Lifestyle

Park City

 

I knew I wanted to take Chris somewhere special for his birthday, and Park City seemed to be a natural choice, because this California boy loves the snow! I had been there for my bachelorette party (you can find details on that HERE), but I had never been to ski, and I am SO glad we went. 

It was all a surprise for Chris, and he didn’t know until we arrived at Long Beach airport and I gave him his boarding pass. So much fun keeping a level of suspense for your loved one’s birthday! 

We stayed at the Marriott Summit Watch and I used Vacation Candy Rentals to book. Park City is NOT cheap in the winter season and I wanted him to have the full Main St experience for his first time visiting. This hotel is half vacation rentals, half hotel, and the location does not disappoint. It’s right on Main St and we were able to walk to all of the cute shops and restaurants. 

Our very first stop when we arrived was High West Saloon. Get the burger, you will leave satisfied and happy! We also had the chicken wings and pretzel and they were mouth watering. We ended the night at Alpine Pie Bar, with a large slice of pie and a glass of champagne. It’s this cute little speak easy beneath a restaurant with romantic vibes; highly recommend!

 

 

Chris and I are not advanced skiers, so I spent a ton of time researching the best place to ski and came upon Deer Valley. The prices are high but the snow is great and it’s a ski-only mountain that limits the number of lift tickets they sell in a day. I purchased ahead of time and reserved rentals out of Deer Valley Resort. Don’t get me wrong, the skiing was excellent, but the main attraction for me over here was the epic Veuve Cliquot yurt at Montage Deer Valley. This is a pop-up that will only be there until April sadly, and in my opinion is a DO NOT MISS if you’re going to Park City. You can ski in/out for lunch, as it’s only open from 12-4pm daily. Even for novice skiers like ourselves, it was easy to find and there were green runs available to get there. 

 

 

If you watched my stories, you’ll know that I had a little goggle snafu that I realized only once I got to the Veuve yurt where I was super excited to take photos. I bought a brand new pair of Smith goggles and after only 3 hours of skiing, they left a huge imprint into my forehead. “This happens to everyone”, you’re thinking. Nope… these had the brand name written on the inside. I had the word Smith imprinted into my forehead for HOURS. I even had the goggles on the loosest setting with my helmet. If you zoom in you can see it, I left this photo unedited for your viewing pleasure!

 

 

I had to suck it up, it’s not like I’ll ever get back to this yurt! So we drank champagne and ate charcuterie and the most delicious mini sandwiches, while everyone probably questioned my choice in goggles. SO worth it. 

 

       

 

I was able to find a new pair of goggles at Deer Valley Resort and they even took my other pair back, which was very validating! In fact, the lady working there bluntly said, “I am mortified for you”! I knew I wasn’t overreacting! In the mean time I found a headband to cover my Smith forehead branding and we headed to the St. Regis for a little après ski action. This property is special because you have to take a funicular from the slopes to get up to the main part of the hotel. They have a tradition everyday at 530pm where they saber a bottle of champagne on the beautiful terrace overlooking Deer Valley and hand out free champagne to their guests. We stayed for dinner at Brasserie 7452 and ended the evening with s’mores cheesecake and hot cocoa. Don’t worry, I found a headband to cover up my Smith goggle branding.  

 

 

On Chris’ birthday we had an epic morning dog sledding at North Forty Escapes. What we didn’t realize was how far the ranch was from Park City! We didn’t rent a car on this trip, so we used Uber or Lyft which was super easy, except for when you have no cell service and are in the middle of no where! We were thankfully able to arrange for our Uber driver who took us out there, to meet us when we were done and bring us back, but definitely something to think about if you ever plan for an activity like this. 

The dog sledding experience was SO cool. The Utah countryside is so beautiful and serene and the dogs were super friendly. The tour was about an hour and there was plenty of time for petting the pups and taking photos. 

 

 

 

After our breathtaking morning with nature I wanted to surprise Chris with a little luxury so we hit the Montage Deer Valley spa for a massage. I’ve been to other spas in Park City and this one was by far my favorite. There’s a giant indoor heated pool and hot tub, in addition to the separate locker room jacuzzi, steam room, and saunas. I splurged on a 90 min couples’ massage and we both agreed it was one of, if not the best, massages we’ve ever had. 

 

 

We sipped aperol spritzes and listened to the live music in the great room after the spa, and Montage has the cutest s’mores bar out on the terrace everyday at 430pm, complete with hot chocolate!

 

 

We had to make a quick stop on our way home before dinner, at Windy Ridge Bakery, for Chris’ birthday cake. If you know us, you know that Chris LOVES sweets, and every year I order him a cake with a personalized message on it. Usually it’s a phrase that he overuses and makes me laugh… this year I chose “38… What is happening?”. When I went to pick up the cake the owner broke the news to me, that the pastry chefs were both out sick and they couldn’t write on the cake. I asked if she could just do it real quick, because honestly I didn’t care what it looked like! She said no… but asked if I wanted to do it. So there I was, with zero baking experience, writing on my own husband’s cake! It was quite the memory, and of course he didn’t care, he ate the whole thing anyways! The cake was german chocolate and YOU GUYS, it was amazing. 

 

 

We ate at 350 Main for dinner which was such a cute environment and offered delicious food. Our original plan was to eat at Tupelo for his birthday dinner but they called us literally <24 hours before our reservation, cancelled for no reason, and were very inappropriate in dealing with the situation. Have to admit, they are 100% on my shit list at this point! 

I had a TON of recommendations from you all about a breakfast spot called Five5eeds, so we headed there for brunch on Saturday. It’s a health conscious spot that I could totally see here in Orange County. We worked off our brunch with some walking and shopping on Main Street (Cake boutique was one of my faves), and we had the pleasure of taking photos with Amelia Blaire in the afternoon. Amelia is SO fun and captured our Park City memories perfectly. I always like when a photographer can get me to loosen up and have fun, while directing me towards what looks cute. Let’s be honest… I am not a model! I need direction! 

 

 

If you’re an Italian fan, go to Grappa for a cute, romantic environment and some BOMB Italian food. We also spent a few minutes at The Cabin for drinks after a recommendation and they were craft cocktails like no other. 

We chose a late flight out of Park City on Sunday and had to check out of our hotel early, so we spent the entire day at Stein Eriksen where we stayed cozy in the lodge and ate THE BEST all-you-can-eat brunch. I’m telling you, it’s amazing. Plus the views are that of the best Deer Valley ski runs so we had fun recapping our day on the mountain. 

 

 

Chris and I left Park City talking about how much we can’t wait to go back. We only skied one day, because we had so many other plans, so next time we will definitely be spending more time on the mountain. There’s just something to be said for a vacation in the snow, bundled up and trekking through the snow during the day, all cozied up by the fire at night, hot toddies, delicious warm comfort food, and your best friend! 

 

 

 

Have you been to Park City? Share your favorite places with me! 

 

Photos by Amelia Blaire

Health

Getting through the Holidays

Get ready, get set! The Holiday season is upon us. If you do the math, November 28th – January 1st (or, arguably, November 26th until January 2nd) is over a month of holidays! While it’s such a wonderful time, a time to give thanks, be with family, reconnect with friends, and enjoy a good meal or two (or seven), it can also be a really overwhelming time for a lot of people.

I’m so excited this November because we’re traveling back to Michigan the home I grew up in, for the first time in over 2 years to spend Thanksgiving with my family! I can’t wait to see everyone, visit with old friends, and enjoy the slightly chilly weather! Holidays in 87 degree heat is still so weird to me!

As excited as I am, this is definitely going to be a change of pace from my regular routine. Maybe you’re experiencing the same thing, or maybe you’re gearing up for a busy season of working long hours while balancing holiday festivities. Below, I’m going to lay out some advice as we head into the holiday season so that you can feel confident and not overstretched throughout!

 

If You’re Traveling

Whether you’re going home or traveling with your partner or friends, it’s essential to try and stick to your routine. Enjoy those daily tasks that are part of your routine at home, it will help keep you sane! If you’ve gotten into the habit of morning meditation or getting a half-hour of movement every day, make sure you find the pockets of time to do that. Also, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and bringing a good moisturizer with you! This is so important, especially if you’re traveling to colder climates. 

Be sure to give yourself the grace to indulge and relax! Enjoy that glass of wine or charcuterie night with your friends. You’ll probably regret it more if you don’t. There is no amount of food that can’t be undone with a good sweaty workout, and your body won’t REALLY change after 1 or 2 big meals. This season I’m going to practice letting go of expectations that I might have previously had in regards to food, working out, or even gift giving! That’s where the holiday magic begins to fade; when we’re so consumed by expectations that we put on ourselves or others! Go easy on yourself and focus on spending time with loved ones!

Check out some of my favorite holiday travel must haves!

