Each year we scour retailers and the Web for the best presents for every person in your life. You can thank us later for taking the hard work out of gift giving. Stay tuned for gift guides for the traveler, the beauty obsessed, the foodie, the homebody, the man in your life and great stocking stuffers.

First, we start with a gift guide for the creature we know intimately — the fashion obsessed women in your life who already seem to have it all. Here are our top picks of what’s sure to please. As a bonus to you, we’re keeping each gift at $200 or under.

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The D’Orsay flat made a big splash this year when Jenni Kayne’s creations were spotted on seemingly every fashionista’s foot. To give the look but at a less steep price point, we love these D’Orsay flats from Madewell which are just $79.

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The fedora has become a year-round look and we love it. This Rag & Bone floppy brim fedora is a perfect option. Extra bonus: You can wrap it in a hat box. It’s $195 at Barneys. On the hat front, we also love this Hat Attack floppy hat.
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I live in my Hunter Wellies when it’s raining. They are an elegant solution to an inelegant situation: pouring rain. These silver rainboots are just perfect as a holiday gift and even have some festive holiday bling. They are $155 at Intermix.
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Tom Ford’s lipsticks are legendary and for a reason. I live on his Nude Vanille shade, which happens to be part of this gift set featuring his four top best sellers. For $200 you will get Nude Vanille, Spanish Pink, Pink Dust and True Coral. This might be a good idea to gift yourself. We won’t tell.
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This J. Crew Firefly necklace is under $50 and really versatile. Get it here.

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Rizzoli is the definitive coffee table book and we love how the company chronicles the history of a brand and provides gorgeous photos along the way. Their Louboutin book is written by the man who brought us red soles himself and has stunning photos that would make a great addition to any fashionista’s coffee table. It’s $87 here.

 

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Let’s be real – vacations are just another excuse to shop and wear cute outfits. As the boyfriend and I plan for a trip to Napa Valley to go wine tasting at the end of the month, I’ve already begun assembling cute outfits.

I’ve tried to strike a balance between rustic and chic for the daytime wine tastings while packing cute dresses and heels for the night. (Oh, while trying to fit everything into a medium-sized suitcase rather than overpacking for once in my life)
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Here are my pieces that I’ll be working from: For the tastings, I have two pairs of J. Brand jeans, which are pretty much the only jeans I wear. The first pair is J. Brand 620 eyelet jeans, pictured above. I love my pair in black and it has become a staple in my wardrobe. The second is a pair of 811 skinnies in a natural wash. I also am packing these Club Monaco leather paneled pants (Bonus — they are on sale right now for $69.)
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For tops, I’m packing a few plaid Rails shirts and some sweaters and cardigans. I love the versatility of these Rails flannel shirts which are on trend but also have a good fit. I’ve been wearing them on their own and also under a fur vest.

As for footwear, I’ll be packing my trusty black Louboutins, tan Jimmy Choos and Thigh-high tan boots.
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Lastly, but not least, I will be bringing along my Ray Ban mirrored sunnies and my new favorite: a Brixton black Wesley hat.

Stay tuned next week for our travel guide to all things Napa.

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In my teens and twenties, I spent minimal time working on my skincare regime. Minimal my be putting it lightly, actually. I actively damaged my skin by taking the sun, a lackadaisical approach to washing my face before bed, and little to no moisturizing. I know, I cringe now thinking of all of the abuse. Now, in my 30s, I’ve become much more obsessed with skincare and have tried to repair the mistakes I made early on with a daily regimen that I’ve seen pay off. Here are the products and secrets I swear by on a daily basis.
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My morning routine is pretty simple. I wash my face with Amala face wash once I wake up. I then put some Thayers witch hazel on a cotton round to wipe away any residue and help tighten pores. Once my face is completely dry, I apply a daily moisturizer with SPF to my entire face, followed by under eye cream to diminish lines and wrinkles. A few times a week I use face oils as well, which took me a while to warm up to since I’ve spent most of my life avoiding an oily looking face. Well, my skin drinks the oils in and it does not leave an oily residue. My preferred one is by Jurlique.
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An addition to my daily routine is my water intake. I’ve upped it to 90 ounces a day and have seen dramatic differences. The puffiness I sometimes experienced under my eyes are gone and my skin is clearer.

At night, I wash my face again with the Amala wash and then I turn to one of my secret weapons — Retin A. This cream is known to reverse the signs of aging. I apply a thin layer to my entire face, let it set in, and then I apply a moisturizer since the Retin A can dry your skin out.

Is this a lot of work? Perhaps. But skincare is something you need to actually work on to see changes. For our younger readers, here’s the advice I wish someone forced onto me at a young age. Always wear sunscreen, and start using face moisturizer day and night.

 

There are fewer things I like more than a crisp night with a glass of wine in hand and candles of my favorite scents blazing. But, let’s be real. We’re a discerning crowd, and we expect our candles to look as pretty as they smell. Here are some of the best ones across a variety of price ranges that will be lining our mantle and bar cart this fall!19851559_071_b
I love this Jar Candle from Anthropologie, which is only $28. The distressed look of the tin gives it a vintage feel.
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My absolute favorite gift to give my girlfriends for housewarmings are Fornasetti candles. They have a Renaissance Italy feel to them along with a mysteriousness. Every time I’m in Barneys I find myself perusing their selection. They retail for around $165 here.
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I crave sweet smells in the fall that bring a certain heartiness. I love this Oatmeal cookie pancake from Anthropolgie.

