Visual Poetry: Paris Through the Lens of VuTheara Kham...

Another day, another visual treat. Today I offer you these beautiful images of Paris to begin your morning. For more travel photography (and rest assured you will want to take in more of these breathtaking images), please follow VuTheara on Instagram

Everyday Luxuries: Ensuring a Blissful Night of Beauty Sleep...

May I let you in on a little secret? Come closer and let me whisper it to you. I love to sleep. I love it. But I'm extremely active during the day, never napping and rarely even sitting. Those nighttime hours when I do relax and sleep are cherished. The caveat? I simply cannot sleep once the sun it up. I'm biologically wired to be up at or before sunrise. Thus I'm a fan of the consistent early bedtime and am an advocate for soul-soothing nightly rituals to make the precious hours ahead even more rewarding. 

Quality sleep isn't a luxury. It's an essential part of life. Brain function, skin repair, stress relief and cellular renewal all happen during those hours when we're giving our bodies and minds a rest. Knowing this, it pays to ensure your nightly appointment with your pillow is a time of day you look forward to and make preparations to enjoy. 

In addition to my nightly cup of herbal tea, there are a few creature comforts I appreciate in my quest for the most restorative night of rest possible. Here's what I'm in love with at the moment...

I love my nightly skincare routine, but I do have a few more goodies in the mix you may adore. Chiefly, I wear a silk sleep mask every night to shield my eyes from light. I will now never be able to sleep without this small but crucial luxury. Love your hair? A silk pillowcase is something you should invest in. Hope to wake up with skin that is refreshed and reinvigorated? I suggest you add a deeply hydrating serum and an indulgent sleeping cream to the mix. I have two listed below that are giving my summer skin a glowing reboot.

And finally? Headspace. If you've been avoiding meditation or simply haven't found the right method, this is for you. The world's most successful and influential people will all tell you that training your mind is as imperative as keeping your body fit. Try this app and I can almost promise you'll love it. While it is suggested to perform this ritual in the morning, my mind is more receptive to the quiet in the evening. The 10 or 20 minutes of guided meditation are giving me a noticeably calmer demeanor during my waking hours. The free trial is fabulous and I think you'll find you are more centered and (in my case) certainly in a better frame of mind for a restful night of sleep. 

Sweet dreams, loves! 
xoxo

ENSURING A BLISSFUL NIGHT OF BEAUTY SLEEP 

Buon Weekend: Lazy Summer Days...

I love glancing back at the days behind me just before closing the book on the week. Was it meaningful? Was it fun? What captured my attention? How did I spend my precious hours? By the looks of it, I'm living right and giving my focus to the right people. I hope you're having a fantastic week yourself! Spend your days well... they add up the become your entire life. Celebrate those small moments, as they are actually the important ones! 

LOVING THIS WEEK

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Destinations: Escape to the Isle of Capri...

There's no question that Capri is one of the world's most magical places. On your first visit it will seem as though you are in a dream state, walking through a delicious creation of your unbridled subconscious imagination. Impossibly, this picturesque island paradise does indeed exist. Blooming bougainvillea climb stone walls with perfect patina. Endless views of the azure horizon abound. Boats of all sizes and pedigrees rock back and forth in the port. Lemon groves taunt you with their lively scent and the promise of zesty creations they generously produce. Everyone you encounter is happy, smiling and enjoying themselves. 

If ever there was a place to escape from your current reality, Capri is surely it. Our first journey to this living paradise was on a foggy morning. The atmosphere adding the the surreal experience, this Italian vacation destination was dripping with intrigue and surprises. We meandered down curved paths leading to unknown outlooks. We gasped at the occasional view down the dizzying cliffside. We popped into cafes for refueling. Window shopped for scarves and handmade shoes from charming cobblers. We considered the purchase of unnecessary but somehow justified overpriced designer sunglasses on offer from passionate Italian grandmothers. We gazed out at the craggy rocks dotting the watery landscape. We pondered how such a place could possibly exist and be inhabited by charming residents. 

Fast forward to the next year, we visited again with intent. As a couple, we were mentally prepared and by this time far more seasoned travelers. Surely this fantastical place would seem less like a fictional backdrop and more like a cute tourist trap. Amazingly and gratefully, Capri did not disappoint. On that trip we took the ferry from Sorrento not once, not twice, but three times to visit. Each time we stepped off the boat it was as if we had walked into a dream sequence. A few hours of bliss on a breezy and visually stunning Italian isle does wonders for the soul. 

Should you have the opportunity to walk those cobblestone streets, do not miss the chance. For a special treat, stay a night or two on this magical isle. The J.K. Place Capri is a glamorous choice overlooking the Grand Marina giving you first glimpse at those Rivas and fishermen pulling into bay. Its attentive staff will make you feel like Jackie O. herself as you sip your limoncello watching the sun set over the Mediterranean. The elegant decor will whisk you away to a fanciful state of mind only befitting this dreamy destination. Stroll into town for an evening meal and a bit of shopping. Take a private cruise to see the shore from the waters. Let your mind run free with possibilities and the realization that this moment is really happening. 

The truth is, Capri is not large by any means. What it lacks in scale it more than makes up for in intrigue and natural beauty. It is an escape from the normalcy of life and a detour on the path to wherever you might be going next. But I cannot wait to visit again and while away the time with the lightly lemon scented breeze blowing my hair back from my face. It is enchanting. In Capri anything is possible... if only for a night or two. 