 

If You’re Working

If you have a packed work schedule as we roll out of 2019 I hope you have opportunities to relax and enjoy holiday dinners and events around your schedule. Try to dial it back at work if you can and join friends for a holiday cocktail during a weeknight out. If you’re not getting any time off this time of year, then be sure to savor your weekends whatever that looks like for you! If you’re a work hard play hard kind of gal I’m imagining you all dolled up attending weekend parties, if you’re a low key hermit then Christmas movies and baking cookies it is!

 

The goal is to come out on the other side of the holidays READY for 2020 so do what you need to do to work around your work schedule and prioritize yourself in order to reset.  

 

Another note for the busy working bees this season, get that Christmas shopping done early! Use Black Friday sales and the magic of online shopping to really crush your list ahead of time! There’s no way that you’ll be wanting to spend your weeknights in a busy mall after work, so get this done ASAP sister!

 

If You’re Hosting Family Dinner

If you’ve decided to take on the task of having your family over this year, then kudos to you! I love entertaining, and I think this is such a great way to see everyone! Plus, you get to crash in your own bed when the night is done – a bonus!

When you’re hosting family, do you best to drop the stress. Feel free to honor the traditions passed on to you, but put your own spin on things and maybe even start your own traditions. Be sure you plan ahead for the holiday meal, I think that’s one of the hardest parts! Put the more you plan the more prepared you’ll be. Keep in mind how long dishes have to cook for and how long other items will take to prep! Make a grocery list, check it twice (..gunna find out who’s naught or ni….) and review your recipes, this will ensure that your dinner party goes down smooth as eggnog! 

Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if this is your first time hosting a large crowd. Trust me, people love to contribute! Make your meal potluck-style and ask your guests if they can bring a dish or even a bottle of wine to share. Sometimes I ask people to bring an appetizer so we can have a little snack while we wait for the main course! It’s so fun and brings everyone together, and you won’t be alone in the kitchen prepping! Add some fun and entertainment to your evening by encouraging your guests to bring a small gift! You can do a simple $5-$10 limit and play the White Elephant Gift exchange! 

 

If You’re Already Getting Holiday Anxiety 

No matter how much you prepare the Holidays can be a stressful and even unenjoyable time. But you’ll get through it just like you did last year. Ultimately we just need to remember what Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year is all about; gratitude, love, connection, and renewal! If you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum from these emotions dial it back and please do something for YOU!

Overall, be sure to keep yourself happy and healthy during this time of the year. Trust me, I know it’s so much easier said than done. You want to start 2020 off strong (the roaring 20s! I’m so ready!), and you shouldn’t end the year overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed out. Remember, the holidays are a time for loved ones, and they want you to shine as well! 

 

Drop a comment below and tell me how you’re spending this holiday season!





Lifestyle

Welcome to Saint Tropez

We woke up in Cannes, after an exquisite stay at the Majestic Barrière Hotel. To say we were sad to leave is an understatement. It was the best hotel experience we’ve ever had. But, that’s ok. We were well rested, all packed up and our Sixt car was ready and waiting out front.

Saint Tropez isn’t the easiest to get to from any particular place, mostly because it’s one of the farthest coastlines in the French Riviera. Of course, if you’re one of the uber rich, you can definitely just sail your yacht there or fly your private jet into the small airport! But for the rest of us, the Nice international airport is the best bet. From there, you can opt to fly in a helicopter over the Mediterranean Sea for about 20 minutes, or take a ferry boat for about 45-60 minutes on the sea, or lastly, take a car around the Sea for about 2 1/2 hours.  We chose the middle option! Fortunately for us, the boat’s port was about a 5 minute drive away from our hotel in Cannes. Even better, we already had our tickets and were in the front of the line to board (super crucial when you’re traveling with 6 bags).

The weather on the sea couldn’t have been any better. Smooth seas and blue skies for days. We able to get seats next to our bags so we had not a worry in the world. Once we got to the port we had a car set up through the hotel waiting for us, which is a MUST. Many of Saint Tropez’s hotels are a good ways from the port, or even the main area of town. If you’re interested in mostly shopping, you’ll want to be as close to the port as possible, but keep in mind that it’s busy and noisier in this area of town. The opposite side of Saint Tropez is where most of the beach clubs are and it just so happened that our hotel was right in the middle of both. We had an itinerary booked with equal parts shopping and beach lounging.

We pulled into the Sezz hotel, and were pleasantly surprised with the quaint upscale vibe of the place. It was very contemporary and quiet, with the exception of the waterfalls in the pool where we sat as we were checked in. We lucked out with room right at the front of the large, single story layout, which meant we were steps away from the pool, the lobby, the outdoor bar and the restaurant. That modern contemporary feel certainly carried into our room, as the décor was chic and simple. The bed may have been not quite as desirable as the Majestic hotel, but after the hotel provided an extra mattress pad, we were solid! The best part of this room, was by far the outside shower. Completely private, it’s pretty refreshing to shower in the nice outdoor French air. There was even a little backyard!

Pro Tip** Find a hotel that offers a shuttle to town AND the beach clubs

 

Day 1

Dior Cafe- We were on a mission to find the Dior café which is also one of its boutiques offering a very personal experience. We wandered through for a bit, but the food and the custom Dior latte was really what we came for! Rosé paired with a caprese salad or ahi tuna is my recommendation! Make a reservation, it’ll ensure you get a seat for lunch.

Shopping in town-  we found our way into Gucci, Chanel, Kiwi swimwear, and of course all the other local jewelry and fashion stores. After all, this is one spot you must always look your best at! Chris found himself a few new bathing suits and wristwear while I finally got my Gucci belt, Chanel perfume and jewelry as well. 

Le Tigr– we couldn’t wait to get to dinner because we had reservations at a restaurant called Le Tigrr (at Hotel Ermitage) and is touted as having the best sunset view in town. They weren’t wrong. The restaurant has a thai-vibe. Make reservations! We overindulged as per the usual with a bottle of wine, 3 appetizers and 2 full entrees.

 

Day 2

Nikki Beach- we were hesitant to try the infamous Nikki Beach because we were feeling a relaxed vibe, and Nikki Beach is anything but! However, it turned out to be THE BEST time. We splurged for a day bed that was right over the pool. We had to purchase a bottle of champs with the bed, but “c’est la vie”. The DJ was epic, the food was excellent, you can order massages and cigars, and there are cute little shops around the perimeter. 

Kimono on sale and linked HERE

     

L’Opera- you can’t miss this! It’s a dinner, a dance performance, a club, a unique experience. Make a reservation well ahead of time. We chose the later seating (at 1030pm) and it was PACKED. The food was actually good, and the dancing on our table while we ate, even better. The show is quite abstract, the waiters dance too, and they even pass out sparklers. The place turns into a club and if you order a nice bottle, you get to choose the songs that they play when they bring it out. I WILL be doing this next time. #goals

Day 3

We kept this day chill because we had a pretty crazy day at Nikki Beach the day before. Our hotel had an epic pool, so we lounged there the whole day before dinner. 

Colette– a Michelin star restaurant at our hotel. We had a chicken caesar and truffle fries for lunch. Can we say trés bien?! 

L’Italien Cucina Autentico– we were able to walk in at this restaurant. It’s right in the main area of the port and has the cutest Italian vibes with amazing beach decor. We ordered the arancini for an app, and split a truffle pizza and risotto for dinner. I’m still dreaming of this meal. 

La Tarte Tropézienne– a MUST if you’re in Saint Tropez. There are multiple locations where you can get this famous pastry, but this is the OG spot. This pastry was named by Brigitte Bardot (the queen of St Tropez) when she was filming And God Created Woman. 

Day 4

Le Club 55– guys… don’t miss this iconic (almost hidden) location in St Tropez. It is THE OG of this place. You wanna talk VIBES, this place has them. You NEED a reservation weeks in advance. Most people stay out late in St Tropez so when we got there at opening time (1030ish) there were still front row beds open. Totally worth it. Celebs and yacht owners park their luxurious boats within view and take a little dingy ride in for lunch, wearing the typical St Tropez attire (of course) white and/or linen. The beach club is a little old school (which we loved), the chairs aren’t really chairs, they are cushions laid right on the sand. They have a little beach bar with food and drinks but you gotta get the total experience by dining for lunch at their restaurant. We really didn’t understand the menu and the servers are so busy tending to their rich and famous that we didn’t ask and just took a stab at our orders. We didn’t really get what we thought we were getting, but the rosé was flowing and it was delicious regardless. I had the jambon and cantaloupe while Chris had an artichoke. We shared a cheese plate and raspberry cheesecake for dessert. I almost ordered the crudite plate and thank goodness I didn’t because it was basically a garden that took up the entire table with raw vegetables. I did learn a few new ways to eat said raw vegetables by observing the fancy people around me! We stayed until close. Next time I am bringing home a champagne bucket. 

      

     

 

La Petite Plage- another random find in the port, Mediterranean style french food, so good! The flooring of the restaurant is beach sand, and they serve the best chicken dish (St Tropez is also famous for their rotisserie chicken). Chris and I hung out here into the evening and it somewhat turns into a bar scene, with great music (and people watching… of course). Best part is that the yacht owners just step off their boats, right into the restaurant, and you can catch a glimpse of their on-point fashion and accessories! 