 

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Now how’s this for a match made in heaven? To celebrate its iconic LV monogram, Louis Vuitton invited 6 creative geniuses to create their own spins on Louis Vuitton.
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The roster of talent included Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Louboutin. Each added their own flair to Louis’s look, and the results are available for sale in select Louis Vuitton stores. Our favorite is Mr. Louboutin’s take, which has the monogram print on one side, Louboutin red on the other and studs. It’s $5150 at select stores.

 

While the colder months conjure an onyx , deep browns and oxblood color palette, we’re loving a different look. One of the most sought after pieces this winter is a powdered, pastel pea coat (How’s that for alliteration?) Sold? Here are some of our favorite picks to get you started:
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We love this powder blue Coast Soho coat from John Lewis.
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Looking for an affordable way to get in on the trend? Try this Double-cloth lady coat from J. Crew, which is $378 (plus 25% off!)
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This Tibi coat does the powder trend with an edge. It’s $509 on Nordstrom.

 

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Call it the year of the D’Orsay flat. These asymmetrical, delicate ballet flats are finally getting the respect they deserve. Jenni Kayne arguably put these puppies on the map with her iconic shoes that retail for $450 a pop.
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But, more recently, others have followed the look creating more affordable versions. For those looking to get in on the trend without investing too much money, opt for J. Crew’s version, for just $88. We also love their suede version, here.

 

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One of my favorite places to visit when I’m in England is the Cotswolds. And tucked away in this beautiful farm town is Daylesford Farm, which is owned by Lady Bamford who is also owner of The Wild Rabbit, which we reviewed this summer (here).

Capturing Daylesford in words is a hard task. This beautiful functioning farm brilliantly mixes fresh ingredients with luxury. On the premises is a wonderful, but casual, restaurant with a menu full with organic ingredients. My boyfriend and I were impressed with the food, and surprised at the low price points.

Before you get to the restaurant, there is a terrific market where you can shop for everything from fresh burrata cheese to rose wine to beautiful kitchen gadgets. I always spend a food hour or so perusing the handmade pastas and pestos and fresh-baked brownies on sale in the market. You can either buy products to bring home and enjoy, or pack a picnic to eat on Daylesford’s wonderful, sprawling premises.

Make a left on the way to the restaurant and you will find Daylesford’s cooking school where classes on everything from Classic British Cooking to a course on Artisan Bread Making. Note: we haven’t done a class yet, but am privately hoping that the boyfriend will buy us one as part of my Christmas gift this year (hint, hint).

Behind the hotel is Daylesford’s spa. Lady Bamford is known for a high-end range of personal and spa products which are found at the spa. Stop on in for a treatment or for some yoga.

Daylesford is always a highlight of my trips to England and is a wonderful place to eat great, wholesome food and relax while taking in the wonderful scenery. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has reported back with similar feelings, and I know you will, too!

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Two of our favorite things are coming together in what is sure to be epic. Beyonce is launching an activewear label with London’s cheapchic retailer, Topshop.

For those following closely, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Beyonce has been spotted out and about wearing Topshop a number of times (We’ve even caught her wearing a $12 crop top in a blog post, here) That’s what we love about Topshop, while its price points are affordable, it nails trends and its inventory is constantly changing.

Details about the new line are a bit sparse – the collection doesn’t even have a name yet. The line will have an athletic feel, which we can’t get enough of. The line will have clothing, accessories for dance and exercise and footwear. We’ll keep you posted on timing of the launch and first looks at the pieces!

 


Piece 6: Black Ponte Cigarette Pants

One of the pieces that will pull together an entire look and take it from day to night is a slim cut pair of ponte pants. These pants have two benefits: they are sleek and look sophisticated, but feel like you are wearing a comfortable pair of leggings. You can wear these pants with a button down, a cami with a tank, a sweater — you name it. The ones pictured are from Saks Fifth Avenue and have a great tuxedo finish complete with studs, to make the look a little edgy. Link here.

Piece 7: A Tailored Blazer
One cold-weather must have is a fitted blazer. Here’s a piece you can have a little fun with. You can go with a solid color to wear on a regular basis, or for a colorful or bold print, to add some life to existing outfits. We love this Acne Studios blazer from Net-A-Porter, which instantly adds another dimension to jeans and a shirt or a pant outfit.

Piece 8: The Black Shift Dress
I have to say that this is the most essential piece for any wardrobe, and a piece I wear at least once a week, in all different ways. My coworkers would never guess that I’m recyclying the same dress by pairing it up in different ways. All you need is a sleeveless black dress and aforementioned pieces that are part of this post and the previous one. Take the Gucci dress pictured above, for instance. In the summer months, you can wear that on its own with a pair of pumps. Once the weather gets colder, however, the combinations are truly endless. I often pair a crisp, white button down with my shirt dress, and wear the button-down underneath the dress with the color sticking out. I also pair it with a silk button-down with a sweater layered on top of it. You can then add a colorful belt to spruce it up. This look also looks great with a blazer.

Piece 9: The Perfect White Dress Shirt
This is one of the most quintessential pieces every woman should own. Now, it will take some research. White dress shirts comes in all shapes and sizes and cuts, and the quality ranges from everything from Forever21 to Valentino. We suggest trying on a number of white shirts before committing to the one. And when we say committing, we mean it. This will be your go-to white shirt for the next dozen or so years. I’m so committed to mine, that I buy several at a time whenever it goes on sale since I will lose one or two a year to stains and wear and tear. For those new at this, a good middle of the range white shirt could be found at J. Crew. My shirt is the Theory Larissa 2 shirt, pictured above, which retails for $215 when it isn’t on sale. (Hint: stock up when they go on sale)

Piece 10: Leather Pants
Yes, this look is not for the faint of heart, and true disclosure, it doesn’t look great on everyone’s figure. But, if you have it, flaunt it. Leather pants are truly an investment piece, so be prepared to pay up for a great pair that will last you years. We love the look of the leather pants pictured above by The Row. Are they pricy at $1,950? Yes. But the cut is just perfect and it will be a great addition to your wardrobe and a great way to instantly vamp up some of your looks in your closet.

