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Six Months in Florida

October 6, 2017

Clearwater Beach, Florida

This year has has been one of the most interesting and challenging years of my life with our move from California to Florida back in February. This month marks the seven month time period of us living on the East Coast, but with evacuating for a few days, travel, and work trips here and there we’ve really been in Tampa Bay for six. So many have asked for a Tampa Bay travel guide plus thoughts on moving from coast to coast. I know most of you come to this blog for beauty-related reviews and insights so it makes me happy to find a lot of you are interested in other parts of my life as well.

We moved from San Diego to Tampa Bay in February of this year. Both Andrew and I had lived in San Diego most of our lives and were ready for a change. We didn’t know exactly where we wanted to live, but we knew it would be somewhere sunny. The timing happened to coincide with the fact that Andrew’s parents found their dream house in Apollo Beach, Florida and decided to buy it for retirement in a year or two. They asked us if we’d consider moving and renting from them so they wouldn’t have to find strangers to rent it and we agreed. We packed up everything we owned from the modern loft we rented into a 16-foot Penske moving truck with our three fur kids and drove across country to Florida in 5 days.

Our plan was to rent their home for a year while we explored Florida to decide where to settle down. We explored things all over the place fell in love with pretty much everything. Each area has it’s own unique charm! Unfortunately things don’t always go according to plan. Long story very short, Andrew’s parents told us they were going to move/retire earlier than they expected. They changed their move date twice and by mid-July we learned they would be in Apollo Beach by August. We had to find a new place in a matter of a couple weeks. To say I had a freak out about the thought of not having a place to live would be an understatement. With pets finding a place to rent or buy isn’t an easy process and for sure isn’t something you can do quickly. Andrew, being the glass half full kind of person that he is, calmed me down and said we should look on the bright side, take advantage of not being tied down, travel month-to-month in a few vacation rentals and do some real exploring to get a sense of the different areas in Florida.

In less than 5 days we packed, found a storage unit, moved most of our belongings there and found a vacation rental that would take 3 pets. We signed up with a parcel delivery service for our mail and packages. We each packed a suitcase and a few bankers moving boxes to bring essentials with us. Finding a monthly vacation rental was easy, but finding one that would take 3 pets with a fenced yard was a bit of a challenge. We looked at Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO and it took hours of searching. As this post is being published, we are now on Month 3 of living the nomadic life in three different areas of Tampa Bay and it’s been quite an adventure. Stressful for sure, but still we’ve managed to have a lot of fun, explore like tourists and also live like locals. We’ve learned a lot.

Fort De Soto Park

Now that I’ve shared my story, here are some thoughts on each place we’ve lived, a list of my top places to see and where to eat in Tampa Bay. We still have a long list of places we want to visit! Florida is such a huge place we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge Tampa Bay

Where we’ve lived:

When people ask me what it’s like to live in Florida, my answer is that it really depends on where you are. Florida is a really big state, we’ve only really explored Tampa Bay which is enormous. The only thing consistent across Tampa Bay is that the weather is warm, it can be hot and humid and it rains frequently. We loved that the weather is so warm you can swim in the ocean without freezing! In the three cities we’ve lived we’ve found so much wildlife – each area has different kinds of animals that gravitate towards those areas. Some that scare me to death like snakes, geckos and lizards and some that are cute like pelicans, cranes, squirrels and dolphins.

Apollo Beach is a city south and east of Tampa. Much of the area was developed to be a waterfront community so there are a lot of man-made canals which is unlike anything I had ever seen before. My in-law’s house is located in one of the gated communities along the water where every house has a boat dock in their backyard. Manatees, dolphins, fish, birds and all kinds of wildlife surface which is really amazing. Andrew and I loved everything about our neighborhood and the house had a lot of charm: two stories, four bedrooms, huge backyard and a pool. The only downside was it was far from everything we were interested in seeing, doing or eating – most places are at least 35 minutes away to an hour drive.

Apollo Beach Florida

St. Pete Beach is one of the best beach towns I’ve visited. If you’re looking for a great vacation spot this is such a cute area with lots of fun coffee shops, restaurants, cute hotels, beaches with cabana rentals and more. We rented a cute beach house in August, also with a pool and fenced back yard. It was the first time we had used VRBO and we had a great experience. It’s easy to navigate, search, filter (a key for us pet owners) and book. We were a bit worried it would also be too far from Tampa and it is, however there is so much to explore in the area. Treasure Island is a lot fun (they have an amazing salt water taffy store there and I don’t even like taffy, but the ones there are amazing!), Pass-A-Grille has beautiful beaches to relax, and St. Petersburg is only 30 minutes away.

St Pete Beach Florida

Saint Petersburg was our third Florida destination to live. This area was my favorite for food. In the month we lived in St. Pete Beach we found ourselves constantly driving the 20-30 minutes to Saint Petersburg for coffee, lunch and dinner so we decided to live there for a month. This was our second experience VRBO where we rented a charming cottage.

Beach Cottage Vacation Florida

Places to visit:

We’re still exploring Florida and I’ll most likely create a separate page that I’ll update as we see more. In Florida I think the most frequently suggested place to visit is Orlando because of Disney World and all the other theme parks. I had been to Disneyland in California many times growing up and actually liked that one better. Our favorite places that we visited:

  • Clearwater Beach has the best soft white sand out of all the beaches I’ve visited. It’s a great place to stop by for a day visit. Sunsets are just so beautiful! Where we stayed in Clearwater in this post here.
  • St. Pete Beach is one of the most fun areas to live and explore. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Zamora in December which we would definitely go to again. After we moved the first time we spent a day renting beach chairs and umbrellas at The DonCesar Hotel and had an amazing time. It’s on our list to stay at for stay-cations, the property is beautiful!
  • Fort de Soto Park is a unique park and beach area that’s quite spread out so it’s not as dense with people as some other beaches. There is a lot to explore, you can bike, walk, or swim. There is a historic fort there as well.
  • Pass-A-Grille is part of St. Pete Beach past The Don Cesar hotel – it’s lined with beaches all the way to the Gulf. It’s really beautiful here. We took several day trips here when we lived at the beach to just sit and relax. You definitely need to bring some beach chairs and umbrellas with you.

Clearwater Beach, Pass-a-Grille, St Pete Beach, Fort de Soto | The Beauty Look Book

  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a little over an hour north. It has two main parts, one is Buccaneer Bay which has a mini theme park feel with water slides, mermaid show, restaurants (it closes starting October, check site for when they reopen) and the other part is the kayaking along the Weeki Wachee River which is open 365 days a year (they will shut down if there are thunder/lightening storms). It took us 4 hours to kayak 5 miles and it was the best thing we’ve done in Florida.
  • Anna Maria is south close to Sarasota, visiting these beaches on a clear day makes you feel like you’ve found paradise. The water is clear and the brightest blue I’ve ever seen. Something definitely worth seeing.
  • Hyde Park Village in Tampa is a cute shopping and restaurant area. They have Sprinkles, Sur la Table, Bartaco, Anthropologie and a cute Blue Mercury store!
  • Bayshore Boulevard is a long continuous sidewalk along Tampa Bay, it was unique and interesting for us because the view of the water and houses in the area is just amazing! The entire sidewalk is 4.5 miles long. We watched the fourth of July fireworks from here.