One of the fun parts about Saint Tropez… you get to dress the part. Bring all the fashion you are unsure about wearing on a regular basis, and rock it! Some of my outfits linked below. 

Can’t forget about Chris’ outfits too!

If there’s one thing I took away from our trip to Saint Tropez, it’s that I could really get used to the beach and yacht life! For real, this place gives the word ‘vibe’ a whole new meaning. I loved that we didn’t meet anyone else from America, and the French culture here was so rich. 

I mean… there’s a reason Kim K and Leonardo are vacationing here every summer. Add it to your list! 

 

 

Lifestyle

J’aime Paris

Cue the Parisian cafe music now. I’ll wait here while you set up your Spotify playlist to get in the mood for this blog post. 

D’accord. 

The truth is, Paris has my heart. My mom was born there, I still have family in the city, and part of me feels like I NEED to live there someday. Thankfully, Chris was equally enamored by it’s beauty and we’re already planning our #RetiredLife in Paris. 

You all have asked for the itinerary, so here’s a breakdown in detail! 

Day 1

We arrived into Paris mid evening, around 730pm, and were pretty tired. We stayed at the Westin Paris-Vendôme. While it wasn’t as grandiose as some other Paris hotels, the staff was friendly, our room was upgraded to an Eiffel Tower view, the bed was comfortable, and the location was ON POINT. It stays light outside until 10pm in the summer though, so we ventured out to an area close to our hotel for some food and beverages. 

Bar Hemingway – an old school bar in the Ritz hotel, guys must wear pants. The drinks are so special (and come with a fresh flower I might add). They have a small food menu, but may want to go elsewhere if you’re starving. We ordered the mini franks (super gourmet hot dogs) and ate the bar snacks. Such a cool vibe, MUST SEE in my opinion. 

Day 2

We had a bit of a rough morning due to the heat and jet lag, but had a full day planned (thanks to me). We wanted to walk and take in the city anyways, so we stopped for breakfast in a little cafe on our way to the Catacombs. 

Catacombs- buy skip-the-line tickets, trust me. You have to schedule a time to be there, and get there on time, but it’s worth not waiting in a line. We purchased the audio guide also. It’s cool down there (which we loved because it was SO hot outside) so dress accordingly. 

     

Jardin du Luxembourg- we walked through the beautiful gardens on our way to see some other things. We took a minute to sit down and take it in. This is a must see!

Notre Dame- you can still get a great view of this beauty, but of course you can’t go inside and the structure is blocked off. 

St. Chappell- we bought skip-the-line tickets to this church also (they are super affordable). It doesn’t take long to get through this one, just take in the beauty and history of the stained glass

 

Chanel- I had to see the OG Chanel store (31 Rue Cambon), where Coco herself lived above it all. Definitely made some splurges here, worth every penny for the memories. If you’re in the market to buy, make sure you ask to take a picture on the stairs to Coco’s apartment!

      

Pierre Marcolini- fabulous chocolates and sorbet, perfect midday snack 

Girafe- BEST experience in Paris. Some locals may see this as a trendy or tourist spot, but it truly is worth the visit. It has the best view of the Eiffel Tower with amazing food and service. The lobster linguini did not disappoint. Ask your hotel concierge to make you a reservation weeks in advance. Sometimes this place doesn’t even answer their phone, which was the case for us. TBH, we just showed up early (for European time 630pm) and begged because it was our honeymoon. They gave us a great table but told us we had to be out by 10pm. DONE and DONE. 

 

Day 3

We spent an entire day museum hopping, which kept us moving through at a reasonable pace (and that happens to be my museum style). Wear something comfortable! We did not buy a Paris Museum Pass, because we only planned on going to 2 museums and just purchased individual tickets, but this could be a good option if you plan on seeing a lot of museums over multiple days. 

Louvre- again we purchased skip-the-line passes. The lines here are LONG.  So much to see in this place. We stuck to one wing, and the Mona Lisa of course. They have a separate line to see Mona Lisa now, which took us about 45 minutes to go through. Have your cameras ready, they push you through there like cattle!

Musee d’Orsay- we did skip-the-line here too. Takes less time to go through. Gorgeous museum with Van Gogh and Monet pieces (my faves). Don’t miss out on the top floor! There is a beautiful view of the city. 

Angelina- if you’re going to Paris, you have to stop here! There are multiple locations but I like the original on Rue de Rivoli. I love a good Croque Madame (paired with rosé of course). 

Ferdi- reportedly Kanye West’s favorite spot in Paris. It’s small, so a reservation is a good idea. The menu is different than your typical French food. A combo of American, Mexican, and French options. 

Day 4

Despite our crazy jet lag, we got up SUPER early to do something I knew we would be thankful for, later. You’re not a blogger unless you take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, right? 

It was actually a gorgeous sunrise and a nice little break from the scorching temperatures (it was 6am after all). 

Our photos are still being edited, so the one shown in this blog post is just a preview, but I can’t wait to share them all with you! We shot with Vio, from The Paris Photographer, and had a fabulous time. However it wasn’t long before we were sweating through our dress clothes and I forgot to bring sandals so my Louboutin stilettos almost killed me on the cobblestone streets a few times. 

We knew we had something luxurious to look forward to after the photos, as we had booked breakfast and massages at the Four Seasons Hotel George V. The spa is VERY luxurious. Probably the best massage I’ve had, ever. The amenities and facilities are fancy, to the point where I felt a little confused with how to use things. Everything is different in France! One thing to note, is that you aren’t allowed access into the pool area if you’re not a guest at the hotel. Womp Womp. It looked epic, and was part of the reason I booked the massages, but oh well. 

Eiffel Tower- we just so happened to go on the hottest record day IN HISTORY in Paris. I had purchased skip-the-line passes for this too, and I highly recommend it! You can purchase a lift ticket and take the lift the entire way up, OR you can do what we did and climb the first two portions, then take a lift to the very top (there are no stairs up to that point). We had a great time, despite sweating through our clothes. There is champagne at the very top!

       

Costes- trendy, good music, great people watching. Dress up for this one! Be sure to make a reservation. Service isn’t as good as the food and people watching, but still a must see in my book. 

Day 5

Versailles- a 45ish minute train ride outside of Paris, definitely worth seeing once. The gardens are my favorite part, although the palace is pretty epic too. You could spend an entire day here and I recommend going early to mid morning. I’ll say it again… skip-the-line pass is a MUST. The line for ticket holders (without a timed entry) can still be VERY long in the summer. 

**Pro Tip: If you walk straight through the gardens and exit the grounds (you can come back in) you will find a little canal and boat rental that is very affordable. This was the highlight of our day actually, to get a break from tourist stuff. It’s like recreation from a scene in the Notebook. If you plan beforehand, bring lunch and some wine and eat lunch on the canal. Uber romantic.          

We had dinner with my cousin this evening, at a local spot (honestly can’t remember the name). It was really cool to see family in a city so far away from home, and having a French translator to teach you what you should actually be saying when you order, was a plus!

Laduree- if you don’t know what this place is, and you’re traveling to Paris, just add it to your list ASAP. Try all the macaron flavors. No shame. Chris and I ate 15 in one night! 

 

We could’ve used a few more days (more like weeks) in Paris for sure. We had a lot of other places on our list that we either didn’t have time for, or were too tired to get to. It was honestly so hot that it was tough to sit outside and dine at the cafes, which is pretty much the best part of being in Paris! I spent hours online reading blogs to find the most recommended locations, so here’s a list of locations that still remain on my list for our next trip!

 -Le bon marche

 -Berthilon (gelato)

 -Du Pain et des Idées

 -Piere Lachaise Cemetery

 -Sacre Coeur in Montmarte

 -Chez Julien

 -Maison Kayser (baguettes)

 -Musee d’lorangerie

 -L’avenue (make a res)

 -Holybelly Cafe

 -Pierre Herme (macarons)

 -La Droguerie du Marais (crepes)

 -Luluwhite 

Paris Outfit Log 

Look… we were totally unprepared for how hot it was going to be. Apparently everyone was taken by surprise (record breaking temps). We did our best and surely sweat through most things, but still felt like our fashion guesses helped us fit in. I will say that Paris can be unpredictable with rain, cooler temperatures, and apparently warmer temps in our case. Pack pieces that you can wear in different ways, layer, etc. And comfortable shoes are A MUST. 

 

 

 

Truly, Paris is so magical and if you haven’t been, just take a leap and go ASAP! If you have been to Paris, leave your favorite memory or location in the comments!

 

Lifestyle

Planning an International trip? Here’s how we planned ours!

This has been a common question in my message inbox, for weeks now. Chris and I planned our Europe trip together, a la carte! No travel agents, no services, just us researching our little hearts out. Because Chris had never been to Europe, Paris was a no brainer. I HAD to go back to the French Riviera because it is literally my favorite place in the world. Cannes was a natural choice because I promised myself I would stay at the Majestic Hotel someday. Saint Tropez was always alluring and a total dream so we had to stop there, and Positano just looked so beautiful in photos (plus close to France) that we added that to the list too. 