 

Fall weather is all about layering and mixing and matching. Try being creative this year, and we have a way of doing so without breaking the bank. Here are our picks that will be appropriate for work and play, and will give you an endless number of outfit options. Below, are the pieces, and we’ll give you pairing ideas as well.

Piece 1: A Great Cobalt Blue Sweater

This cable crewneck from J. Crew is an absolute wardrobe essential. Confession from the editor: I own it and am wearing it as I type with a pencil skirt and tights. But, I’ve also paired it with a pair of jeans, and on top of a button down white blouse with cigarette leggings, giving me three very different looks. It’s $88 at J. Crew.

Piece 2: Fitted Blue Jeans

Jeans are the perfect staple item to build an outfit off of. The key here is to splurge on a nice pair that has a great fit and wash and will last you several seasons. My go-to jean is J. Brand’s 811 close cut skinny jean. It’s got a sleek fit that is good for daytime, with a ballet flat, or at night paired with high heels.



Piece 3: The Silk Button Down

A nice silk button down shirt is super versatile. I love Equipment’s button downs, pictured above. This one could be paired with your pair of J. Brand jeans, or you can put your sweater over it for a preppy layered look and then pair it with jeans. I also wear mine with a pencil skirt with or without a sweater, or under a blazer.

Piece 4: A Wool Pencil Skirt

A pencil skirt is a great way to instantly add a level of sophistication to any outfit. Opt for a black or camel colored pencil skirt, like this wool one from J. Crew. You can then pair it with a sweater, a silk button down, or both.



Piece 5: A fitted Flannel Shirt
This is the ultimate weekend piece this year. We love flannel shirts from Rails, pictured above. The prints are super colorful, but more importantly, the shirts are tailored at the waist to give you a shape. The one above is on sale for $62, link above.

 

Fall in New York is my favorite time of year. The leaves in Central Park turn beautiful colors, the air becomes crisp, I get to wear fall clothes and it’s Halloween! This edition of favorite things will focus on our fall favorites:

These Renvy Royce Over The Knee Boots. I just bought these bad boys from Gilt and can’t wait to wear them paired with ponte pants and a chambray shirt!

This Tennessee Plaid shirt from CP Shades is super comfy and great with a pair of jeans and boots.

I keep mini pumpkins and gourds around my apartment and office as a festive touch. A gloss of gold spray paint goes a long way on this look.

Loving this DKNY plaid dress, especially the cut on it.

 

On November 6, fashionistas will line up at H&M’s worldwide for a chance to snag pieces from a much-anticipated collection from fashion wunderkind Alexander Wang. We love his runway looks and edgy pieces, but after reviewing his H&M collection we find it… interesting.

In an age where designers and fashion houses are moving away from garish logos and insignia, Wang goes in the opposite direction, blazing his name across many of the pieces. And that, therein, lies the problem. I don’t want anyone’s name on my clothes, especially when the said name is slang for genitalia. Below are some of the looks from the collection. Let us know what you think – will you be sporting Wang?


 

So, we’ll give the British designer this accolade: she’s a great marketer. While we adore Charlotte Olympia’s shoes, the jury is still out at BellaVitaStyle on what we think about her wildly popular clutches. Seemingly every blogger has been spotted out and about toting a Charlotte Olympia purse made to resemble mundane objects such as gummy bears, packs of gum crayons, Chinese takeout containers, etc. Now, these bags are expensive, and many times they are sold out and on backorder. We want your thoughts – if you had $2,000 to shell out on a purse, would you choose one of the ones below? Or, do you find them too childish looking like we do?

This “What a Peach” suede clutch is $1,995.

This Gummy Bear clutch is sold out, and retailed for $1,595.

This Kiss Purse is $495.

 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, autumn clothes are by far the best of all the seasons. Chunky sweaters, boots, button down shirts and sweater dresses, what’s not to love? A look that we are loving for work and for play are midi skirts paired with cropped sweaters.
Here are some of our favorite styles, all from Asos:

I love this blush pink and the A-line style of the Vila Quilted skirt. It’s $56.85 on the link.

I absolutely adore this dark berry color and the high-low effect on this skirt. The texture makes it a bit more dressy. It’s $60.

This Ponte skirt hits the knee in exactly the right spot. I love the fitted waist on it, which you could pair with a cropped sweater or a dress shirt.

 


One of the most polarizing people in Hollywood is following in the footsteps of Victoria Beckham and celebrities before her. Gwyneth Paltrow, best known for her conscious uncoupling from Coldplay’s Chris Marten and for her fashion, homemaking and lifestyle blog Goop, is trying her hand at fashion.

Next year, Gwyneth will launch her own designs that will be featured on Goop. The celeb has dabble dint he world of design before, helping to create capsule collections alongside designers such as Diane von Furstenburg and Stella McCartney.

Details of the brand are sparse, but it seems to be built around basics rather than high fashion. We agree that there is a market for well-made, tailored basics. We’d love to hear from you – will you be lining up for products once the line launches?

 


There’s no doubt that we’ve become more of a visual society. Whether its scrolling Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or other forms of social media, I find that increasingly, that’s where I get my ideas to curate my own personal style. How often do you find yourself in your Instagram feed coming across someone you follow in a great outfit or with a great piece of jewelry only left wondering how to get that item yourself?

