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Happy New Year! Hello 2018

January 1, 2018

New Year's Eve | The Beauty Look Book

Happy New Year from Florida! We had a few days of sunshine the last week of the year and today I woke up to rain and cold weather. A first for us since moving to Tampa Bay! I wrote months ago wondering if I was ever going to wear a leather jacket again and here I am wearing layers, jackets and more. The past year I have been all over the place (literally) and my one true constant has been this beauty blog. Thank you for following along on my weekly beauty discoveries and testings. Being able to share what I love and having your support means more than I could ever express. A few highlights I wanted to share from the past year and some thoughts looking forward for 2018.

Your Favorite Blog Posts

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Matte Revolution and Valentine KISSING Lipstick Review | The Beauty Look Book

The top five posts of the year were about bases and lips:

  1. Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Foundation
  2. NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer vs Radiant Creamy Concealer
  3. Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couler Jumbo Longwear Lip Crayon
  4. Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Matte Revolution and Valentine KISSING Lipsticks
  5. Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss Review + Swatches

I’m currently testing a few new bases that many of you have been e-mailing me about. It’s quite a process to test these but I’ll have them up as soon as possible! Stay tuned for reviews on Estee Lauder, Dior, Erborian, Tarte and more.

Your Favorite Instagram Posts

You girls went nuts over my #shelfies! I had no idea these would be so popular. I hope once we find a more permanent place to live that I’ll be able to do a beauty setup and organization post. The past few months I’ve been living out of bankers boxes and suitcases. I was lucky to have a good shelf in our last place.

Moving and Travel

Tampa Bay Home

This has been the year of moving and it’s been very stressful for me. In August we no longer had a home and since then we still haven’t found one. Details why we moved so much in my Six Months in Florida post and yes I’ve had a couple melt downs in the process. Since August we’ve made a move every month and this year we moved a total of six times. We had no idea how BIG Florida was! Each area has it’s own unique character, pros and cons. The beach areas are very different from the places closer to city center. Then there are suburban places which are quite dense with huge homes but traffic is pretty bad. We’re not quite ready to buy as we have plans to travel and possibly move again in the next year so finding a place to rent has been a huge challenge. We have pets and the areas we would like to live places go really fast. We’ve come close to finding a place several times but others have beat us to it! Right now we are in a temporary place (yet again) and hope to find a more permanent place soon. Fingers crossed! For those who have asked, our moves this year:

San Diego Home

Modern California Loft | The Beauty Look Book

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Apollo Beach

In Florida we first stayed at our in-law’s home in Apollo Beach. They bought their home to retire in within 1-2 years and asked us to rent it so they wouldn’t have to find strangers to rent. We thought we’d have plenty of time to settle in, explore and find our own place. They changed their plans, decided to retire early in July of this year and gave us a week’s notice that they were moving. This is one of the Apollo Beach neighborhoods – in a canal district where houses all have their own dock!

Apollo Beach Florida Neighborhood

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St. Pete Beach – such a cute beach house with pool and near the beach! We found all our places on VRBO and Airbnb. In general we had better luck finding places with VRBO although for the beach areas there are a lot of added fees which can add up. We also used a property manager to rent one of the places below and we will probably never do that again. The process was such a hassle and they had an inconvenient application process even though we paid everything up front.

St Pete Beach House

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St. Petersburg Cottage – the smallest place we’ve ever stayed at with only 740 sq ft, surprised we survived in this with out pets but it was so well put together and super cute! The location was so good, our favorite restaurants and coffee shops are all in Saint Petersburg!

Beach Cottage Vacation Florida

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St. Pete Beach – house on the water which was SO amazing, we would have stayed here permanently but it was booked solid for months! We were lucky to find it when we did. The owner of the property was so nice, she restocked us the day we moved in with all the basic living essentials. New towels, sheets, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, laundry detergent etc. With some of the vacation rentals they will have living essentials stocked, others are on the more sparse side as it’s really meant for short term like a vacation or getaway.

St Pete Beach

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The last house of the year was a cute beach house, also in St. Pete Beach – beach house away from the water but still central to everything in the beach town. We stayed here for a couple of months.

St Pete Beach House

This year alone from the time we left our home in San Diego we went from San Diego, California to Tuscon, Arizona to El Paso + Houston, Texas, Pensacola, Florida. Once in Florida we were in Apollo Beach for a few months, then moved to St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg and South Tampa. For travel I did trips to Dallas, NYC, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Miami and Los Angeles. When we evacuated we made stops in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Perhaps this isn’t a lot for those who travel, but it’s the most I’ve ever traveled in a single year!