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Perspective: Decide...

plans.png

One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the gift of a firm decision. Make a choice, a thought, a declaration to DO something... then go do that very thing.

The only thing standing in the way of what you want is your thinking. Change your beliefs and your current thought process and you can change your world. Break out of that rut you're in. Break out of those invisible (and likely nonexistent) bonds holding you back. Wake up and live the life you dream of... because dreams without specific plans to achieve them are just pretty thoughts.

Make detailed written PLANS. Then go ACHIEVE them.

{via}

Perspective: As a Man Thinketh...

 
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
— Mahatma Gandhi
 

There's no question that your physical reality is the result of thoughts you brought to life. Everything in your existence was born of your inner thinking and your focus. Isn't it true then, that we need to better harness those private moments and the inner workings of our mind? If our thoughts - all of them - join together to become the sum total of our lives, we'd better get a grip on our intentions. And fast. 

What are you focusing on these days? What are you bringing into your life? Are you channeling radiant health, vibrant relationships and abundance? Or are you focusing on the negative? If you've ever ridden a bike, you'll agree that you begin heading in the direction of your gaze. I encourage you to be more deliberate with your inner thoughts. What you're thinking and saying to yourself right now will soon become the life you're living. 

Let me ask you this. Would you want to board a plane with a pilot that wasn't terribly sure where he was flying? Would you accept a full time job with little indication of what the role entailed? Would you agree to let someone design your life for you without ever revealing their plan? Quite frankly, if you're not designing your life you are relinquishing complete control of your existence to circumstances and people around you. Not planning at all is in fact planning to just "let it ride" and let whatever happens happen. That's a pretty big gamble to take with your relatively short life. 

The good news? You can stop the spinning right now and get a grip on things. Today's thoughts become tomorrow's reality. So take some time to pull out a journal and plan - deliberately - the type of life you wish to live, the kind of person you want to be and the variety of relationships you intend to enjoy. Write it out. Plan it out. Make it happen. Describe it in such detail that you can't help but move toward that vision of yourself. Sounds a bit funny, and I know very few of you will perform this exercise. For the few who do, the results will be remarkable. 

It's your life's story. Decide how you want it to play out, how you want to live each day and how you want to feel. Yes, believe it or not this is all within your control. So grab a journal, baby, and write a life story so good, so juicy and so satisfying you can't help but begin to make it your reality. 

{illustrations by MySoulFly}

INSPIRING TOOLS TO GET YOU STARTED


For some, the advice above may seem abstract and difficult to take seriously. There are other sites you can read for further inspiration and maybe a bit more encouragement.

Do What You Love is a great help with an option to receive inspiring emails or sign up for online courses.

Tim Ferriss of the 4-Hour Workweek & 4-Hour Body fame interviews the best and brightest of our time to open your mind to new possibilities. I highly recommend his podcasts for eye-opening discussions and cutting edge scoop.

I was fortunate to grow up with parents who were deeply curious about how to better their life experience and ways to maximize their health, their mental game and their lives through studying human performance. I know... right? They introduced me to Tony Robbins and I've always considered him a terrific life coach. If the "informercial" side of his business turns you off, rest assured, this guy is the real deal. Check out his many free videos, books and blog posts and take a listen or read what he's churning out. If you're interested in maximum personal performance, this guy has the lock on living your best life. 

Joel Osteen is another excellent resource. I've enjoyed Break Out find his podcasts to be so on point with life lessons based on scriptural truths. He offers a very simple, approachable system for breaking barriers and living an optimized life. 

Regardless of where you draw inspiration, the idea is to get started and become more intentional with your thinking and your life. This isn't a one time fix, though. Think of this like detailing your car. You'll need to tidy it up each day to keep it perfect and at some not too distant point you'll want to detail it again. Life planning is much the same (but far less frequently necessary). I find that a thorough examination and planning session once a year is absolutely critical, and every 6 months is perhaps an even better strategy to make sure I'm on course. 

So... start journaling. Start strategizing. Begin enjoying the life you're intentionally creating. Don't waste another precious moment because you'll NEVER ever get another NOW.

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Destinations: A Sleek Escape to Singapore...

All I can say over this hotel is a mouth agape WOW. Singapore is one of those amazing places I simply can't wait to visit. The celebration of the city-state's superrich new money society was widely celebrated in Crazy Rich Asians (a must-read, by the way) and enlightened many of us to the wonders of this hot spot on the tip of the Malay peninsula. Singapore is a wondrous land of business deals and bank accounts only barely eclipsed by the height of the insane height of the shining downtown skyscrapers. 

Where to stay? The Fullerton Bay Hotel looks amazing in every respect, although the Marina Bay Sands boasts the infinity pool that is much the obsession of travelers, pinners and thrill-seekers everywhere. Fullerton shines like a polished gem in the Marina Bay district. A sparkling steel creation with opulent interiors worthy of adoration, it actually reads "low key" compared to its more ostentatious neighbors. Just look at those well-appointed rooms, plush velvet sofas and iridescent textural walls. As a design fan I assure you, this is one swanky place to rest your weary shopping-fatigued feet.

