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5.29.2009

Friday Faves: Express Editor Pant

For today's Friday Faves, I am expressing my love for Express Editor Pants.


Image Source: Express.com

 

These are seriously the best. pants. ever. I own them in several different colors and fabrics for work slacks, a few different denim forms (wide and skinny leg, and in a few different colors), and in various forms of crop. They fit perfectly and are very flattering, with flares in just the right places, and a waist high enough to smooth out the flaws. Versatile and comfortable, I can not get enough Editor pants.

Another plus is that Express tends to have sizing in different pant lengths too (short, regular, or long), which is a dream for those tall skinny girls who can never find pants long enough, or those short curvy girls (ahem, me) who always have to get their pants altered. Yay for Express and their fabulous slacks.

5.26.2009

Travel Tuesday: Savannah! An Itinerary for a Long Weekend.


For today's Travel Tuesday blog post, I wanted to highlight a very recent trip. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend Sarah and Lenny's wedding in beautiful, peaceful Savannah, GA at the beginning of May. In order to try and get a good experience of the city, we decided to make a long weekend of it. The itinerary I put together for the hubs and I turned out really well, so I thought I'd share it here (with a few modifications to fill in the time we spent at the wedding with a few more activities for any readers who want to use this itinerary).

This is the first of two parts for Savannah, as I will break down a specific walking tour for our "Ghost Hunt" evening in next week's Travel Tuesday blog.

Enjoy, and if you ever find yourself in Savannah and doing any of these suggestions, please let me know how it turns out for you!

I still havent uploaded our pics from our DSLR, so I will edit this post later once those pics have been added. I just have a few from our point and shoot sprinkled throughout now.



Thursday Night or Early Friday Morning

Fly into Savannah/Hilton Head Airport. FYI, not many cab drivers in the city take cards (wha? where am I...?!), so either bring cash or call Yellow Cab (1-866-319-9646). Savannah Yellow Cab became our best friend, as they were one of the only co's that accepted plastic.

Friday Morning

Get yourself to the Historic District! There are many great hotels right in the action. We opted to stay slightly away from the action (The Baymont Inn & Suites in Garden City) because it was not only 1/3 of the price of hotels in the Historic District, but also included breakfast, airport shuttle, and shuttle to/from the Historic District for free. But most of the activities suggested in this itin take place in the Historic District, so you may want to opt to be closer. We were very happy with our choice in the Baymont, though.

Walk around the historic district to start taking in the beautiful trees with the famous Spanish moss, and the amazing historic buildings. Your hotel should have a map, or you can view one here. The area is pretty small, and can be easily walked around.

For "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" fans, you can check out the Mercer Williams House at 429 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401.

Friday Afternoon

Lunch at Mrs. Wilke's Boarding House at 107 W. Jones Street, Savannah, GA 31401. Reasonably priced and has been labeled as some of the best eats in Savannah. The staff even wore fun T-Shirts that said something to the effect of "If the Colonel made our chicken, he would have been called the General." Be aware that they have odd hours (as do a few Savannah restaurants), with a break between lunch and dinner and Sundays closed.

First African Baptist Church at 23 Montgomery Street, Savannah, GA 31401. One of the oldest black churches in the country, and the first in Savannah. Was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. Call 912-233-6597 to schedule a free tour!

Sit on a veranda somewhere and enjoy a mint julep! I did not get to do this, as I had just found out I was pregnant. Maybe someday!

Friday Evening



Dinner at the Olde Pink House at 23 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31401. This is a more upscale restaurant, and reservations are recommended. I can not recommend you try this place enough if you are in town. It is upscale Southern cooking, with beautifully presented and unique takes on soul food favorites. The food and service were both top notch. I highly recommend the following food items: Caesar salad topped with crispy cornmeal-crusted fried oysters ($9.95), local shrimp served with country ham and grits cake ($8.95), and the oh-my-god-is-this-for-real declicious fried pork chops.

Take a romantic stroll through the Historic District. It is really warm and nice at night, and there are benches in all of the numerous squares throughout the district.

Saturday Morning/Midday

Cab to Tybee Island. Note that this is a pretty hefty cab fare ($45-$50 each way), so renting a car may not be a bad idea if you plan to venture to Tybee during your stay. For more information on Tybee Island, including downloadable brochures, click here.

Lunch at The Crab Shack at 40 Estill Hammmock Road, Tybee Island, GA 31328. Recommendation: get the Low Country Boil for only $12.99. You will not be disappointed!

