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lifestyle

Pensacola Flashback

By boat drinks, catch a wave, florida, food, life's a beach, lifestyle, memories, navy, pensacola, pineapples and palm trees, ruling at life, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel 2 Comments

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What with Friday being National Margarita Day and all, I couldn’t help but take some time to finally go through my photos from last summer’s stay with my family at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel. I treated myself to first class seats on the two flights down (totally worth it), and set myself up for the most relaxing weekend I remember having all year. The real reason for our little reunion in Pensacola was to see my brother graduate A-School at Corry Station, but I’m not gonna lie — the salty, sandy days that followed were the highlight of our trip.

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Stephen’s graduation ceremony was early enough in the morning that we were able to spend a few hours exploring the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse before heading down to Pensacola Beach for a weekend of fun in the sun.

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Pensacola Beach is situated on the barrier island of Santa Rosa. It’s bordered to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay, and to the east and west by Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Jimmy Buffett fan, so there was no question about where we were going to stay. The Margaritaville Beach Hotel is gorgeous — stately, even. The decor is inspired by a combination of Jimmy’s music and the ocean, and the overall effect is unquestionably elegant.

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The rooms were decorated in hues of blues, teals and greens, and the bed was the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept on. Our balcony offered us a view of the turquoise Gulf and the softest, whitest sand I have ever seen.

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Once we unpacked, we immediately headed down to the beach for relaxing, relaxing, and more relaxing.

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I lost track of time in a hammock strung between two palm trees on the sand, which was, quite possibly, the best place I have ever spaced out.

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I collected seashells at the water’s edge — something I haven’t done in years.

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I spent an afternoon soaking up the shade on a teak lounger under an umbrella, reading my favorite magazines and catching up with my brother.

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And then I indulged in an oh-so-refreshing shower and these lovely Tocca products, compliments of the resort.

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There was also drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Margaritas by the pool…

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Mimosas at breakfast…

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Landshark in the water…

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Mudslides on the beach…

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Champagne with dinner…

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Boat drinks with my dad…

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A little water to recover…

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And, cheers. =) I think you get the point.

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Then there were the Gulf shrimp. So delicious. I think I ate shrimp with every meal I had in Pensacola.

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Colossal Shrimp Cocktail (above) and Wild American Shrimp & Grits (below) @ The Grand Marlin. The shrimp cocktail is self-explanatory, but the Wild American Shrimp & Grits consisted of chipotle seared shrimp and local boursin cheese grits surrounded by an andouille sausage tomato stew. Amazing with a bit of a kick to it.

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Lava Lava Shrimp @ Frank & Lola Love Pensacola Café. Shrimp breaded and fried then tossed with an Asian aioli sauce. So good.

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World Famous Grits À Ya Ya @ The Fish House. Spiced Gulf jumbo shrimp top a sauté of spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, shallots,and cream over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. Incredible.

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Our balcony was the perfect place to watch a storm roll in…

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…and roll out. (After a quick nap.)

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We spent a drizzly evening walking along the Portofino Boardwalk. It was a bit deserted because of the weather, but seemed like it would have been bustling on a nicer night.

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After we checked out Sunday morning, we drove east (or maybe that was west?) through the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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Despite the clouds and kicked-up breeze, it was actually a beautiful, warm day.

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We spent about an hour walking along an empty expanse of soft, white sand with hardly anyone else in sight.

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We snapped a bunch of photos here as our weekend on the Gulf drew to a close.

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These three particular shots (below) are a reminder that these pictures don’t even do it justice. =)

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There wasn’t anyone around to take a photo of the four of us, so I Photoshopped my brother and I into a photo of my parents (below) to give to my mom for Christmas. =)

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And that’s about it. Perfect long weekend.

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Hey, Dad…can we go back? Like tomorrow? =)

You’re Invited

By events, lifestyle, partying like a rock star, virginia beach No Comments

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Mom: Oh, so this year’s benefit dinner is the same weekend as the Shamrock Marathon…

Lisa: Oh yeah? So are you running that thing or what? =)

No, seriously though…

Every year, my parents come down, and we attend the annual Hands to Angels Foundation benefit dinner. Some of you have had the pleasure of joining us through the years, and you know it’s so much fun and all for a very worthy cause. This year’s fifth annual benefit dinner will be March 16, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. at the Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club. You’re invited, and you should definitely buy a ticket and come. =)

The Hands to Angels Foundation was founded in 2008 to support the ongoing research of rare genetic disorders and to assist families dealing with mounting medical bills and lost wages due to complications of a genetic disorder. It is a federally-approved non-profit organization, and was created in honor and memory of my friend’s son, Kevin.