Speaking of shopping... what to wear, what to wear in Singapore, you ask? I'm so glad you inquired. Let's pack a make-believe suitcase. I love to pack for comfort and style. A black jumpsuit is a standby I am grateful for constantly. It takes you from airport to sky bar without skipping a beat. Wear a crossbody bag for convenience and security and by all means, don't be shy about wearing flats. Especially if you'll be checking out the sights, a comfy pair of shoes (especially of the studded variety) will look far more chic than you hobbling through the lobby on your blistered feet.  

Along those lines, I love to pack away a neutral makeup set that has a bit of everything in one compact palette. Laura Mercier always turns it out with her amazing sets. The compact size makes it easy to freshen up post-landing. Spritz on some of your favorite exotic fragrance to add to the "we're just a 85 miles north of the equator" vibe and you're all set. Sunglasses, of course, are a must. My favorite are all oversized and exude an effortless air of mystery while still protecting you letting your jet lag show. Fine luggage: chic. Bags under eyes: not so chic. 

For the flight itself, don't skip wrapping a luxe scarf around your neck for warmth and comfort. Once you've headed out for dinner & drinks, switch it out for a glam bib necklace. Also post-flight: Omorovicza makes the most amazing facial mist. Somehow, some way this delicately fragranced mist brings tired skin back to life. In addition to the skin plumping qualities, the aromatic wonders of this Hungarian spray are almost magical. Toss a travel kit into your tote for a pre-landing zhush session. 

Rimowa Topas Titanium Multiwheel Weekender // Rachel Pally Heathcliff Jersey Jumpsuit // See by Chloe Beki Tote // Saint Laurent Cross Body Monogram Bag // Valentino Rockstud Flats // Tory Burch Leopard Scarf // Kate Spade Statement Necklace // Chloe "Marcie" Oversized Glasses // Byredo Baudeliare Eau de Parfum // Omorocicza Travel Essentials Kit // Laura Mercier "Nude" Limited Edition Set

Now... on to the business of what to do in this lively environment? Try the surprisingly fun hawker food markets for anything you can dream of dining (and many things you'd never have imagined). Indulge in a night safari at the zoo. Shopping is almost a natural sport, of course. But if Instagram is to be believed (and of course, it is) the Singaporean experience is all about the rooftop. Swimming, dining, sipping cocktails and taking in the panoramic views from any of the city's many cloud kissing buildings. Don't miss your chance to take the elevator to the top and enjoy the sunset (or sunrise as it may be) from your choice of venues. 

So... do dish my traveling friends! Have you been to Singapore? What spots do you suggest? Is it all business or is it actually a fun tourist destination. Will there be more to it than just taking a luxe cab ride to a strand of high end boutiques and swimming in an infinity edge pool? Do tell, do tell! 

Spa Luxe: The Ritz Club Paris is Calling...

The Ritz Paris has once again opened its glorious doors after a very thorough $450 million renovation. The esteemed hotel is once again accepting reservations. The rooms are stunning, without question, but it's the world's only CHANEL day spa on-site that has fan girls (self included) buzzing and pondering a trip to Paris. An iconic luxury hotel and a one-of-a-kind spa experience wrapped up in one glistening shiny new black & white bow? This is too good to resist. Treatments in the sumptuous chinoiserie-and-lacquer­ space remind longtime admirers of Coco’s own apartment (also a must-see for those of you headed to the Ritz).

Befitting CHANEL, each spa experience is tailor-made to the client's personal needs and includes glow-inducing techniques specifically designed for the Ritz Club Spa. Insiders say the "Grand Soin" facial is the "ne plus ultra" of CHANEL skin care. The treatment is beloved for its smoothing, firming, and beauty-boosting benefits and the facial itself lasts an indulgent two to three hours.

Professional makeup application (the brand's own, of course) is offered to spa clientele après treatment so you'll have an expert ensuring your look possesses that coveted French girl je ne sais quoi. And don't bother struggling to achieve that elegantly undone chignon hair, Parisian super stylist David Mallett work his magic on your mane. 

I don't know the current state of your personal beauty ambitions, but an indulgent signature spa treatment followed by a lengthy dip in that glistening pool before falling blissfully asleep in a suite at the Ritz Paris is the epitome of Parisian pampered paradise. If you too share visions of having your face and body lovingly buffed and polished to perfection by black & white clad French aestheticians, I suggest a trip to the Ritz Club Paris. It's clearly the chic thing to do.  

WHAT TO PACK

Beauty: My Effortless Summer #MakeupEdit...

Summer is the season when less really truly is more. White sundresses, featherlight sunglasses and gold slip-on flats make for a killer look and makeup needn't be much more complicated. Here in Dallas the sun is punishingly bright and the heat is intense, so survival in the game of beauty (and sun protection) is a skill worth mastering.

I've simplified my summer makeup routine to a few fantastic products that work well for my skin and my desired look. The star of them being the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette. As the name implies it is a workhorse that does a million wonderful things. This pretty gold compact has since replaced my normal blush, bronzer, luminizer and eye shadows. I love, love, LOVE it so much I'll be buying a few before they sell out. No, this post isn't sponsored in any way, I just adore this incredible little palette and have found it to be a miracle worker giving me an enviable and effortless glow. Here's the simplified (yet sun-safe) summer routine in full...

