muse moments

I’m finishing off a beautiful weekend here. After quality time with family & fun-filled evenings with friends, I am ready to tackle the week with enthusiasm! Here is some inspiration around the web to help you launch your week:

At first glance, this scenic view looks like the elven paradise from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  This national park in China certainly seems to be a dreamscape.  It’s real enough though.  Shall we go see it for ourselves?

These small gold studded earbuds are ideal travel mates that can fit in your pocket.  As you travel along, you can play your own wanderlust-inspired playlist or listen to travel guides & design your own unique tour.

I live in leggings in the winter, particularly fleece-lined & textured ones.  These comic strip leggings ought to be added to the closet.  What do you think?

Create a visual aid to help you master your work week. This daily interactive reminder will help keep you on track.

Embracing who you are, faults & all, can only strengthen your character.

mapped it: Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

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Venice appears almost like a dream.  Completely situated on water, the roadways are all canals while the alleys and sidewalks are all built with stone.  At every turn, artists brush paint on their canvases while musicians strum along to the rhythm of the water.  It seems only right to pay homage to the beautiful artwork housed in this picturesque city of the sea.

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L to R: Empor by Vasily Kandinsky & The Antipope by Max Ernst

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Taking an artsy selfie.

Come explore the rich artworks housed at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice along the Grand Canal.  This collector of modern art (married to artist Max Ernst) gathered pieces from Picasso to Warhol, Dali & Chagall.  You will find featured works of Expressionism, Futurism, Abstract, Surrealism & more.  Each painting, sculpture & photograph shares a unique story with its beholder.  We ate up the tales like they were mystery chocolates in a box.

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L to R: (Translated from French) Very Rare Picture on the Earth by Francis Picabia
& La Croix ancree by Antoine Pevsner.

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La Baignade by Pablo Picasso.

Get to it: stop off in the neighborhood of Dorsoduro by water taxi at Accademia (or stay a couple blocks away at a reasonable price like we did!)

Cost: 14 euros per adult.  Discounts offered to students, seniors, & children.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  Closed Tuesdays & Christmas Day.

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L to R: Flowers by Andy Warhol & Setting for a Fairy Tale by Joseph Cornell.

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L to R: Surface Developpable by Antoine Pevsner & Logogriphe aux Pales Jean Dubuffet.

dream it: Ireland

Happy holidays to you near & far!  I hope that wherever you are you look forward to celebrations with the people you love most in the world.  Here’s hoping you get many of the things on your wishlist.  Of course, there are some Christmas wishes you make just for yourself, knowing that it is up to you to make those dreams come true.  For instance, I wish to take a new adventure somewhere in this grand world.  How about you?  What is on your travel wishlist?  I’m dreaming of touring Ireland in the next couple years.

Surrounded by water, Ireland offers mysterious beaches like this rock bridge in Donegal known as Stroove Beach.

Considered one of the most beautiful places on the planet by the likes of National Geographic, Dingle Peninsula offers winding roads by seaside cliffs & sandy shores for you to dip your toes in.

Standing at over 700 feet tall & 5 miles wide, the Cliffs of Moher are nothing if not magnificent.  Plus, some of my favorite films showcase the cliffs, such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  You can also catch them as the “Cliffs of Insanity” in The Princess Bride.

I fully plan on taking part in the tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle & earning the gift of gab during my visit.

Trinity College in Dublin is considered an ancient university as it was built in the late 16th-century.  The library boasts of literary wonders, including the Book of Kells.

Last but not least, a pub crawl through Dublin is an absolute must!  It’s really all a matter of deciding what pub crawl suits my speed…  I think a musical tour of Dublin’s brewhouses is right up my alley.

Dream big this holiday season & share your travel wishes for next year with me.  I’ll be back after the new year with fresh content, more European travel guides & additions to my city “hotspots.”  Till then, I wish you & yours the merriest of times & the happiest new year!

muse moments

Hello, ladies & gents!  We’re wrapping up another week and counting down to the holiday.  My week started off wonderfully after my friend & her beau came for a visit over the past weekend.  We got the chance to act like tourists in our town as we went around seeing the sites with them.  After strolling through our historic downtown area, which is all dolled up for Christmas, I am absolutely in a festive mood.  Here are other things inspiring me at the moment:

What’s on your Christmas wish list?  For me, it is always an extravagant trip.  I wouldn’t mind visiting New York City again…except this time, let’s stop by during the holidays to really see the city all aglow.  We could watch the Rockettes and take a horse-drawn carriage through a snowy Central Park.

This red dress complete with a teacup skirt will make quite the impression at a holiday party.  Santa’s suit doesn’t have anything on this velvet.

Top off that holiday party look with a sleek & elegant hairstyle.  This simple chignon is polished with a braid.

Capture the warmth of Christmas lights with this trick for a bokeh effect on your camera.

Want to keep the lights shining all year-round?  Create your own unique marquee lights with this how-to guide & display a cool message on your walls.