Well, there’s an app for that. I’ve recently started to use Piccing, a free app that helps bridge the gap I just described. The easy interface allows you to browse photos by area of interest – my favorite categories are women’s fashion, women’s accessories and beauty, but there are other ones like food, travel, men’s fashion, etc. Above is an actual screenshot of the app from my phone, based on my preferences. You can browse the photos of those in the community, and then click on little orange circles in the photo that mark items in the photo. A screen will then display with similar items that you can easily buy from your smart phone. Essentially, it allows you to shop within an image.

I’ve been using the app for several days now, and I’ve found that it’s pretty addicting. It’s been a great way for me to easily track down pieces of clothing and accessories that I’m interested in buying without doing the legwork. Instead, now I click on an item I love and the app takes me directly to the webpage that I can order it from.

There’s also a social aspect. You can add your friends or find people with similar senses of style to follow, so that you can draw from their looks to curate yours. Download your app in the app store, and get piccing!

 


Ever find yourself in a situation where you fall in love with the shape of a shoe and its heel height and comfort, but don’t love the colors it comes in? Jimmy Choo is fixing that dilemma.

The London-based shoemaker is letting customers design their own Annouk, Lance, Tite and Xenia pumps. The shoe itself is an instant classic– pointy toe, high heel that you can make work-ready by picking a tame color, or girls night out ready with a bold pattern. You can even add your monogram to the sole! You can even choose what heel height and material you prefer.

Interested? The service will be available from stores this fall for $750.

 


I recently had a big birthday and received this Chanel Classic Flap purse as a gift. I’ve dreamt of having a Chanel quilted purse since I was literally 13. I love the chain link and the burgundy interior with tons of little pockets. It’s definitely an investment piece, but a classic.

My new go-to fall nail color: Essie’s Bordeaux. This deep red isn’t too dark that you can’t wear it to work. I find it strikes just the right balance.

Tulle midi skirts. I love this look above and think it can be worn to work or evening. Pair it with a soft sweater and you have an instantly chic and feminine look to take you from day to night. The one pictured is $114 from Asos.

 


The last stop on our culinary tour of Italy was hotel Il San Pietro’s Zass in Positano. This was the perfect last meal because it satisfied us on so many levels and we can confidently say that this restaurant has well earned its Michelin star. We arrived at the hotel about an hour and a half before our 8:00 reservation, and I am so happy we decided to arrive early. The hotel has one of the most stunning terraces off of a cliff in Positano where you can enjoy delicious cocktails while taking in the scenery surrounding you, with views of both Positano and neighboring Praiano. We enjoyed Moscow mules and champagne while the sky turned shades or bright orange and pink and yellow and the sun set. In the background, two men played instruments that just added to the beautiful ambiance. The terrace is beautifully appointed, I especially loved the colorful ceramic benches that we sat in as we sipped our drinks.

For dinner, we sat at a beautiful table and sipped glasses of Furore wine while the waiter brought out a selection of breads and something so simple yet amazing that I was blown away — a bowl of bite-sized pieces of pizza from the restaurant’s brick oven. Restaurants of the world, I pose you a question — why on earth hasn’t anyone else thought of doing this? These pizza chips were absolutely delicious. Next, our waiter brought us each a slice of pizza to eat. I loved how many of our starters were served on colorful ceramics that are handmade in the region.


We started with a ricotta and spinach pie for two people. I’ve literally dreamt of this starter since, that’s how great it was. The spinach and ricotta were in a delectable pastry, and came with fresh burrata mozzarella on the side, salami and artichokes. It was delightfully rustic, but elevated to restaurant quality.


Next, we split a burrata cheese risotto because the cheese from the starter was so creamy and fresh. The risotto had capers and smoked bonito fish.

For our mains, I had the snapper filet which was cooked in a black olive crust. The crust was a show stopper, adding a level of saltiness to the dish. The boyfriend had roasted lamb with lemon confit, caramelized hazelnuts and artichokes. The fish was extremely fresh and delightfully prepared with such a unique and tasty crust. The lamb was perfectly cooked and the tartness of the lemon played off of the flavors in the lamb.


We ended the meal with a decadent chocolate dessert paired with sorbet and fresh raspberries. The raspberries added some tartness to the dish which perfectly balanced out the richness of the chocolate.

If you’re headed to the region, make sure to book a dinner reservation at Zass. The food is delectable, and I appreciated how they struck the right tone of being authentic to Positano’s rustic nature while elevating the dishes to top-notch restaurant quality. Zass is formal dining, so make sure to dress up and be warned that the restaurant closed at 10 pm. Prepare to arrive around 6 or 6:30 to enjoy cocktails on the patio before dinner.

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One of the dinners I looked forward to the most in all of Italy was dinner at La Sponda in Positano’s luxury hotel Le Sirenuse. If you’re contemplating a trip to the region, dinner at La Sponda is a must, as is a visit to this boutique hotel, which has a wonderful Champagne and Oyster bar with great views.

La Sponda is the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant that plays up the beauty of Amalfi just perfectly. The entire restaurant is lit by candlelight – more than 400 candles to be precise, giving it a romantic glow. Ivy and plants twine up the walls and large windows open up to the outside giving you beautiful views of Positano’s mountains by night.

The food is as delicious as the restaurant is beautiful, and like Rossellinis, the staff was knowledgeable and friendly. We were greeted with glasses of Prosecco and a sommelier promptly came over to get a gauge on what types of wine we like. This came in handy as all of his pairings worked perfectly with what we ordered.

