muse moments

Happy hump-day, ladies and gents! My favorite season is upon us…even if the weather can’t make up it’s mind to follow suit. It might be warm enough during the day to sport bare legs, but I’ll still be rocking my boots. Bring on the autumn colors, the changing trees, the pumpkin carving, the hot chocolate…and of course, Halloween. As we prepare for the magical holiday and our annual costume party, here’s some muse moments to keep you inspired:

luggageEver since our last European excursion, the husband and I have needed a suitcase upgrade. We seriously put our previous set through its paces. Our next set would need a hard casing to withstand jumping from train to train and racing to catch a jet. Also, a pattern or bold color certainly would prove useful to spot our suitcase on an airport’s conveyor belt. So when I came across this beauty on wheels, it was impossible to resist. Got it home and we discovered it nearly matches my photo taken at the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. This suitcase is setting the bar pretty high, don’t you think?

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I’ve been pulling this belt out of my closet a lot recently. I adore the beaded texture and wooden clasp. Plus, it’s a reminder of our adventurous time in Florida last summer, where I discovered this luxe tribal adornment.

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The bright pinks commonly associated with spring are going to prove fierce with your winter wardrobe. I’m looking forward to pairing this rich color, Shopping in Paris by Pink Holiday, with a monochromatic look. Find it here.

LN show house

Got my fill of decadent design at the LN Show House, where 12 rooms of a local mansion were completely transformed by local designers. Some of my favorite spaces included the mod pool house, decked out in eye-catching art like this full-wall distorted portrait in black-and-white; as well as the library with a thick wool rug that felt like walking on a cloud, and a statement green ceiling that made the room feel like an inverse of the outdoors.

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Tell me what’s got you dreaming as of late, & be sure to visit back soon for my latest hot spot addition.

newsworthy notes: make me this year’s St. Louis Summer Ambassador

I grew up in Kansas City, but I fell in love with a boy from St. Louis–& then I fell in love with the city.  I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for the coveted title of ‘St. Louis Summer Ambassador’ awarded by Explore St. Louis, ALIVE magazine, KSDK, & the Midwest Influencer Network.  Make me the next St. Louis city ambassador, & you can expect to get the inside scoop on how to be a tourist in your own town or trip guides to plan your getaway to the Gateway City.  Simply share this video on every social media outlet like it’s going out of style, & you just might see me making the rounds this summer as the next city ambassador!

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If I win the Official Explore St. Louis Summer Ambassador Search, I will share how to spend a perfect day in the Lou, from talking an afternoon walk along the pretty pathways of the Missouri Botanical Gardens to a show at the ever-elegant Fabulous Fox Theater.  I’m a last-minute contender, so it’s too late to vote for me via KSDK.com, but the more you share my video, the better my chances will be at becoming your St. Louis ambassador.  The Top 5 contenders will be announced tomorrow.  & to learn if I make the cut & earn the title, come to the ‘Be a Tourist in Your Own Town’ event:

‘See for yourself why St. Louis is such a great place to visit during the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission’s annual Be a Tourist In Your Own Town event.  The region’s most popular attractions will exhibit with free refreshments, music, prizes and fun for everyone.  This event will take place from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in Ballpark Village.”

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Thanks for your support, ladies & gents!

muse moments

It’s a frigid weekend here, so snuggle up & sit for a spell while you catch up on my latest muse moments.

I am quite fond of hot air balloons ever since Greg & I incorporated them in our wedding decor to pay homage to our song, “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine.  This darling air balloon basket serves as the perfect mail holder for us.

Winter is no longer coming…it’s most definitely here.  Even though winter brings with it bitter temperatures & dreary landscapes, the season does allow us to break out the boots & the big cuddly scarves like this plaid fringe neck warmer.

The croque monsieur sandwich is a French ham & cheese combination that is simply divine.  Choose gruyere cheese & smoked ham to sizzle between flaky bread.  Then, top with a fried egg for what is possibly my favorite sandwich in the world: the croque madame.  Mouth-watering, believe me.

As a lover of wine, what better tour of California wine country than a Napa Valley wine train?  Bonus: you can enjoy as many glasses as you please without worrying about a designated driver!

When setting out to accomplish anything in your life, remember these words. Your journey is your own, & while it is helpful to have a role model for inspiration, it is vastly more important to be proud of each step you take forward on the path to success.

See you on Monday when I feature how St. Louis celebrates the holidays in my latest hot spots!

muse moments

Ladies & gents, let’s raise a toast to Friday!  After a painfully long week, Friday is finally here.  I’m in need for some serious R & R this weekend.  How about you?  Take a peek at the things inspiring me these days before you get your weekend started:

If you love to travel as much as I do, you know it’s all about the experience when you’re out there trekking the world.  But if you’re like me, you also want to be able to share those experiences with the people back home.  How on earth do you capture the grandeur of a new place, a new culture?  Take a tripod selfie.  It’s great for capturing those solo trips or everyone in your party.

My ideal nightstand is not only modern chic but has the necessary shelves to store a few of my favorite things: a book, a lotion bar, a pen & a pad of paper.  Plus, you know that one really handy item known as a phone charger.  This nightstand so suits my personality that I think I just might buy two!

I adore quirky little accessories, such as this perfect pineapple buckle on a skinny belt.  Add a little pizazz to your professional attire with a piece like this that pops.

