Monday, July 16, 2018

New York City Summer Guide

There is so much to do in the summer in New York City. I've already shared my summer bucket list and I wanted to follow up with some of my favorite activities. 

Today I shared a travel guide video with some of my recommendations. As per my video, I'm including a few more ideas here!

MOVIES IN THE PARK: Several parks in the city show movies on summer nights. The most well known is Bryant Park, offering movies every Monday through August. The NYC Parks Department lists all the options here.

ICE CREAM SHOPS: My summer guide video could have easily become a ice cream recommendations video so I decided to not share any options in the video but include them all here! My favorite ice cream shops (in no particular order) are Emack & Bolio's [two blocks from my old apartment on the UES!],  Milk & Cereal BarGelato & CoForty Carrots [froyo], and Chloe's Soft Serve [fruit based/non-dairy option].

YOGA: Bryant Park offers free yoga on Tuesday mornings and Thursday nights all summer. Mats included as long as you sign up!

ROOFTOP BARS: There are a plethora of rooftop options. I love 230 Fifth and Loopy Doopy [they serve prosecco with popsicles!]

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK: Joe and I finally got to attend one of these shows last summer. It was phenomenal! You can enter the lottery through TodayTix or wait in line at the park. Tickets are free for all!

PICNICS: Picnics in Central Park, Bryant Park and Prospect Park are one of my favorite ways to spend a summer evening.

Make sure to watch my summer guide video:

More fun summer ideas to share? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer 2018 Reading List

Last week I received an email in my [work] inbox sharing how important reading is. The e-mail referenced several different great minds and how much they regularly read. Did you know that Bill Gates reads 50 books every year?!

They challenged us to commit to reading 10, 11, or 12 books this quarter. I took the pledge and opted for 10 books. I love to read and listen to audiobooks [which totally counts for this goal!] but I struggle to make the time. I am   slowly incorporating more books in my commute, which is helping a lot.



I've already started a couple of these books and I'm excited to dive into the others. If you have any book recommendations and/or want to join my reading challenge, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

5 Tips For Weekend Travel

For the past two months, Joe and I have traveled every single weekend. It was so much fun and glad we did it but it was exhausting. We slowly found little crucial things to make our weekend travels smoother. With summer in full swing, I bet a lot of you will be going on some weekend adventures. Hopefully these tips will help you have better weekend trips!

1. Bring cash: always grab some cash before traveling - typically I take at least $40 out of the atm before every trip.
2. Pack an external charger: most of us probably already do this because let's face it - we're always draining our phone batteries. Joe and I have a couple external chargers and this one lasts for 4-5 full charges AND can charge multiple devices at once. It is a must for any weekend travel or even a day out in the city. 
3. Use Packing Cubes: I love these for any length trip but they are especially great for weekend vacations. I either categorize my clothing into separate cubes or divide it up by outfits. This makes packing so easy!
4. Set a routine for your return day: Joe and I always got home on Sunday nights. My routine includes washing my hair with my Sunday shampoo and conditioner followed by laying out my outfit and packing my workbag. This insures I feel refreshed and ready for work on Monday. 
5. Always unpack the day your return: we've found that when we unpack right after we return, it makes the transition easier. This is infinitely more important with weekend travel, which leaves you without downtime before returning to work. Joe and I generally pack one carry on piece so unpacking takes under 10 minutes!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New York City Summer Bucketlist

Summer has arrived in New York City. Rooftop bars are in full swing and parks are packed. Every year I have a few things I love to do in the city in the summer. I always end up adding to that list. Let's take a peak at my list for this summer...

Sip cocktails on the Met rooftop bar: We discovered this spot at the end of our first summer. Every season, the Met opens up their rooftop bar, overlooking Central Park. They feature a few pieces on the rooftop so you can enjoy some art with your cocktail.