 

Airlines

I started planning our trip about 4-5 months in advance. I researched airlines for hours and found that in the summer the prices are NUTS. It is what it is. I initially wanted to fly into Paris and out of another city, but the one way flights were so much more expensive. 

We chose Norwegian Air because they had premium economy seats for a (semi) reasonable price AND their seat comfort had better reviews than many other airlines’ premium or business class seats. Our experience boarding out of LAX was not great, but I don’t really think it was related to the airline itself, because on the way home it was easy. 

Pro Tip** Something to keep in mind- the Premium Economy seats DO NOT include lounge access. You have to buy a Premium Flex ticket to have access into the lounge (which we did on the way home). 

We knew taking the train was an option within Europe, but still chose to fly between areas that we were traveling. Chris and I’s traveling style doesn’t ever include us being too busy. We like multiple days in a single location, to get to know the area and do all the things we desire PLUS relax. 

Flight Schedule

LAX —> Paris (Norwegian)

Paris —> Nice (Air France)

Nice —> Cannes (car service)

Cannes —> Saint Tropez (Trans Côte d’Azur ferry) 

Saint Tropez —> Nice (car service)

Nice —> Naples (Easy Jet)

Naples —> Positano (car service)

Positano —> Naples (car service) 

Naples —> Paris (Air France) 

Paris —> LAX (Norwegian)

All of the car services we used were booked through the concierge of each hotel, and it served us well. It may have been more expensive than an Uber, but the cars were nice, the drivers spoke English, and we had a reliable pick up. 

I also liked using the Sixt app, although that may require you to have cell service so the drivers can communicate with you. We used this for certain day trips (like Cannes to Monaco). 

Back to flights… obviously traveling by plane requires a bit of planning with luggage. This was a challenge, but we are seasoned pros now! Check each airline’s restrictions at least 48 hours before your flight. If you need to purchase extra baggage it’s cheaper to do it online, then at the airport. There are weight restrictions on Norwegian for carry on too. They make you weigh everything. The more expensive the ticket, the more allowance you get. 

You probably saw in my last blog post, that we had a lot of luggage. It was a learning experience. We were maxed out by the end of the trip and had to pay 12 euros per kg that we were over in one of the checked bags. I’m still trying to let it go! 

 

Hotels 

We chose to skip the Air bnbs, and stay in hotels only. I have stayed in Air bnb locations in Europe in the past, and it has been hit or miss. We chose hotels based on how much time we’d be spending there, because of course we didn’t want to pay a ton of money for a place where we’d just be sleeping. I would say Paris (especially if you’re doing tons of tourist activities) is a location where you can save on a hotel. The Westin was very affordable and in a fabulous location, but we were hardly there so were very thankful we spent the least on this hotel. 

When we traveled to Cannes, we knew we wanted luxury and would be tired from the heat and tours in Paris. Hotel Barrière Majestic was just on another level, probably the nicest hotel I have ever seen. We spent a lot of time at the hotel here because they had so much to offer. In St. Tropez we wanted something quiet and away from the bustle of town, but that also offered transportation to town and the beaches. Hotel Sezz was uber modern but also quiet and comfortable. 

Pro Tip** If you feel a bed is too firm or uncomfortable, ask the front desk for a mattress pad. I encountered this twice in Europe and the mattress pad really helped. 

In Nice we chose a hotel close to the airport, Radisson Blu, and it happened to have a great view of the sea. In Positano, we wanted something comfortable (I mean… you’re huffing and puffing up and down aggressive hills all day), and close to the beach (because again, hills). We chose Palazzo Murat and the bed was SO comfortable. The breakfast was included and always offered prosecco, and the concierge was helpful with booking dinner and beach club reservations. Because we had a last minute change in plans and decided to stay in Positano instead of head to Barcelona, we had to find another hotel (Palazzo Murat was sold out) in a pinch. Luckily, we secured a room at Hotel Poseidon, which was pleasant, but to be honest not as nice as the other hotel and much more of a walk down to the beach. 

Pro Tip** Double check that your hotels or rentals have air conditioning in the summer. There is NO way I could’ve stayed somewhere without it. 

Bottom line, plan ahead, especially in the summer. Consider how tired you might be with flights and cars (especially with how they drive in Europe), and plan your dates accordingly so you don’t end up changing your mind last minute and sacrificing money and comfort. 

Making an itinerary 

This takes work ya’ll. It took me months of blog reading and researching online to figure out what we wanted to do. Europe (especially Paris) is NOT the time to “wing it”. You can be spontaneous with some things, but the tourist attractions should be planned ahead of time and (IMO) tickets should be purchased before you leave. 

I used a simple Word document to map out our plans for each day in each location. I added additional restaurants or places I wanted to see at the bottom, so I could easily look them up while we were there if we had time. If you’re not using your phone service, just have it in an email to yourself and you can pull it up easily when you arrive!

I’ll share mine after my round up of blog posts are all live!

 

Tax Refunds

If you’re going to Europe and you don’t shop for something you’ve always dreamed of, what are you even doing?! Kidding… but remember that you are able to get a tax refund on goods that you purchase (over $150). You have to ask for this paperwork in the store, as you purchase. It can be up to 20% back on the price!

Pro Tip** You must have your passport or a photo of your passport. 

My personal preference is to ask for the refund back on my credit card, instead of dealing with cash at the exchange at the airport. This refund will magically pop back onto your credit card statement after you do the paperwork at the airport. 

Make sure you know the time limit for refunds for each store. If you’re staying in Europe longer than a month, especially. You have to find a PABLO machine at the airport when traveling home, and scan your VAT forms. It was SUPER easy for us. If it doesn’t go smoothly you may need to deal with a customs’ agent directly, but the process is pretty streamlined these days. 

Also keep your eyes peeled for details on the receipts (typically from smaller shops) where it may tell you the refund is only valid in their country. Therefore, if you’re traveling from Naples to Paris and then try to do the refund (from the shop in Italy) in France, they may not allow that. 

We chose to do our refunds in the middle of our trip at the Nice airport, because we purchased most of our goods in Paris, and we didn’t want to deal with it at the end of our trip. It gave us peace of mind and was so easy. 

My biggest piece of advice when planning a Europe trip is… to just HAVE FUN. It can be super overwhelming. In the grand scheme of things- flights, hotels, and some tourist attractions are very important to book ahead of time, but the rest of the planning can (and should be) totally relaxed. 

Even if you don’t get the reservations you wish you had, there is plenty to choose from, and you’ll want your planning process to come with good memories, not stressed out ones. 

Chris and I planned nights in, where we made a charcuterie board and drank French rosé while planning our activities for the trip. Keep it fun and lighthearted and it will be a lot easier! 

Let me know if you guys have questions about specifics or comments on how you planned your trip!

Lifestyle

Going International

 

It’s OFFICIAL! Chris and I finally took a BIG European vacation. It wasn’t my first time to Europe but it was for Chris which is why this was so special and also why I wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible.

If you ask me, one of the best parts about vacation is getting ready for vacation. Anyone else start packing a week before? No? Just me? Okay then! Chris and I chose to incorporate our planning into date nights! We would stay in for the night, make a charcuterie board and drink French wine while planning all the fun we’ll be having in Paris. 

Preparation for an International Trip

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before you put your seat and table in the upright position and await take off. Making sure you have all your affairs in order and ducks in a row is key. Some ways you can do that are: 

Register with Your Embassy

This is a super important FREE service that the U.S. Government provides us. When we’re travelling to a foreign country, we can feel assured that the Department of State will be able to assist us in case there’s an emergency of some sort.

Give Your Bank a Call

Things are changing and so is technology, but it’s always important to call the 1-800 number on your credit card and let them know that you’ll be gone. Yes, it can take a little while to get through, but it’s key so that they know why you’re suddenly getting foreign charges to your credit card. Otherwise, they might flag and block your card and trust me, that’s the last thing that you want to happen. 

Also, while you’re on the call, make sure you look into foreign transaction fees. It’s always good to be mindful of what those fees are so that you’re not in shock when your credit card statement comes.  

For most banks, this can be done online these days. However I’m so neurotic that I did it online AND made the phone call to confirm. 

Shopping for the Trip

It’s important that you financially prepare for the pre-vacay shopping. One of my favorite things to do is to find different looks on Pinterest. Capsule wardrobes give ideas of 7 different outfits from the same 20 pieces of clothing and accessories which is a HUGE time and space saver. If you find that you want to use this route, make sure that you keep your eyes peeled for sales and deals so that you can complete these looks without breaking the bank before all the shopping that you’ll be doing in Paris. 