Weeki Wachee Kayaking, Anna Maria, Bayshore Boulevard, Hyde Park Village Florida

Top places to eat:

Through a process of trial and error we’ve found some really amazing food in Tampa.

  • Bodega – best most unique Cuban sandwiches I’ve tried, since eating here I’ve put at least a dozen other places to the test and NOTHING compares.
  • Bartaco – love this place for the ambiance, food, service, they have several locations in a few states like Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia – definitely check it out!
  • Edison Food Lab – wins for most unique menu, their menu changes every once in a while which makes it interesting.
  • Casita Taqueria – in Florida there really isn’t quite anything as good as the Mexican food I’ve grown accustomed to in San Diego, this place is pretty darn good though. I live for their queso!
  • Ted Peter’s Famous Smokehouse – they have amazing fresh fish and I’m not really a fish eating person (the only sushi I do is California Roll and I know that’s not real sushi), it’s definitely a unique spot with a very relaxed atmosphere, note that they take cash only.
  • Fresh Kitchen – this is a Tampa/Southern version of Chipotle, they have bowls you can mix and match to create your own combination. One of the healthier food options in town.
  • Better Byrd – if you like chicken sandwiches or donuts (I love both), this is a way better version of Chick-Fil-A.
  • Datz – another place filled with amazing food options, warning though if you are a healthy eater and don’t eat here, everything on the menu is pretty hefty, but it’s unique and I think worth trying at least once.
  • 4Rivers Smokehouse – amazing BBQ!

Best coffee and desserts:

  • The Hyppo is probably the best dessert place I’ve tried. They have gourmet ice pops that come in the most unique flavors, aren’t overly sweet, and have amazing fruit blends. I think I could live off these alone. They have several locations – this place is a must visit.
  • Sweet Brewnette is a cute coffee shop in St Pete Beach (Madiera Beach to be exact) they have really good coffee.
  • Kahwa Coffee has multiple locations in Tampa and Saint Petersburg, in my top 5 coffee places of all time.
  • La Casa del Pane is a cute Italian Bakery with good patries, foccacia, bread, coffee and desserts.
  • Oxford Exchange is a cute restaurant, coffee bar, tea bar and gift shop kind of place. It stocks Aesop and Cire Trudon as well!

Favorite Eats Tampa

I’ve mapped out everything here in case you want to use it as a reference!

Tampa Bay Favorites

I hope you enjoyed this roundup! If you’ve moved cross country before I’d love to hear about it. It’s taken some time for me to adjust but we love the water, beaches, warm weather, food, people. It’s been a wonderful place to explore and my first time living in the South. The only stressful thing has been the constant moving and right now we aren’t sure how much longer we will be doing this. Part of us is ready to pick a place and settle down, other parts of us really love the exploring! We had hoped to be in New York or Miami the month of October but the pet situation has made things a bit tricky. If you travel frequently any tips or tricks on how to get used to it? We’ve moved four times this year and we get better and more efficient each time. I tried to keep this as high level as possible – there’s so much I could write about our experiences! If you have any questions about anything on VRBOs/Airbnb, traveling with pets or want to see more or anything else let me know in the comments!

Florida

Life Updates

September 11, 2017

Kitty Evacuating

I wanted to give an update on my life right now. Thank you to each of you who have messaged me and asked how we are doing. We are all ok: husband, 3 pets, myself and my in-laws. All of us packed up our cars and pets and drove north away from the predicted paths of the hurricane. I skipped my NY plans and stayed in Florida so I could be with my family as there was too much uncertainty about the hurricane and I could not leave them behind with so much unknown.

We evacuated Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon after the news reported that Hurricane Irma would be a Category 4 Hurricane headed directly towards St. Petersburg – the area where we are currently living. Earlier that week we had been actively tracking the news and alerts by county. We took note of the evacuation notices by zone so we prepared.  My husband and I live on the west side of Tampa Bay in Pinellas County and since we were in a no flood zone we almost decided to stay. Our neighbors had checked in on us multiple times over the week and told us we could stay with them at their warehouse which was concrete and in a no-flood zone. They even gave us the code to their house for us to go inside in the event we had any trouble if we decided to stay.

My in-laws however lived in a mandatory evacuation zone on the other side of the bay so Andrew and I drove to their house and spent two days helping them prepare the house. We boarded the doors and windows. The previous owners of the house were so organized – they had all the boards already prepped, labeled and stored in the garage. They even had an evacuation folder they left for my husband’s parents with detailed diagrams labeled boards.

Tampa Hurricane Storm Boarding

Tampa Hurricane Storm Boarding

Here is a look at where my in-laws live in one of the canal areas as of Thursday. A lot of the neighborhoods around Tampa Bay look similar to this if they are on the coast or waterfront. This entire area is in Evacuation Zone A. At this time we don’t know what it currently looks like. A couple notes as some of you asked why it was a challenging decision to evacuate and also reasons why so many people stayed behind. Florida has set Evacuation Zones by county. You can see how it’s split on their website. Up until Thursday, unless you were in a mandatory Evacuation Zone (such as this one below) in your county you had little or no direction as to whether an evacuation would be necessary. Zones are primarily set to prepare for hurricane storm surge flooding – it doesn’t take into account possible damage from wind. There are a lot of areas in Florida that are not designated Zone A. Andrew and I were based in Zone D – but it didn’t mean our area could survive hurricane winds.

Tampa Bay Canal area

We left Tampa around 4:30 PM on Thursday worried about a number of things including the possibility that the news was over-reacting and that we would be evacuating for no reason, the fact that almost all the gas stations in town were out of gas, the possibility of we might get stuck on the road since news reporters were reporting gridlock traffic with people abandoning their cars on the highways and also worried if we left we might get stuck on the road with high winds. We looked for alternate routes out of the state and downloaded gas station locator apps. While my husband was researching exit routes I packed up two suitcases with essentials, prepped our 3 pets and loaded everything I could into our car. Our in-laws followed too. We all left with our pets packed with us and anything we could fit into our vehicles.

We drove along the 41 north and found there was no traffic and no gridlock like the news had reported. Most people evacuating must have been driving along the 75 instead. Gas was still something we were worried about. We must have passed at least 40 gas stations all of which were closed and out of gas, all with their pumps wrapped with clear plastic wrap. We found 2 that had gas, both of which had at least a quarter mile long wait line of cars and both were completely surrounded with police cars to ensure everything stayed orderly. Luckily we found open gas stations closer to the Florida Georgia border and we had plenty of gas to get us there. Andrew’s brother was texting from San Francisco helping us with directions to ensure we didn’t hit traffic and also gave us addresses of places to check for gas along the way.

Our kitty and Jake below, our other dog Lucy is hiding behind my car seat.

Kitty and Jake

We drove to Georgia, stayed the night in Columbus and the entire hotel was filled with Florida evacuees. The next day we drove further north through Tennessee (where I had the best BBQ of my life in Nashville) and ended up in Kentucky to stay with Andrew’s sister’s family. At rest stops it was completely heartbreaking – I heard women on their phones in the bathroom stalls crying saying they were worried that they wouldn’t have a home to go back to.  This morning as I’m typing this I’ve been trying to find news about Tampa Bay updates while sitting in an airport in Louisville waiting to get on a plane for conference in Santa Barbara.