MY SEXY SUMMER SKIN ROUTINE

After moristuring, apply Bare Minerals SPF 50 Primer Fluid. This is new for me and I love that it preps skin for the next step while adding an invisible layer of mineral SPF 50. Next  apply Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder (Tint 3) where necessary, working from the center of the face outward. On days I need it, I tap a few dots of Charlotte Tilbury Treat & Conceal (in shade 2) under the eyes and dab, dab, dab to fend off shadows. 

Now to the color: With a thin fan brush I use a hint of the bronzer from the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette beneath cheekbones in the natural groove where shadows would appear. It is matte and goes on extremely sheer. No nightmare streaks are possible. Then mixing the bronzer & blush (also shimmer-free) with a stipple brush I hit just above the temples and just beneath apples of cheeks up to the ear. With my blush brush I use the blush color alone to give the apples that pretty pink pop. The highlighter is unique, it's a gel-powder with sophisticated shimmer that I use in the inner corners of eyes to brighten, and carry it over the lid for a luminous sheen, I also add to the "C" shaped area around the eyes near temples with a highlighter brush. A touch on the cupids bow, brow bones and cheekbones give that happy glow we crave. Mind you, these are steps that take seconds and are applied lightly in barely-there layers. There's no precision or painstaking accuracy needed. Just this palette and my makeup brushes. That's it! It's a foolproof palette that offers just the right amount of color payoff on my light olive skin and I find the colors to be extremely flattering. 

Next comes a thin flick of Givenchy Couture Waterproof Eyeliner to outer lids for lash fluttering beauty. Finish with my all-time favorite Voluminous mascara from Loreal,  Next I take a bottle of Soleil Toujours Set & Protect Mist with me as well as one of a few straw hats and my must-have Fresh "Rose" Lip Treatment which leaves a barely there hint of (you guessed it) rose tint on the lips. Summer beauty, perfected. 

The only parts of this routine that requires focus or precision are the liner (optional) and the mascara. Candid note: I always dread applying mascara but am always the most impressed with the results. It is tedious and requires accuracy, but nothing else in this routine requires a steady hand or Kardashian dedication. The goodies I use are all listed below. Obviously I have high praise for the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette, as it's my go-to find this summer. It is also available herehere and here. More details below. Thank you for reading! 

Beauty: My Blissful Nightly Hungarian Skin Care Ritual...

As many of you know I am a huge Omorovicza fan, always keeping a few products in my stable. Yet as often happens, we periodically drift off to a new counter at the department store or begin acquiring various potions and promising cures from our dermatologist. But remember I'm a results-oriented girl and am very selective about what products occupy my vanity. After considerable trial and error I'm once again committed to the healing properties (yes, healing) of those legendary thermal waters in Budapest and the skin care line that celebrates them. Frankly, they heal the skin and deliver such beautiful results they deserve to be the core of my skin care repertoire. 

OMOROVICZA: THE BRAND HISTORY

Omorovicza's brand history is as beautiful as the soft, clear skin it produces on legions of loyal customers. A rare professional opportunity to move overseas led the American-born co-founder to discover an all-natural cure for her complexion woes and (perhaps more importantly) an introduction to her now husband and co-founder Steven von Heinrich Omorovicza. Like many of us, Margaret struggled to find the remedy for blemishes and other skin issues. She soon discovered that the simple cultural ritual of spending time in the local baths (open air spas) was transforming her skin into something marvelous. That chance introduction to Steven blossomed. In addition to discovering their love for one another, they developed a shared passion for the unique health benefits provided by the mineral rich spring waters of Budapest. Working as a team, they developed innovative technologies to deliver the miraculous powers of the thermal waters from his family's spa to the world. A game-changing brand and a beautiful marriage were born.  

MINERAL-RICH WATER: THE SOURCE

Omorovicza products are all made without parabens, without chemicals and (save for precious retinol) the ingredients are completely natural. What is it about the water in this international city? The Earth's crust in Budapest is thinner than anywhere else in the world, making the waters indulgently rich in minerals. Richer than any other spot on the planet. Heat from the earth's core rises up, pushing precious life-giving elements to the surface. Over centuries travelers have come from far and wide to dip their bodies in the heated baths that offer ease and healing to the body and mind. Minerals are essential to your health and your skin's radiance, so short of hopping on a jet to Budapest yourself, these little bottled wonders are the next best thing to the fountain of youth. 

Why does the water matter? Because about 70% or more of the contents of every elixir, serum & miracle moisturizer sold by every brand is water. it's the first ingredient on every ingredient list. It makes sense then that different water would yield different results. This was the change Margaret saw naturally in her skin when she moved to Budapest. This is the change I've begun to see in my own skin. 

MY NIGHTLY RITUAL

I begin each nightly ritual with clean skin, and for me that means mild exfoliation. I feel it's wasteful to apply high quality products to clogged pores and unprepared skin. So my Refining Skin Polisher is the product of choice to gently buff away the day and encourage cell turnover. Buh-bye lackluster complexion! I use very little (here's a previous mention of it) and have been using the same generously sized tube for many months. It will last and serves as a mask as well when you need an extra dose of "pretty" in your routine. 