Make a List of Essentials

What do you absolutely need for this trip? Moreover, what items can be found in your hotel room or easily purchased once you’re there? Obviously, you don’t want to be wasteful, but little hacks like this are nice to have in your back pocket. Depending on how critical your hair routine is, it might be worthwhile to depend on hotel shampoos to save on space – but I’ll leave that up to you! Some essentials I bring are:

Medications

Anything you might need either in a checked bag or in your carry-on. A huge tip is probiotics of some sort to help with your digestion during travel.

Weather appropriate items

It might rain for three days straight where you’re going or there might be a heatwave! Sometimes you won’t be able to predict this… like us in Paris. Hottest day in HISTORY anyone?? Make sure that you’re packing accordingly. 

Travel Documents and Backups

DO YOU HAVE YOUR PASSPORT?? Don’t forget it and don’t let it leave your side. Also make sure you have any other documents, credit cards or forms of I.D. that you might need. It can be helpful to email yourself or a family member a photo of these documents as well. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend keeping them in your camera roll in case your phone gets stolen. You should also photocopy your passport/I.D. together and tuck the piece of paper in with any other travel documents you may have in another location (not directly on you). 

Cell Phone Service

You have a few options here. Some phone plans have a roam like home plan which can get pricey but is great for peace of mind. You know that once you get to wherever you’re going, you can turn on your phone and have all the same plans and data that you do at home. This is what we used when needed. Verizon and AT&T charge $10 daily for this, but it’s your home plan, so for us it was unlimited data, text, and calls. This gets expensive on two phones so we used it very strategically. There are other plans offered by your provider that set a number of texts, minutes, and data, and are cheaper, but we found the data for these options to be too low. 

Another option worth looking into is getting a SIM card. Make sure you go to your local phone provider and check that your phone is unlocked. Then, make sure to keep your phone on airplane mode until you can go to a phone provider in Europe and get a SIM card. Usually they’re super cheap and have great plans! Then once you’re back home, just pop your old SIM card back in!

Packing

Either you love it, or you hate it, but it needs to get done. A few tips: decide on how many bags you’re bringing with you. Most airlines offer one piece of checked luggage that you must pay for, plus one free carry on item and a “personal item” (like a purse or small tote). It’s important to consider how much shopping you planning on doing and saving room for that. If that means keeping the carry on completely empty – then so be it! No judgement here! 

You should decide this prior to leaving any destination, and pay for baggage BEFORE you get to the airport because it is cheaper. Watch out for overweight fees. Not going to lie, we definitely had some. It kills me a little inside, but what are ya gonna do? Chris’ mom bought us this portable scale for our luggage and it was SO helpful. 

Also consider how you’ll pack. The two new crazes are cubes or rolling. I find that rolling is easy and does help prevent wrinkles. Cubes on the other hand can be helpful if you’re into Marie Kondo-ing all of your clothes. Or… if you’re like Chris you just somehow make it all fit. I used these packing cubes from Calpak and loved them! You can purchase really great cubes that compress your clothes and even have two sides – one for dirty and one for clean. This helps with organization when living out of a suitcase.

Getting to the Airport

Ah yes, moment of truth! You’re all packed, you have your passport, now time to enjoy (or endure) that long flight. Make sure you arrive early – I don’t mind going early for peace of mind and then treating myself to a coffee at Starbucks or some champagne. Plan a meal beforehand – whether that will be on the plane or before takeoff. I recommend eating light before a long plane ride or even fasting if you’re into that, depending on how long the flight is. Travel is so hard on our bodies, so this is just another thing to take into consideration. If you want to pack snacks that are healthier (and cheaper!) than anything you’ll find in an airport, I recommend whole foods and foods packed with fiber and vitamins. Lastly, ensure that your car service or Uber is reliable. Pre-booking an Uber is a great way to have peace of mind before your flight. Chris and I like to use Best VIP when going to LAX, because the car is more comfortable and it is extremely reliable. 

Lounge Life

Chris and I have credit cards that allow us to enter many different lounges where they serve food and drinks and have comfy chairs. After all the prep and planning you’ve been doing for your trip, this is a nice bonus before take-off. Lastly, look into your airport or airline’s app for your phone so that you don’t miss any gate changes or delays.

 

Where are you going or where have you been this summer? What international travel will this post help you plan? Let me know in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you! 



Lifestyle

Summer Reads

Summer is here, which means I’m officially ready to sit back, relax, enjoy vacation and dive into a good book. As you know, I spent a lot of years in med school reading textbooks that were interesting, but heavy (literally and figuratively) and not relaxing to read at all. Now that this chapter of my life is closed, I’m excited to open new chapters (pun intended) and read a book or two… or five, for the pure enjoyment factor. Plus, if I happen to learn something new along the way, that’s a bonus! Lately I find myself always keeping a good book on the nightstand so that I can wind down my busy mind before bed. 

 

Now is the Time for Summer Reads

Summer is the perfect time to read more because we’re generally given more opportunities to relax. Nothing is better than a good novel by the pool or during long plane rides. In the summer, schedules are usually less busy so it’s also the perfect time to start a book club with your girlfriends and finally get around to reading Michelle Obama’s new book! 

 

Let’s Be Real: Reading Is So Important

I think a lot of us dreaded reading when we were younger. But, it turns out, it’s fun if you’re reading something enjoyable! Reading keeps our minds sharp and our imaginations fresh. It can keep our brains on the ball in ways that Netflix and YouTube just can’t. Keeping your mind active by reading provides opportunities to learn and feel things that movies can’t always make you feel. Working in a very analytical environment as a Doctor leaves a bit of a void for using my playful and imaginative mind, I find that reading is one of the best ways to practice that and unwind.

 

Light Reads vs Thinking Reads

You’ll see it in my list below, but reading really consumes us – whether our imagination and creativity is running free with the characters or we’re learning something new about ourselves and our habits. I usually reach for whatever I’m in the mood for. If I want to be entertained it’s something light, if I’m looking for motivation it’s self-help. 

My 2019 Summer Reading List

I broke my list down for you into fiction and non-fiction reads. Most of my fiction reads are mystery or suspense novels. I love how these thrillers keep me on the edge and keep my brain RACING! 

 

Fiction – Mystery & Suspense

▪ The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

▪ Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris 

▪ In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware  

▪ The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 

▪ All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
▪ Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown 

▪ Luckiest girl alive by Jessica Knoll

▪ Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter

▪ The Island by Elin Hilderbrand (this is more of a love story/EXCELLENT beach read)

 

Meanwhile, most of my non-fiction reads are self-help or business books. While they’re still entertaining and fun to read – and definitely less heavy than a med school textbook – they still require thinking caps and provide learning experiences. I always make sure that if I’m by the pool or sitting at the spa, I grab a fiction read so that my brain can think less. Meanwhile, if I’m on a plane and have a bit more time to process the information and maybe even takes some notes I grab something self-help or business related. 

 

Non-Fiction – Self-Help

▪ The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

▪ Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson

▪ You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

▪ Leave your Mark by Aliza Licht 

▪ Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Richard Carlson 

▪ How to Be Parisian Wherever you Are – by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas

Non-Fiction – Business Reads

Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive by Harvey Mackay

▪ Start With Why by Simon Sinek

 

Your Summer Reading List

I took to the forces of Instagram too because I wanted to know what you were all reading this summer! You guys left me some amazing responses which I’ve broken down here: 

Fiction – Mystery/Thriller

▪ Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

▪ The Widow by Fiona Barton

▪ The silent patient by Alex Michaelides 

▪ Deja dead by Kathy Reichs

Fiction – Novels

▪ Love In The Time Of Cholera – by Gabriel García Márquez 

▪ A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 

▪ The Pact by Jodi Picoult 

▪ The Paris Wife by Paula McLain 

▪ A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

▪ The Art of Racing in the Rain – by Garth Stein 

▪ The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 

Non-Fiction – Self-Help

▪ No Excuses by Brian Tracy 

▪ Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis 

▪ Blink! by Malcolm Gladwell 

▪ The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

▪ The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins 

▪ The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer

▪ Choose Wonder Over Worry – by Amber Rae 

Non-Fiction – True Crime

▪ Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

▪ Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom 

Non-Fiction – Auto/Biography

▪ When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi 

▪ Educated by Tara Westover 

▪ The glass castle by Jeannette Walls 

▪ Fail until you don’t- Fight. Grind. Repeat. by Bobby Bones 

 

Drop a comment below and tell me which of these you’ve read, which one you’re looking forward to reading and where you’ll be reading it! (Poolside with a margarita, perhaps?) I can’t wait to hear from you!



Lifestyle

Boston 2019

Boston has become a place of many memories for Chris and I. He started traveling to Boston annually, years ago, before we even met. His mom had family there, years back, so they have a strong connection to the city and every sports team that it holds. It has now become a sweet tradition of our own, and hopefully one we can enjoy with our future kids. 

Boston is such a charming city, and I’m excited to share all of our favorite spots from this years’ trip! 

 

Where we stayed

In years past, we stayed at the Lenox Hotel, which I really liked until we had a less than positive experience with their customer service last year. We had always dreamed of staying at the legendary Fairmont Copley Plaza, so this year we made it happen! 

