Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Traveler - The Shores Resort & Spa

And the gift guide continues! Those who prefer experiences to material items  may require you to become a little more creative with your gift giving.  Theme Park tickets, concert tickets, and spa gift cards are great gift ideas but I highly recommend a stay at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores for your travel loving friends and family members.

Our Wedding at The Shores Resort & Spa
My husband and I decided a couple of years ago that instead of getting each other gifts during our anniversary, we would put that money towards spending time and doing something special together.  This year we decided to go back to the place where our married life began.  The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores.

Though we were married several years ago, this resort is still my favorite hotel I've ever been to.  I had such a terrific experience planning and celebrating our wedding day at The Shores that I will forever hold this resort high above the rest.  A day that is commonly stressful and full of Murphy's Law experiences for many was completely tranquil and smooth for us.  Our entire wedding day was completely perfect thanks to the wonderful staff at The Shores Resort & Spa.

Outdoor Lounge Area and Tiki Hut Bar
The last time we stayed overnight was our wedding night, though we have visited the restaurant on site many times since then.

Just like the day of our wedding, we were greeted by a friendly, professional hotel staff  the moment we stepped foot on property for our first child free night together in two years.  Everyone was very helpful, approachable, and genuinely warm.  It was great to see the resort still had amazingly inviting customer service.

As we entered the lobby I had the "we're on vacation" feeling- Even though we were only staying for one night.  There is something about the classy atmosphere of The Shores that instantly relaxes and pampers its guests. From the lobby the bar, spa entrance, and restaurant can all be accessed; making it incredibly easy to get around the hotel. 

Our room was decorated with a breezy, light elegance and included a balcony with an oceanfront view.  We stepped out to view the ocean and even spent some time relaxing,  listening to the waves and watching the people below.

Latte from Azure at The Shores Resort & Spa
We headed downstairs to have our lunch at Azure, the onsite restaurant, and we were not disappointed. We both ordered the grilled cheese and tomato bisque. The food is beyond delicious and fresh.  The chef seems to take such classic dishes and create flavorful additions without removing the comfort factor.

One of my favorite aspects of The Shores Resort is the outdoor eating and lounge area.  Its a perfect place to relax, take in the beautiful ocean sounds and sights, and enjoy a delicious latte (which, of course, I did.) Nothing says "Good Morning" like a salty beach breeze and a great cup of coffee.

During the warm months, the pool and lounge chairs are the perfect place to take a load off and just enjoy the beach life.  The cooler months are perhaps my favorite time to visit The Shores.  This resort features beachfront fire pits that are the perfect place to snuggle, sip hot cocoa, and make smores (smores kit available in all resort rooms for $10) when there is a bit of a chill in the air. 

My husband's favorite part of The Shores Resort? The beds.  Seriously, these beds and pillows are some of the most comfortable we have ever slept in.  And for tired parents looking forward to getting one night of truly restful sleep... comfortable beds are VERY important. The room's quiet, tranquil atmosphere made it very easy for us to deeply sleep through the night and awake pleasantly rested.

We had an amazing time visiting The Shores. I wish we could've stayed longer.  We may just head back with our son once Spring hits to enjoy a little family time at this spectacular hotel.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide:For the Sentimental - Charismatiq Photography Family Photos

Ever wonder what to get that person in your life that has EVERYTHING?  Or the one that truly doesn't need or want anything? Or just have someone who is extremely hard to buy for in general?  Sentimental gifts are the gifts to give here.  You can't go wrong with a gift that tugs at the heart strings and professionally done family photos are not only appropriate for your own use during the Holiday Season, they also make great gifts. Whether you want to gift a session to a family or gift nicely framed photos from your own session, there are plenty of gifting options perfect for your loved ones.

This year was the second that we had our photos done by Charismatiq Photography and once again, I am extremely happy with the experience and results.  If you remember from last year, my entire family seems to find photoshoots a little awkward. And if my son is not in the mood to take photos or cooperate... then he is just NOT in the mood.

Of course, the day we were taking photos my son was in one of those moods. Knowing Charishma is great with kids, I figured we would try and see what happened.  I'm glad we did!  Despite my son's frosty demeanor, Charishma ended up capturing some enchanting moments and getting some beautiful photos.  Friends have even compared our family photos this year to "the ones that come with the frame."

I HIGHLY reccomend using Charimatiq Photography if you are in the Central Florida area.  Especially if you have kids or feel awkward taking photographs.  Charishma has such a warm, friendly demeanor you will instantly feel at ease and comfortable- Making for some gorgeous photographs.

Below are some of Charismatiq Photography's pricing options.  Definitely affordable and a great value.