Driving through Georgia:

Georgia Sunrise

At this point we have so many mixed feelings about the entire situation. We felt extreme sadness and guilt leaving Tampa behind worried about everyone who stayed. By now we’ve found the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm. We are relieved that most of Florida seems to be ok right now however at the same time both Andrew and I are completely frustrated and angry at the media and news outlets for not providing accurate information, for fixating on small portions of information and blowing them out of proportion. I believe they caused unnecessary mass panic about so many things which led to things such as drinking water shortages at grocery stores, gas shortages everywhere and even traffic jams. At the same time I understand it’s better to be safe than sorry and also know the threat was indeed to be taken seriously. Finding accurate and reliable information all week long has been a challenge. Certain areas were for sure more prone to damage from storms, flooding and winds. I am still glad we evacuated and relieved that impact of everything isn’t as catastrophic as the news had predicted. It’s been an extremely emotional week and even now there is still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen in the upcoming week. My heart goes out to each and every person in Florida.

Thanks to each of you who have messaged me with your concern. I’m touched by all of your comments and kind messages. I’ll be in California most of this week and at the moment am unsure of when I’ll be able to return to Tampa. My husband and pets are safe and sound though and I’ll keep you posted. Beauty posts I had prepared earlier to resume as soon as I can!

California Travel

The Palace Hotel + Travel Packing List for San Francisco

August 31, 2017

Palace Hotel San Francisco | The Beauty Look Book

Today’s post is Part 2 of my San Francisco Travel Diary with a review of the Palace Hotel and my pack list with the Away Bigger Carry-On from their new Stockholm Collection. In past years my husband and I usually stay at the Westin St. Francis on our San Francisco trips because we fell in love with the cute romantic vibe in their Landmark Building. This visit was a girls trip so I decided to try something new decided to give the Palace Hotel a try. The beautiful Garden Court is what sold me – it just looks magical! The reviews looked promising for cleanliness and comfort so I booked a room with 2 double beds. When we checked in they gave us one on the 7th floor with the New Montgomery Street View and it was just perfect. We didn’t hear any street noise and it came with one of the Toto Washlet and with heated seats. The rooms are on the small size which was expected for the city but the room was pristine with comfortable beds, amazingly soft linens, extra towels and really cute turn down service. Upon check-in I was given a small bag of Ghirardelli Chocolates as they have a store right outside the hotel. For me it was a win right from the start!

A look a the entrance:

Palace Hotel San Francisco

We wanted to try the Garden Court for tea but didn’t make it this round, the lighting is just so pretty. If you look up you can see there’s another floor with a room which we assumed was reserved for special events or weddings. We tried to find the door to it but could not.

Palace Hotel San Francisco

Palace Hotel San Francisco

Palace Hotel San Francisco

Away Bigger Carry On in Clay:

Away Bigger Carry On

There is a pool and a nice gym on the 4th floor which we took a peek at – we didn’t get to use it though as each day we did quite a bit of walking. Enough to wear us out completely!

Palace Hotel Pool San Francisco

A look at the room we booked, cute hallways on each floor!

San Francisco Palace Hotel

Double Bed Room:

San Francisco Palace Hotel Room

View from the 7th Floor, New Montgomery Street View:

San Francisco Palace Hotel Room and View

Bathroom and a quick selfie, sweater top from Club Monaco, jeans from Hudson, jacket old style from Joie (similar here and here), flats by Chloe:

San Francisco Palace Hotel Bathroom

What I packed below. As mentioned in Part 1 – both Laura and I under packed for the weather. She flew in from Los Angeles and I flew in from Tampa where the weather is in the high 90s. Our clothes simply were not warm enough for what we’re used to but we made it work by layering. Since 75% of our outfits were too cold we re-wore a lot of our sweaters and pants. I brought the Away Bigger Carry-On in Clay which is the perfect warm clay pink color. It’s part of the Rashida Jones Stockholm collection with 3 limited-edition colors, Packing Cubes and a Stockholm tote. My husband is the organized one who knows all the packing tips and tricks to make life easier so he bought me packing cubes for our Europe trip a few years ago. They do indeed help organize things but they’re not really the most aesthetically pleasing. It’s a minor detail but these Away cubes are the prettiest ones I’ve seen. I’ve already ordered a few more packs.

I didn’t have time to photograph all the outfits I packed and since I didn’t wear everything I’ll list what I fit inside the Bigger Carry-On Size (use this referral link to get $20 off your first suitcase order). You can also see this post from spring here and here of what goes inside this size. My pack list, I’ve linked the items I packed as well in case you are curious:

  • 2 pairs of jeans (I usually wear the Paige Verdugo Ankles because they’re good for my height) and 1 pair that I wore on the plane
  • 2 shirts, one long sleeve button down from AG, one off-shoulder top from Rag and Bone
  • 1 brown leather jacket from Joie (old style, similar here and here) and 1 short trench I wore on the plane (from Jcrew, old style, long classic version here)
  • 1 pair of running shoes from Nike
  • 1 pair of flats from Chloe
  • 1 shift dress (old)
  • 2 pairs of yoga pants to sleep/lounge in
  • 4 tank tops to sleep in or layer (I love these from Madewell)
  • 2 sweaters from Club Monaco
  • 1 belt
  • socks and underwear
  • Leica Instant print camera (but I forgot to pack the film!)
  • tech stuff like laptop charger, phone cords etc.
  • makeup and skincare will be listed below

Pack List with Away Bigger Carry On

Before I go into my beauty pack list, here’s a look at the Bigger Carry-On next to the Stockholm Tote. The tote is made of “water-resistant nylon with vegan leather details and featuring a zip top, an exterior pocket, interior laptop sleeve, two interior snap pockets, and a removable zippered pouch that fits the really big iPhone.” I didn’t take it with me on this trip but I wish I had. One of the biggest issues I have with my larger totes is they don’t have good pockets or compartments inside (I should probably invest in an insert at some point!). The Stockholm tote is simple, streamlined and functional with enough pockets to store essentials for easy access. The depth is quite roomy so you don’t have to feel like magazines and your laptop are stuffed inside.

The Bigger Carry On measures 22.7” x 14.7” x 9.6” Weight 7.3 lbs Capacity 46L
The Tote measures 13.5” x 12” x 4.5” and can fit an 11” MacBook, cross body strap drop is 18″

Pack List with Away Bigger Carry On and Stockholm Tote

A look at my suitcase opened with the tote laid on top for size reference. I received the Cactus Packing Cubes from Away and for this trip I only used 3 of the 4 in the set. There are different sizes so you can organize literally everything. Shown below on the left is the Daily Edited Large Cosmetic Case in black (largest one one of the best travel makeup cases I’ve bought!), Leica Sofort, Sony NEX-6 (discontinued, old model), Marc Jacobs Rimless Aviators (current style here). On the right is a Glossier Pouch (you usually get them with your orders), Truffle Mini Clarity Clutch, mophie Powerstation Mini (2,500mAh) – White, Here Magazine and a Sugarfina Cube of Pineapple Candy.