Picnic in Central Park: We received the cutest picnic basket as a wedding gift. It's perfect for Joe and I to take a park date. Unfortunately we no longer live walking distance to Central Park but we will definitely still visit this summer and we live down the street from another park.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: This is a favorite activity and always something we take guests to do. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most beautiful structures in New York, in my opinion. I like taking the subway to Dumbo, wondering around by the water and then walking across the bridge to lower Manhattan. Fun fact: my great grandfather's company supplied the cables for the Brooklyn Bridge!

Take the ferry to Rockaway Beach: In my last job, I took the Rockaway ferry route every day. During the warmer months, I longed to stay on the boat and head to the beach. This summer I'm definitely making it happen. The ride is only one hour from the Wall Street pier and will only run you $2.75 [same as a subway ride].

Wine taste in the Hamptons: I still haven't managed to do the most classic summer activity for New Yorkers: visit the Hamptons. I'm changing that next month with a wine tasting day trip!

Watch a movie at Bryant Park: We have yet to do this but this summer - it's happening! All summer Bryant Park offers movies on the lawn every Monday night [through August]. 

See Manhattanhenge: This is my third summer in New York and each year, Joe and I vow to see Manhattanhege but never do it. This year we can't miss it. Manhattanhege is when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. 

Wonder through a street fair: Manhattan is full of street fairs that span for several blocks. One of the first things Joe and I did the first time we visited New York. We bought spices and succulents. You'll never know what you'll find at these fairs.

What is on your summer bucket list?!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sandos Playacar Beach Resort | An Honest Review

As many of you know, Joe & I went on our honeymoon last week in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and I want to share my thoughts on the resort. 

We stayed for eight days at Sandos Playacar and stayed in a Premium Club Ocean Front Suite. From my research on Expedia, I could tell that the Premium Club offered slightly more but we mainly chose it for the ocean front view. The Trip Advisor reviews mention that these rooms were a little outdated and needed to be renovated - we chose to overlook this for the view.

Upon check in, we were offered cocktails and were invited to a "welcome breakfast" [which I thought was because I mentioned we were on our honeymoon]. We settled into our room, which was a decent size but they gave us two queen beds instead of a king [awkward]. 

The resort itself was nice and spread out. The area closest to the beach housed the premium club. There were two pools between the two buildings. The main pool is for all the guests and the smaller pool in front is for "members" [we'll get to that later]. There are several bars and a few restaurants scattered before reaching "the meeting point" - an area for groups to meet and also the best wifi. Just past the meeting point sits the outdoor theater for all of their nightly entertainment. There are two more restaurants and a little nightclub in the vicinity as well. 

From there, you can walk by the haciendas [where members stay], which are more secluded. Along the walk, you'll find the cat sanctuary and a spot for the donkey and goats. After wondering down a road, you'll reach the main lobby, with the adults only section on one side [swim up bar included] and the family section on the other side. The entire walk, from one end to the other, takes about 15 minutes. 

On our first morning, we wondered to the meeting point for our "welcome breakfast". Little did we know - this was a scam and was actually a timeshare presentation. The resort covets their "members" and several sections are members only. We quickly opted out of the members scam and went off to explore the town. 

This resort offers everything you'll typically find at an all inclusive - unlimited food and drinks, pools, nightly entertainment, and activities at the resort. The only additional feature we utilized was the spa. I got a pedicure and Joe and I got couples massages on the beach. The spa featured the beauty salon, gym, and hydrotherapy pools. We took advantage of the hydrotherapy pools for about 45 minutes before getting our massage. Overall our spa experience was relaxing but the music from the pool area was a little distracting during the massage. We also intended to try some of their fitness classes but I got a stomach infection midway through the trip and was trapped in our room. 