15 Minute Holiday mini sessions with 5-7 images included - $70 
(Mini sessions are seasonal and prices vary from season to season)

30 Minute sessions with 10 images included - $95

1 hour sessions with 20 images included  - $165

For scheduling and more information contact Charismatiq Photography at

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Beauty Queen - MAC Holiday Collections

It's about that time! It's time to start looking for holiday gifts for loved ones... and maybe even for yourself.  I'm starting off my gift guide with a brand that is one of my personal favorites and that has a reputation for being one of the best out there.  I'm, of course, talking about MAC Cosmetics.

MAC is doing it BIG for the Holiday Season this year with not one, not two, but THREE collections. First of all, lets just talk about how gorgeous the packaging for each of these collections is. You have glitter.  You have the cameo medallions.  And you have pearl strand inspired textures.  Classy, fun, and glamorous.

Objects of Affection/ Pink and Rose Pigments and Glitter
Objects of Affection is a line that is especially loved by beauty pros and bloggers.  This collection is a gorgeously put together series of mini kits featuring color, glitter, and high quality. Some kits contain pigments and glitter while others contain color coordinated lipglasses. Objects of Affection/ Pink and Rose Pigments and Glitter is truly an elegant collection of pink shades ranging from somewhat "nude" pinks to more prominently rosy pinks to an almost plum-pink color. This collection has just enough sparkle to be used to impress during a holiday party or get together.

Keepsakes/Beige Eyes
MAC's Keepsakes Eyes Collection is right up my alley.  We all know I love eye makeup.  And we all know I love the "Nude" eye makeup trend.  The Keepsakes/ Beige Eyes is the perfect combination of two of my makeup related obsessions.  This compact is small enough to fit in your purse, packaged so beautifully that you'll be itching to take it out, and contains such versatile colors that you'll use it again and again. Keepsakes also comes in "Smoky Eyes," [pictured] and "Plum Eyes."  Keepsakes/Plum Eyes is especially appropriate for the holiday season with its rich shades of purple that often coordinate beautifully with the dark greens, golds, and greys worn during the holidays.

Keepsakes/ Smoky Eyes
Now to the Heirloom Mix Collection.  This collection is all about giving that little extra sparkle. Literally.  The Heirloom Mix Lipstick is perfectly contained in a black, silver sparkled packaging.  The color "Sparks of Romance" is true red matte frost.  Its exactly what I think of when I picture the perfect lip look for Christmas Dinner or New Years Eve Party.

The Heirloom Mix Cremesheen Glass also features the black with silver sparkles packaging. With 5 shades ranging from "Romantic Overture," a clear base with sparkles, to "Courting Chic," a deep berry red with gold sparkles, there is a complimentary color for every skintone and style. ("Ceremonial" pictured.)

The Heirloom Mix Mineralize Blush features a pearlized shimmer with buildable coverage. Sweet Sentiment [pictured]  is a rosy pink that I will definitely be using throughout the cooler months to give a my lighter colored skin a cool flush.

The Heirloom Mix Pressed Pigment Minis are great for those who like to have lots of color in a small, easily transported package. These can be applied dry or to damp skin for a more pronounced, dramatic look.  With a creamy texture and radiant shimmer, these pigments are the definition of stunning. ("Victorian Plum" pictured.)

Make sure you head to your local MAC counters, boutiques, or online here to check out the rest of the amazing products in the Objects of Affection, Keepsakes, and Heirloom Mix Collections. Happy shopping! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mommy Holiday Tips

Mommy post ahead!  Although, this may be an entertainment piece as well since I will be explaining how I came up with these tips... Hint - We had quite the experience with our little one during last year's holidays.

If its your first year with your bundle of joy, you may be wondering how the holidays will change for you.  You may be anticipating some changes or maybe you haven't even given it much thought.  Either way, this post is meant to help my fellow mamas have a less stressful, smoother holiday experience.

Problem:  Thanksgiving Dinner. You may not get to eat with everyone.

Personal Experience:   Ok.  I will admit I was blind sighted by this one.  First let me state that I am lucky enough to not have to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner.  We have family on both sides that cook this dinner whether we attend or not... We, of course, show up with a side, dessert, or appetizer; which I usually prepare. But for the most part we get to enjoy the company of family during a delicious feast. 
Last year was my son's first Thanksgiving.  I was fully expecting to have him fuss since he used to get overwhelmed in a new environment with a large group of people around him. But my little boy was full on crying and screaming most of Thanksgiving day.  I tried to put him in his pack n play with his favorite snacks, a bottle, books, and toys during dinnertime... It was a no go.  I ended up taking him into another room and rocking him until he eventually fell asleep. By the time I was able to put him to sleep in his pack n play, everyone else was finished eating.  So I hurriedly ate my lukewarm dinner while carefully listening for my son to wake up. 

Solution:  This year I plan on waking my son up early that morning so that he will take his nap during our hour and a half drive.  We will bring the pack n play just in case but I'm mostly hoping napping before hand will make him a little (ok, a lot) more relaxed.  I'm also planning on brings books, toys, a DVD, and the iPad for him just in case.