The benefit dinner coming up on March 16 in Virginia Beach is the fifth annual fundraiser that’s being held to raise money for this very worthy cause. The dinner is open to anyone, and tickets are $40 in advance (or $50 at the door). Tickets and event details are available here. If you’d like to attend, please buy your tickets as soon as possible!

The night’s festivities will include dinner, dancing, and a silent auction. I’ll be donating a gift basket, and it will be just one of many awesome gifts and prizes raffled and auctioned off at the event!

And now, be sold on attending by imagining yourself in these photos from the last four annual dinners. Go.

First Annual, Valentine’s Day, 2009. Attend with John, Kerri, Dave and my parents. Purchase ridiculous amount of raffle tickets, and take borderline inappropriate photos with them. Win not one, but two gift baskets. Night goes down as one of the best Valentine’s Days in history of Valentine’s Days. #success

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Second Annual, February 27, 2010. Donate first gift basket, won by Meagan (see below). Attend with my parents, John, Lauren, Jeremy, Dawn, Tina, Heather, and Heather’s date (who later turns out to be a total weirdo later in the evening…long story). Wear very first Nanette Lepore dress. My mom and Linda do the YMCA while selling raffle tickets. Win a two more sweet gift baskets.

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Third Annual, March 12, 2011. Attend with my parents, two Johns, Heather, Jeremy, and Vince. Donate Jimmy Buffett-themed picnic basket (pictured below). My mom donates gift card cookies. Find new and exiting ways to pose with raffle tickets.

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Fourth Annual, February 25, 2012. Attend with my parents, John and Jeremy. I truly outdo myself buying raffle tickets to make up for the fact that I didn’t donate a basket. Win season passes to Busch Gardens and a $100 gift card to Terrapin, among other things. I don’t win iPad, but someone does, and that’s what’s important. Mardi Gras theme, so my mom wears a crazy feather headband. My bangs and eyeliner look, quite possibly, their best ever.

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Fifth Annual, March 16, 2013. You better be there.

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Six Months Late (NYFW SS13)

By fashion statements, lifestyle, spring, style, summer No Comments

Back in September, I spent hours pouring over SS13 runway photos from NYFW (and a few from the following week in London). I created these collages of my top five looks from lots of designers I love, but I never actually got around to posting this because I was too busy using these photos to help me clean out my closet. Maybe you think I was crazy for caring about spring/summer fashion when fall was around the corner, but having some inspiration in front of me as I was putting away my summer clothes was a pretty good indicator of what I probably wasn’t going to wear again. It enabled me to donate and sell some clothes and shoes instead of cluttering up my space by storing them for the winter.

The entire month of September went by in a blur, and then I figured it was way too late to post these, right? But now that its 20 degrees and snowing, I’m ready for spring. I’m ready for crisp white, bold stripes, watercolors, fun dresses, shorts, sandals, sunglasses…you name it. So even though this is technically six months late, I’m posting this now. I obviously won’t be wearing any of these exact items in the upcoming months, but I am using all this inspiration to create a bit of a wishlist. (Before the next Fashion Week happens in two weeks, and I have to start all over again.) =)

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All photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

A Few of my Favorite Things

By hair care, life-changing purchases, lifestyle, lists, shopping, skin care, style, wine, year in review 2 Comments

2012-favorites

1. Shelley Kyle Tiramani Moisturizing Body Lotion. Love the way this lotion’s subtle scent reminds me of outdoor beach house showers in summer. Not sure why, but it does. I picked mine up at a local shop here in VB called Simply Selma’s. Love. =)

2. Hunter Huntress Rain Boot in Pillar Box Red. I actually purchased my Hunters at the end of 2011, but from snowy nights to soggy crab pickin’ parties, full-blown hurricanes to just plain rainy afternoons, these boots have certainly seen their fair share of puddles in 2012, and the rest of my shoes are certainly appreciative of that.

3. Longchamp ‘Le Pliage – Large’ Tote. I spent a lot of time this year looking for the perfect travel tote to pull triple duty as a carry-on, a purse, and a camera bag (in combination with my Ona Roma camera insert). I found this one in San Francisco, and it’s absolutely perfect.