My initial favorite from the collection (several years ago) was the award-winning Instant Plumping Mask. Forget fillers, this little jar of wonders will leave your skin hydrated and plumped to perfection without a needle in sight. It works by way of ushering water into thirsty little hyaluronic acid spheres that swell and add volume to the skin. It's a thing of wonder when used before an event or as an overnight treatment, but over time it serves to add more bounce to the skin and deliver visible lift. I love using it on my upper cheekbones and under the eyes. I use it every other night to keep things looking fresh. After application spray generous amounts of the Queen of Hungary mist to soak the mask and give it fluid to absorb. Sit back and await as your skin rejoices & plumps in just the right places. 

On alternate nights I really go to work with a one-two punch of encapsulated retinol. The Gold Night Drops serum is non-irritating and goes to work fighting those pesky fine lines and early signs of aging. You'll never, ever worry about waking up with tender pink skin, as this luxurious serum is so gentle. The second weapon of choice is the Rejuvenating Night Cream. Oh, how I love this little jar! The cream is silky and soft and contains (again) encapsulated retinol to ramp up your anti-aging arsenal. Used lightly on face and neck I love the way this emollient formula leaves my skin feeling pampered. The best part? Waking up to perky skin that enjoyed the benefits of jojoba, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients and that wondrous thermal water as a base.

WHAT'S IN THE MIX

USEFUL TIPS & TRICKS 

I've learned to only use the Instant Plumping Mask on my cheekbones, cheek pads and under the eyes. It's where I want volume and I see no reason to place it on my forehead, nose or upper lids. I have experimented with applications on the lips but can't determine if I'm seeing any volume change there or not. But for the cheek area it is sheer bliss. Experiment with it as you see fit and get to know the contours of your face. Adding water is a MUST to see results. The cream alone needs added moisture to work effectively. I like their Queen of Hungary mist for purely personal reasons, but have consistently had excellent results with pure water. In fact, perhaps because I'm more free wheeling with the tap water I see greater results. The Queen of Hungary mist is a FABULOUS product on its own for setting makeup or giving yourself a lovely pick me up during the day. It smells fantastic and is packed with good for you ingredients like orange blossom, rose, sage and apple pectin alongside (you guessed it) rich minerals. 

The Gold Night Drops come with an innovative dropper system making it pretty much impossible to waste this precious fluid. Due to cost I use it sparingly and prefer to mix mine with my fingertips with the Rejuvenating Night Cream. I find that just a bit of both go a long way and combined make a decadent treat for my skin overnight. Retinol with no redness or flaking? I'm in! 

MY BEAUTIFUL RESULTS

Now that I've recommitted I am absolutely seeing more radiant, more healthy skin. My fine lines are reduced, there are no dry skin patches, my skin feels plump and healthy. Healthy being the operative word. I am convinced I look better today than I did five years ago - and that's saying something with two small children in the house! 

DISCOVERY SETS & SPECIAL BUNDLES

Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods, Sephora, Cult Beauty, MankindOmorovicza.com and many others all carry the line. Look for value sets and bundled products as they typically offer huge savings on full-size products. There are also smaller introductory sets smartly priced which allow you to discover which products are your must haves. Ladies in the Plano area should definitely swing by Willow Bend's Neiman Marcus and ask for the lovely Maria at the Omorovicza counter. I credit her with introducing me to the line and a new way of thinking about skin care. She'll steer you towards the right products for your unique needs and perhaps have a small sachet sample on hand to let you experience Omorovicza at home. You just might just find your Holy Grail in a bottle as I have done. 

Feel free to ask questions, ladies! I always love dishing on the topic of beauty and skin care, so don't be shy with questions or inquiries about how I use them. xoxo 

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Buon Weekend: Sunday Dreaming...

Sundays are for daydreaming and soaking in the moment. In my case it's also an opportunity for wanderlust to overtake the mind and a deep longing for "elsewhere" to begin. Here where I'd love to be today... Paris. Watching the world wake up from the balcony, sipping coffee at a cafe, enjoying gelato while exploring the city and finishing wth a rich bubble bath with a spectacular view of the la tour Eiffel. How do you dream of spending your Sunday?

{credits 1 // 2 // 3 // 4}

Current Obsession: The Weekend Wedge...

Oh, shoes. Can a girl ever really have enough? If you're a fan of fabulous footwear ON SALE, now is the time to head to the Neiman Marcus last call sale. These beauties and many others are on extreme clearance. I like my wedges like I like my standards: high! These Sophia Webster espadrilles are a colorful confection for those of you who love shoes with personality. But never fear, neutrals, flats, boots and pumps are all part of the clearance happening. Enjoy the weekend and take advantage of the seasonal discounts. 

Dreaming Of: Italy's Monte Argentario peninsula

Italian hotels don't get much better than this one. Nestled on Italy's picturesque Monte Argentario peninsula, Il Pellicano is the stuff of legend. The terracotta-hued beauty is perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Tuscany’s famed Chianti wine region (surprise, it's not just rolling hillsides and farmhouses there). This is a legendary hotel that draws a crowd of the world’s rich and famous. The minute you set foot on the hotel’s grounds, you will understand why. While the rooms are exquisite, it's the pool that offers guests the main attraction. Turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. 