Saturday Afternoon

Take a trolley tour of the Historic District. Sure, you've been walking around and have seen some things already, but it is really nice to be able to take it all in while seated, and with someone there to explain the history and significance of the old buildings and squares. We paid $20 each for a 90 minute tour. They usually run about $22 each, but there are coupons at most hotels for discounts.

Saturday Evening



Haunted Savannah walking tour. As Savannah is hailed as America's most haunted city, there are many, many paid walking and trolley ghost tours in the evening. The hubs and I decided to create our own walking tour based on some online research and Google mapping. Next Tuesday I will detail-out our walking tour.

We ended our ghost tour up by the river. We had dinner at Huey's on the River (115 E. River Street, Savannah, GA 31401) for some delicious Cajun/Creole cooking on the river front. Great crawfish ettouffee!

Sunday Morning



You can't go to Savannah without a trip to Paula Deen's Lady & Sons restaurant at 102 W. Congress, Savannah, GA 31401. We chose a good day to go, since Sunday they only serve their brunch/lunch buffet, and are onyl open from 11:00-5:00. This way we got to try a number of different items. Warning: after this you will officially be on fried food overload, and while it's all delish, you will probably need a fried food detox afterwards. :)

Stroll around the City Market section of the Historic District. Live music is playing and there are several restaurants, souvenir shops, and a lot of people watching.

Sunday Evening

I skipped right to the evening here, because they brunch/lunch buffet will fill you up and knock you out.

Dinner at The Pirate's House at 20 E. Broad Street, Savannah, GA 31401. I HIGHLY recommend as an appetizer the Low Country Spring Rolls for $8.95. They are spring rolls, but made up with southern delicacies inside like pulled pork and collard greens. YUM!

Romantic stroll along the river. There are a few bars, shops, and ice cream and candy stores with which to entertain yourself. Or just sit and relax by the river side and admire the steam boats rolling on down the river. ;)

Monday Morning

Back to the airport, and off to wherever you came from!

5.22.2009

Friday Faves: Chanel Inimitable Mascara

Since starting the Travel Tuesday series this week, I felt compelled to do another series on Fridays, called Friday Faves. This series will review some of my favorite products (from all different categories), recipes, etc.

I actually was inspired to do this as I was applying my mascara, and realized that this is the only mascara for me. I am speaking of the amazing Chanel Inimitable Multi-Dimensional Mascara, which is available for about $30.00 a tube at fine retailers and the Chanel counter at department stores.


Photo source NeimanMarcus.com

Here are the reasons I kick the extra buck for this stuff:

1) Really gives the appearance of lengthening and separating lashes
2) Brush design somehow prevents it from ever getting gunky or misshapen
3) My prefered color (Noir, of course) is a rich, deep black
4) Helps hold eyelash curl nicely, even if you don't pre-curl
5) Color holds nicely throughout the day and is easily removed (unless you get the waterproof version, which is seriously waterproof)
6) One coat is really all you need... it goes on smoothly and evenly

 
Here is the before and after.  The only difference in the two pictures is the application of one coat of mascara.  I had already used an eyelash curler in the first picture, and as you can see, it wasn't until I actually applied the mascara that the real curl happened.  As you can see for yourself, the mascara alone provided curl, length, separation, and  nice bold color.

If you find yourself looking for a new mascara, I highly recommend you give this one a try.

Now, TGIF and have a fabulous 3-day weekend! I know I will!

5.19.2009

Travel Tuesday: Thailand!

 
 
Those that know me know that I try and travel and adventure as much as I can. This past year especially, travelling and experiencing new cultures has become one of my biggest priorities. Since I have also been known to have tendencies towards the highly organized (read: anal retentive), I have had a lot of fun planning out itineraries and DIY tours for the places I visit by reading reviews and doing research prior. A few of my friends recommended I post some of these itineraries and recommendations on my blog so it can be referenced to help others who may travel to the same destinations.

Since I have many to share, I thought it might be fun to post them each in a weekly series I will call "Travel Tuesday." Today, I thought I would start with a bang by posting my recommendations for Thailand, our honeymoon destination.

I am a great budget traveler, and like to try and experience the "real" parts of places and cities, so I hope that this weekly blog series will be helpful to others who travel in the same way. That being said, the Thailand trip may be a bit different. While we are always budget concsious, since this was our honeymoon, we did splurge with our first accommodation, so I can't really classify that resort as budget conscious (fabulous yes, cheap no). Everything else in Thailand is amazingly reasonable (read: dirt cheap), however, so even if you are not honeymooning when you visit, you are sure to find some of this helpful.