Pack List with Away Bigger Carry On

A few notes if you’re shopping for luggage and missed my previous reviews on Away. I discovered them in 2015 when they only had 1 size (the Carry-On) and have used their suitcases exclusively for the past few years because of the streamlined design, sturdy exterior, charging component in carry-on and for their really good wheels. I’ve literally bought all my loved-ones suitcases as gifts and converted them all to using them as well! I’ve tried both the regular Carry-On which is best for international flights and the Bigger Carry-On which works on most US Domestic Flights. You can see a size comparison with dimensions on their website here which is really helpful – they’ve done the research to help you decide! As a carry-on traveler this really can fit a lot inside because the handles, battery and wheels don’t consume a lot of space on the inside while a lot of other brands do.

I have checked these on occasion even though I usually do carry-ons. My husband has checked his a lot too. They are prone to scuffs and scratches, but really anything you check is bound to get scratched. With mine I used it on 3 back to back flights and it didn’t get any deep scratches. For surface scuffs the team at Away recommends you use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and warm water to remove them and for me it works like a charm.

The makeup I brought with me (items that were press samples will be marked with a *)

Travel Beauty

My skincare lineup shown below. Believe it or not all of my liquids did indeed fit inside a single quart size bag. I had to play around with the arrangement like Tetris a few times to make everything fit as I’m a carry-on traveler. If you’ve been following this blog for years, you may remember that I actually made it through a month-long trip in Europe with a carry-on backpack.

Travel Beauty

I missed having my hair dryer, but San Francisco water is so much better than Tampa water – my hair was naturally shiny and smooth during my trip with air drying! I also packed an assortment of tools like makeup brushes, lash curler and hair brush but didn’t photograph them before unpacking. As usual I packed too much – I did use everything I brought in skincare, but makeup was a bit overdone.

Packing for San Francisco

One last look at the beautiful hotel:

Palace Hotel San Francisco

I hope you enjoyed this review of the hotel and what I packed! We had a lovely stay at The Palace Hotel – I’d definitely consider staying here again on my next visit. If you travel to San Francisco occasionally where do you usually stay? Open to any and all recommendations!

P.S. My posting schedule has been a bit off lately as I’m living the nomadic life right now. I’ll be heading to New York, California (again) and back to Florida in September. Florida life recap post is still coming – I know many of you are curious where/why we are moving and I’ll explain more in a future post. Long story short we now get to explore different areas of Florida and it’s been quite an adventure but an unexpectedly great experience. I still cannot believe how BIG Florida is and since moving here and most of my West Coast friends don’t know how spread out everything is. I have to show them maps to explain how long it takes to drive from area to area. Beauty posts to resume soon. I’ve still been putting a lot to the test to review here!

Beauty and skincare press samples indicated with a *. Away Stockholm Collection provided for review. We paid for our room, however a media rate was extended to us by The Palace Hotel for this review. As always all opinions my own.

 

Boutique California Travel

San Francisco Travel Diary

August 30, 2017

San Francisco Travel Diary | The Beauty Look Book

I’m excited to share Part 1 of my San Francisco trip with you today! Last week I went on a mini girls trip to San Francisco with my bestie Laura. It has been around four years since I last visited the city and was thrilled to have a few days to explore, shop and eat. We made a shared Google map listing all the places we wanted to visit and most of them were either bakeries or breakfast places. In total we had around 3 days to see everything so after we made an enormous travel wish list we narrowed our top picks to pace ourselves and give us enough time to chat and catch up since we now live on opposite coasts. We stayed at the Palace Hotel San Francisco which was the first time either of us had visited this hotel. Both of us had a great experience here and loved the customer service – we both agreed that it’s one we would both most likely return to on future San Francisco trips (more on this in Part 2 coming soon).

We covered quite a bit of ground during our stay. I’ve thought about how to share our trip and decided for this post it would be most helpful to share this in a San Francisco in 3 days kind of format. Our trip was really spread over 4 days including travel time, but our actual time in the city was around 3 so if you’re planning a quick trip or extended weekend kind of vacation this might be helpful. We both would have loved to be able to say the entire trip was a hit filled with all amazing experiences. We actually had a few misses, but we didn’t let it spoil our fun. If anything it made for some good memories we can laugh about in the future.

Day 1: Thursday

I flew into San Francisco in the morning and arrived around noon. The trip from SFO to the city was around 35 minutes. We both arrived at different times so I had a few hours to walk around Union Square and stopped by Barneys and Sephora (bought the Milk Blur Liquid Matte Foundation in Golden Sand). After Laura arrived in the city, we walked to the Nespresso Boutique excited for good coffee and a light sandwich but were both extremely disappointed with the poor service and food quality. Both of us have been to Nespresso cafes before so we were shocked at the rude service, dirty tables, incorrect coffee orders and long wait time we experienced after we were seated. Based on our experience I will never be eating here ever again. However we did not let that spoil our spirits and we decided to walk around Union Square to do some window shopping.

San Francisco Palace Hotel | The Beauty Look Book

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco barneys and sephora | The Beauty Look Book

By the time we checked into our hotel room we completely forgot the sour experience at Nespresso as our hotel room was just so adorable and it had the perfect setup. We had a New Montgomery Street view room (around 300 sq feet) on the 7th floor. It was on the small side but the rooms looked like they had been renovated within at least the last year. The bathrooms were modern and everything was clean and pristine inside. The toilet seats were heated and now I want one of my own. More on this lovely hotel in Part 2!

For dinner we met up with one of Laura’s friends at Nopa. All of us fell in love with this place and thought it was well worth the long wait. The restaurant books up pretty fast and by the time I had tried to make reservations there was nothing left! They do have a bar area and shared table which is unreserved and open on a first come first serve basis. We arrived at around 6:10 and every seat was already filled so we waited 30 minutes at the bar and had some drinks before something opened at the shared table. The food was phenomenal and the drinks were amazing. We did some shared plates which was plenty of food for the three of us and I ate the best tomato salad I’ve ever had in my life. Service was quick and professional – if you’re not a fan of crowded restaurants you definitely should make reservations in advance. After dinner we walked around the corner to a small market and bought some cookies for dessert before heading back to the hotel to wind down. At the hotel we both whipped out some sheet masks I had brought while we watched TV until we passed out granny style lol.

Nopa San Francisco

Day 2: Friday

Our priority on this trip was a visit to Tartine Bakery. We had both been here before on separate occasions and fell in love. Tartine is on my must-do list for every SF trip! This round it was every bit as amazing as we had remembered. I got my usual which is a morning bun, croque monsieur and a latte. Laura got her usual which is the ham and cheese croissant but also tried a few other new pastries including a lemon poppy seed cake. We heard that a restaurant opened called Tartine Manufactory but we didn’t make it this round. After breakfast we headed to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies – it was such a beautiful area and we were really surprised how many people we already in the park sitting to take in the city views. We spent around 30 minutes sitting and snapping pictures.