4. Collecting seashells. It seems like I collected more shells along the water’s edge this year than I have since I was a kid. This particular handful came from the Florida coastline, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the soft, white sand in front of the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola.

5. St. Tropez Everyday Gradual Tan for Body. Started using this tanner one right around Memorial Day weekend, and it kept me glowing all summer long. No streaks, lovely scent. Easily the best self-tanner I’ve tried.

6. Statement pearls. This necklace was a gift from my mom last Christmas, and it’s been an accessory in heavy rotation throughout 2012. This particular Stella & Dot ‘Sofia’ pearl bib necklace is no longer available, but the brand’s ‘Lucia’ necklace is pretty similar. This more affordable Forever21 Graduated Pearlescent Necklace is another one I wear all the time.

7. Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil. This product is a game-changer. Just a teeny drop of this product works miracles in my hair.  As in, I can replace at least 16 other hair products with just this one. Go to Sephora. Ask for a sample. =)

8. Gap 1969 Always Skinny Jeans. I wore the hell out of these jeans this year. =) They’re comfy, flattering, and I love that they come in lengths.

9. Beach Cruiser #2 (aka 2012 Electra Cruiser 1 in Blue). I bought myself Beach Cruiser #2 this summer just because I had room for an extra bike. I still love my Electra Coaster 7D, but the gears/fenders are a little fussy, and the lower-maintenance single-speed is a bit more conducive to riding on gravel trails and hanging my beach chair on the handlebars. Besides, coaster brakes are sweet.

10. Tommy Bahama Medium Brim Scarf Hat. (seen on me here) This hat was a splurge, but I’ve got to say it was well worth the money I paid for it. It’s so secure on my head that I can wear while I’m riding my bike, which I love. It’s also very high quality and pretty flexible, which means I can lean back in my beach chair without it awkwardly moving around, looking ridiculous or losing it’s shape. All that, and it protects my skin, my blonde locks and my eyes from the sun. #lifesaver

11. Saint James Garde Cote II in Noir. If I had to choose the best article of clothing I acquired all year, it would be this shirt. 2012 was a year of quality over quantity for me, and this shirt is a perfect example. Instead of going overboard shopping during my annual summer trip to NYC, I kept the item count down and put my dollars towards this top. It’s constructed of a UV-protective fabric, so well-made, wrinkle-free and basically the most versatile shirt ever. I’ve worn it to the office, to the mall, to the airport, to dinner, to wineries, and everywhere in between. I’ve folded it, hung it up, washed it, packed it, and crumpled it up in a ball — it doesn’t lose its shape. I’ve worn it with skinnies/heels, boyfriend jeans/flats, skirts, blazers, sweaters, shorts…I even re-created my favorite J.Crew SS13 runway outfit with it (kind of). Maybe I need it in red stripes, too? =)

12. Chandon Blanc de Noirs. Easily the best wine I discovered on my trip to Napa Valley. It’s a delightful blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, and to be honest, my recent shipment from the winery included a bottle of this stuff the size of my torso, so it’s exactly what I’ll be ringing in the new year with. Don’t be surprised if this bubbly ends up on a list of 2013’s favorites, too. =)

12 Things I Secretly Love About Being (Legally) Single at 31

By boys, financial wisdom, lifestyle, lists, ruling at life 6 Comments

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{the ring I bought myself in St. Maarten when I just the teeniest bit jealous of all my engaged friends}

In honor of today’s date (12/12/12), my friend Nicole asked me (and every other blogger on the planet) to write a 12-themed post for her link-up party. I knew I wanted to write a list, but I’ve been struggling to come up with an original topic all week. I was even on the fence about this one until I checked in with the boyfriend to make sure he wouldn’t be offended.

I say “legally” single because I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost five years, so I’m not really that single; I’m just not married. Also, this is not meant to be an anti-marriage post or offend any of my married friends. Being married has its pros and cons, and so does being unmarried. You’re only getting one side of one story here — 12 of my personal favorite things about being (legally) single.

When I was in college, all I wanted to do was graduate and get married. When I think about it now, I’m nothing but grateful for the last 10 years and the fact that I haven’t gotten married yet. Here’s why.

1. I’m the only one with access to my bank accounts. For the last six years, I’ve been exceptionally proud of my money management skills. I’ve got several retirement accounts, an HSA, two savings accounts, both a personal and a business checking account, and a few credit cards. I balance my accounts every two weeks after I get paid, and I know exactly what my financial situation is at all times. While I’m responsible for exercising some self-discipline in order to maintain financial order in my life, I also don’t have to justify my spending to anyone else. I can spend or save my hard-earned money however I choose, and I take great pride in knowing that as of this moment, I can support myself financially pretty much indefinitely. It also makes it easy to do my own taxes every year.

