Baby Pine Marten

The adorable baby pine marten

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Honeymoon Destination Inspiration! Curacao

Back from a lovely cruise to the Western Carribean (Photos to follow shortly!), and the balmy weather, crystal clear waters, and exotic animals got me dreaming on top of a dream on honeymoon destinations. With 7 months to the big day, we should start booking for the Honeymoon soon!

Whenever I am asked where we are going, I say decisively, “Hawaii”! Hawaii is part of the US, no language barriers, a little on the pricey side, but total paradise and little thinking required on our part. G and I have roughed it in Central America, where I was the banker, the translator, the organizer, and totally exhausted. The groom usually plans the honeymoon, and that tradition is fine by me! Hawaii is sure to please, and if not go all out on the honeymoon, then when?

But after this cruise, with the Caribbean so close to the east coast of the US, it seems silly to fly half way across the world to Hawaii, when we have the beautiful ABC islands. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao .

Willemstad, Curacao

Curacao (pronounced koo-rah-sow) was rated the #1 place in the world to visit in 2012 by Frommer’s. The ultimate carribean paradise, Curacao is one of those special places where it has beautiful, sunny weather all year long with an average temperature of 85 degrees. Sugar white sands, teeming coral reefs, ship wreck dives, and historic, charming Willemstad (above) make this a great honeymoon pick. This dutch colony is near the northern coast of Venezuela. (The Dutch womens’ volleyball team vacations here). The “rainy season” is usually from Oct to Feb, but we will surely miss this, and hurricane season. We will also be in time for the hatching turtles (May-Aug)! Baby turtles, wonderful!

The best beaches are on the southern coast, west of Willemstad, including Blauwbaai, Daaibooi and Knip Bay. Curaçao’s most snorkel-friendly wreck dive, Tugboat, lies in shallow water just 100 yards offshore. Fifteen miles southeast of the big island, unpopulated Klein Curaçao offers day-trippers a complete castaway experience: shipwrecks, an old lighthouse, and more than a mile of flat, empty sands that are the longest in Curaçao. I can’t imagine anyone better than my newly minted husband to be on a deserted island with.

Hyatt Regency in Curacao Gold Resort, Spa, and Marina

Let’s get down to business. How much will a trip to Curacao cost? A quick look at the droolworthy Hyatt Regency Resort, Spa, and Marina has a special deal going on now with their new all-inclusive package. Use the promo code “CURAIP,” which is good through 2012, and get every 4th night free, refunded upon checkout. That’s 12 nights of paradise, with 3 free nights with 3+ meals per day, unlimited house wine, and unlimited premium beverages, juices, soda. That’s 242.70 USD per night (best deal), or $2184.66 USD for 12 days in May (and I’ve added in all taxes and service fees). And 12 nights is a long time. I could even go for 8 days and be satisfied. A reviewer on tripadvisor.com says that this Hyatt is comparable to the Maui Four Seasons in terms of superior accommodations and service. Consensus seems to be that it is for relaxation, not sure if it can keep G entertained enough, but perfect for me, the little couch potato.

Next up: Hawaiian resort packages.

Rent The Runway for Weddings

How many times have you bought a dress for a formal occasion, and only worn it once? Rent the Runway (RTR) first appeared on my radar after an Access Hollywood episode 5+ years age, where they were pushing a new business started by two hot Harvard blondes, Jenn and Jenny. I was unenthused with the idea of renting designer dresses, or renting dresses in general, but my ears perked up when they mentioned that you could get two sizes for the price of one, further ensuring a good fit. Fast forward to present day, and I have heard nothing but good things about the customer service. They also take care of dry cleaning, and include free shipping to and from the RTR closet. You get to keep your dress for 4 days, or longer for a fee. Basically risk free rental. What’s not to love?

The RTR closet has expanded to include lots of covetable labels, from hip Alice + Olivia to established heavy hitters like Helmut Lang. To get a dress that costs upwards of $500 to the thousands for as low as 50 buckaroos seems like a sweet deal. How great would this be to strut your stuff in a hot Herve Leger for that reunion, or use to furnish a fashionable uniform for beloved bridesmaids?

Envision these dresses as bridesmaids options. Which one wins for bridesmaids pick for Spring 2012?

Wedding Color Inspirations: Coral and Seafoam in 2 ways

Perfect pastels for a cinco de mayo wedding, no? Pops of coral on a sea foam and buttercream backdrop. I do like the succulents, but I wonder if these are available in the northeast in the spring? It invokes the southwest, and I’ll just admit it, but I’ve always been a little obsessed with cacti.

a la cinco de mayo. But could this work in a castle-like gothic-revival setting?