Here goes! I will start by reviewing the cities visited, then the hotel accommodations, followed by tips on things to do.



We went to beautiful Thailand for our honeymoon. We wanted to experience as much of the country as we could, so we spent a few days in a more remote, beachy resort in a private villa with a private pool, followed by a few days in Chiang Mai for a more rustic experience staying in a converted rice barn, and finishing with a few days in Bangkok at a chic hotel to explore the city.

Khao Lak

The first part of the honeymoon was spent in gorgeous Khao Lak (on the Andaman Sea an hour north of Phuket).

Khao Lak is a resort beach in Thailand, located 80 km north of Phuket International Airport in Takua Pa district, Phang Nga province and popular as a departure point for liveaboard scuba diving trips to the Similan Islands.

The pristine coastline is synonymous with beauty. Nearby rubber and palm plantations dot the coastal region and most nearby inland areas. The major national Highway 4 runs north and south and mostly parallel to the coastline. Khao Lak is a thriving tourist destination for backpackers, up-scale tourists, adventure tourists and seasoned scuba enthusiasts. Local peoples are mostly Thai often with some Chinese ancestry. The diversity of ethnic groups and cultural influences within and surrounding Khao Lak makes this region rich in agricultural, fishing and dry good products. Tourism is Khao Lak's revenue generating entity, becoming Thailand's most popular jumping-off point for the world renowned Similan Islands.

Here is where we stayed:

The Sarojin (Pool Residence):








What we arrived to find :)


This tub and the rainfall shower were awesome.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an important news flash: CANNONBALL!

We LOVED our private plunge pool.

 
The Sarojin Beach.




Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, and is the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is located some 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among some of the highest mountains in the country. The city stands on the Ping river, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya river.

In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city, although it lacks the cosmopolitan nature of Bangkok. It has many attractions for the thousands of foreign visitors who come each year. Chiang Mai's historic importance is derived from its important strategic location on an ancient trade route. Long before the modern influx of foreign visitors, the city served as an important centre for handcrafted goods, umbrellas, jewelry (particularly silver) and woodcarving.

Here is where we stayed in Chiang Mai:

Fern Paradise:




We arrived to find a honeymoon surprise :). The resort was so serene, you'd hardly know you were in the city.

 
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primate city of Thailand. In the span of over two hundred years, Bangkok has been the political, social and economic center of not only Thailand but for much of South East Asia and Indochina as well. Its influence in the arts, politics, fashion, education, entertainment as well as being the business, financial and cultural center of Asia has given Bangkok the status of a global city. The city's mix of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Buddhist, Muslim and Western cultures combined with the driving force of the Thai economy makes it increasingly attractive to foreigners both for business and pleasure and has made the city one of the world's top tourist destinations.

Bangkok is the world's 22nd largest city by population with approximately 6,704,000 residents, but due to large unregistered influxes of migrants from the North East of Thailand and of many nations across Asia, the population of greater Bangkok is estimated at nearly 15 million people. This has in turn shifted the country from being a rather homogenous Thai population to increasingly a more vibrant mix of Western, Indian and Chinese people.

Here is where we finished our Thai adventure in Bangkok:

Dream:




We loved the funky, modern details of the hotel and the blue lighting in the rooms.


Reviews:

Hotels:

The Sarojin - Pool Residence. OMG, this was absolute paradise! We seriously considered just moving in while we were there :). The service was out of this world from the second they greeted us at the airport with a cold towel, beer, and our choice of playlist for the car. That was just a hint at how well you are attended to during your stay. Our room (or should I say villa) was spectacular, from the private plunge pool and Thai sala, to the rainfall shower. The food at both the resorts restaurants was top notch. They even have an "imagineer" on staff that will create any experience you want. He made sure to meet us right away and ask how he could surprise us :). The beach was amazing... we couldn't sleep the first few nights because of the time change, so instead took sunrise walks on the beach collecting shells. It was so beautiful. We also took advantage of the couples massage they threw in for our honeymoon, and found it to be the best massage we got the whole time we were in Thailand. We also took advantage of the resort's car service to town (Khao Lak) for some shopping, eating, and drinking. If you go to Khao Lak, the local restaurants in town are amazing and SO CHEAP! The Sarojin is the perfect honeymoon destination.

