Five On Friday!

Oh happy day!

I've been wide awake since 3:45am (wish I were kidding!), as in lights on, out-of-bed awake. No apparent reason, but I feel completely rested and ready to tackle this Friday!  I'm looking forward to a relaxing long weekend with not a whole lot on the books -- just a lot of R+R.  Oh, and probably an early bedtime for me tonight to make up for last night's sleep shenanigans.  :)

Time for my favorite link-up day: Five on Friday.  As always, I hope you'll join me along with DarciNatasha, and Christina ... playing along is simple!  Just write a blog about five things on your mind today, anything goes really, post the logo below on your blog, and then enter your post address below in the link-up section.

Football begins.  WAIT.  Who am I?  Did I really just put my #1 as "football begins"?!  I guess for me it's not so much the sport but all that surrounds it.  While I do like going to football games, what I really love is a football game as background noise.  Am I strange?  Bliss for me would be sitting on the patio, flipping through Real Simple, with the doors to the house open and the sounds of football in the background.  Tell me I'm not the only one?

Oh, and today is "wear your football team's shirt" day at work so I am just geekily excited about that.

The Skimm.  After reading about this on Two Delighted (Megan and Colleen are such talented sisters), I immediately signed up.  The Skimm is a daily email that relays the previous day's news nuggets.  I look forward to reading this every morning ... usually while I am drying my hair.  The way it's written is so engaging and fun ... like you are talking to a girlfriend.  Now, rather than just knowing the latest celeb gossip, I can give my two cents about what's happening in the world. Here is the site if you are interested in getting this awesome email.

theSkimm Logo

This amazing bracelet which is marked down to $19.99 ... I love everything about it ... the yellow, the gold, the leather, the bling! Get. On. My. Wrist.  That Pim + Larkin, they just nail it.

Pim + Larkin Yellow Link Bracelet - Yellow/gold
I'm so very excited about this one -- a Charlotte photographer, Lindsay Wynne Photography, took some oh-so-fun pictures for me and I can't wait to share more!  What talent she has.  Here is a sneak peek :)

Ending on this note ... love, love, love this important reminder!

Kindness is always Fashionable -

Your turn to link up, TGIF ladies!


Peel Much?

Saturday night I was out to dinner with Ian when I started telling him how excited I was about my Sunday afternoon appointment at my favorite spa.  Ballantyne Resort here in Charlotte is unlike your traditional day spa and more like a full destination spa!  

After hearing about my plans to visit the gym, the pool, the sauna, the steamroom, and then get my hour-long facial ... he was sold.  He wanted in too! We called the spa right then around 10pm and left a message asking for an appointment for Ian for the same time as me.  Luckily, he got a call the next morning confirming an appointment for a hot stone massage (easily my favorite kind of massage).

The best thing about this spa is that they encourage you to come as early as you want before your service and stay as late as you'd like in order to take advantages of the spa amenities.  Done!  We headed there around 11:00 in the morning for our 2:00 appointments.  We had a great workout followed by lots of pool time, and then we headed to our respective locker rooms to do the rest of our pampering before our services.

I chose the Deep Pore Cleansing Facial this time which is a mild peel.  My aesthetician Allie was great, and she introduced me to an organic product line called Eminence that I'm interested in checking out further.  She showed me this Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant which sprinkles on like a powder -- you can add it to your facewash for extra exfoliating action.

This was my first time of having a peel at a spa, and I really enjoyed it.  The products tingle on your skin when applied, which is how you know they are activated and working.  The next day, Monday, my skin was a bit tight feeling but with no peeling.  I've experienced very mild peeling with this treatment, with the majority happening on Wednesday and Thursday (today).  They sent me home with a package of products to use for several days after the peel.

As I get older, I would love to schedule these peels more often.  For any local Charlotte readers, through August the spa is running a special where this facial (normally $150) is reduced to $95 if you book Sunday-Thursday.  

Do you do at-home peels or spa peels?  


Cocktail Recipe: Muddled Strawberry Vodka Fizz

Ya'll know how I do ... Friday evenings are for cocktails.

And this past Friday night I might just have outdone myself!

Pin It!

The name of the game this time around was: work with what you've got in the fridge.  So I came home from work, took a quick inventory of the refrigerator contents, and then the cocktail lightbulb went off. Ding! Ding!

St. Germain is a classically yummy ingredient for me, and vodka will always win out over gin, rum, or bourbon in my book.  

I am no tough guy so I do like to cut it with a fizzy non-alcoholic mixer (grapefruit Perrier in this case), and some chopped strawberries muddled in the glass added the perfect end-of-summer taste.

I started off by dicing the strawberries (one per glass) on a cutting board, adding the pieces to a lowball glass, and muddling it gently in the glass.

Once well muddled, I added a shot each of the two liquors and then topped off with the grapefruit Perrier up to the rim.  Add a few ice cubes and give it a stir!

Um, DELISH.  I made one for me, Ian walked in from the garage and I offered him a sip, and he immediately asked me to recreate one for him.  It may look a bit girly but it's not sweet enough to scare off a manly man!

Bottoms up, ladies!

PS: Those drink stirrers are from our honeymoon resort  :)


Final Europe Recap: Sorrento & The Amalfi Coast

When I think back on our Europe trip, I can't help but to give a big happy sigh when I think of the truly amazing time we had down on the Southern coast of Italy.  

After our afternoon in Pompeii, our driver drove us further down south to Sorrento.  I'd read that Sorrento is a perfect jump-off spot for anyone wanting to explore the Amalfi Coast area -- it's easy to get to and easy to use as a base for travel to all of the fun spots.  After being there, I couldn't agree more with this advice.