What think you of the buttercream yellow? Too much of a primary color thing going, or could it work at the Merion Tribute House?

Perhaps option #2 is a little more up the gothic revival alley – more subdued and romantic in coral, sage, and grey. The men could go with light grey suits, or dark grey, and a coral colored tie. Ladies could opt for coral or sage colored bridesmaid dress. Flowers could be dusty coral, and pop in a few succulents and giant white peonies, perhaps!

a more subdued, patina sage, coral, and shades of grey

Rich Lavigne Photography for Engagements, Weddings

Rich Lavigne Photography is a husband-wife team based in central NJ, servicing the tri-state area. Please check them out, and let me know what you think! They came recommended to me by a friend, who is using them for her October 2012 wedding, saying that they are easy to work with, and open about providing references.

Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale! Holiday and Resort 2011

It’s that time of the year again…the Lilly Pulitzer Holiday and Resort Sale in the Vally Forge area has arrived!!!

Here are the details:
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Hall C
100 Station Ave
Oaks, PA 19456

If you’re using a GPS, and it doesn’t find the above address, use 1601 Egypt Rd, Phoenixville, PA 19460, and follow signs for the sale from there.

Friday, December 9, 2011 (7am – 8pm)
Doors open at 6am.

Saturday, December 10, 2011 (8am – 4pm)
Doors open at 7am.

I went in the summer for one of their famous Warehouse Sales, and it was bonkers! What a rush! People get there at 4 am, the uniform for the Warehouse shopper ranged from evening wear to sorority girl style. Many admittedly had “no budget” and racked up $1000s of dollars worth of Lilly goods.

This event is worth the wait simply because you are getting up to 70% off on the current season. A few of the styles were even selling at regular price online and at stores. There are also some great samples available. Please note, they are not dispensing pre-sale ticket numbers this year, this Holiday and Resort sale is strictly first come first serve.

Before the blowout, I had never set foot in a Lilly store, but I had so much fun and had so much luck at their Warehouse Sale that I am officially a convert.

Lilly Pulitzer Resort Must-Haves

Here’s some advice that I overheard in line last time.

1. Go for the bags and shoes first, since they are usually the first to go

2. Wear undergarments that you feel comfortable changing in – there are no dividers, just a curtained “changing area.”

3. Giant shopping bags are provided, but if you are looking to buy in bulk, some people brought cardboard boxes the size of shopping carts to help schlep their stuff around.

4. Bring an adventurous spirit – better to grab more sizes/styles, and edit from there.

For more info, see the official flyer on the Lilly Pulitzer website.

Lost in Translation

Danishes sitting pretty

“Rigtigt godt hotel til prisen”

I am trying to book a reasonably priced hotel in South Beach, Florida, and on this review site I see quite a few reviews in languages other than English. They might have something very important to say! Must decode! What do you think “Rigtigt godt hotel til prisen” means in Danish? I was expecting some sort of negative review along the lines of “This hotel is a prison.”

Thanks to google translate…it means “Very good hotel for the price”! Bo-ring. Next!

Best “Green” Shampoo & Conditioner

This product is so wonderful that I tried to sneak it onto an airplane even though it was way over the fluid ounce quota. These suds in a bottle are so fabulous that when faced with choosing whether to chuck it at airport security when confronted by TSA, or pay $25 to check my bag, I chose to part with my cash rather than part with my shampoo. Understated, downright dowdy packaging conceals the goods, and is as effective as letting your handsome boyfriend wear his favorite ugly clothes to keep other girls off the scent. Let me tell you, this not only made my hair feel soft and shiny after one shampoo session, but the Plumeria scent transforms my shower into a rainforest waterfall in Alba’s motherland of Hawaii.

alba Plumeria Replenishing Hair Wash

Alba’s Plumeria Hawaiian Hair Wash and Conditioner makes good on its claim to make hair manageable and soft. Certified organic aloe and kelp provide mineral-rich nutrition while gentle cleansers and tropical fruit extracts wash away impurities. Enriched with awapuhi for shiny, healthy hair.

My only criticism for the Conditioner is that it is too thick to squeeze out of the itty bitty hole in the bottle, but it works great!