Fern Paradise. All the reviews of Fern Paradise on TripAdvisor (where it is the #1 ranked hotel in Chiang Mai) are true. The service was incredible, and you would have no idea that you are in the middle of a big city when in this haven. It is a family owned establishment, and that is just how you are treated: like family! As part of our package, we had a home cooked dinner for breakfast every morning, and it was GOOD! Also, thanks to the owner we had a good hook-up with a cab driver that took care of us during our entire stay. The cab driver (Patrick!) was our personal tour guide for our days in Chiang Mai. He gave us history, drove us around, stopping at spots he thought we might like to take a picture or shop, joined us for lunch at a restaurant he recommended, and waiting for us while we shopped the night markets. One thing to note about Fern Paradise: it is more like a B&B than a luxury resort, and it is tucked in a fern forest, so you will hear interesting insect sounds in the night outside your barn.

Dream. Dream was the perfect way to round out our trip. After the luxury beach resort and the rustic rice barn it was great to have some modern luxury. As with our previous two accommodations, the service at Bangkok was top shelf. The breakfast that was included with our room was huge and tasty, and we loved the modern blue lighting inside the rooms. We were also so close to so much action (it's right off Sukhumvit with its shopping, and near the sky train just a few stops from Siam). Bangkok was really fun, and a good way to ease us back into city life before the long flight back to LA. I had heard some say that Bangkok is not really a honeymoon destination (since it is a large, bustling metropolis), but we are personally sooo glad to have experienced it. Definitey spend time in a beach location too, but Bangkok is really fun and international.


Flights:

Korean Air. We flew Korean Air for our flights to/from Thailand. I don't have experience with other airlines that do this type of trip, but I can tell you that we loved Korean Air and would fly it again. The planes were huge and new, with private TV's for each seat. They feed you often (you have to try Bibimbap if you ever fly Korean Air and they offer it to you), and it is really good. The service was also great. Some of our US-based airlines could take a few pages from this book.

Thai Airways. For our within Thailand flights, we flew Thai Airways. They have so many scheduling choices, so this was pretty ideal. The service was also great, and they feed you every time (even if the flight is less than an hour). Once again, our airlines need to learn a thing or two!


Things to Do:

Relax by the beach and/or pool! You will be tired after an 18-hour plane ride and trying to adjust to the 14 hour time difference. Spend the first few days chillin.'


Go on a trek! In Chiang Mai we took a day to get off the beaten path. We went elephant riding,* hiking to a waterfall, bamboo rafting, and visiting native tribal villages. Treks like this can range in price, so you may want to ask your hotel concierge for their recommendations. That is what we did, and we found this entire day trek for 1900 baht total for the both of us (which included transportation to and from our hotel and a Thai lunch).

*Edited to add: At the time of this trip, I was not yet educated on how elephants are often abused and mistreated at tourist attractions like this.  When planning a trip to Thailand, I encourage you to seek ethical elephant experiences, and support the local elephant sanctuaries (such as Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai) instead of a tour for riding them. 



Shopping! You MUST shop in Thailand. Whether it is one of the GIANT malls in Bangkok where you have 8 full floors of designer stores, or the Night Market or Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, or one of the many street markets in Bangkok, you will be in shopper's heaven. The exchange rate is so good that you can shop till you drop without dropping a lot of dough.

Your guy should also buy himself at least one custom tailored suit in Bangkok. The price is insanely cheap when translated to USD, and he can pick the fabric and lining, the cut, and have it cut and fit to him. For this I also recommend asking your concierge as I have heard quality can vary. The place we found even picked us up from the hotel for the shopping and fittings.

 

Eat! We ate CONSTANTLY because food was delicious and cost hardly anything. It was always beautifully and/or cleverly presented too (whether your meal cost 80 baht or 350). I could eat Asian food all day everyday, so I was in heaven. Service is also fantastic everywhere.








Visit temples! There are temples (wats) everywhere in Thailand (especially in Chiang Mai). We recommend visiting Wat Pra That on Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Not only are there gorgeous views on the drive up the mountain, but on top you can visit the royal family's winter palace (Phu Ping Palace - LOVE that name ;), and see one of Thailand's most spectacular temples (Wat Pra That). Make sure you dress appropiately and respect the culture when visiting the temples or palaces. Knees and shoulders should be covered, you should not do any PDA, and don't touch anyone's head (not that you would).