2. I still have my own room. You know how some people go back to their parents’ house and get to sleep in their old bedrooms? I don’t really experience that anymore, partly because my parents have moved a few times since I left, but mainly because, while it’s been relocated a few times and evolved into a more grown-up version, I still have my old room, and yes, it is still decorated in Hawaiian print. Also, there are no one else’s clothes in my closet — just mine. It’s all mine. =)

3. I spend plenty of time alone. Anyone who knew me ten years ago can attest to the fact that I hated being alone. I pretty much attribute every anxiety attack I had between the ages of 10 and 23 to being alone. And I don’t mean being single. I just mean being literally alone, by myself, with no one to talk to. Luckily, over the years, I’ve learned to really enjoy spending time alone — so much so, that I spend at least a few nights a week at my own house, doing my own thing, sleeping alone in my own bed. I value time with myself just as much as the time I spend with anyone else, and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to figure that out.

4. I can still plan my future wedding in my head. I don’t do it obsessively like some girls, but I’ve been known to occasionally save a photo of a pretty dress or party favor. I’ve been saving a magazine with a picture of a cake in it since, I don’t know, like 2002. The fact that I’d choose the same cake now as I would have 10 years ago is actually kind of awesome.

5. I’m free to do pretty much whatever I want without asking permission or checking in. If a few of my co-workers ask me if I want to have dinner or go to a movie after work, and I don’t already have plans, the answer is yes. I don’t need to ask anyone else. Being married (or even just living with your significant other) means you’re expected to be there, so checking in or asking first is  a considerate thing to do. Since J and I don’t live together, I never have to do that unless I’m making a change to plans we already have. Most of the time, we do let each other know what we’re up to, but it’s never expected, and it’s always appreciated.

6. My friends and family rarely pressure me about having babies…mainly because they’re still busy trying to figure out when I’m going to actually get married. (Except for Kristy. She doesn’t care. She just wants me to have babies.)

7. Some of my best friends over the last 10 years have been guys. Granted, I don’t have many close guy friends in my life anymore — most of them moved away, some got married, etc. — but I’m thankful for the time we were friends and that I had the chance to meet them. If I had gotten married years ago, that probably wouldn’t have happened.

8. Some of my best friends over the last 10 years have been roommates. Again, some are still close friends, and some aren’t, but the fact of the matter is that I probably wouldn’t have even met any of those roommates if it weren’t for the fact that I wasn’t married and I did need someone to live with. I still have a roommate now, and J and I both consider him a close friend. =)

9. No one else is depending on me financially. Technically, I could quit my job and go wait tables without even asking anyone’s opinion. I’m 99.99 percent certain I’m not going to do that, but some days it’s just nice to know I could. 😉

10. My boyfriend and I are still “dating.” You know what that means? We regularly go out to nice dinners, movies, etc. It’s never assumed that we’re going to just hang out at one of our houses and do nothing all the time, and we never get sick of spending time together — probably because we spend plenty of time apart, too. That’s not to say we’re not serious about each other. We live within walking distance of each other; we have a dog; and we share a Costco membership.

11. I’m not obligated to spend time with anyone’s family but my own. That’s not to say I don’t love hanging out with J’s family — I certainly do! But I hang out with them because I want to, and no one ever makes me feel guilty if I have other plans. Neither one of us has to worry about how to split our time for the holidays because it’s pretty much a given that I’m going to go see my family for Christmas, and J is going to stay here with his. We’ve been rotating Thanksgivings, but again…that’s because we both want to, and not because either one of us feels like we have to.

12. It’s a total coincidence that my boyfriend and I have matching cookware. It has nothing to do with a wedding registry, and we don’t live together. We’ve just happened to have matching cookware since before we met. I feel like I just kind of have a strange appreciation for that fact that I wouldn’t have under other circumstances.

Thoughts? J seemed to think this post would be controversial. Like I said, these are just my own personal favorite things about not being married. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan to get married some day or that there aren’t things I dislike about not being married. It just means I’m completely happy with my life the way it is now, and I’m in no rush to make any major changes.

I’d love to know…are you single? Married? What are your favorite things about whichever one applies to you?