Tartine Bakery San Francisco

San Francisco Alamo Square Painted Ladies

San Francisco Alamo Square | The Beauty Look Book

Our next stop was Fillmore Street where we stopped by Space NK and the store is beautiful! If you’re looking for an intimate and quiet place to do some beauty shopping this is it. The staff at the individual stores are always so nice, not pushy and really helpful. I bought a pack of 111SKIN Sheet Masks because I find them life changing. I also picked up a By Terry Glow Expert Duo Stick in Amber Light (excited to try this) along with a Stylo Blackstar in Maroon Glace (also excited to see how this wears!). I convinced Laura to buy a pack of the 111Skin sheet masks as well. She bought the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Primer – I’ll have to ask her what she thinks about it. We wandered around Fillmore a bit more and stumbled across an Atelier Cologne boutique. I had to stop inside as I’ve never seen a full store before. We were helped by an associate named Homer who was one of the most knowledgeable perfume experts I’ve ever met. He was patient, friendly and helped us sample almost everything in the store. I bought Bois Blonde in the travel size. There are also sampler sets you can buy as well in case you can’t smell them all in person. If you can stop by a boutique I highly recommend it, the service is phenomenal and they aren’t pushy at all. These days I find retail shopping can often be an unpleasant experience (outside of Sephora or Nordstrom) with pushy sales reps or reps who don’t know the products well. Both SpaceNK and Atelier Cologne had excellent service with knowledgeable staff that were friendly and fun. Plus the interiors are well maintained and clean!

Space NK Fillmore Street

Space NK Fillmore Street San Francisco

Atelier Cologne San Francisco Store

The day ended with an amazing dinner at Gary Danko. I’ve been here several times with my husband (reservations are highly recommended) and it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to with a fancy yet unpretentious atmosphere. The experience is truly special and words cannot explain how lovely this place is.

Day 3: Saturday

We decided this was the day we would do some hiking and get some good photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately it was cloudy everywhere we went! We started the day at Land’s End. It was foggy but still beautiful for a short hike. We started at the Suttro Baths end made it to the half-way point until we reached the steep staircase, took a look at it, decided we didn’t want to go up hill to check out the view on the other side and turned back to look for some food. The total hike was around 2 miles to the half way point and was really easy. Later on the trip my friends told me if I was hiking there to get good views and photos all I had to do was walk to the end and take an Uber to the other side, snap a picture and then fake tell everyone I hiked the whole trail. If it weren’t cloudy and my friend wasn’t expecting I probably would have tried to walk all the way.

Land's End San Francisco

Our food adventures this day were misses. We decided to look for some Bun Mee so Laura googled “best bunmee SF” and we decided to try a place called Saigon Sandwich because it had over 2,800 reviews with a 4.5 star rating. We did not realize this was in the Tenderloin nor did we really know what the Tenderloin was like. We navigated through some pretty rough areas where the streets were filled with drug addicts and twitching people. We both thought there was a chance we’d get stabbed. Still we braved the few blocks to the sandwich shop and both opted for the combination sandwich. This place is a take out kind without seating so we decided to take our sandwiches to Union Square out of the Tenderloin to eat them. Based on the high rave reviews we let down but perhaps we had too high expectations. Neither of us finished our sandwiches – maybe we just got the wrong kind. The meat was flavorless for me and the bread was super crunchy. Laura thought her tooth broke after she took a bite. Since we were in Union Square, we decided our next stop would be Diptyque on Geary Street and it was just so beautiful inside! I had visited the original one on Maiden Lane but they moved locations into a new space. I bought two mini candles to take home as a souvenir in Baies and Verveine.

San Francisco Maiden Lane

Diptyque Geary San Francisco

Diptyque San Francisco Geary

Diptyque San Francisco Geary

By mid-day we decided to search for something sweet and headed to Miette for some pastries. We ended up going to the location with mostly candy and macarons instead of the one with cakes but decided to try the ice cream sandwiches which barely had any taste. We decided after a few bites they weren’t worth the calories and didn’t finish them. As an FYI we went to the Miette on Octavia Street. When we arrived at the store we were told the one at the Ferry Building had a larger selection of cakes and cupcakes so if this is on your list, I’d recommend you go to the one at the Ferry Building instead.

After two semi-fails for food we decided to visit Media Noche which also had high ratings for great Cuban food. I ordered the Lechon Bowl and Laura ordered a Media Noche sandwich with some empanadas. We’re both obsessed with Cuban food and had high hopes. I’d give it a solid B+ rating but the local Cuban sandwich shop in St. Petersburg Florida has pretty much ruined me for life as I now consider this the standard for the best Cuban food I’ve had and to date nothing has come close in comparison. We notices reviews on Yelp complained about the small portions and we found the portions quite generous. The Agua Fresca of the day was quite amazing there, SF has some of the best fresh drinks and juices I’ve ever had.

San Francisco Media Noche and Garden Creamery

We decided to give our food adventures one last try in search for some ice cream. We both had Bi-Rite Creamery on our list (which I’ve already tried and really liked) but there was one right down the street about a block or two away called Garden Creamery which has good reviews and interesting sounding flavors. There was a long line out the door when we arrived but it was probably only a 10 minute wait. They’ll let you sample flavors when you get to the counter and I got two variations of coconut. It was perfectly smooth and creamy without being overly sweet. They also have dairy free vegan options. I liked it enough that I would definitely go back – the flavors are so unique! Little details like that make places special. Just an FYI their “single” option is actually two scoops and you can either get 2 of the same flavor or 2 different ones.

The last part of our day was to try and catch the sunset by the Golden Gate Bridge. We took an Uber directly to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and much to our dismay the fog had rolled in. The wind was pretty strong so we waited around 30 minutes hoping it would pass as we walked around but had little luck. It was still fun to see the interesting weather.

San Francisco Fog Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco City View from bridge

Day 4: Sunday

This was our last day together in the city. We started the day off with another visit to Tartine then headed to Golden Gate Park to see the Conservatory of Flowers and California Academy of Sciences which has one of the most impressive aquariums we had ever seen. There’s a fun butterfly exhibit inside their rainforest section with some of the biggest butterflies I’ve ever seen. I didn’t leave until the next day so after saying goodbye to my friend at the hotel I wandered around the city for a few hours to stop by Bloomingdales to pick up the Charlotte Tilbury exclusive lipstick Miss Bloomingdale. I also stopped by Nordstrom and bought one of the Dior Rouge Liquid Lip in Delicate Satin and a MAC Dazzleglass in Sugarrimmed. They had a mini Sugarfina boutique inside so I picked up several cubes of candy as there isn’t one in Tampa. I met up with friends in town that night and we had dinner in the Castro at a cute place called Finn Town which was delicious and I would definitely go back to.