As for the food, all inclusive generally doesn't have the highest quality food. Breakfast was either the buffet or room service [24 hour room service was included with our room]. The selections for room service were minimal and I didn't love the buffet. Lunch was mainly the same. Dinner was a choice of restaurants in addition to the buffet. Sandos has a French restaurant, Italian restaurant, Mexican restaurant, Mexican to-go spot [similar to Chipotle], cupcake shop/coffee shop, Brazil restaurant, Steakhouse, and Asian spot. We didn't get a chance to try them all, as I got a stomach infection. From what I tried, Le Gourmet (the French option) was my favorite. Their filet mignon was actually decent! I also found their Mexican to-go option to be pretty good [they also made crepes there] and I loved the coffee shop - mainly for the good wifi and AC. 

This resort was made for families and large groups. They were always blasting dance music and there was plenty to do at the resort alone. That being said - this wasn't the most romantic and serene location for a honeymoon. We didn't feel that any aspect of the resort was "luxury". For us, we like a combination of excursions and downtime at the resort. This resort could have been a little more relaxing and not as hectic. 

Would I stay here again? Absolutely not. Between the timeshare scam and the stomach infection [I think it came from food or water at the resort], I didn't have a great experience, which is sad for our honeymoon! 

Is this resort right for you? Depends what you're looking for. Bachelorette parties, families, and large groups - this is your spot. Romantic couple getaways - maybe not so much. 

My final rating is 3/5

I'd love to hear your opinion if you've stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort as well!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

5 Ways To Make Flowers Last One Month

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a floral design class by Michael Gaffney at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi. This celebrity florist has been in the business for over 15 years and shared some really useful tips to make your blooms last. Also, how beautiful is the bouquet I arranged?! [pictured above]

1. Pick Good Flowers: your flowers should be firm and bounce back; roses should be full [avoid tight, small buds]

2. Water Your Flowers: submerge your flowers under water for 30-45 minutes when you first get them; if you can't submerge the whole bouquet, dunk the head at least

3. Bleach: skip the flower food and go for two drops of bleach in your vase; this will kill the bacteria and remove most of the old flower odor

4. Wax Sealant: Michael said his magic spray is Crowning Glory. Use this wax sealant to keep the moisture in your bouquet. I ran home and ordered my bottle!

5. Trim Stems: cut a couple inches off the bottoms of your stems

Extra Tip for Hydrangeas:
Michael recommended picking up alum powder [from the spice section!] to bring hydrangeas back to life or make them last several weeks - add the powder to water and submerge the flowers in the water for an hour and a half to make them last two to three weeks.

Michael offers classes across the country and soon he'll be offering classes online!

What do you think of my arrangement?!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

What I'm Bringing On My Honeymoon

When you're reading this post, I will be on my honeymoon in Mexico!

Joe and I are spending a week in paradise and I can't wait to share loads of photos on Instagram. I'll definitely be putting up a travel guide and video diary when I get back.

I've slowly collected a few fun items for the trip and want to share for any summer vacation needs. 

BASIC BLACK BIKINI: Every girl needs a classic black swim suit - I scored this for under $10 during a Black Friday sale

RED ONE PIECE: Another sale find over the holidays; I love the rust color and cut outs on the side [currently on sale for under $20!]

BAMBOO PURSE: I've been eyeing this purse since last summer but haven't had a tropical vacation to bring it on

SUN HAT: I've also been wanting an excuse to wear one of these trendy hats!

PACKING CUBES: These may not be a new item but they are SO useful when packing for a long trip. My MIL got them for me for Christmas last year and I always use them to organize my items in my checked bag.

ROSE GOLD LUGGAGE: Right before our wedding, our large suitcase fell apart. We were lucky enough to receive some amazing carry on pieces but for this trip, I need the big guns. I picked up this rose gold beauty in a size large.

BLUE OFF THE SHOULDER BIKINI: Another Black Friday sale find for under $10 [also this site always has sales!]

BLUSH FLIP FLOPS: You can't go wrong with classic cheap flip flops & I love the blush color!

Have you been to Riviera Maya?! Leave your recommendations in the comments!


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