Here’s a little pumpkin carving inspiration for you.  Just use glow sticks to create the different colored effect!  Do you & your family carve pumpkins?  If so, what designs did you come up with this year?

At times, you have to remind yourself to be your own best version of who you are & not worry about fitting into someone’s cookie-cutter mold of who you ought to be.  If you focus on being a good person & doing what makes you happy, the rest will fall into place.

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!

mapped it: Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

One of my favorite things to splurge on while away from home is food.  One of my favorite types of cuisine is seafood.  Take a girl who loves seafood to the coast & don’t you dare judge her for how much she consumes.  I mean, come on…you’d be hard-pressed to pass up such savory meals!  So dive in & dine in with me on our foodie exploration of St. Pete’s Beach.

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First stop: a midnight meal at Papa Angelo’s.  We drove into St. Petersburg late, which left very few options for dining since most kitchens were closed.  That led us to a pizza joint & bar in the heart of downtown.  Angelo’s surprised us with its’ giant pizzas & chummy owner.  He & I hit it off right away when I asked for his wine options & he revealed his love of vino to us.  Jen asked for a porter & he was clearly caught up in someone to talk wine with that he thought for sure she meant “port.”  As I’m usually outnumbered by beer-drinkers, this left me grinning ear-to-ear.  My eyes lit up however when I spotted the shrimp alfredo.  We enjoyed this place so much that we made sure to come back for another visit during our short stay.

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The next day, we woke up later than intended (but hey, it’s vacay!) & needed to find a place for lunch. Rather than search online for a decent review of the local fare, I suggested we just venture out & hope to stumble upon greatness. & we so did. Allow me to introduce you to The Oyster Bar. This tavern appealed to our adventurous side & promised more food than we could hope to consume. I’m setting down a rule for all you fellow food-lovers: when in an oyster bar, you must have an oyster shooter. We each tried a unique drink: the Classic included vodka, tabasco & lemon juice. The Hangover had pale ale & cocktail sauce, & I tried the Texan, which consisted of vodka, zing-zang & horseradish. We dumped the shucked oyster shots down our throats, hoping for the best. Everyone appreciated their concoction while I was left scrounging for a chaser. Still proud I tried it!  We opted for the parmesan crusted oysters covered with a yummy herb butter and chipotle crab cake to share.  I managed to snag a picture of Jen’s scrumptious ahi tuna with wasabi & soy dipping sauce before we dug in, but the rest of our meals disappeared too quickly to capture (including my filet mignon…oops).

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We stopped in for a midday snack at a nearby chocolate shop, Schackolad.  It was impossible to look in the display cases and not immediately want to sample a little of everything.  Aaron & Jen bought a box of assortments with the best of intentions but those souvenirs made it as far as the car ride home.  Greg & I bought a handful (okay, maybe two) & went to town.  Imagine chocolate-dipped Oreos, creamy white chocolate seashells, crispy chocolate bites & peanut butter cups.  Salivate over deep chocolate truffles & mocha creamy nuggets.  It is heaven in your mouth.

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The creme de la creme to our downtown St. Pete’s Beach visit was an indulgent dinner at Cassis American Brasserie.  Erin, our old college roommate, came as our dinner guest.  (She hit it off quite well with #BeachBoundBob.)  Erin was the only one of us who exercised some self-control that night.  The rest of us ordered dinner & one elaborate appetizer.  Allow me to introduce you to our seafood extravaganza:

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The mack daddy of seafood trays included freshly shucked oysters, succulent jumbo shrimp, plump little mussels & two crabs (because, y’know, one is clearly not enough).  For real, I still dream about this platter.  We had to pack up our dinners in to-go boxes because there was just.  no.  room.

Stop in on Friday for my #MuseMoments & be sure to catch up with me on Monday to read about our last hurrah before we headed north for home!

mapped it: St. Petersburg, Florida

Meet #BeachBoundBob, our Floridian tour guide.  Jen found him sans legs one day & started something by bringing him to work for office pranks.  Our paraplegic poster hunk became a sensation.  He came along with us & inspired many fantastic photoshoots (like this one!).  I think you’ll come to love this quirky little guy as much as we do!

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#BeachBoundBob gets handsy with my Po’ Boy!

The Florida sun is hot hot HOT.  The rays beat down on you, only relenting when a quick rain rolls through.  Y’know, some like it hot.  I like it hot if it means I can jump into a big pool when I’ve had enough heat.  Our condo at Coquina Key in St. Pete’s Beach promised just that.  Within a gated community lies this upscale colorful marina.  Our unit resided within walking distance of the yacht club & saltwater pool.  Our backyard let out to a marina & we could smell the salty air of the ocean from our deck.

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I spent every morning breathing in that air & gazing at the docked boats, making note of their names: Anna Molly (anybody else singing Incubus now?), Paradise, Adventure…  What name would you give your boat?  Greg & I would choose “Albatross” to not only pay homage to a fascinating poem (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) but also to our favorite television show & related movie.

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Recognize this?  If so, YOU’RE MY KIND OF AWESOME.  If not, get to watching Firefly Serenity stat.

Jen & I chose to spend our afternoons poolside by the sea, making the most of our time by sunbathing, reading, & taking dips in the tempting water.  We were treated by a dolphin sighting even before the boys joined us!

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We invited Jen’s college friend to join us at the yacht club that evening.  After all, it was Taco Tuesday & they offered $2 margaritas!  How can one resist?

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Come back next Monday to learn what unusual treat we tried (& mostly enjoyed)!