Golden Gate Park San Francisco

San Francisco Conservatory Flowers

California Academy of Sciences

A few other thoughts and notes:

  • Navigating the city: San Francisco is the perfect place you can travel to without a car. It’s actually better not to have one. We got around easily on the Muni, Bart and Uber. Like any major urban city, there are going to be busy times that aren’t ideal for getting around quickly in which case Uber is usually a better option but a lot more expensive. Out of all the big cities I’ve visited, navigating the San Francisco is probably one of the easiest and most straight forward even for a novice traveler.
  • Weather can be unpredictable: Laura flew in from Los Angeles and I flew in from Tampa. Both of us had looked at the weather reports and still under packed by a long shot in terms of warm clothes. We doubled up on our sweaters and long sleeve shirts and even though we had a warm weekend there were times we felt like we were freezing.
  • There’s so much more we wanted to see. There was a lot on our list we didn’t get to but we felt like we accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.
  • Food highlights: Tartine, Nopa and Gary Danko.

I hope you enjoyed this San Francisco roundup! We covered a lot of ground in a few days. Part 2 to follow with a packing list and recap of our stay at the Palace Hotel. Have you done short trips to San Francisco? What are your favorite spots? Any go-to restaurants or bakeries you love?

 

California Travel

Travel Beauty + Packing For San Francisco

August 26, 2017

Travel Beauty Away Luggage Carry On | The Beauty Look Book

I’ve been a bit MIA as I’m currently in San Francisco for a quick girls trip! It has been quite a few years since I’ve visited San Francisco and I’m beyond thrilled to be back. I’ll have a full packing post, SF travel diary and a little shopping feature coming up soon. In the meantime I’ve rounded up some of my favorite travel beauty sets you can buy right now. I always try to hoard my minis and samples but sometimes they’re just too good to save for trips. I love it when brands have travel sizes or sets available for purchase because then I don’t have to decant anything into mini jars or bottles. I really like original packaging anyways.

First I wanted to mention that Away launched a new collection in collaboration with Rashida Jones with three new colors and these are the best colors yet! The launch is called The Stockholm Edition as it was inspired by Scandinavian designs and colors. There are new colors three available in Clay (shown here), Cactus and Violet. Also launched with the Stockholm Collection is a new Stockholm Tote made of black water-resistant nylon and vegan leather. It has a sleeve in the back to slide over the handles of the suitcase for easy carrying. They’ve also launched coordinating colors in packing cubes. Full review to follow soon but the packing cubes are the best looking packing cubes I’ve ever seen while still being super functional.

For those who love Away they’ve also launched a new magazine called Here.

Away Luggage x Rashida Jones Clay and Tote | The Beauty Look Book

Up first is haircare. I love travel-sized haircare! Often times it’s what I’ll buy first before buying the full sizes. I think they’re such a great way to try things and I love testing all kinds of shampoos and conditioners. My obsession can get a bit out of hand with all the bottles and jars that accumulate in the shower, but I love minis. The Ouai Morning After Kit at Nordstrom has the perfect size travel items with the Rose Hair and Body Oil, Finishing Creme and Dry Shampoo Foam (also available at Net-A-Porter). For brushes I usually bring a few with me, my favorite travel-sized one is the Sephora Collection Luxe Combo Travel Brush. There’s also a Christophe Robin exclusive to Net-A-Porter called the Essentials Kit with minis of the Moisturizing Hair Cream, Regenerating Mask, Cleansing Mask and Cleansing Purifiying Scrub with Sea Salt. I’ve tried and love all of these but I know some of you may have been hesitant to buy the full size as the price points are on the expensive side. This is a great way to sample them. You can also find some of the mini sizes at Sephora with a mini Cleansing Purifying Scrub, Detox Ritual Hair Kit and Regenerating Hair Ritual Travel Kit.

 

Ouai Morning After Set and Christophe Robin Minis Net-A-Porter | The Beauty Look Book

In skincare, Tatcha has the best travel sizes. The packaging is well designed and they have good sizes for several days worth. I’ve already bought and featured the Starter Ritual for Normal to Oily Skin (currently sold out). Below is the Starter Ritual Set for Normal to Dry Skin with travel sizes of the One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, Classic Rice Enzyme Powder, Essence and Silk Cream. I think these are really phenomenal sets perfect for travel.

The Sisley-Paris Subscription Program is one of the best ways to try Sisley skincare at an affordable price. Many of you commented you had already subscribed and kept the minis for travel which I think is genius. I’ve discovered quite a few amazing items from this program. You can see a 6 month review here.

Another set I tried recently was the Belif Best Sellers Travel Set. I bought it at Sephora curious about the items in the line as I really liked the Aqua Bomb. I haven’t been able to test everything yet but found it priced reasonably to give the other items a go. Let me know if you want a review!

Travel Skincare Sisley Subscription, Tatcha Starter Ritual Set, Belief Best-Sellers | The Beauty Look Book

Two sets I’ve been loving include the NARSissist Velvet Lip Glide Set exclusive to Ulta (5 of the 6 colors shown below, all reviewed here). For perfume I wish more brands had travel-sized or purse sized minis. The Jo Malone Cologne Set is one of my favorites. They change seasonally. Mine is from Nordstrom but I suspect new ones will launch come holiday.

NARS Velvet Lip Glide Set and Jo Malone Cologne Set

Charlotte Tilbury skincare can get pretty spendy and her Gift of Red Carpet Skin Travel Kit is a nice way to try a lot of deluxe sized minis at a lower price. This one is TSA friendly with 15 ml tubes of her Goddess Skin Clay Mask, Multi Miracle Glow, Magic Cream, Wonderglow, Supermodel Body and Take it all off. I’ve loved and used up an entire jar of her Magic Cream and tube of the Wonderglow (full size) and they lasted me a very long time. These minis are perfect for travel – I think you can get quite a bit of use out of them too. There’s enough product to get a really good feel for how the product will perform on your skin.

One last travel favorite is the Aesop Boston Kit. I’m such a huge fan of Aesop and the kits are a nice way to try multiple things. You can see the full review of this one here.

Aesop Boston Travel Skincare Set | The Beauty Look Book

Travel Beauty Packing San Francisco | The Beauty Look Book

For those curious the other accessories shown above:

Do you also hoard your minis and samples for travel or do you buy sets like me? I’m a carry-on traveler so I have to abide by the quart-size bag limit. I know many of you check luggage so this isn’t an issue, but as one who prefers to travel light I love it when I can find travel sizes that I can buy for trips.

Stay tuned for the SF roundup! I didn’t bring all of these travel sets with me although I did mix and match for 4 days worth of travel.

Press samples featured include the Away Stockholm Collection, Tatcha Starter Ritual Set and Charlotte Tilbury Skincare Set.

 

Florida Roundup Sales Travel

Weekend Links, Loves and Sales

May 28, 2017

Weekend Loves | The Beauty Look Book

Happy long-weekend! I hope my US readers are enjoying the extended 3-day weekend. I had a bit of an extra long weekend as my in-laws were in town last week so we took time off to spend time with them. We drove to Orlando to spend two days at Disney World at Magic Kingdom and Epcot where the humidity levels were unreal! (My hair and makeup did not last at all.) The four of us had a great time even though we were hit with some showers and small thunder storms. The remainder of the week we took them around to a few of our favorite spots around Tampa Bay and then drove south to Anna Maria to spend the day at the beach. A quick note on a couple of the items I wore over the week.