The Pellicano is a home, not a hotel. We have clients who have been coming here since the late ’60s. They feel they are in a family.
— Hotel Il Pellicano’s Creative Director, Marie-Louise Sciò

This magnificent boutique hotel has all the makings of a dream destination. A long line of famous (and infamous) guests, epic views, signature martinis and incredible exclusivity make this a hotel worth the journey. Offering only 50 suites, you'll enjoy views of the crystalline sea in relative privacy during your stay. Although it may behoove you to wear dark sunglasses so as to peek at the low-key celebs and who's who's tanning themselves and sipping on those signature cocktails.  

What famous faces, you may wonder, have enjoyed the same view? Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Radziwill, Sophia Loren and Emilio Pucci are a few of the more prominent names from the past, but this hotspot is still a much-loved haunt of Hollywood's hottest. On any given week you're likely to run into princes, princesses (real ones) and jet setters of all varieties. But... what do you (yes, you) wear while lounging poolside amidst the rich and famous? I've rounded up some selections for you and your honey to enjoy while living la dolce vita in this historic location. 

 

POOLSIDE DRESSING FOR YOU

Tom Ford Miranda Sunglasses // Mara Hoffman Swimsuit // Omorovicza Gold Shimmer Body Oil

No tugging necessary with this peek-a-boo Mara Hoffman swimsuit. It affords the skin-baring exposure of a bikini with the comfort of a one-piece. Heaven. Legs not quite ready for prime time? Rub up in Omorovicza's shimmer oil and prepare to be amazed at your newly Giselle-like limbs. And sunglasses, dear sweet sunglasses. Tom Ford's options won't leave that imprint on your nose, so they win high points for that. Add a tunic or kaftan and flip flops... you're all set for lounging seaside under an umbrella in the company of movers & shakers. 

POOLSIDE  FOR HIM

Cutler & Gross Mirrored Aviators // Hartford Board Shorts // J. Crew Panama Hat // Acqua di Parma Deodorant Stick

Guys like to keep it simple. Classic board shorts, a cool fedora and reflective aviators are pretty much all he needs. Be sure to pack his flip flops and sunscreen, but aside from that he's going to require very little to be happy in your very plush poolside situation. 

Ready to head make your way to this fabulous and famous destination? Read more about it on TripAdvisor, Booking.com has tons of additional pix or get fiscally savvy and see what Priceline can do to net you a sweet (and perhaps suite) deal. 

STUNNING PRE-FLIGHT READS

Love to read? Find out why this small Italian hotel has captivated so many for so long by reading Robert Violette's book featuring photography by Slim Aarons.  

PRETTY PIECES FEATURED IN THIS POST


Beauty: Quenching My Skin's Thirst with Dolce & Gabbana's Aurealux Collection...

Last summer I discovered the incredibly indulgent Aurealux sheet mask from Dolce & Gabbana. Drenched in a magical fluid infused with their exclusive Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (gold silk sericin, Italian olive oil extract and Vitamin B3 are key components listed) that simple introduction opened my eyes to the beauty of hydrated skin. While I wouldn't call my skin dry, my combination complexion is always happier when I pamper it with the right serums and penetrating moisturizers. 

A few months back as I was running low on serums and moisturizers of another brand, I bit the bullet and decided it was time to commit to the entire Aurealux line. From the essence to the eye gel, I stopped using all other products for a few weeks as I dove deep into the Dolce program. The result? Very happy skin and a few irreplaceable products I can't imagine living without. 

FIRST: THE GOLDEN GOODS

 
 

Aurealux Cream // Aurealux Essence // Aurealux Sheet Mask // Aurealux Serum // Aurealux Eye Gel

NEXT: THE FEEDBACK

If you've been looking for a luxurious skincare line, this one will not disappoint. From the packaging itself (think: gold foil lined boxes and perfectly designed bottles and jars), the Dolce & Gabbana skincare experience is extremely upscale. But you're smarter than that and want to know all about those products, so let me dive in and share. 

PRODUCTS: ONE BY ONE

I'm not sure how I survived without an essence, and now that I've been completely spoiled by the skin quenching qualities of the Aurealux Essence I'll never want to skip this step. The best way to describe it is thick water. It glides over clean skin like silk and preps it for whatever you follow it with. This single product brings a smile to my face every day as I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of putting it on my skin. The fluid seems to be the exact same one the wondrous Aurealux Sheet Mask is soaked in, so having access to this daily is a treat to my skin. What does it do? Hydrate, smooth and refine. I am IN LOVE with this magical fluid and will not be without it again. Miracle! 

The essence is followed by the luxurious and creamy Aurealux Serum. I definitely ran out of this too soon, a sign that I loved it. Thicker than the essence, this lightweight product is loaded with plumping Hyaluronic Acid, my favorite skin care additive. Those of you with oily complexions might find the serum to be all you need for daily hydration, but I needed to follow up with the all-star Aurealux Cream. This was the single product I was most excited to try and it did not disappoint! Loaded with their Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (a constant in the line), this thick gel-cream seems apt to use any season of the year. It left my combo skin dewy in all the right places and never the slightest bit oily. I absolutely loved this for both day and night, but opted to save it for daytime in order to make the product last longer. I loved it, and highly recommend it to those of you with combo skin. Your pores will drink it in and visibly thank you. 