 
Get massages! Get them as much as you can. People are not exaggerating when they tell you massages are cheap in Thailand. We got hour massages for 200-300 baht (that is $6-$10 USD). You just can't beat it. Though unless you are familiar with Thai massage and like it rough, I recommend telling them to go light. I usually like a hard massage, but when I told them to use medium pressure, it still hurt a little (but felt great afterwards). They also offer relaxation massages and great reflexology foot massages too if Thai massage is a little too much for you.



Drink! Just like food, drinks are crazy cheap in Thailand. We found Singha and Chang beers to both be delicious (and the hubs claims that Chang is stronger per volume than US beers). We had fun checking out local dives in Khao Lak (and especially enjoyed finding an "Irish" Pub - where the hubs had to show the bartender how to make an Irish Car Bomb - which was on their menu). We also had fun checking out some of the bigger bars/clubs in Bangkok. We especially enjoyed Bed Supperclub, which is just around the corner from Dream.

Web-sites/Other Resources:

  • Kayak.com - Your one stop shop in airfare booking. It is a spider travel search site that searches all major airline, hotel, and travel sites (like Orbitz, Expedia, etc.) so that you can see and compare deals in one place. This is how we found the best deals on flights to/from and within Thailand, as well as the best rate for Dream.
  • TripAdvisor.com – TripAdvisor is a HUGE help in making accommodation decisions, as it is pretty intimidating booking something across the world. We literally read every review for all our choices which helped us to feel the most confident about our final choices.
  • LuxuryLink.com – if you are looking for an all-inclusive package anywhere exotic, they have some great deals you can bid on that include extras (like couples massages and dinners). It is a pretty good deal if you are looking for something extravagant, as you can get a package here cheaper than directly with the resort. We got a pretty good deal with The Sarojin booking directly, but this site is great for high-end resorts like Six Senses, etc.
  • See if there is an option for free breakfast or airport transfer with your hotel. Many offer this, and it will save you money. Plus the free breakfasts in Thailand are HUGE multi-course meals, and you usually have the option of Asian or Western style meals.
  • If you are honeymooning, tell everyone it is your honeymoon. The Sarojin greeted us with a congratulatory cocktail and bouquet when we pulled up, had a bottle of champagne in our room along with "Happy Honeymoon" spelled in rose petals on our bed, and a free couple's massage. Fern Paradise had a bouquet on our bed as well. Dream sent us a special dessert to our room that had "Happy Honeymoon" written in chocolate.
  • While many people advised us from going during the rainy season, it really didn't bother us much at all. It was not cold when it rained (and actually, rain was a pleasant escape from the humidity), and though it rained about 50% of the time we were there, it was absolutely beautiful in between, even for full days enough for us to participate in outdoor activities. Plus, the soothing rain sounds outside your door when snuggling with your SO, or surrounding you when you get a Thai massage make for a very relaxing and romantic time. :)
  • Make sure you always have address of your hotel, if not directions back to it, with you when out and about. Cab drivers don’t often know the hotels that well, so you may need to direct them a bit. Plus a map or address helps if there is a language barrier.
  • Which reminds me: don't let airport cab drivers screw you! They will try to tell you it is 800 baht from the airport to your hotel. Nothing is really more than 200-300 baht away if you go by the meter. Always ask them to put the meter on! Don't fear, most other cab drivers did not try to screw us... just the ones at the airport.
  • If you go to Bangkok, the sky train is a really efficient and cheap way to get around.

5.11.2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Well, life continues to change for us since we embarked on our adventure as husband and wife. The next phase of that adventure is happening right now! I am 8 weeks pregnant and due on December 21st. Looks like my fashion priorities will shift for the next year or so, as I will be trading this:


Manolo Blahnik Cage Boot
$1165.00, NeimanMarcus.com

For this:


Chloe Leather Ballerinas
$113.00, NeimanMarcus.com


And this:


Dior Cannage Medium Shopper
$2600.00, NeimanMarcus.com

For this:


Petunia Pickle Bottom Mocha Berry Cream Cake Baby Bag
$325.00, NeimanMarcus.com

But seriously, this could be fun! I could die:


Juicy Couture Smocked Terry Dress
$78.00, NeimanMarcus.com

For little Eva! Or if it’s little Grayson:


Juicy Couture Rightful Ruler Tracksuit
$98.00, NeimanMarcus.com


But this is my fave of all! One of my fashion goals in life is to own a Burberry trench. How adorably awesome that they have them for babies too:


Burberry Girl’s Classic Trenchcoat
$385.00, SaksFifthAvenue.com