On the left I found a cute beach cover-up from Madewell a few months ago and it’s now on sale for under $35. I went with an XXS as sometimes their dresses and tops run a bit loose, but with this one I think I could have gone with an XS (I’m 5’3″). It’s gone through a few washes and didn’t shrink too much but it’s a bit on the short side.

With the warm Florida weather I’ve been all about lighter clothes and tanks. I had been eyeing this lace trim camisole from Rebecca Taylor but I found something similar at Abercrombie for under $40 (and it’s now on sale marked down even more). I’m wearing it on the right along with some of the cutest cut-off shorts from Current/Elliott (also here).

Summer Outfits | The Beauty Look Book

A closer look at the outfit items along with a few items I’ve been loving lately:

Loving Right Now | The Beauty Look Book

Shown above with some thoughts:

  • Outfit details same as what’s worn in the second photo, beach cover-up from Madewell, lace camisole from Abercrombie, shorts from Current/Elliott.
  • I think I could live in flip flops, the Joie A La Plage Nice (left tan and black) are on sale here, the Tory Burch Millers are still among my favorites and I have multiple colors – you can wear them for a super casual look or dress them up a little.
  • I recently featured some Delfonics pouches in this post here, a lot of you asked whether I like them more or less than the Truffle Pouches. They’re just completely different in material so I don’t know that I can really compare them. The Truffle pouches are made of a stiffer and more sturdy material and have lining inside the privacy ones. The Delfonics pouches are made of a PVC material that have a textured material to kinda make them feel like leather but they aren’t. The material is thinner making it more flexible. If you need something sturdy that will act more like a solid clutch go with the Truffle pouches. If you don’t mind a thinner material and need something super basic go with the Delfonics.
  • The Ouai Morning After Kit finally launched online at Sephora! It has minis of the Rose Hair Body Oil, Dry Foam Shampoo and Finishing Creme for $22 which I think is a pretty good deal.
  • Coral polishes are always in for me, but for many of you it’s probably more of a summer thing. Dior Coral Crush and Chanel Coralium are almost identical. Review on both summer collections to follow soon. If you want to know my take right now on which one to get, both formulas are really good but Dior has the better brush.
  • Still in love with the Tom Ford Sole di Positano fragrance. Other spring to summer loves here.
  • For those who can’t wait for my sunscreen post and keep asking questions (which I don’t mind), the Supergoop! SuperPower Sunscreen Mousse is indeed a good one. It has SPF 50 and is more of a long-wear sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients. It contains Blue sea kale which provides antioxidant protection and protects the skin from heat damage. It is water resistant and has a super fun mousse texture. The Everyday Sunscreen with SPF50 is a lighter weight one in feel (it’s what my husband prefers out of the Supergoop! line although his favorite is this SPF 50 one from Kiehl’s). Both of these have been good for me in preventing burn and minimizing the tan for me although being in the sun sometimes there’s really nothing you can do to prevent tanning 100%.
  • If you buy one lip moisturizer this season, make it one of the new Clarins Instant Light Lip Oils (reviewed and swatched here in case you missed the post).
  • Sunglasses in the Irving Style from J.Crew.

Weekend Summer Beauty Loves | The Beauty Look Book

Summer bliss at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Weekend Sales and Deals

Weekend sales rounded up, first are the beauty sales:

  • Benefit Cosmetics – 20% off friends and family sale with code FRIENDS
  • Caudalie – skincare trio minis with Vinoperfect Overnight Renewal Cream, Vinoperfect Serum and Micellar Cleansing Water with orders $90 or more, use code RADIANCE, valid until 6/14
  • Clarins – 15% off orders with code MEMDAY15, valid through 5/29, receive a 7-piece glowing gift with any $100 order
  • Foreo – 17% off top sellers including Luna 2, Luna Mini 2, Iris with code FOREO17off, valid 5/29 to 6/13
  • Glamglow – 40% off any super sexy size product with code GGMEM17, valid until 5/29
  • Kat Von D Beauty – free full size Studded Kiss lipstick of choice with orders $75+, use code STUDDEDKISS, valid until 5/29
  • Kate Somerville – receive 3 summer ski treats with any $65+ order, use code SUMMERTREAT, valid until 5/29/2017
  • L’Occitane – free 3-piece hand cream set + tin with any $55 purchase, use code SUN, valid until 5/30/2017
  • Lancome – 20% off friends and family with code FRIENDS at checkout, valid until 5/30/2017
  • Molton Brown – 3-piece travel set with orders $70+ using code 70coastal, 6-piece travel set with orders $110+ with code 110coastal
  • Omorovicza – 30% off orders $200 or more with code SHINE30 at checkout
  • Origins – 9 piece getaway bag with any $65 purchase, use code GETAWAY, valid until 5/30/2017
  • Shu Uemura Art of Hair – spend $30 and receive free shipping, spend $75 and receive 4 samples + free shipping, spend $100 receive 1 travel-size + free shipping, spend $120 receive 2 travel-sizes and free shipping, use code MEM17, expires 5/31 at 7:30 AM EST
  • Smashbox – spend more, save more tiered savings, valid through 5/30, no code needed
  • Space NK – double N.Dulgence member points on purchases through 5/30
  • Tarte – 15% off the long weekend (enter e-mail at site to unlock code)
  • Tatcha – travel size Water Cream or Water Gel with purchase of $100 or more, use code WATERCREAM17 or WATERGEL17 at checkout
  • Violet Grey – $15 off orders $100+, $50 off orders $250+, $100 off orders $500+, $250 off orders over $1,000, valid until 5/29/2017
  • YSL Beauty – 20% off orders $50 or more 5/26 to 6/1 with code SUMMEREVENT17 at checkout

A few other ones that are on my radar:

  • Anthropologie – extra 40% off fresh cuts
  • Coach – summer sale up to 50% off selected styles
  • J.Crew – 30% off full price items with code SWEET, valid until 5/29
  • Joie – extra 20% off sale items, up to 60% off with code MD2017
  • Neiman Marcus – Designer Sale, save up to 40% off
  • Nordstrom – Half Yearly Sale, save up to 40% off now through June 4th
  • Rag and Bone – up to 50% off select items
  • Splendid – 30% off everything (including sale), use code SUMMER30, valid through 5/29
  • Shopbop – tons of items added to their spring sales section and so many good shoes!
  • Stuart Weitzman – 40% off sale spring styles

Any other good sales on your radar?

Weekend Fun Anna Maria Beaches, Florida

Press samples featured include the Supergoop! Sunscreen Mousse, Clarins Lip Oil, Tom Ford Sole di Positano.

Florida Roundup Travel

Instagram Roundup / Life Lately

May 21, 2017

Poolside-Clarins-Supergoop-Havainas | The Beauty Look Book

It’s been almost three months since we’ve moved to the East Coast and Florida is finally starting to feel like home. The time has flown by and we’re loving it here (fur babies included!). The weather has been incredibly warm and we just went through out first couple of thunder and rain storms. I’m doing an Instagram roundup with some snapshots from our time in Florida so far over the past few months. Some of you have asked for more info on items I’ve done a sneak preview on Instagram and also about some shoes I’ve featured.

