airport.  And remind me to do a separate post about how to exit the airport without being harassed by people trying to sell you tours…

lobby-and-view-at-the-dreams-resort-los-cabosThis picture does not do the lobby and entryway justice.  When you first pull up to the front of the hotel, you see the gorgeous blue water through these enormous arches.  This picture above was taken on our way out to go home and it had been dreary and rainy all morning, hence the green astro turf stripe.  It made me want to go put a swimsuit on and jump in the ocean.

our-room-at-Dreams-all-inclusive-resort-Cabo-San-LucasOur room was awesome and we had a good-sized balcony and table where we could hang out.

dreams resort CaboThis was our view.  It was AWESOME!  The weather was pretty near perfect.  Almost every day was warm without being too humid.  Except for the day before we went home.  I thought I was going to die.  It was SO humid and I was SO sweaty and it made me cranky.  So we swam up to the bar and that made it better.  I didn’t get a good picture of the pool but you can sort of see it through those palm trees above.  The pool was HUGE.  It had built-in tables and benches, and infinity edge that overlooked the ocean and a nice little swim up bar.

[Read more…]

August 15 : Where to eat in Orange County, CA #IGTravelThursday

Where to eat in Orange County, CA You may remember from last Thursday that I started a new travel feature via a linky party with Skimbaco.  I never used to think of myself as a travel blogger but when I go through my year and my instagram feed, I get around.

Today I wanted to share my favorite spots to eat at in Orange County, CA.  If you are coming from out-of-town, I think these are some of the best places in my county.  And if you are from here, well, then you KNOW just how amazing these places are.

Starting from the top left, moving right:

Baskin Robbins : Yes it is a nationwide chain, but sometimes you just need a consistently good ice cream sundae.

Dave and Busters at the Outlets at Orange (previously The Block) : I recently got to eat a ton of their new menu and it is SO good!  Then go play the games with your adult friends and act like kids or take your kids and watch them play in pure joy.  Get the chocolate fondue for dessert.

Lucca Cafe : My new favorite restaurant.  Small plates for sharing allow you to try a number of dishes.  The food is great, the wine is delicious and the atmosphere is easy and relaxed.  I can’t wait to try their brunch!

Paul Martin’s at The Irvine Spectrum : A great place for a good burger and a yummy drink.  With the entrance being on the outside of the Spectrum, it seems like it is less crowded at peak times than some of the other restaurants.  Which is great for me since I really enjoy the food and the service is always great.

Sidecar Doughnuts : See my post on these delicious gourmet donuts and then go grab a few dozen for yourself.

Cucina Enoteca at The Irvine Spectrum : An absolute favorite.  I have had many a lunch on the patio with friends and date nights here.  My favorite is the Gorgonzola Walnut Mousse served with toast, the Giant Meatball and their Moscow Mules.

In-N-Out : This is the first place the locals take their out-of-town guests.  Good quality hamburgers and friendly service in the iconic red and white retro-ish buildings.

Mesa at The Camp : This is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Orange County.  I’ve been lucky enough to try most things on the menu and they are all spectacular.  My fave appetizer is the Tempura Green Beans, my fave salad is the Heirloom Apple Salad and you should totally get the Short Ribs for your main course.  The desserts are down played here but have been some of the best I’ve had in my life and change pretty frequently.  They favor artisanal cocktails and the atmosphere is truly something special.  With a retractable roof, video projection system and live music most nights of the week, this is something that must be experienced.

Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar : See my tasting menu experience and then go check it out for yourself.  I’m a huge fan of the chef, Greg Harrison, and General Manager, Jim Colombo, who have updated not only the menu but attitude of the restaurant and dining experience.  For sure try the Pimm’s Cup and let the staff guide your ordering for a truly memorable night.  Also check out their gastro-pub next door, Side Door.

Now, go follow my friends Lala and Nicole and see what their posting for #IGTravelThursday this week.  And follow along with some of the organziers :  House of Anais, Hines Sight, and Luxury Travel Mom.