We were given an amuse bouche of a cheese-stuffed zucchini flower in a tomato broth that was literally almost too pretty to eat. The region is known for their zucchinis and the blossoms, which you will find incorporated into a lot of different dishes.(See the photo above)

We then moved on to a pasta, which was the best pasta we had in all of Italy. Now, that’s a bold claim, especially given the amount of pasta we ate on this trip. The dish was a beef tortelli with a beef and onion sauce, with salted ricotta buffalo cheese and black truffles. I know you are salivating just reading the description. The pasta was thin and perfectly cooked and the flavors just worked so well together. Our waiter told us a secret ingredient in the broth is cinnamon.

The boyfriend had a delicious roasted duck breast that was paired with orange leaves, fois gras and radish marinated with citrus fruits, which is pictured above. It was a more exciting, deconstructted duck l’orange that was extremely tender with vibrant flavors.


I had the fresh catch of the day which was a giant portion of local fish wish brocolli rabe and onion. The quality of the ingredients is just palpable.

Dessert was too good to pass up. We shared a chocolate cake with fresh raspberries with rasberry sorbet. And then, our waiter brought out glasses of limencello and a tray of lovely little desserts for us to pick on, pictured above.

I would recommend La Sponda to friends or family in a heartbeat. It can be pricey, but you truly get what you pay for and it will be one of the culinary highlights of your trip. Make sure to make a reservation well in advance of your trip and arrive just before sunset to have an apertif at Le Sirenuse’s champagne bar which will give you the most amazing backdrop for a sunset.

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With only one day and one night in Ravello, we had to be very selective in where to eat. That meant making a beeline for Rossellinis (and by make a beeline, I mean making a reservation way in advance. This is not the type of place you can just roll up to).

Rossellinis is located in Palazzo Avino hotel (another 11th century palace, seriously, Ravello is spoiled with beautiful old palazzos) and after eating dinner there, it was clear why they have a Michelin star.

The experience is formal, fine dining. The night turned stormy, so we sat inside the restaurant at a wonderful table looking out onto the terrace. The little touches were really profound. Each table had a figurine on it that added to the character of the restaurant. Tables also have a tiny couch for women to place their purses on so that our bags don’t dare touch the floor. It is as if every one of your whims and fancies had been considered well before your arrival. The staff is just superb – friendly and very knowledgeable about their menu. We found that our waiter and the sommelier were very attentive and helpful in guiding our choices.

We had a modified tasting menu of sorts at Rossellinis, which allowed us to sample much of the region’s standout dishes as well as Rossellinis famed offerings. Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Once you sit down, we were greeted with a wonderful glass of champagne and one of the waiters will approach you with a giant tray of artisan breads and ask you to pick which ones you’d like to try. This tray was unbelievable with choices of whole grain, olive bread, focaccia, you name it. Normally, I skip the bread, but we were in Italy. Then, an amuse bouche was sent out which was immaculately presented almost so nicely that I felt bad eating it.

As a starter, I had a delicious amberjack fish dish (pictured above). Amberjack is a popular local white fish that is meaty in texture. It was absolutely divine and was paired with a soft cheese, which seemed unusual on the menu, but worked extremely well together.


The boyfriend had quail served six ways, which just just stunning and delicious. It was served with dry fruit, as a macaron, with fried egg, etc. This was one of the most intricate and visually appealing dishes of the night.


Between our appetizers and main courses, we shared a risotto. This is hands down the fanciest and best risotto I’ve ever had. In the center of both of our plates, there was a gelatin square that served as a pad for caviar, edible flower and other seafood. The rice was cooked just right and the flavored were spot on.


For my main dish, I opted for grilled John Dory fish with goat cheese and green chili peppers. The fish was cooked perfectly and was white and flaky. It came with sautéed tomatoes that added some sweetness to the herbs.


The boy had a bacon and basil crusted white fish that was packed with tons of flavor. It had a tasy foam that went wit as well.


Dessert was also a show stopper. Normally, after consuming 10,000 calories in on sitting I would skip dessert. But, hey, I was in one of the nicest restaurants in all of Italy.we had a sampling of macarons, chocolate cake, sorbet and other goodies.

If you are looking for a dinner in the Amalfi Coast where you want to pull all the stops, this is it. Rosselini’s is fine dining at its best. The menu is curated in such a way that you can sample all of the flavor a from the region, and the attention to detail regarding presentation and service is just unmatched. Some tips: make sure to make a reservation well in advance, splurge for the wine pairings, consider the tasting menu, and most importantly– come hungry!

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Continuing our vacation, we stayed a week in Italy’s Amalfi Coast — an area I’ve dreamed of staying since I was a child. The trip totally lived up to my expectations, and they were HIGH.

We started in Ravello, which is a stunning part of the Amalfi Coast at the highest point that provides the most amazing views of the coast. It can be a bit of a trek to get to, but I can’t stress enough how happy I am we spent a day and night in the area before heading down to the beach. A little history — the Amalfi Coast was a very prosperous area because of its location on the Mediteranean which meant a great fishing industry and transportation for trades. But, being on the water made it an area rife with attacks from foreigners looking to plunder the riches in Amalfi. To avoid the attacks, the most wealthy of residents in Amalfi moved up the mountain to Ravello in order to protect themselves. The result is that Ravello full of gorgeous 11th century palaces turned into hotels and restaurants that are truly breathtaking.