Last but not least, the Aurealux Eye Gel. This one seemed a bit off-putting at first as its gel formula was unusual for me. I decided to use the La Mer emulsifying method to see if the friction and heat of my fingertips could liquify it. Bingo! This transformed the springy gel into a decadent serum-like fluid read to soak into my skin. I liked it so much I experimented with it in a variety of ways. As an eye cream it kept lines and creases at bay. As an overall serum it was hydrating and gave me an enviable glow. I even found success patting it onto the cheekbones & eye area after makeup application as a strobing/setting product. Again, it knew no bounds. I found the gel in this little jar to be a multi-tasker in my arsenal ready for action at a moment's notice. 

MY TAKEAWAY

For a brand known for fashion and leading-edge cosmetics I was truly surprised by the quality of the products and the visible results they produced. My skin was moisturized, happy and calm using every one of these beautiful products. The Aurealux CreamAurealux Essence & Aurealux Sheet Mask are my clear favorites but the entire collection is strong and fabulous. My advice? Give one of these sampler sets a try to dip your toes into the golden pool and see the healthy skin results for yourself. Your pretty face will be healthier, plumper, softer and happier - and what more could a girl dream of? 

Skin Discovery Set // Skin Luxury Set

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What to Wear: Late Night Dinner in Marrakesh...

exotic

In a previous post we explored the exotic La Mamounia in faraway Marrakesh. A hotel with an excess of Moroccan flair and an enchanted atmosphere. Now... onto the serious business of what to wear to dinner under the stars in the open air garden. With neat rows of swaying palms, a warm breeze and the faint sounds of Moroccan life all around, you'll love a look that is bold and sexy while still harboring plenty of mystery.

I found this incredible Norma Kamali gown, which I think would be perfect for drinks on the terrace & a dinner date. Add shimmering shadow on the eyes (Tom Ford does it best), spectacular shoes and a standout bangle (in gold, no less!) and you're out the door for a memorable dinner under the African stars. Don't forget to be a hit heavy-handed with the eyeliner for added glam. Add these beautiful elements to your suitcase to ensure you bring your own exotic charms on your next getaway. 

SHOP THE LOOK

Norma Kamali Floor-sweeping gown // Rene Caovilla crystal jeweled sandals // Kendra Scott Ivy Fringe bracelet // Tom Ford Seductive Rose Eye Quad // YSL Waterproof Gold Eyeliner

Luxe Accommodations: Arabian Nights at La Mamounia, Marrakesh...

These days when I think of "getting away" I'm most certainly focused on going far, far, far away. Perhaps it's too much of the familiar or too many long summer days. My soul is craving exotic locales and strange lands. 

Yesterday's interview with Alexandra Foster stirred up thoughts of Morocco and the infamous La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech. If ever a property called for jeweled sandals, flowing dresses and darker eyeliner, this surely is the one.

Most only dream of experiencing Arabian nights, but I cannot wait to experience the intoxicating grounds myself. From the moment you are greeted at the handcarved doors to the second you slip into the cobalt tiled pool, La Mamounia beckons with exotic charms and mysterious seduction.

Discover more of what awaits at La Mamounia and surrounding Morocco so you can plan your next far flung getaway. Wondering what to wear? I've got your bags packed. Happy traveling! 

Luxe Accommodations: Amazing Grace in Turks & Caicos...

This is the type of property I don't just want to visit, I want to own it. I want to revel in the joys of having it as my own. Isn't she gorgeous? The Villa, aptly named Amazing Grace is absolutely stunning. While there are no shortage of properties to stay at along the shores of Grace Bay, most of them swing either ultra-mod or traditional tropical in design. Frankly I love those styles when I'm vacationing. It is a nice contrast to my daily living space and a feast for the eyes. But when I spotted this villa listed as a rental, my jaw fell open. This one is absolutely a stunner and falls into the "Pack your bags, we're leaving now" category. Love at first sight. 

Still reeling from the inspiration, I couldn't wait to share the gallery images with you. Hellooooo, tropical haven I'd never want to leave. New life goal... own this property or one of the same caliber and enjoy it whenever it isn't being rented out to fellow wanderlusters like myself. #lifegoals

I have a friend headed to Turks & Caicos, where this beauty resides, and I'm helping her plan her wardrobe for the stay. Care to pack your virtual bags with me as we tour this ultra-plush pad? Let's do it...

WHAT TO WEAR: AMAZING GRACE IN TURKS & CAICOS


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Tastemakers: Capturing the "Lived In" Luxury of Benjamin Vandiver...

By now you've seen Benjamin Vandiver featured in every impressive design magazine and blog around. He's risen from "Nashville sensation" status to top designer faster than you can say Kings of Leon. Thanks to a few high profile clients and an uncanny ability to infuse any space with lived in appeal, Benjamin is at the beginning of a very long, very successful career trajectory. 

His trademark style is that he doesn't have one, although one would be quick to notice his deft use of black in almost any space as a grounding element. To me his projects reveal a sensual side and a love of carefully chosen, fine quality pieces. There's no "excess" and yet each room (and each room lived within the spaces) feels full and ample. There's a sexiness to his work that works in concert with his skillful restraint. To me this visual tension is palpable and highly coveted. It's no wonder he has a long line of successful projects and no doubt a full calendar ahead.  

Shoe Love: Stocking Up On Summer Stunners...