The hotel is simply beautiful and filled with history. They even have their own hotel dog, Carly the black lab, who greets guests with her sweet face. My favorite part of the hotel is the long hallway, also known as Peacock Alley, where the lighting is gorgeous and any Instagrammer meets their best photo dreams. This hallway, since 1920, is named after the debutantes of Boston that used to saunter down the hallway wearing their finest designer clothing, to attend various events and balls at the hotel.  

 

We had a great experience here. The robes are comfortable (A MUST for vacation life), and the room service is excellent; plus they obliged us with items from the bar downstairs but off the menu (more on that later). The front desk employees are super friendly, and the rooftop gym offers some very gorgeous views of the city. 

The Fairmont also houses one of my favorite bars, Oak Bar. The bar is made of copper and has a rustic yet classy feel. Their menu has a little bit of everything, but the pretzels and cheese are a MUST. We probably had a total of 5 orders over the course of our stay in Boston (including the order we requested for room service). Even if you don’t stay at the Fairmont, add this bar to your list and you’ll feel super fancy! 

 

What we did 

Lucky for us, we were in town during the infamous Boston marathon. It was such a cool event to experience. Chris is a big runner, so he really enjoyed seeing the patriotism and hearing the stories that everyone had to share, for why they were running. The bartenders and locals in Boston had their own stories about the bombing and previous marathons, so it was cool to experience a little piece of Boston history. 

 

Chris has done pretty much everything in Boston, including many of the tours, so we kept this trip pretty low key in terms of tours or plans. One thing he had never done, however, was see the aquarium. Boston has one of the coolest aquariums I have experienced, whose layout allows everyone to see everything without being crowded or trampled.

Bonus** You can even pet stingrays and baby sharks! You better believe that we pushed our way through the sea of children to get our hands on that sea life!

We spent a little bit of time walking through the Granary Burying Ground, where Sam Adams and Paul Revere, amongst many other historical figures, are buried. Seeing the super old, sinking grave sites that have been there for centuries, certainly puts the word history into perspective. 

 

Walking through Boston Commons is always a tradition for us. It’s such a simple activity yet so enjoyable. I love seeing the families of Boston with their children, running amongst the squirrels and ducks. I love seeing the brownstone homes on the edge of the park. Can’t say I wouldn’t snag one of those if I had the opportunity!

We always walk Newbury Street on our way to the Commons, so that we can be lured into the amazing designer stores along the way. One thing you might not know about Chris and I, is that we both have a love for retail therapy. Once we get going… watch out! Chris snagged his first leather jacket on this trip, from All Saints. I had to nudge him a little bit… we’ll see if he wears it, but it looks great! I also picked up a pair of sunglasses that I totally didn’t need, from Burberry (always coerced by my husband). 

 

Where we ate 

On to the most important part of this blog… THE FOOD. 

Every year we find new gems in Boston, but we also have our staple favorites. Unfortunately, we can’t make it to every single restaurant every single trip, although we certainly try! Let me be honest though… I’m still recovering from my poor eating habits in Boston (getting older sucks)! 

You heard about Oak Bar at the Fairmont Copley earlier. Don’t miss it. 

Just down the street is Saltie Girl. What we didn’t know, was that there is a list here and you have to sign up earlier in the day. You can’t call, you must sign up in person. At least that’s what we were told. We got super lucky and the bartender took pity on us and let us enjoy a hot lobster roll standing up. OMG. BOMB. It’s a small, swanky, little spot that is worth the extra trouble of signing up on the list. 

We headed to Stephanie’s on Newbury on marathon day. It was such a fun scene. They have a ton of seating but also a really cool bar that was playing excellent music. It was a perfect place to hang out while the streets were packed with runners. I’ve heard the brunch is really good. We had lunch- a hot lobster roll and chips to share. They had a great drink selection and we will definitely go back. 

One of our favorite experiences in Boston is at Lolita’s Cocina! Seriously, I can’t say enough about this food. It is SO good. We usually order the queso and a quesadilla as appetizers, chicken, fish, and steak tacos for entree, AND the churros for dessert. Yah, we eat it up here. They also serve cotton candy on the house, after your meal. 

Beantown Pub (across from Granary Burying Ground) has some history for me. I had been to Boston once in the past, prior to meeting Chris, when I was going through a lot in life. I actually ended up crying in the bathroom. Haha, long story! But being there with him now just makes me smile. I had no idea that day when I was crying in the bathroom, that I would be back, with the man of my dreams. Funny how the world works, isn’t it? We like to stop in here for a Boston beer and some traditional bar food. 

Chris had asked a local many years back, for the location housing the best clam chowder. He was told Sail Loft is where it’s at! It was nearby the aquarium so it worked perfectly for lunch one day. It’s the cutest little family-owned restaurant with a slightly different spin on clam chowder. It was SO good. We met the owner who was very personable and even gave us a few life tips on his way out. I love a small town vibe to any business. 

Neptune Oyster– the holy grail of restaurants in Boston. The wait is long, but the lobster rolls are available HOT (the only way I eat them) and worth it! Chris and I made it our mission to try this place during our trip because everyone talks about it. You have to put your name in at the restaurant, as they don’t take reservations. We waited about an hour, but had a few drinks across the street so it was painless. The space in the restaurant is tiny; you’re sitting next to other groups of people and it’s a bit of a tight squeeze. However, the service is pretty quick for the amount of people they’re pulling through, and the food is worth it. We tried the Neptune Johnnycake for an app and lobster rolls with fries for dinner. 

Last but not least… we don’t leave Boston without a trip to Mike’s Pastry. This is a long time favorite of Chris and his family. I didn’t get any still shots of our pastries this time, but I assure you, you would have judged us. 

Some other restaurants that we love and some that have been recommended to us: 

Pour House (chocolate chip pancakes)

Joe’s (late night nachos)

Boston Burger Co (two words: pizza fries)

Regina’s Pizzeria 

Earl’s 

Legal Harborside 

Tatte

Toro

Salty Pig 

Cafeteria Boston 

 

If you have been to Boston, or are from Boston, leave your Boston recommendations below! 

 

Lifestyle

Hitting the Mammoth slopes

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The beauty of living in Southern California, is that you can hit the beach and the mountains, all in the same day if you wanted!

I’ve always hear people say that, but never really participated in snow sports after I hurt myself trying to learn to snowboard many years ago. Never in my mind did I think I would get back up on a mountain. But once I took a ski lesson a few years back, I was sold! Something I could do, but not fail at miserably. Thank you snow gods!

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Chris and I trekked to Mammoth a few years back for the annual Emergency Medicine Conference, but he just had surgery on his writ so you can imagine we didn’t do anything adventurous! He had been wanting to go back since then, so we finally made it happen for his birthday. Lucky for us, our good friends Taylor and Mike, from Taylor Made Cuisine, were up for the trip and we made it a couples’ week!

Chris was always an avid snowboarder growing up, but there was no way I’d ever get to his level, and since then he’s had a wrist injury, so he agreed to take a ski lesson with me. What a good husband!

We headed up to Mammoth mid day and got there by dinner time. Although the Westin is super nice up there, I wanted a cozy cabin rental for us, and ended up using Airbnb. Piece of advice: avoid going during ski week unless you have kids and that’s when you have to go. There weren’t many options for accommodations and prices were high but we got super lucky and ended up within walking distance from Canyon Lodge, which is my favorite location to ski. The condo was super modern, complete with heated bathroom floors (adding that to my list for my next house, thank you!).

Our first night, at the recommendation of a friend, we tried Mammoth Tavern for dinner. It did not disappoint. The cocktails were divine and the food was amazing. Think, fondue appetizers with hearty comfort entrees. Downside is, they don’t take reservations, but we were able to get in within 45 minutes.

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We were super anxious to hit the mountain, so we signed up for a ski lesson the next morning. They made it uber easy- lift tickets, rentals, ad the lesson were a package deal. They provide helmets also, but we brought our own. Honestly the weather was gnarly. The fresh powder was amazing, but the wind was brutal. It was SO cold and the lift rides accentuated the bite from the wind. Not to mention we ended up on a lift that was FAR beyond our skill level and I lost my cool a bit on the way down (picture frozen tears, curse words, and fear that I would die before I reached the bottom). I guess the warm up from the hot toddy once we got back to the lodge made up for it. Après ski is always the best part of a ski trip anyways, am I right?

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We stayed in that night and Taylor made us some BOMB beef stew that I am still dreaming about. I think we all know that the best part about a cold weather trip is the comfy cozy cabin life after a long day in the snow! We improvised without a real fireplace and made smores in the oven that did not disappoint.

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On our second day in Mammoth, which happened to be Chris’ birthday, we set out on an epic snowmobiling adventure. Seriously… if you have the chance to plan this, DO IT. You can rent a single or double, which we ended up choosing. We did the 1.5 hour tour, but they also offer 3 hour sessions. We went on a gorgeous trail and had a chance to go fast and play around.