One of these converted palaces is now the Hotel Belmond Caruso, which we had the pleasure of lunching at. The Pool Restaurant is on the roof of the hotel next to an infinite pool that appears as if it is hanging over the cliff of a mountain. The pictures don’t do the views justice, which is saying a lot. The ambiance of the restaurant is one of the best we experienced over the two weeks we traveled.

We sat in the sun while sampling the menu which was teeming with mouth-watering dishes and local specialties. On the recommendation of our waiter, we started with a pizza. The restaurant lets the pizza dough rise for 48 hours, meaning that it is light and airy rather than dense and overly filling. We paired the pizza with a white wine called Furore, which is a must-have if you visit the region. It’s a dry, local white wine that became a quick favorite.

We then headed into the kitchen area to help ourselves to a wonderful spread of antipasti ranging from fresh olives, different types of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls in a variety of shapes, artichokes marinated anchovies, salads, tuna and other fresh items. This was our first encounter with anchovies from the region, which was one of the highlights. The fresh mozzarella melted in our mouths and the tomatoes were bright red and juicy.

Now, onto our mains (Can you believe we ate this much at lunch?). The Amalfi area is renown for a type of pasta known as Paccheri which are large tubes of pasta best served al dente. The boyfriend ordered the paccheri with a delicious beef ragu and I had the most amazing giant, grilled prawns. They were extremely meaty and fresh.

We ended with a decadent chocolate cake dessert with ice cream.

After our amazing lunch, we received a tour of the hotel and took in the history. The palace at one time belonged to a wealthy family and we appreciated how well the owners preserved the history of the hotel while providing an uber luxurious experience. The property has lovely gardens throughout and seemingly every room — from the breakfast room to the restaurants — has breathtaking views. When upgrading the hotel, workers discovered old frescoes underneath the painted walls. They cleaned and restored the frescoes throughout the building, which was a beautiful sight to see. Painted gryphons are visible throughout the hotel, which are thought to be a family crest of sorts for the original owners. The hotel has even copied some of the gryphons and other designs onto a silk clothing line they’ve created that is available for purchase in the boutique. If you decide to stay at the hotel, there are great services for guests such as daily boat rides on the boat’s 52-foot boat around Amalfi, a spa and fitness center.

I would make the Pool Restaurant a must visit for lunch if you travel to the Amalfi area. Both the food and atmosphere are divine and very memorable. As a bonus, it’s just a quick walk from Villa Cimbrone’s famous gardens, so you can explore those (which I highly recommend) before or after your lunch. Lunch here truly encapsulated the feeling of la dolce vita.

 

With one day and night in Monte Carlo earlier this month, we had to be be sure to hit all of the culinary hot spots in a short amount of time. That meant lunching at the Cafe Du Paris while people watching the crowds swarming in and out of the casino, and dinner at A’Trego in nearby Cap D’Ail.

A’Trego is a beautiful restaurant on the water overlooking Monaco, where attention to design is as important to their food. The space is designed by famed French designer Philippe Starck and it is a blend of approachable beach chic meets Hamptons and Cote D’Azur. Their are nautical touches throughout the restaurant that play off of the sea view and the sounds of the water.

We loved that it felt like you were in someone’s immaculately appointed home while floating on the sea. There were eclectic pieces like bookshelves, a grand piano, and comfy but stylish couches throughout. We loved the small chandeliers hanging throughout and the white alligator heads near the crown molding.

We opted for a delicious tasting menu so that we could fully sample the fare. As starters, we had a ceasar salad with prawns, a great burrata cheese with fresh tomatoes and a red tuna carpaccio. The burrata was creamy and smooth — a real stand out.

Moving on to mains, we opted for e had a delicious beef tagliata with parmesan cheese and truffles (pictured above). I can’t begin to describe how decadent this dish was and how perfectly cooked the pasta was. We ate every last piece and then soaked up the remaining sauce with some bread.

We also had a sea bass in a salt crust and a delicious duck breast dish (both pictured above). The duck was one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever had. It was super tender and tasty. The crust on the sea bass was a great touch. The meal was followed by three desserts that we struggled to get through because of all of the food we had prior, plus a nice bottle of red.

I would gladly recommend A’Trego. Between the delicious food and beautiful decor, the restaurant really tantalizes all of your senses. Here’s a pro tip: If it’s a nice night, call ahead and request a table outside overlooking the water.

 


Just off the main stretch of beach in St. Tropez’s Bay of Pampelonne is Nikki Beach, a beach club worth visiting for great music, food and an all around great time.

If you’ve never been to a Nikki Beach before (they have locations in St. Barth, Miami, Cabo San Lucas and other beach towns) here’s what to expect: lots of champagne, beautiful people, gigantic sunbeds and the occasional celebrity spotting. The beach clubs are known for their wild day parties (St. Tropez had an American-themed one and a Superhero theme party — think fun frat party meets lots of money and glamour) and visiting superstar djs where the pool turns into a dance floor.

While the day parties are the main draw for some, I find Nikki Beach to be even more delightful on days where there isn’t an event. I recently visited Nikki Beach St. Tropez on a Tuesday in September and had a blast. (I mean, if it’s good enough for Bono, Cindy Crawford and Roberto Cavalli, all who have parties there, it’s good enough for me) The vibe of the place was more mellow and relaxing with oldies like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Stand By Me” playing by the pool. I sipped an amazing mojito (seriously, nice job, Nikki Beach. I have a hard time finding good mojitos outside of the US) while lounging in a gorgeous white sunbed poolside.

The beach club has great attention to detail in everything from its color scheme (white, sea blue and bright yellow) to its waitstaff (attentive but not pushy) and the vibe it works so hard to create.