I am still testing sunscreen. I know it’s taking me a long time but I’m working my way through over a dozen formulas. Recently I’ve been testing the Clarins Sunscreen Oil Spray with SPF30 which is a nice lightweight multi-purpose oil. It’s good for skin, hair and face and absorbs quickly into the skin leaving it soft, hydrated and non-sticky. I’ve also been testing the new Supergoop! Sunscreen Mousse with SPF50 and love it. It’s a unique long-wearing formula that offers moisturizing ingredients, has anti-oxidants and is water resistant. It has a very nice lightweight refreshing scent but it’s not overpowering. It does not contain synthetic fragrance or oxybenzone. Also shown above shorts from STS Blue, sandals by Havaianas, Clarins Lip Oils reviewed here, iPhone case Gray Malin, sunglasses Marc Jacobs.

I’ve found that Tampa has quite a few good beauty shops. It’s still not like San Diego or Los Angeles, but there are a couple of great Sephora stores, a Nordstrom, a Neiman Marcus and a Blue Mercury store as well. The Nordstrom beauty selection is great and I’m in love with the setup inside (peek at NARS below). We went to Orlando for a day a few months ago and stopped by Disney Springs. Inside they had the prettiest L’Occitane store with an amazing sink in the middle. This was my first time inside a Blue Mercury store and it’s just AMAZING. I was only able to go inside for a few moments to pick up sunscreen (yes more, lol). They have Darphin, La Mer, Molton Brown … basically more than a handful of my favorite brands.

Nordstrom NARS Tampa and L'Occitane Disney Springs Orlando

The food here has been quite an experience. We’ve found some really amazing places thanks to Yelp but the reviews of course can be hit or miss. Much to our dismay we tried a couple Asian places that had high ratings but really were not good. People here are really friendly – extremely friendly! When people find out I’m from San Diego they always say the one thing I won’t find here is good Asian food like in California. There are other places to make up for it though and we love exploring. One of our favorite spots is Bartaco in Hyde Park Village. We’ve been back multiple times and love that the menu is set up a la carte so you can try a bunch of things. They have a secret menu item going on for the month so if you have a location near you definitely ask them!

Bartaco Tampa Hyde Park Village | The Beauty Look Book

Top left a closer look at Bartaco. Some other places we love include The Oxford Exchange especially for coffee and brunch (top right). They also carry Cire Trudon and Aesop in their gift shops which is a plus. The interior decor is to die for gorgeous! Bodega in Saint Petersburg has the most amazing juice bar (bottom left) and also incredible Cuban sandwiches. They’re so good my brother cried when he took his first bite when he came to visit us, lol. Life would not be complete without Sprinkles. We found one in Orlando and I was really excited to find one in Tampa as well. Their new Cookie Cupcake is the best one I’ve tried.

Two more places worth mentioning are Fresh Kitchen which is like a healthy non-Mexican version of Chipotle where you can create your own bowls. I love their juices even though they’re really pricey. Their tables inside are just the cutest! We also discovered this placed that has fresh gourmet popsicles called The Hyppo and I am obsessed. In three months even with all these food places I’ve somehow managed to lose weight. When I had my wisdom teeth removed in February I couldn’t eat anything solid for about a month. I lost around 10 pounds in a week and dropped two pant sizes. Since moving here I gained a little but lost it and then some. I’ve pretty much have maintained the same weight. We don’t eat fast food anymore and with the exception of cupcakes or ice pops, I attribute it to us cutting out a lot of sugar from our diet and the fact that we’ve started running again.

Tampa Fresh Kitchen and Hyppo Pops Hyde Park

The beaches here are amazing! We took a drive to Anna Maria Florida which is about an hour south of Tampa and the water is just beautiful. We went swimming one day when my brother came to visit but we all got stung by jellyfish! Luckily it wasn’t too bad and although we did get a reaction it disappeared within 30 minutes or so. Becca Sunlit Bronzer on the right in Capri Coast. We still have Miami on our list but if you have any other beaches you recommend please let me know in the comments! We’ll put it on our weekend exploring list 🙂

Anna Maria Florida Beaches, Becca Sunlit Bronzer | The Beauty Look Book

My favorite beach is Clearwater Beach which has the softest white sand I’ve ever seen. It’s a bit of a drive from where we are and gets busy on the weekends but I love it.

Clearwater Beach, FL

I did an Instagram post in partnership with Kopari to try their Coconut Body Glow and Coconut Melt – both are really good. Their coconut melt really does melt into the skin and adds the perfect amount of rich hydration. With the swimming, sun and different water in Tampa my body skin has felt more on the dry side and the coconut oil has been a lifesaver. If you’re unsure about what to try from the line they have a cute Coconut Multitasking Kit which has four minis of their Body Glow, Melt, Sheer Oil and Balm for $38 which you might want to check out. On the toes below was Chanel Le Vernis in Gitane.

Kopari x The Beauty Look Book

Sunsets in Clearwater Beach:

Clearwater Beach Florida

For some Instagram roundup snippets:

  • Top left: we stopped by Elevage at the Epicurean Hotel for brunch one weekend. The decor inside is so pretty! Shoes are Tory Burch Millers in a color from an older season, current white leather version here
  • Top right: The La Mer Glowing Body Oil is just amazing, if you find it buy it immediately. By the time I decided to get it the oil has sold out everywhere. It popped up online at Nordstrom and since then it keeps coming back in stock every now and then so keep checking. I hope it restocks everywhere because it has the prettiest soft shimmer and smells like a lightweight soft floral. Shoes are the rose gold Havainas, on the toes is Chanel Le Vernis in Coralium from their cruise collection.
  • Bottom right: I found some new sandals from Joie A La Place Nice in Black and am obsessed. The reviews say they run small but I found they were more true to size (I’m usually a 6 and 1/2). Still I bought these in a 7 just for a little more room in the front and they fit perfectly. Toes is the same color as the photo above Chanel Le Vernis in Coralium, Rouge Coco Gloss is Douceur (swatched here), body oil is from NARS.
  • Bottom left: Rag and Bone launched new perfumes, I just started testing Bergamot which is a light fresh kind of scent, Ouai launched their new Rose Hair and Body Oil, the mini is from a kit called The Morning After Kit which I found instore at Sephora (haven’t seen it online yet!). Lipstick is the Tatcha Cherry Blossom swatched here. Mirror is from Anthropologie.

Instagram Roundup @beautylookbook

Last but not least a look at one of this weekend’s OOTDs. With the warm weather I’ve finally felt that I can wear off the shoulder tops. I’ve been loving this one from Paige. You can dress it up or down. I’ve been loving the STS Blue Shorts I found at Nordstrom. My YSL Wallet on Chain has lasted for over two years now and even with regular use hasn’t shown any signs of wear. A number of perfumes have been in rotation and the Byredo Bal D’Afrique is still one of my favorites because it’s so unique. And because I loved the Joie A La Place Sandals so much I ordered a few other colors (found these on sale here!).

OOTD | Beauty Look Book

That wraps up my Instagram/Life Lately roundup! If you have any Tampa recommendations for food, shopping, where to find fresh flowers I’m all ears! Hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend 🙂

Press samples featured from Clarins, Supergoop, Becca, Kopari, Rag and Bone and Tatcha.