muse moments

Inspiration has been a beautiful beacon of light to me this year as I continue to write on my novel daily. Here’s hoping passion comes and grips you at least once in your life. The trick, I’ve found, is to grab it right back — and never let it go. For those of you who’ve found it and those still searching, here is a dose of muse-worthy moments to keep you going on your quest for a passion-filled existence:


A dessert so naturally sweet it makes your tooth ache just looking at it. One of the many samplings found at the decadent dessert buffet courtesy of Saint Louis Club.

History that speaks to the soul. Immerse yourself in this gorgeous house of blues at National Blues Museum in St. Louis. And while you’re there, be sure to snap an Instagram-worthy shot of you onstage with Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds. Tag @nationalbluesmuseum and see if the museum regrams your image like they did mine!

An off-the-shoulder merlot dress with golden accents (as modeled by my fabulous “twin,” Liz Simone) makes for the perfect number to wear to a vintage couture fashion show.

Aglow in emerald green outside of Four Seasons of Fashion, the St. Louis’ Symphony’s debut vintage couture fashion show. An unconventional runway show, the combination of designer gowns and beautiful music from the Grammy-award winning orchestra easily cultivated creativity. Crystal adornment courtesy of Collections by Joya.

What don’t I adore about a place that encourages you to pop open a bottle of wine and create art? Painting With a Twist afforded me just that opportunity. I celebrated Mother’s Day with my wonderful mom-in-law by painting daisies on a vibrant background. Her version, on the left, more closely resembles the original painting we modeled ours after while mine was an anstract version, for sure. Wishing my mom, who resides on the other side of the state, could’ve been there to celebrate with us!

Share your muse-worthy moments via Instagram and Twitter by tagging @amandasluxelife and #MuseMoments.

fashion femme: starlet style

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Allow me to introduce the lovely Liz. Everyone knows her as my “twin” because we’ve so often been confused for each other by strangers. We passed for sisters more convincingly when our hair was the same color, but we do share an odd resemblance for having no shared genes. And as we also share an adoration for classic films, it seemed only a matter of time before we replicated our favorite starlets’ styles. So, the twin and I piled up our hair, threw on some lipstick and headed to Chandler Hill Winery, all dolled up like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.

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Marilyn’s doppelganger and I share a passion for writing. So, we whipped out our notebooks to jot a few notes, over wine and apple slices with brie.

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These pictures (cleverly, I might add) don’t show the bustling crowds at a winery on a beautiful weekend. Every now and again, we’d catch some onlookers, or even the occasional photo bomber. It seems even a male model came out of the woodwork and decided to join us for a bit.

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And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a little beauty advice from the screen queens themselves…

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she’ll conquer the world.” Marilyn Monroe.

“Happy girls are the prettiest.” Audrey Hepburn.

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Till next time…

muse moments

As the heat of summer finally begins to roll in, the outdoor festivities are in full swing. From food trucks in the city parks to the Renaissance Faire & outdoor theatre, the city comes alive with vibrant activity this time of year. All this & more is keeping my calendar filled to the brim, but I love every minute of it. Hope the longer days are as joy-filled for you as they have been for me! Here’s some #MuseMoments of late that have put a smile on my face:

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An oversized ring wrapped in gold & topped with a pale pink rose.

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I was thrilled to hear Jimmy Fallon’s announcement on the The Tonight Show when he introduced Ben & Jerry’s newest creation, The Tonight Dough. Combining chocolate cookie swirls, & chocolate chip & peanut butter cookie dough, it was as tasty as I’d hoped it be.

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I fell in love with this enormous disco ball at a nearby nightclub.
Equal to the size of three of me, I sadly could not take it home.

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This wine drinker loves her some sangria, especially come summertime.
This light, zesty white wine concoction cools you off on a humid evening.

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Saint Louis Art Museum hosts a delightful shindig the last Friday of every month, known as SLAM Underground. The extended happy hour gives you an up-close experience with one of the exhibits, & celebrates the art with a DJ on hand & activities, like this distinctive photo booth.

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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!

mapped it: Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre of Italy (foodie edition)

Monterosso 4The Cinque Terre is one of the finest gems that the Italian Riviera has to offer.  Monterosso may be tourist-infested, but between the beautiful beach & the traffic-free streets, the largest of the five towns is absolutely delightful.  Arriving after a long train ride, we stepped out onto the platform which opened up to a gorgeous seaside street lined with restaurants.  However, we rolled into town rather late, so our options were limited & we simply wanted to fall into bed.  After confusing our map directions, we ended up on the opposite side of town with suitcases in tow & landed in the middle of an outdoor festival.  We lacked the energy to join in the dancing & drinking, but the throng of happy party people certainly seemed inviting & lifted our moods.  We turned back, heading through a tunnel & past the tempting eateries.  I stopped us at the gelateria that was still open & grabbed us a slice of lasagna & dessert to go.  Greg juggled all the suitcases while I managed dinner & we finally rolled into our destination: the 5 Terre Hotel.  One of the owners, a helpful older man, greeted us by complimenting my petite figure & Greg’s strength.  Then, he showed us to our room where we promptly devoured (& enjoyed) our hasty meal choice.  Thus began our foodie experience of Monterosso al Mare.

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The next day, we rambled through town, stopping off to sample wine & homemade pesto, buying some jars to take home with us.  To learn more about the wine we sipped on, read this.  For dinner that night, we chose Ristorante Miky for a fancy dining affair.  Our waiter uncorked a white German wine for us before bringing our main course.  The skilled servers excel at presenting your dish from deboning sea bass to flambeing seafood ravioli (as was the case for my meal).  The waiter proceeded to punch holes in the bread lid, then rolled it back to reveal the mouth-watering contents.  If you get the opportunity, be sure to stop in for this fine dining experience during your visit.

Before bidding adieu to the beautiful sea town, we savored one last meal of prawn pasta sitting out along the main street while taking in the brilliant scenery.  Then, we boarded another train headed for Tuscany.  Come back next Monday to learn about the next leg of our Italian tour.

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socialite savvy: Les Bourgeoise Winery & Noboleis Vineyards

Winery Summer 2014 7The Midwest of America may seem an unlikely place to find quality wine but you might be surprised.  Missouri has rolling hills of vineyards spotted with large ponds & surrounded by trees.  Wineries abound in the Midwest & I am all set to explore them.

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I joined a few friends at Noboleis Vineyards for a wine sampling & lunch.  We snacked on crackers paired with cheese & sausage & shared laughs over a few bottles of wine.  After splitting some yummy pizzas, we tried out the hula hoops & giant inflatable soccer balls placed outside for our amusement.  I spotted someone living the luxe life at this winery when they dropped in unexpectedly by helicopter & flew back out again after grabbing a few bottles for themselves.

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I stopped off at my favorite winery, Les Bourgeois.  It’s my favorite for sentimental reasons as it happens to be the one where Greg & I wed.  On a perfect fall day, I enjoyed a bottle of Traminette-Vignoles from their Collector’s Series while pouring over my writing.  Don’t worry…  I managed to look up from my notebook every now & again to enjoy the gorgeous view of the Missouri River just below the bluffs.

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The wineries get prettier over the autumn season.  I can’t wait to visit more as the leaves start changing colors.  What are you looking forward to this Fall?  Stop in for a visit on Friday & enjoy some weekly inspiration courtesy of my muse moments.

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!