We had lunch at the restaurant at Nikki Beach and were really impressed by the food. We started with a breaded shrimp appetizer which had a sweet and sour chili sauce, that was delicious. The breading was perfect — almost like a tempura. And then we moved on to entrees, and let me say how much I appreciated this — the restaurant knows its clientele. There were so many options on the menu that were low carb or carb free. The boyfriend opted for Tandoori Chicken Brochettes and I had Chicken satay with grilled veggies. (after all, it’s bikini season so we had to keep the carbs at bay.) Both of us were really happy with our choices.

As the day grew later, the pool came more alive. A DJ began spinning more contemporary music and guests ordered magnums of rosé to sip poolside.

Overall, Nikki Beach is a great place to visit either on a more relaxed day with your boyfriend or hubby or on a weekend with a larger group to get table service by the pool. Just remember to dress the part — ladies, that means cute bikinis and cover ups! You won’t be right next to to beach, but with an atmosphere like this, who needs la plage?

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Recently, my boyfriend and I were fortunate to spend nearly three weeks traveling around Europe and taking in some of the most beautiful sites. After countless photos, amazing meals, breathtaking views and a little too much rose, I’m sharing our best experiences with you, so that you’ll have a go-to guide on what to do, see and where to stay on your next trips. First, we start with the South of France’s beautiful St. Tropez, where we stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Villa Marie resort.

First, a little about St. Tropez. This glitzy area of the French Riviera is known for glamour, yachts and the rich and famous. It is luxury on steroids and draws huge crowds especially during the summer months because of its great climate and beautiful beaches. Tucked away in St. Tropez is a hidden gem called Hotel Villa Marie. A five minute car ride down to the main stretch of beach, this hotel resides just up a small mountain surrounded by the most gorgeous plants and pine trees you will ever see. The resort, which resembles an Italian villa, has the best of both worlds. From its pool, you can view the yachts sailing on the Bay of Pampelonne while taking in the serenity and beauty of the resort. You can take the resort’s shuttle to St. Tropez’s main village or the beach and restaurants as well.

We stayed in Hotel Villa Marie for two nights in September and had a wonderful experience. The staff is very friendly and accommodating and the hotel’s aesthetic really caters to a luxury experience. The amount of attention the staff and owners pay to detail here is palpable, be it the color scheme they have chosen, the mix of brightly-colored flowers and groomed trees, or the small details that go a long way.

The resort is in the middle of seven acres of pine trees and while laying by the pool, you could hear roosters crowing and water flowing which created as serene an atmosphere as it was beautiful. We spent much of the first day sunbathing by the pool and swimming while taking in the views. The hotel has a restaurant on its premises where we had lunch and some wine that was just delightful.

We had a great room with the most comfortable bed and a beautiful terrace that opened up to pool and ocean views as well as the brightly-colored flowers and pine tress on the grounds. I wrote much of this review from the cozy table and chairs on our terrace while taking the scenery in. One of the highlights of the room for me was the standalone vintage bathtub which was equipped with relaxing bath salts and an eye mask. The rooms also had a shower if you prefer to bathe that way. I really appreciated how the hotel took pains to provide the most updated fixtures and amenities while somehow preserving the integrity of the decor and architectural design of the building.

The hotel is just the right size– just 45 rooms — so that the premises are lively but not at all overrun or crowded. We found it simple to get lounge chairs by the pool or a table with a great view at lunch or dinner. The hotel was a 3-star hotel in its prior life until Maisons & Hotels Sibuet bought the property in 2003 and upgraded it.

Now, let’s get to the food. Weeks and countless desserts later, my boyfriend and I are STILL talking about the dessert we had at Villa Marie’s restaurant, Dolce Vita. We will get to that in a bit. Our first night at the hotel, we dined at the hotel’s restaurant, which is worth visiting even if you aren’t staying at the hotel. We sat outside under a beautiful full moon eating by candlelight. The experience was very romantic and the food itself was just as pleasing. We arrived just in time for the sun to begin to set and we had a rose aperitif as the sky changed to colors of orange and bright pink and purple.

I started with a wonderful risotto with a light, cheese sauce with asparagus and summer truffles. My boyfriend opted for the seafood ceviche (pictured above) which he said is the best he’s ever had. It is made with gilt-head bream, ceviche style with cubes of avocado and crabmeat.
For our mains, I had a perfectly cook filet of sole fish and he opted for the roast filet of beef that had an amazing crust made of basil and pine nuts. The entrees were presented beautifully, and the flavors of each worked very well together. I stuck with the house rosé, which is a must if you visit.

Lastly, the aforementioned dessert. Full disclosure: everything out of the kitchen looked amazing, but I think we chose the best of the best. We ordered a chocolate and orange dessert for two that incorporated rich, dark chocolate and a chocolate mousse of sorts with caramelized oranges and an orange sorbet. The flavors complemented each other so well with the tart and sweet balancing each other out. The dessert was giant, and we were both skeptical we’d be able to finish it when it was presented to us, but we pretty much licked the plate clean.

Each morning we indulged in a delicious breakfast that was a mix of buffet and custom orders. We ate outdoors on a terrace overlooking the hotel while munching on fresh figs, cheeses, yogurt and pastries. We especially loved the area where you could order up omelets, scrambled eggs, waffles and even crepes.

Other details that we loved: the hotel has a gym overlooking the pool that is open 24 hours a day. There is also a lovely spa on the premises with a truly impressive spa menu of treatments ranging from full body massages to facials.

