Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post: Traveling Peru

Hello to all of Tracy's lovely readers, this is Chiara over from Mes Joies de Vivres. I am thrilled to be guest posting for Tracy while she is away!! 
When Tracy asked me to do a guest post on one of my favorite travel destinations... well I couldn't resist.... traveling is easily one of the things that make me happiest.
Without further adue, I present to you my presently favorite travel destination... Peru!!! 
Machu Pichu
If you've happened to read my blog, you already know that I am presently working in Peru for the Embassy. So I've had several months to seriously travel through Peru and explore. The best way to explain this amazing country, would be to compare it to a Target! It is most definitely a one-stop-shop, you can see/find so many different things... 
In the mood for the Jungle? the Desert? The Beach? Climb one of the seven wonders of the world? done! You get where I'm going with this....

Lima (the capital) is seriously underestimated, most tourists don't bother visiting and they are missing out.... 
The nicest neighborhoods are Miraflores and San Isidro, they are right on the Pacific Ocean and have the best restaurants and shopping. Larcomar is a stunning mall right above the Ocean, where  you can find the best restaurants and if you like dancing.... go to Aura, it is open until 6am!!
If you like silver jewelry.... Lima is amazing, there are jewellery stores and markets that sell the most amazing jewels for 1/3 of what we are used to paying!!! Ilaria is a jewelry store which has the most amazing designs. 
There are so many things to see in Lima, but the best part is eating out!!! I've never eaten so well....sushi, italian, traditional peruvian, seafood.... and going to fancy 4 star restaurants is very affordable for us.
Hotel: Miraflores Park Hotel. Seriously amazing pool on the rooftop!! All the celebrities stay here, including Kate Moss!
Bravo Bar, having a Pisco (National Drink)
Larcomar mall, having delicious breakfas
Think stunning Caribbean Beaches (who doesn't like that...). 
The best spot was by far the Vichayito beach, just by Mancora (in the North). Amazing waves for the boy who likes to surf, amazing masages for moi! Also, horseback riding on the beach... paragliding...and great seafood!! 
Hotel: Costa blanca... right on the beach.... need I say more? 
Tip: If you like to eat fish and seafood... you MUST try their Ceviche!  
Vichayito Beach
Machu Picchu
Yeah it speaks for itself.... after all, it is one of the seven wonders of the world... 
You need to take the plane to Cusco to get there... and I definitely recommend staying a couple days, it is really worth it!! 
Where else will you see a parked Lama?! And cute little traditional old ladies selling beautiful scarves. 
Machu Picchu itself is just breath-taking, and you can scratch one off your list of things to do in life. 
Hotel: Stay at the Casa Andina, and go eat at Chicha Restaurant near the main square, you wont regret it. 
In Cusco
Parked Lama, waiting for his owner in Cusco
Machu Picchu
The Jungle
Think Tropical forest, waterfalls, and.... the best part.... monkeys!! I was on cloud nine when I got to see the little monkeys, swim under a waterfall, go white water rafting... You can do all this and more in Tarapoto or Iquitos. 
Must: Drink their amazing Cocona Liquor. They have tons of exotic fruits in the jungle, and the cocktails... delish!
Hotel in Tarapoto: Puerto Palmeras Hotel. (great pool!!!)
Tip: Don't go during rain season.... trust me... big mistake...(been there, done that....)
Rain Forest
Swimming in the waterfalls
On our way WhiteWater Rafting
The Desert

Hotel: Hotel Paracas, 4 star quality, stunning and luxurious.
Paracas National Reserve

On our way to the Ballestas Islands
The adorable Sea Lions, a couple out of the hundreds on the island
Thanks so much for reading all about my favorite adventures in Peru. If you want to know more, or are planning a trip to Peru, feel free to stop by my blog Mes Joies de Vivres and ask me all the questions you may  have! Thanks Tracy for the chance to guest post on your amazing blog (yes I love your blog... at the cost of sounding borderline stocker-ish). 
Have a lovely day. xoxo C.

I had never seen the desert before so this was breathtaking! There are so many great beaches in the National Reserve Park, but the best part must be the Ballestas Islands, right off the coast of Paracas. Think Gallapagos Islands, full of sea Lions and pinguins.... This was so much fun, and definitely something new! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Guest Post: Vacationing in San Carlos, Mexico!

Hi guys I'm Melissa and I am married to an amazing man who looks darn good in a uniform (army man) and we have 2 adorable children. I blog about my style or my attempt at style since it's not easy to walk in stilettos when your carrying a 1 year old. But if you want to poke in from time to time you can catch me here.   But today I want to talk about my most amazing vacation, dare I say it, ever!  But let me clarify something first. You see the dark olive skin in this picture. Well it is in fact all me.  Sure the sunny weather and hours of laying out on my awesome vacation helped out but I am in fact Mexican which leads me into my point; vacationing in Mexico. 