I was a little in shock when we pulled up at our hotel for the next three nights ... it was absolutely perfect!  Palazzo Marziale was highly rated on Trip Advisor and our stay there showed us exactly why it had received such top-notch reviews.

We had such a beautiful bedroom and a huge marble bathroom.  We booked the junior suite and it was just a little more expensive than the regular room but completely worth it.

The windows above opened up to a little terrace that looked right over the street and a church where we saw a wedding going on.

That first evening, we enjoyed a complimentary cocktail at the hotel's bar (they had the most adorable bistro tables outside for sipping and people-watching) and then we walked down to the beach that was across from our hotel.  The beach area was teeny and just so ... Italian.  I was in love!  

That evening before dinner we wandered through Sorrento's center and wound up at a small shop where you could book excurions and tours.  Ian had a wild idea brewing and we were about to take on a really fun adventure.  We gathered our courage and booked a moped for the next day.  If you have ever been to Italy and seen how they drive mopeds around, you can appreciate how much guts this took!

It was our first time on a moped, ever.  We got a quick run-through from the rental company, and then they tossed us our helmets and we were on our way.  Driving on the Italian roads is not for the faint of heart, but Ian did an incredible job.

I sat on the back and held on tight, occasionally pulling the map out to point right or left to my fearless driver. We first traveled to Positano first, and it was one of the more beautiful places I've seen.  Lemons, lemons everywhere, darling little hilly cobblestone streets, and more lemons.

One of the best parts of the day was taking lots of stops to just stretch our legs, take some photos, and then hop back on the bike.  We stopped for a lunch in an adorable little town ... not one of the larger ones on the Amalfi Coast, and I forget the name, but Ian locked up the moped and we shared an antipasto plate at the restaurant you see on the right of the picture below -- the light blue building.

After our lunch they brought us chilled limoncello on the house.  I think our American restaurants need to get around this idea!

From there, we made our way to Amalfi.  I always knew when we were arriving at one of the bigger areas because traffic would slow down and the cruise ships became visible.  Amalfi was a very pretty area, much more touristy than Positano though.

Um, check out this moped.  We parked beside it, and I was so nervous that we'd tip our moped over on it.  Not quite sure it's authentic LV leather but there was no way I was taking my chances!

After leaving Amalfi, we biked up to Ravello where the crowds died down and the air got chillier.  It was such a pretty little area.  We then started our trek home which was about two or two and a half hours at that point.  Ian was really getting a handle on the Italian traffic and was weaving through traffic at that point like a champ, even passing busses!  He had to ask me a few times to unclench my hands from his waist :)  

Below is a great map that shows the basic route we took.  Just imagine this with drop-off cliffs along the way!

We returned the mopeds that evening, and after a great experience with that booking company, we used them to schedule a semi-private boat tour of Capri for the next morning.  Guys -- if you find yourself in the area, I couldn't recommend more to bypass the large ferry that goes from Sorrento to Capri and opt for a little boat instead.  

We were picked up at our hotel the next morning for our Capri tour by a beautiful black Mercedes, which took us to the dock.  There were only four other couples on our boat, so a total of ten people plus a captain, and he took us completely around the island and pointed out the various grottos and immaculate homes.  Plus, he had mozzarella, basil and tomato paninis for everyone along with wine, beer, and water.

We befriended another couple on the boat that was the sweetest pair from Ireland.  We just instantly clicked with them and it was a blast getting to know them and discussing cultural differences and what they loved about American television! The guy in the couple played professional Rugby in Ireland and Ian loved chatting with him about that.

When we got to the Emerald Grotto, he asked if anyone wanted to jump in and swim through it, and he would pick us up on the other side.  Ian and I immediately volunteered as did our rugby player friend.

Here we are on the other side of the grotto before we got picked up.  What an experience that was!

Once we landed in Capri, our new friends asked if we wanted to explore the island with them.  We thought they were just the most fun couple, so of course we were up for that!  We all took the funicular to the top of the island and walked around, looking at the shops and stopping for an afternoon cocktail together.

After a few perfect hours, our boat picked us up and we started the journey back to Sorrento.

That was our last evening, so we decided to go out with a bang.  We'd booked the best table at Terrazza Marziale, the restaurant in our hotel.  This is no ordinary hotel restaurant, folks.  It was the nicest restaurant we went to during our entire European trip!

Dinner was just amazing and they brought us more limoncello at the end of our meal.

The hotel owner, who was dining at the restaurant with her family that night, actually left her meal to personally assist us with an early check-out after dinner (we were getting picked up at 4am the next morning) and she even took a few photos of us in the lobby.  It was such a sweet gesture, and I still can't believe how accomodating and generous Paola was.

By that time, it was time for us to head up the room, finish packing, and set our alarms for 3:30am.  The craziness of that hit us, as did the limoncello, all resulting in a very silly photoshoot while en route back up to the hotel room.

What can I say ... I think that montage perfectly wraps our Sorrento adventure.  That alarm sure came early the next morning!

To wrap it up, when you visit the Amalfi Coast (which I truly hope you will), here are the musts:
* Palazzo Marziale ...such an amazing hotel 
* Limoncello, and lots of it
* Rent a moped if you are up for a thrilling adventure
* Semi-private boat tour of Capri (around $75/person)
* Explore the markets in the city center of Sorrento
* Souvenir shopping in Positano

Ciao, bellas!  Thanks for letting me share our 2nd anniversary trip recaps with you!

For more Italy recaps, click here.
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