There was a point that Chris got a little adventurous and went out into some fresh snow, which ended in us flipping the snowmobile. If I wasn’t cursing and yelling at him with frozen fingers that were incapable of grabbing my phone from my pocket, I would’ve documented the process.

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I really enjoyed spending a few days in the snow, but I’ll be honest, part of the reason is because snow gear options these days are on point! It was really nice to wear layers, cozy boots, and go back to my cold weather roots. Although I could’ve gone for slightly warmer snow weather (it was as cold as -10 with wind chill!). I did my best to link what’s available out of my snow gear below. I love to buy snow gear now, because it’s almost spring so there are sales on many of these pieces linked!

 

 

We spent the rest of our snowy day at Mammoth Brewing Company and Kitchen 53, with some apps and beverages for the birthday boy. These are both close or located within the Village, which has shops and restaurants, and the gondola that will take you up. Kitchen 53 has the best pretzel bread with cheese and/or mustard sauces. I’ll take five of those, please.

After a little relaxing at the cabin, we trekked out onto the snowy streets again for Chris’ birthday dinner at Morrison’s. I love a small, quiet place for an intimate celebration, like a birthday. This location did not disappoint. It was hard to choose from their jam-packed menu, so we all ordered something a little different and shared.

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Butternut squash ravioli, Chicken wings

 

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Salmon and shrimp pasta, Beef stroganoff

 

We ended the night with a cake (you know the way to my husband’s heart by now, if you’ve been following me for a while) from Dessert’d– celebration flavor with buttercream frosting; one of his favorites. Every year I personalize Chris’ cake with an inside joke or phrase that he uses regularly. This year it was complete with sparkler candles that I was too scared to light. Luckily we have a fireman in the house!

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We were all so full from dinner that only Chris had the cake (he ALWAYS has room for cake), and then… we accidentally left it in the fridge when we left town the next morning. Just my luck!

On our way out of town we had a country style breakfast in a small, local spot and hit up Schat’s Bakery (it’s a tradition) to score some delicious pastries and sandwiches for the road.

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I think Chris and I both realized this trip how much we enjoy the snow, and skiing. For me growing up, I was never a fan of the snow because it seemed as if the winters were never ending. But now that I live in southern California, I’m craving winter weather regularly. We’re already planning our next trip in the snow!

Have you been to Mammoth? Where are your favorite snowy locations to visit?

Lifestyle

Honeymoon in Maui

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When Chris and I were deciding on a location for our honeymoon, we immediately thought of Hawaii. Neither of us had been to Maui, and it had been many years since we each took trips to the beautiful state. Plus, we have been thinking about a big trip to Europe this year, so we wanted to keep our honeymoon budget on a smaller scale and shorter flight. I had heard about Maui’s beauty, but I really didn’t understand just how beautiful it was, until I saw it with my own two eyes.

Because our lives are so busy and we would be winding down from a big wedding, we wanted absolute relaxation. We wanted a beach, cocktail, great food, and luxury. We also couldn’t take off more than a week for the trip, since we had already used vacation days for the wedding. It was an easy trip to plan, with nonstop flights from LAX we were set! We didn’t plan much prior to leaving, because we wanted to keep it relaxing and see how we felt in the moment.

To start, we left 2 days after our wedding, which was a great decision. It gave us time to clean up our home and pack without rushing. Chris booked a limo for us to take to the airport, so we could have a couple mimosas and enjoy the drive while we sat in LA traffic. So worth it. Honestly, it wasn’t THAT much more costly than an Uber and far more comfortable.

The flight was easy; we picked up our rental car at the airport in Maui, and headed off to our hotel! I felt it was only appropriate to explore Maui in a convertible, and there are many mustangs available to rent at the airport.

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The Hotel(s)

I always choose to be super honest with you all, on my social media accounts, because I want you to know my true experiences and know that I’ll give you the facts (and opinions). So hopefully you see my reviews here as helpful instead of complaints.

We preferred to stay in the less busy area of Wailea, and chose a hotel that offered a more adult vibe. There were many positive reviews for Andaz Maui (a Hyatt hotel), and it seemed to promote a romantic, couples’ experience. The hotel is located on the beach, so you have both pool and beach options when soaking up some sun during the day. They offer snorkeling equipment, kayaking, and canoeing included in the resort fee, which was awesome. We spent a day out on the ocean kayaking and snorkeling right off the beach, where there were many fish and even turtles.

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We arrived early and were able to check in, without issue. They didn’t offer any upgrades for any reason, without a large fee. Our room had an ocean view and was beautiful, but lacked what I would call warmth. The floors were bare, although they offered slippers if you asked for them. The decor was very modern, overall, and the rooms were small. Our bathroom door didn’t shut well and required a sort of slamming motion in order to get it to close. We ordered a movie on our second night there, and there was some issue with the connection, so it kept stopping during different parts. That led to us troubleshooting it ourselves, and eventually we had a maintenance person in our room at 10pm. We kind of gave up on the movie at that point.

View from our room at Andaz
View from our room at Andaz

The pools were huge; tons of options for laying out in the sun or shade. There was also the beachfront lounge area, but it filled up pretty quickly. There was an adult’s only pool, but hardly any people were over there and it seemed like poolside service on that side was spotty, so we chose to lay in the main areas. The food was epic, truly amazing. The drinks were very expensive, although also amazing. For some reason the price of wine in Maui seemed much higher than usual, especially at Andaz, so I stuck mostly to cocktails even though I love wine.

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We tried to book a couple of sunset excursions on a sailboat, but we were told the tours were full and to be honest, the concierge was not particularly helpful or encouraging with getting us booked on an alternative tour or excursion. The staff was nice, but not overly nice, I’m not sure how else to describe it.

We happened to spontaneously read one of my Instagram DMs while laying by the pool, and Four Seasons was mentioned, for a dinner spot. We headed over there on our third night in Maui, and immediately were taken aback. The lobby was exquisite and HUGE, a place where many people were relaxing over a cocktail or glass of wine. There was live entertainment and friendly, smiling staff everywhere. It was probably about 15 minutes before we came up with a plan to leave Andaz and check in at Four Seasons the next day. Not without a fee, of course. But I’m honestly SO glad we made it happen, because it truly was just what we were looking for.

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You can really feel the warmth from the staff at Four Seasons, as soon as you get out of your car. It helps that they say “welcome home” when you check in. The check in process was seamless, we also had early check in here, without issue. We had a garden view room here, as they upgraded us from a mountain view, for our honeymoon. The rooms are MUCH larger here, and carpeted, which makes it feel warmer. The bathrooms are enormous and ornate, with internal speakers built in that allow you to easily enjoy music while showering or getting ready. The bed and pillows… I can’t even talk about it. Best sleep of my life. I’m already planning on ordering Four Seasons pillows asap!

We did ironically have one issue the first night, when we were awoken by our neighbors screaming at each other for hours. Hey, I guess vacation isn’t relaxing for everyone! It was pretty bad, and we mentioned it to the hotel expecting nothing, but instead received an upgrade to a beautiful ocean view room. What an adventure! Packing our bags for the third time on this trip, we laughed about it and were just thankful for the amazing service.

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There was a multi-tiered pool in the main courtyard of the hotel, but also an adults’ only pool on the side of the hotel. Now this was the real treat. The downside- the chairs fill up early, and I’m definitely not one to get up early just to get a chair by the pool. We headed to the main pool on our first day there, but quickly were able to switch to the adult pool, when they called us with available chairs. The views from the pool are EPIC. There is a swim-up bar, and constant attendants circling the chairs to see if you need anything. They provide sunscreen, evian water spray, and an amazing poolside menu.

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Chris and I didn’t spend a ton of time worrying about workouts, but we do like to enjoy a hotel gym when we can. I have never seen a hotel gym like this one. It’s partially outdoors but not miserable with humidity. There is constant cleaning happening, and the amenities at the gym include headphones, towels, and eucalyptus towels.

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One of my favorite moments of the trip (and probably life in general), was my poolside massage experience. I had an hour long foot massage, overlooking the ocean, while eating a poolside hot dog and fries, I might add. Seriously my dream.

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We ordered room service twice, and it did not disappoint. I’m telling you, Four Seasons Maui has the BEST pool/room service menu I’ve seen, and includes healthy options. They also offer airport snacks- basically make you a lunch to take on the plane and you order it before you check out so they’ll have it ready. We even ordered a movie one night, free of interruptions or maintenance required.

Funny thing about all of this… is that I went back and forth for HOURS about Andaz vs Four Seasons. I even went to change our reservation to Four Seasons at one point, only to find out that Andaz has a 21 day cancellation policy. Go figure! I also want to add here that these hotels are very similar in price. Our ocean view room at Andaz was the same price as a mountain view room at Four Seasons. If I had to choose, I’ll take service over a view, any day.

Chris and I agreed that both hotels were great, and it’s no wonder they both received fabulous reviews, but Andaz felt very cold and lacking in true customer service while Four Seasons was over the top luxury.