We use to live in Arizona and the drive to San Carlos, Mexico was only 8 hours away. Since it is so close we have mastered the art of vacationing there, yes it's an art. Trust me. Since I am feeling so giving I would love to share our vacationing secrets with you.  Wait for it, wait for it....
 Vacation Home Rentals.  Yup that's right, we love home rentals because when we vacation there it's for a week long period and vacation homes offer multiple rooms, washers and dryers and large open spaces for our children to roam in. We make sure to get the rentals that offer bikes and kayaks and that are near to the beach. We also love to go with other couples and share the cost. 

Another one of our loves is the snorkeling and for my husband sake the spear fishing, don't worry we eat what we catch. The underwater life is so beautiful, the locals are so friendly and the food is priced so well. I really could go on and on but I think the pictures speak for themselves.  So I ask, have you visited San Carlos, Mexico before? If you answered no redeem yourself and book a vacation rental.  Your wallet and your smoking new tan will thank me. 
Thanks again Tracy for letting me crash here today you're so awesome!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guest Post: Where to stay & what to see in Vegas!

Hi there!
I’m Bre and you can find me over at Breezy in Bloom.  I’m a bride to be (this June!!) in the last year of my twenties, and tend to blog about the typical day-to-day goings on in the life of Bre.  While talking to my friend about my first guest blog, I told her I didn’t know what to say in my intro, and this is what she suggested, “Hi, I’m Bre, and I’m your one stop shop for all things fuchsia, fit, and fabulous!”  I got a good laugh out of that and thought you might as well.  No? 
Anyway, let’s get down to the reason I’m here.  Tracy posted that she was looking for someone to write a guest blog, and since I have never done a guest blog before, I thought this might be a good opportunity to take the plunge.  I thought myself rather brave since at the time I volunteered I had no idea what the blog was going to be about.  I received and email response from Tracy the same evening asking for a blog about my favorite vacation spot.  That’s easy!  Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about this very thing!  Don’t worry, I won’t just copy that one, I will give you some freshness.
My favorite vacation spot is (drum roll please)……
Being from Northern California, this is an easy place to get to because it’s only an hour and forty-five minutes by plane, or an 11 hour drive (notsomuch).  My Vegas addiction started in 2005, and I have been there a total of 9 times in 5 years!  The most important things to take into account when planning your Vegas trip are location, pool, nightlife, budget, and time of year.  Late Spring and early Fall are the best times to go because the weather is still pool-worthy, but you are less likely to sweat off all of your make-up at any given time of day.  I have compiled some favorites and tips below in hopes of making planning your Vegas trip a little bit easier.
It is especially important if you are heading to Vegas in the summertime to choose your hotel based on the pool.  The hotels in Vegas have so much to offer: amazing restaurants, clubs/bars, and SHOPPING!  Another good way to select a hotel is by the location on the main strip:
·       The Wynn is a fabulous hotel with great nightlife and an amazing pool.  They have an adults only pool (which also happens to be topless if you’d like) and a separate “everyone” pool for families and girls who don’t want their significant others gawking at other women’s racks all day.  Depending on your interests, the downside is that it’s down toward the very end of the new strip area.  If you like shopping, it’s very close to Fashion Show Mall.  The rooms here are plush, but if you are on a budget, avoid room service at all costs!
·       MGM Grand is definitely not as swanky as The Wynn, but they do have some pretty cool pools with a lazy river to float in with your cocktail.  If you are ballin’ on a budget like us, MGM is the perfect place to stay.  The hotel has several restaurants, a great location on the strip, decent nightlife, and the famous MGM Lion’s Den.  It’s an indoor habitat with a bunch of lions just “lion” around (get it?).  They also have an awesome players club.  JB and I joined and played a bunch of penny slots while we were there a couple of years ago and we still get offers for free rooms and discounted rates at all of their partner hotels.
·       Mandalay Bay is included in the MGM players club and is somewhere in between MGM and Wynn.  MB is located on the opposite end of the strip from the Wynn, but is connected to the FREE tram that runs between there and the Excalibur hotel.  They have a House of Blues there as well as other great nightlife spots, awesome pools, and the rooms are a couple of notches above those at MGM.
If you are going during the melt-your-face-off season, your daytime plans should include indoor activities like shopping (Planet Hollywood and Fashion Show Mall are great for this) or lounging by the pool.  Save the strip exploring for the evening when it’s cooler outside.
If you are not into the club/bar scene, or you are going with your significant other, spend your money on a nice dinner and a show.  Vegas has some of the best dining in the world and there is nothing more awesome than a Cirque D’ Soleil show!  They even have an Elvis Cirque show now.  I have seen The Beatles Cirque show, LOVE, twice.  You can also find Broadway shows, like Avenue Q there from time to time.  The pic below (featuring my handsome future hubby) was taken at Cathouse, a restaurant inside Luxor.  It has an awesome lounge vibe with a voyeuristic element.  There are large plexi-glass windows that look into a staged dressing room and girls in lingerie go in and “get ready” for their evening.  They sit at a vanity and brush their hair and apply makeup and it’s crazy that you are sitting at a table eating dinner while this is happening 20 feet from you.  They have a great menu with things like macaroni and cheese and spaghetti with meatballs and delicious cocktails.
With everything there is to do it Vegas, its hard not to have a FABULOUS time.  Hopefully I have provided some helpful tips to consider when planning your first, or next, trip to Vegas.  If anything, maybe I just got you really jazzed about going there!  Whatever you decide to do with your summer vacation, I hope you have a wonderful time! 
One last thing to remember:
What happens in Vegas….ends up on Facebook/Blogger!