A girl and her shoes, right? A stylish match made in footwear heaven (because I do believe such a place exists). Summer for me means the pedicure is always on display and wedges are this vertically challenged girl's best friend. Yet I do love a shimmering gold flat sandal in the mix. Here's my summer shoe crush list, most of which are on sale at the moment.

Hold the phone... did someone say SHOE SALE? Yes, I did. Neiman MarcusNet-a-Porter and Nordstrom are all having ridiculously good sales right now on brands high and low. Shoes are discounted deeply (think 40% off) including this season's hottest styles. I do love a good find at a fabulous price. I'm sure you do too! So.. happy shoe shopping, ladies! 

SUMMER SHOES I'M HUNTING RIGHT NOW

Perspective: Stay the Course...

I'll be candid. I feel a little like that third little piggy in the nursery rhyme lately. That big bad wolf is out there huffing and puffing and trying to blow my house down. Little does he know it's a fruitless pursuit. My focus, my confidence, my path, my plans, my integrity cannot be detoured by the force of his hot air. My structure (in this case, my very being) is built so solidly that eventually he'll come to know that any attempts to fluster & bluster are a waste of time and effort

Can you relate? Do you ever feel like life is testing you? And you're passing the test with flying colors because your resolve cannot be shaken? I hope you can relate on some level. Because it feels really, truly satisfying to know deep down in your core that this everything is going to be all right. It feels extremely comforting to have a vision in mind so clear and so positively fabulous that no forces (visible or invisible) can shake me.

The inner resolve feels so good, that I feel compelled to share my methods with you (all of which are easily replicable). Here's the method I know works for me...

GET CLEAR. REALLY CLEAR.

The age old question... what do you want? Well, it's easy to say you want more financial wealth or improved fitness. But can you be more specific? Dig deeper. What exactly do you want? Imagine the legs you want to have, the ripped abs and the toned arms. Come up with an exact number you'd like to see in your savings account. Be specific. Very specific. And... WRITE IT ALL DOWN.

GET CURIOUS & PERSONAL

Now that you know you want a particular goal answer this... WHY? Why do you want it? Let's say you want more funds in the bank Okay... now look at that answer and go deeper. Why? Well, because I'll have more freedom, more security. Ah-ha. That's the real answer. It's not the thing... it's the feeling the thing will give you. Drill deep on every goal on your list and determine the real WHY behind the goal. And really feel those feelings. Allow yourself to connect to those deep desires. That's the key. You don't want things just to want things... you want them to feel beautiful, to feel connected, to feel secure... whatever your feelings are - own them and identify them. They are the fuel to drive you to make those goals reality.

GET VISUAL

Pinterest is great & magazines are wonderful, but I'm a big fan of adding images to the pinboard behind my desk. Fergie's legs in one image, my dream house in another, a Saint Laurent bag here, images of the Côte d'Azur there. Find photos, print them out, cut them out, hang them up. Silly? Not really. In fact it's pretty gorgeous when you get done and it provides constant daily reminders of the important WHY'S behind your pretty WHAT'S. If you skip this step (and most of you will) you lose out on the power of visualization. Which brings me to step four...

PICTURE PERFECT

The reason the metaphorical big bad wolf can't blow my house in? It's because my future is all locked up, baby. I have seen myself and my family in the exact house, I've smelled the flowers in the breeze, I've heard the splashing fountains, I've felt the sun and the wind on my face. In my mind I am already there living in my dream house experiencing that life. You can't shake me because it's not a dream. I spend time daily putting myself there, feeling happy in this place, experiencing perfect health and the love of my family & friends.

Call it meditation, call it daydreaming... it's perhaps one of the most underutilized tools out there. Athletes do this, performers do this, winners or all walks of life do this. You visualize the result you want. You do this again and again so many times that your brain begins to believe the imagined reality is indeed the present.

And you know what...? It works. Gymnasts nail that dismount, quarterbacks catch that ball, pianists nail that performance. Visualization is a powerful, powerful tool that many of us aren't incorporating into our lives. Try it. Model the top athletes and talents out there, and try this mental practice.

See yourself happy. REALLY happy. See yourself healthy. Mentally attend the celebration of your success. Daydream about your housewarming party. Feel the feeling of accomplishment after the marathon. Imagine yourself graduating. Visualize the signed contract in your hands. Master your mind, or your mind masters you. (Trust me on that last not of wisdom.)


So... are you willing to try it? Do you dare believe in a life better or just different than your current life? Are you bold enough to dream? Are you willing to spend a tiny amount of time and very little physical energy to give those dreams a fighting chance of becoming your reality? I'll walk out in faith here and believe you will. 

Bottom line, don't let anyone blow you off course. Your dreams, your plans, your vision of the perfect future are just that: YOURS. It is impossible for anyone else to have the same drive and desire to achieve them. They do not have the same WHY'S to achieve your WHAT'S. It is for this reason that you must make them of supreme importance and never ever lose sight of that vision your hold so near.

Be different. Put up images of your dream house, your dream body, your dream life. Photoshop yourself on a sweet yacht and pin that image right over your desk. Place photos of Venice or Ibiza or Angkor Wat all over the house if that's where you want to be. Make it REAL and make it happen. FEEL that as a reality. Imagine yourself there doing that very thing experiencing that reality. Make it happen. I believe in you! 

{image credits 1 // 2 // 3 // 4}


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