Problem: Gift Giving Stress

Personal Experience:  Not only does my family celebrate Christmas, my son's birthday also takes place during that magical month.  So my gift giving/buying duties are doubled.   Last year I did pretty well with buying items on sale and planning spending so that it fit our budget.

Tip: Start buying gifts during sales NOW.  I know its hard to get into the gift buying mood, but it ends up costing you less money and stress when you buy little by little over a series of months instead of buying it all over the course of a couple of weeks. Also take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!

Buying gifts - I did very well with.  Storing those gifts until Christmas and Birthday time.... I did not do so well on that.  I had gifts stashed in every closest in our house.  This made it very overwhelming to find those gifts when it was time to wrap them.  Not to mention making our living space feel like a mess. At one point I was just putting gifts where ever I could tuck them away.  I even forgot about some of them until we were in the process of packing and moving.   I also waited until the last minute to wrap the gifts.  Not fun.

Solution:  This year I have stuck to buying gifts as they go on sale throughout the year.  I have also designated two HUGE Rubbermaid bins for my son's gifts.  And they are in the garage.  This way I can go out and look through what I have periodically, have everything in one place, and not clutter up the house.  I have also vowed to begin wrapping little by little the first week of December.

Problem:  Opening gifts is surprisingly stressful.

Personal Experience:  Maybe its just me, but I imagined watching my son open his gifts as I sipped my coffee and we all had one of those blissful childhood moments.  What really happened?  We opened a couple of gifts, my son wanted to play with one, we told him no so that we could continue open the rest of his presents.  Bad idea. He was then upset, hung up on that one toy and we ended up rushing to open the toy so he could play with it anyway.

Solution:  This year we will help my son open his gifts.  If he gets stuck on wanting to play with one specific toy, we will then open it and let him occupy himself playing with it while we open the rest of his gifts and show them to him when he is more receptive. I know this isn't what the traditional "opening of gifts" experience is... but I'll take a smiling toddler over a crying one... especially since forcing your child to open gifts when he is not interested seems odd.

I'm hoping these changes will not only give us a less stressful holiday season, but also help you mamas as well!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October Obsessions/Favorites

Its already November?!?!?  Loving it!  But this year is flying now.  You know the drill... here are my favorite products from last month.

1. Clinique's Almost Lipstick in Honey
I've had this product for awhile but recently rediscovered it as I was looking for an every day "Fall" lip color.  I love how its not too heavy, has a slight gloss, and a smooth, moisturizing balm-like texture.

2. Garnier Frutis Sleek & Shine Shampoo

My hair is super long now.  Meaning sometimes it just looks a mess throughout the day.  This shampoo helps keep my hair shiny, straight, and in place.  No more major fly-aways or frizz.

3.Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Dry Shampoo

I've always thought dry shampoo was a special combination of gross and awesome.  I mean think about it.  Its a product we buy because our hair is dirty, oily, greasy... and we either don't have time to wash it or don't particularly feel like washing it.  So we spray in this amazing substance that makes our hair look, feel, and smell clean in just a few seconds.  I had never used dry shampoo... until I became a mom and really didn't have time to wash and dry my hair before heading out for an event or night out. The best part - Big Sexy Hair's Volumizing Dry Shampoo also adds a styling aspect to the mix.  This dry shampoo not only makes my hair look and feel fresh after a few sprays, it also gives my hair a bit of a lift and plenty of volume - making it look like I spent a lot more than 2 minutes styling my hair.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

MAC Brooke Shields Collection

She has been a household name for both her looks and talent since I can remember.  Throughout my childhood  I remember Brooke Shields being the standard for an effortlessly glamorous beauty.   Not only does this woman have a great look; she also has the brains, charisma, and relatability that makes up an amazingly strong female role model. 

So, its no surprise MAC and Brooke have collaborated on a line modeled after the actress and mother.  I love this collection for its versatility.  It can be used for an every day "running errands" look but can also create a wedding, date night, or night out with the girls look just as easily. 

The Brooke Shields lipstick in "Excite" is the perfect example of this collection's flexibility. Creamy, highly pigmented, and bright enough to be worked as a bold look if desired, this lipstick is both moisturizing and long lasting. 

One piece from this collection that I can see myself using often (especially during the Holiday season) is the Brooke Shields Studio Nail Lacquer in "Pricey."  This nail lacquer dries quickly and streak-free.  The color itself is a dark, sophisticated red.  It is different enough to not feel generic but not so outrageous that it is ever inappropriate.

Lastly, I see the next piece as being a staple for those looking to keep their Summer glow throughout the cooler months. Brooke Shields Bronzing Powder in "Scone" is a tinted sheer powder that has just enough oomph to give the skin a natural, soft  radiant look.  It is also a great product to use for contouring and highlighting purposes.

Overall, I see this collection as being a great, every day line with multiple uses and looks. It is without a doubt one of MAC's more sophisticated and refined collections - which I am  absolutely loving.

Get the Brooke Shields Collection now available at your local MAC counters, boutiques and online.