 

Where we ate 

We spent most of our time at the hotels, where we had some very impressive eats. 

Ferraro’s– located oceanfront at Four Seasons, true Italian cuisine with some of the finest views I’ve ever experienced. Food is divine and they offer wine deals after 8pm. We ate here twice! Call ahead for a reservation, they fill up quick, especially around sunset. Do yourself a favor and get the rigatoni.

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Ka’ana Kitchen– breakfast is a must here, if staying at Andaz. They offer a buffet, but I never really get my money’s worth at a buffet, plus it didn’t include the king crab with poached eggs or these stellar pancakes I had been looking forward to for months! Get the mimosa with pog (passionfruit-orange-guava) juice.

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Morimoto– located at Andaz. Very pricey, but SO delicious. The rock shrimp was different than any I had had in the past and the sushi was super fresh. Overlooks the ocean and has indoor/outdoor seating.

Mama’s Fish House– located in Paia, can one even go to Maui without hitting up this iconic spot?! It was about 40 minutes from our hotel, and worth the drive. I made reservations 4 months out… yes FOUR MONTHS. Do it! Don’t let this one slip through the cracks. We started with the mahi-mahi rolls, shrimp won ton, crab cakes, and split the crab/lobster stuffed fish for dinner. You know Chris doesn’t leave anywhere without dessert, so we polished off the banana nut crisp for dessert, paired with mai tais of course.

This place was so fun, located on the beach with fabulous photo ops (make sure you go before sunset), and had a true Hawaiian feel with excellent service.

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Toby’s Shaved Ice– located in Paia, and know for their shaved ice, they also have insane poke. We didn’t try the shaved ice because we were so full, but the poke did not disappoint and the environment is beachy, like a locals’ spot.

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Activities

Chris and I were ambitious in the beginning, but after the hotel switch we cut back on our original plans and chose to enjoy the hotel life for the most part. We ventured out to Paia one day and shopped around for cute souvenirs. We stopped at Ho’okipa Beach Park to watch some waves and almost tripped over a turtle, or two, while walking the beach. I had to have a roadside coconut, and we snagged some authentic banana bread to take home.

The turtles are sacred in Hawaii. General rule is that you never touch them, and should stay 10-15 feet from them, and avoid blocking their path (trust me you have plenty of time to get out of the way haha).

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We stopped in for a little tasting at Maui Brewing Co on our way back to our hotel. I’m not a huge fan of beer so I stuck with the super sweet ones.

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Grand Wailea Spa was also on our list and was UBER luxurious. Seriously the most amazing spa experience I’ve ever had. I have no photos because I was too busy relaxing, but take my word for it, it’s fabulous. Chris and I had a couples massage and body scrub, with bath. The lockerroom room facilities are so grand, with multiple jacuzzis and baths filled with different aromatherapy oils. It truly was an experience we will never forget, and the service was impeccable.

 

What to wear

We checked the weather before we left, and it was reporting 60’s-70’s. The actual weather in Maui… 70-80, and humid! Chris and I definitely wasted a ton of space packing clothing that we didn’t need. I suggest your typical beach wear- shorts, tanks, bathing suits, summer dresses, rompers.

Full disclosure- I spent most of our trip in bathing suits or pajamas! It was divine. I kept the honeymoon attire super simple. I didn’t care much about accessorizing, I just brought some of my favorite pieces of jewelry and practical accessories like hats, headphones, and books.

I invested in some cute pajamas that were super comfortable, and a little more luxurious than my typical mismatched shorts and sweatshirts.

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I have such fond memories of our honeymoon in Maui. It was the perfect combination of activities and relaxation. We returned home feeling rejuvenated and with memories to last a lifetime. If you are out there planning your honeymoon, remember to take a step back and keep things simple. It’s all about you and your new spouse, so don’t get overwhelmed and if things don’t go according to your plan… just pack up and move somewhere else! 🙂 No sweat.

Lifestyle

#MakingItMajestic in Park City

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My bachelorette party was literally A DREAM, and I’m so excited to share the details with you, finally! You all helped pick a hashtag for the weekend and clearly you knew that I should #MakeItMajestic.

I knew from the day Chris and I got engaged, that I wanted a bachelorette party in the snow. Funny because I NEVER would’ve said this as a kid. I was so tired of the snow and cold weather. But let’s be honest, California has been getting hotter and hotter, and although staying local would’ve been easy, I needed a change of scenery. I was so thankful my girls were willing to oblige!

Let me start by saying that my maid of honor is the world’s best planner. She’s an Emergency Med doc, and probably the smartest gal I know. She planned everything to-a-T.

I don’t really remember why I chose Utah, but I had my heart set on Park City. I had seen it in photos, and on social media, and it looked like the cutest little town with amazing lodging. We ended up staying in a VRBO property, and it did not disappoint. It slept 8 girls comfortably, and had an amazing view of Park City, while still being close to Main St.

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I have been super busy with work, and I only have limited time off, so i knew I needed a rejuvenating weekend instead of a rager (let’s face it, I’m too old to handle that).

Friday

We arrived on Friday in Salt Lake City, where we took a fabulous Sprinter into Park City. We popped some bottles, decorated a little bit, and relaxed before our in-house private chef experience with Amanda Pilkington. 

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I have dreamed of a private chef, in-home dining experience, since I saw it on Housewives of OC a long time ago! Well Amanda did not disappoint. We started with stuffed mushrooms, and prosciutto crostini followed by a salad for first course, dijon chicken with mashed potatoes and spiced chai carrots second course, and caramel ice cream with brownie for dessert.

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We closed the night in the jacuzzi. A favorite past time for me growing up was sitting in a jacuzzi while it snowed, so this made me feel like I was right back at home in Michigan.

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Saturday 

I slept SO good and woke up on Saturday morning ready to get the festivities started. No alarms, no ticking clock or places to be. The girls all helped make a delicious breakfast- egg burritos with rice and beans, a favorite of mine! We all changed into our cozy workout clothes and gathered in the living room for a private yoga class taught by Amber Lind (@amberberryumyum). She kept it gentle for us, and spared us the many chatarungas, thankfully… she must have sense the large amount of wine I drank the night before! We practiced handstands with each other, and stretched; it was the PERFECT morning with a backdrop of Park City.

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The next part of our day was really rough…we trekked over to the spa at Stein Ericksen Lodge, for some serious relaxation and bonding time. We spent hours in the jacuzzi laughing, I had the best massage of my life, and we sipped champagne courtesy of my good friend Erin from The Treatment, who couldn’t be there. Seriously the sweetest surprise.

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We headed back to the cabin feeling all rejuvenated, ready for the fun to begin! I had my heart set on a hot chocolate recipe sent to me by one of my bridesmaids. You guys HAVE to try this. You can make the alcohol-version like we did, or go sans spirits. The recipe is probably one of my favorite hot chocolate recipes and I will absolutely be making this again!

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You can find this delicious recipe HERE.

While we sipped on hot chocolate, we played games and I laughed the hardest I have laughed in months. It was truly special to have this time with my girls, before my big day. Some of the games we played that I highly suggest- Cards of Humanity, Speak Out, Beanboozled, Charades, and Kiss My…!! We are all medical professionals, we aren’t scared of a little anatomy!

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After I laughed off all the calories I ate throughout the day, we got ready for our night out on Main Street. We headed to Riverhorse on Main for dinner and it did not disappoint. Excellent food, amazing service, and piano music to top it all off! We wanted to experience Park City’s finest bars and night life, so we started at No Name Saloon (where we did a traditional “shotski”), and ended at downstairs where we danced the night away.

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Sweater dress can be found HERE but only one size left. Similar HERE. These over the knee boots are a MUST HAVE. Only a few sizes left! Belt HERE.

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This weekend was truly one of my most memorable. I felt so much love and it was simply the perfect combination of relaxation and let-loose fun!

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Sunday

We woke up to snow on Sunday! Cherry on top of my Park City sundae. Before leaving for the airport, we made a quick stop at Harvest for a delicious and healthy breakfast. The avocado toast is amazing, and just what I needed before our trip home.

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Advice for brides 

My biggest piece of advice for you brides out there, is to communicate to your ladies who are planning, exactly what you dream of.  If wearing stilettos makes you cringe, you probably don’t want a Vegas bachelorette party! Be honest, it’s your celebration! And it’s easy to mix in activities that everyone enjoys doing. If you’re upfront with your guests, they won’t be surprised by costs or what’s involved, later.

Bachelorette Party Favors  

Bride and Babe Beanies $24

Park City was simply amazing and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to travel there with my girls. The people were so friendly, and the town was so quaint. I can’t wait to go back with Chris and do a little skiing.
Be sure to enter my bachelorette giveaway on my Instagram page, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Stag and Hen and $100 to Bachette
What is your dream bachelorette party location?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Majestic

I invite you to take a glimpse into my crazy, beautiful life in medicine and allow me to teach you my health, wellness, and lifestyle tips along the way. 

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