Friday, March 25, 2011

get out there.

Hope you're having a great week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post: The Shine Project

I'm an optimistic writer who realized I needed to do more in my life to accomplish my goals, and lift others up along the way. I created The Shine Project to inspire us all to reach our full potential.
Let's see how much good we can accomplish by
performing extra acts of love.
Let's see how many people we can make smile,
and how many lives improve because of it.
I created SHINE necklaces to give us a daily reminder of our purpose.
$1 from each necklace goes into The Shine Project Scholarship Fund
which will be awarded to an inner city school student
to help pay for their college tuition.
Each week is kicked off with a new Shine CHALLENGE.
Your accomplishments are features the next Sunday,
and some amazing things have happened from them!
Come say Hello, and let the world see you SHINE.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh my weenie!

I love my pups, and therefore, I love everything weenie dog related.

My sweet MIL is always so good at getting me weenie related gifts.  My birthday is coming up in April (on the 9th) and she sent home a goodie bag!  Check these out:

Dachshund Oil & Vinegar holders!

See the little cork at the end of their tail?  That's where you pour from!  Aren't these adorable.

She also sent me these little weenie salt & pepper shakers:
It separates in the center into two shakers!

She's also managed to find socks, keychains, monopoly boards, slippers, soap, towels... everything you can imagine.  It's adorable!
Thanks, CAL!
Is anyone else just as obsessed with their dogs & cats?

Monday, March 21, 2011

about inspiration.

Last week, I went with my boss to a luncheon for Wind Youth Services.  If you are unfamiliar, Wind is an organization designed for giving homeless youth a home.  It's more than just walls, though.  It's trained counselors, nurses, artists, caregivers and whole hearted good people.  The facility is fabulous.  It has a washer and dryer, a high school with a sweet teacher, a place for them to get treated if they are sick, and big open space for the youth to learn.  There is also a full-time shelter that houses kids permanently up until they are 18 years old, or until they have a place to go.
{image courtesy of the Wind Youth Services Website}
Although I was impressed by the facility, I was even more impressed by J.  J gave me a tour around the entire property.  And while I was getting the tour, I thought she worked there.  I thought she was a counselor who helped out the youth.  And at the end of the tour, she said "I live in the shelter".

J is one in a million.  She is so kind and vibrant.  She didn't wear any resentment on her sleeves.  She was just happy to show me around.  Impressed is an understatement.

It's hard to believe and understand how many homeless youth are living around us.  Many of them were just born into it, some of them were abandoned, and some of them end up homeless by chance.  According to the organization, an estimated 1700 homeless youth live in my area alone.

J inspired me, and here I thought meeting them I was supposed to do the inspiring.

Meeting her got me thinking.  I thought about her all weekend.  Her strength, her ability to persevere.

I wrote her a thank you card and gave it to her this morning (we did a youth homeless outreach event today - the youth from Wind were helping us feed the homeless).  I hope she knows how impressed I was by her.

"Life is like a game of cards.  The hand that is dealt to you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will." 
-Jawaharal Nehru

"After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box."  
Italian Proverb

"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."  
-William Feather

{PS. her name isn't "J" - I did that to protect her identity.}
If you are interested in learning more about the shelter or donating, click on the link above.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rompers: yes, no? With what shoes?

I'm on a shopping kick.  And a romper kick.  I love them and I can't figure out why.  : )  I am short & I don't think they look like they should on me, but I still love 'em! PS... I have Jess from Polka Dots, Pearls, & Pink... Oh My! On my mind. Her romper love inspires me! ;)

Here are a few that I absolutely love:

High heels/Pumps/Wedges?  or no?
I only own two rompers... one in all black and one with a pattern on it (that I haven never worn).
I have only worn it once with flats.
Shoes I am lovin':

shoes via Nordstroms

Can you tell I am craving the sun?

We had a good weekend!  Spent lot's of time with friends C&K and just being lazy at home.  The weather has been really stormy here!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend.
{I may be out of the blogging world for a little while starting later this week.  But some great guest bloggers are stopping in!}