See you next week with some more travel guides and holiday inspirations!

muse moments

Hello, ladies & gents!  I’m currently enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon and I hope this finds you at ease as well.  If not, I hope my latest web inspirations help you to relax, & as always, encourage you to dream.

Winter is coming.  (You see what I did there?  You see?)  Embrace the freezing temperatures with a spectacular experience by renting a glass igloo.  Catch a spectacular view of the Northern Lights within the confines of your own thermal glass cave.  Eskimos ain’t got nothin’ on this.

In case you forgot, a new Star Wars film is on the horizon.  Episode VII: The Force Awakens is set to release in December 2015.  You can expect to see Princess Leia & Chewie back in action!

This quote serves as a reminder to not doubt yourself and to stay strong in your convictions.  Sometimes you just need to remember to walk tall like royalty.

With Thanksgiving preparations underway, we are all anticipating an overflow of extravagant foods begging to be devoured.  Our waistlines may not be so forgiving of our gluttony on this day, but combat the after-effects of turkey day with this workout routine.  This particular move focuses on your inner thighs.

And if you are planning on fitting in a workout this week, do it in style with this motivational top.  You’ll appreciate the sense of humor in this quote when you are finished sweating it out.

Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving this year!  Be sure to stop in this week to learn why Venice is made for lovers & hear all about a date designed for fans of beer.

mapped it: Monterosso al Mare of the Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque TerreBonjourno!  Welcome to our first stop in Italy: Monterosso, the largest of the five seaside villages built into the cliffs along the Italian Riviera.  This particular town has a lovely beach that lends to its resort rep.  Add to that some Old World charm & it is all too easy to relax & set your worries aside.

When we first arrived by train to the darling town of Monterosso, Greg & I had grand plans of using this as our launch point for exploring all five postcard-worthy villages.  The hiking trails between the villages are known for their spectacular views & each town has its own unique lifestyle to enthrall you.  Well, supposedly.  I might be able to confirm this for you had a storm not rolled in from the Ligurian Sea to disrupt us.

The storm lasted all three days of our stay, deciding finally to relent as we headed for the train station on our final day.  I scored the above snapshot as we grabbed lunch just before leaving town.  You may think a little storm couldn’t rain on our parade, but the hiking trails are shut down during inclement weather for safety reasons.  So we made the best of being stuck in this Italian seaside village, & that certainly wasn’t hard to do.

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We strolled through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, stopping off at little shops full of delightful handmade goods & any beautiful building that caught our eye.  The Church of St. John Baptist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista) is striking with a large rose window & striped serpentine decor.  The church, originally built at the very beginning of the 14th century, was recovering from a devastating flood in 2011.  You could see the flood lines along the wall but that certainly didn’t take away from the beauty of this historic building.

IMG_8105 (2)We stayed just off the main road alongside the sea at the 5 Terre Hotel.  We instantly loved the warmth of the hotel staff & felt right at home when greeted by the resident calico cat (it reminded us of our sweet Chelsea cat).  Our floor-length windows opened up above the garden, which smelled delightfully fresh from the abundant rain.  Greg & I spent most of our time finding keepsakes for our loved ones & sampling the wine of the region: a drier white made from a combination of grapes & the sticky-sweet wine called sciacchetrà produced out of the late harvest.  Only white wine can be produced in the Cinque Terre soil, but as I tend to go for the whites, that was quite fine by me.  The sciacchetrà proved to be too sweet even for me (I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, seriously), but the biscotti paired with it tasted lovely dipped in the dessert wine.

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Stop in next week to learn about the unique food presentation we experienced here in the Cinque Terre.  Till then, ciao!

dream it: Northern Italy

How do you know you have been infected by wanderlust?  You constantly dream of far off places & exciting explorations.  You thirst for the adventure found in experiencing new cultures & stepping out into the unknown.  If that sounds like you, then you most certainly have been bit by the travel bug.  What’s the best way to deal with the dreamer’s disease?  Give in to temptation.  Dream on, travelers.  Then, figure out what it takes to make those dreams come true.

Last year, Greg & I made some of our dreams happen by hopping a plane & trekking through France & Italy.  I want to share with you some of the dreams that inspired this grand tour.  In the upcoming weeks, I will show you how one-by-one, I turned these inspirations into plans & plans into action.  I hope my process helps you to develop your own method of dealing with wanderlust in a productive way so you too can live a luxe life.

The Cinque Terre is a collection of five seaside towns along the Italian Riviera.  Built into the cliffs, these beauties are each like a small, secret getaway where you can truly escape.  The villages are all within hiking distance of each other & the trails between each place offer the most spectacular views.  Two of the five are featured above: Riomaggiore & Manarolo.

Tuscany is well-known for its sprawling landscape, artistic history & rich wines.  It’s easy to fall in love with the endless rows of vineyards & relaxed rural lifestyle.  Montepulciano (featured in fog above) offers distinctive wine & a captivating Medieval setting.

There is simply no city on Earth like Venice.  Surrounded by water, Venice offers sanctuary from the modern world while celebrating art, culture & history.  The charming city is quick to enchant many a visitor & we were no exception.  What exotic lands do you dream about?