Alba also offers a range of hair care shampoos for different needs:
1) Cocoa Butter Dry-Repair Hair Wash
2) Coconut Milk Extra-Rich Hair Wash
3) Gardenia Hydrating Hair Wash
4) Honeydew Nourishing Hair Wash
5) Mango Moisturizing Hair Wash
6) Plumeria Replenishing Hair Wash

Being “green” is not the most important thing on my product must-have list not because I don’t care about the planet and what I introduce to my body, but because I have found that they fall short time and time again. I want something that performs! This is one of the few products that makes the grade on both accounts.

4 Products to Clear, Radiant Skin

After over a decade of experimenting with face masks, exfoliating scrubs, face creams, I put together a sequence of reliable, top-notch products that have come through for my skin in times of need, i.e. nipping an oncoming breakout in the bud. Pimples tend to pop up during times of stress and the immune system is compromised and susceptible to bacterial infection, thus many anti-acne over-the-counter (OTC) products have the active antibacterial ingredients benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. A common prescription anti-acne medicated cream will have 5% benzoyl peroxide, but you can pack a more powerful punch with up to 10% benzoyl peroxide over the counter for $5.99 or less with a coupon. Use these products in this order for clear skin that is soft as a baby’s bottom. Without further ado, my daily acne fighting regimen for sensitive skin:

1. Kiehl’s Centella Skin-Calming Facial Cleanser ($28.50): A gentle, alcohol-free cleanser that won’t dry out skin. This is a great cleanser for sensitive, combination skin. Save yourself the money, and instead of a Clarisonic, invest in jumbo cotton balls to facilitate lathering and gently exfoliate to get rid of dirt and grime for extra smooth, clean skin. There is a lot of flexibility here – you can go for a less expensive gel cleanser, or cream cleanser from L’Oreal instead.

Kiehl'ss Centella Skin-Calming Facial Cleanser

2. Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Control ($5.99): 10% Benzoyl Peroxide acne medicated face wash. Use this as a spot treatment, pseudo-mask for acne-prone, trouble areas. Apply to the T-zone, pesky pimples, and let it sit and absorb into skin for 5 minutes or so. This is a good time to brush your teeth! Then rinse. This product is the best bang for your buck. You get the most active ingredient for the least amount of money. Housedaughter approved!

Clean and Clear Continuous Control (10% Benzoyl Peroxide)

3. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control® Triple-Action Toner ($7.49): 2% Salicylic Acid. Use a cotton ball and apply generously all over. This is the best smelling acne toner on the market. Fresh scent, never medicated-smelling, and has the maximum active ingredient of salicylic acid allowed over the counter. This is a leave-on treatment. No rinsing, please. I like to use salicylic acid here – if the benzoyl peroxide didn’t zap the pimple already, this will.

Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Toner (2% Salicylic Acid)

4. L’Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream ($39.00): Moisturizing is the key step! Anti-acne medications will irritate and dry skin. If you fail to moisturize, your skin will over produce oil to compensate for oil stripped from the skin, exacerbating breakouts. That’s why it is so important to always moisturize after washing and treating skin. A simple moisturizer will do, but if you can, splurge here. Made with organic angelica from the Drôme region of France, this is the best cream to use because it is dermatologist tested to be non-comedogenic (will not clog pores). You can moisturize with confidence!

If neon citrus had a fragrance, it would smell like this cream. Fresh and botanical, this moisturizes long after others wick away. L’OCCITANE’s patented angelica complex reinforces natural skin hydration, resulting in moisturized, smooth, radiant skin. Don’t forget the neck, as this skin shows age the most.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream: With Organic Angelica Water and Essential Oil

Last thing – try not to touch your face. This introduces oils and germs from your fingers to your face.

Happy Halloween!

Check out our pumpkin carvings this year! This year I took a more sculptural route, and hollowed out mini pumpkins to form the eyes of this owl critter.

What you need:
1 large pumpkin
2 mini pumpkins
Toothpicks
Wood dowel
Wood saw (be careful! this is sharp and dangerous)
Pumpkin Carving Saw (From your local grocery store or dollar store)
Metal Spoon for Scooping

Directions:
Cut the “lid” off the large pumpkin. Scoop out the insides and clean it out. Cut eye holes out. Save some pieces for the beak, and ear tufts.

Use the wood saw to cut the tops off of the mini pumpkins. These things are hard as a rock, so be extra careful.

Attach the mini pumpkins to the main pumpkin with toothpicks. Same for beak and ear tufts.

Use the wood dowel to carve “v” shaped feathers, and use your pumpkin carving saw for details like the wings and eye feathers. I also used toothpicks for eyelashes.

(Left) Angry Bird by G. (Right) Owl by Housedaughter

All lit up!

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