Our suggestions on what to do in the area: Club 55, an exclusive beach club and restaurant, is just a ten minute drive from Villa Marie. Nikki Beach St. Tropez is in the same area and has great sunbeds and a party atmosphere (post to come.) The village of St. Tropez has some wonderful shopping — while we were there a pop-up Chanel was in the main square in an old mansion. Walk by the Port to take in the massive yachts and seaside restaurants.

One thing to keep in mind that is true of all of St. Tropez — cabs are very expensive (40 euro just to go a few miles) so it may make sense to rent a car during your stay to drive to the beach and other restaurants.

A little treat can really go a long way. I’ve been trying to incorporate little luxuries into my work week and have seen big payoffs. These ideas don’t need to be expensive, in fact some of the best little items I found have been inexpensive, but they have definitely brightened up my day and made work fly by faster. I’m sharing mine with you, in the event that you need inspiration, but I’d love to hear yours as well! Leave your thoughts in the comments.

A few months ago, I started picking up fresh flowers from my grocer under my apartment building. I did it initially before I had some friends coming over for brunch and I put the flowers in antique alcohol decanters and it gave the brunch a nice, vintage feel. Although the flowers were meant to spruce up the apartment for my guests, I found myself coming home after long days at work and smiling at the brightly-colored flowers. The next week, I bought so more, and soon a new little ritual was started. My favorite thing to do now is to buy two bouquets from the grocer and mix and match the variety and colors whether it be bright yellow sunflowers or violet peonies. I cut the stems myself and create arrangements that last a week, and each bunch is usually $5 to $7.

My next little ritual may sound a bit out of character for me. If you read this blog, you know I’m a big fan of spa days, but lately I find that I need a little bit of help in between them. The nail salon I regularly go to for manicures and pedicures also gives chair massages. I find that these 15-minute massages are a great way to relieve stress and reset yourself in between larger spa days. Some days, I pop into the salon after a day of work for a quick (and cheap!) chair massage.

I’ve become a big lover of Rose this past summer. Something about the crisp wine brings back great memories of the beach, friends, cookouts and all things summer. Each Friday night, the boyfriend and I have been stopping by our local wine shop to pick up a few different bottles of Rose to try at home. We’ll open a bottle after work or drink it with our dinner. I know in a few months when it gets colder outside that we’ll cherish these sips while thinking over summer memories.

Lastly, I had never been a huge fan of baths but have become a late adopter. Make sure you’re well stocked on bubble bath, candles and a good book and you can’t go wrong. For me, it’s been a nice way to decompress and get some reading time. Sometimes, I’ll even put on a clay mask while I soak.

 

More and more often, my girlfriends have been having their hen dos/ bachelorette parties in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Caribbean Islands where gambling has a stronghold. At first, this left me stumped as to what to wear on these trips, but I quickly figured out a style guide that will have you fit right in and also allow you to transition to other activities. The truth is that as long as you are smart/casual, you will be fine. The important thing is to look smart and neat and avoid anything that will make you look scruffy such as torn jeans or anything that looks overly old or worn. Many people nowadays choose to play casino games at websites such as http://www.MobileCasinoAustralia.com.au, so if you’re one of them, hopefully we can give you a few pointers as to what to wear in a land-based casino.

If you’re not quite how to strike the smart/casual look, think of ways to dress down your more formal looks. For example, for men, ditch the tie and open the top buttons of your shirt of your suit, or you could lose the blazer and instead put on a v neck sweater over your shirt for a trendy angle on the outfit.

Ladies can opt for a dress but, try to steer away from anything too revealing.

A little black dress always goes down well and if it is summer time, you could easily wear a casual summer dress and add some nice heels and jewellery to add some flair.

On the other hand you could opt for a skirt and blouse if you aren’t interested in wearing dresses. Elegance is important especially if you are looking to take part in the games such as poker or blackjack because what you wear adds to the psychology of the game. Jeans can be smart casual but only if they are trendy and not ripped or overly ‘funky’. For example for women, skinny jeans are the height of fashion and can look very attractive when paired with high heels and a blazer and vest. Baggy jeans styles aren’t a very smart look on the other hand so that wouldn’t work.

 

Festival season may be over, but one lasting fashion statement from it will be hippie like headgear. From strung together flowers to gold headbands that parted in the middle, these looks have gained traction.

How stunning is this Goddess Head Wrap from Urban Outfitters? I love the dainty strands on it. It is $19.


I’ve noticed a lot of brides incorporating flower crowns into their weddings and I love this idea. It photographs so prettily. I love the hair wreath above from Etsy. It’s just $10.

Also a big fan of this head wrap wig the feathered look. It’s $20 here.

 


If you open your eyes and take a good look while on your daily routine, you will notice something brilliant happening that is likely to catch steam this fall. Women are sporting Sex and the City-esque tulle skirts. Picture Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic tulle mini in the opening of SATC but make it midi length and more A-line.

We decided to try out the trend in a work environment by pairing it with a cute cardigan and it was an instant success. Also, I’m convinced that dressing like a pseudo-ballerina made my day go by faster and made me happier. The look isn’t for all settings, but is a cute, feminine way to breathe life into your wardrobe and pair it with sweaters you already own.

Convinced yet? Here are some of our favorite skirts to complete the look. Many of the nicest skirts are sold out, likely in the closets of fashionistas. But, the ones we recommend below are all in stock!

My absolutely favorite (and the one I own) is this Gretta Tulle Skirt in lavender from Alexandra Grecco. Everything about this skirt works for me. The color is just beautiful, I like the silk waistband, it has just enough layers but too much tulle. It’s on sale now for $148.

We also really like this soft pink Needle & Thread skirt from Asos for $106.

 
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