Most Impressed By

Venus Et Fleur Beauty Look Book

The most impressive thing this year has been the box of Venus Et Fleur roses Andrew gifted me on Valentine’s Day. They’re supposed to last an entire year (and yes they stay IN the box – details are all on their website). I’ve been documenting how they held up and they still smell fragrant and look incredible. They lasted the entire road trip in the back of a hot moving truck from San Diego to Tampa. Starting in the fall I haven’t been photographing them as they’ve been in storage with all of our other belongings. I just checked on them and they’re still good!

Best Beauty Finds of the Year: Sunscreen

Best Sunscreen | The Beauty Look Book

I’ve never been as diligent with sunscreen as I have this year and it’s all due to the Florida sun. I should have been better in San Diego but the climate is mild and I felt like I stayed indoors so much. Even indoors I know we still need it. I am excited to test more this year. Body Sunscreen Testing here. Face Sunscreen Testing here. My favorite sunscreen brand review on Supergoop! here.

Most Disappointing Beauty Buys

Diptyque Un Air de Diptyque Car Diffuser | The Beauty Look Book

I’ve been a long time die hard Diptyque addict and this was a very disappointing buy. They came out with a car diffuser called Diptyque Un Air de Diptyque. I was so excited I ordered it immediately. For me it was a total fail. For one it comes with just the case for $60 and you have to buy the scented refills separately for $38 each. I tried two scents in Baies and 34. Lasting power is probably good for only a week at best . The back has a rubber grip to insert into your vents and it warped into an odd shape so it would not hold it’s grip. I do understand the Florida heat can be intense but there are many things inside the car part of the actual design that do not melt, I felt Diptyque should have made a better grip. Ranked second biggest fail was the Jouer High Pigment Lip Gloss. These are so popular on the web, if you like these keep on loving them. For me I had such high hopes but they were all pretty much streaky with really bad lasting power.

Looking Forward

Miami Beach | The Beauty Look Book

I’m looking forward to the new year. I’m personally glad 2017 is over because it was the most exhausting year of my life. Hours have been spent trying to maintain this blog, quality content, respond to e-mails, read and reply to comments and the past two months I’ve been running on very little sleep. There have been many weeks where I’ve been up until 2:00 AM editing content, writing, etc. Often times I wake up super early to try and get a head start on e-mails. What you see as a reader is the finished product which may take 2-3 minutes to read, but countless hours of testing, photographing, organizing, swatching, editing, pulling comparisons, looking for links, responding to brands and PR companies, e-mailing back readers etc. But it has been a labor of love! I hope you can understand when any of you ask for more comparisons or swatches, it’s not something I’m always able to do. Looking forward I hope to start video this year – I’ve held off for so long for a number of reasons but am going to try and venture into it this year. Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see more of! I tried to mix it up this year – focusing still on beauty and skincare, but also adding some more of my life and travels.

Happy New Year to you! New beauty posts and reviews to resume very soon!

 

Florida

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas Diptyque Minis

Merry Christmas to everyone! Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday and a happy new year. This is our first Christmas in Florida and our pups Jake and Lucy are living their best lives in the warmth and sunshine. (They actually turned 13 this year but they’ll forever be my pups.) We are thrilled to have some family in town on two separate occasions this season. We’ll be spending time at the beaches here.

Beauty Look Book Puppies

Jack Russell Pups

Lucy

New posts, best of the year roundups and giveaways to resume tomorrow! In the meantime I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Hope Santa brought you something good!

 

 

Florida Travel

Miami Beach Travel Diary

December 19, 2017

Miami Beach Travel Diary via The Beauty Look Book

As promised I have another travel diary to share today! We did two back to back trips to Los Angeles on the West Coast for a wedding and then flew back to the East Coast to visit Miami for Art Basel. Miami has been on my list for over a year now and I couldn’t have been more excited for our trip. This was my first time there and we spent a total of four days in South Beach. We had an amazing time although Miami was extremely packed due to the crowds of people coming into town for the art shows, parties and events. We knew this would be the case but planned a trip anyways for a few events and to plan our last getaway before the end of the year. If you’re looking for a beautiful warm place to vacation put this on your list! This post is photo heavy so grab a cup of tea or coffee before reading. I’ve recapped most of everything we did!

South Beach Miami

Where We Stayed

Since everything tends to go up in price and get booked quickly when there are large events in town, I’d recommend planning your trip at least two months in advance if you go during busy times. We found even with advance planning most of the hotel rates were more than double their normal rates. We found a few good Airbnb options that had great reviews in Coconut Grove and around Miami, but we wanted to stay in Miami Beach. Andrew booked two hotels for our four day stay at the Royal Palm South Beach Miami and the Stiles Hotel. Both are located on Collins Avenue in South Beach near tons of cute restaurants, cafes and shops. During non-busy times their rates are fairly affordable and we had a pleasant stay at both of them. With some of the boutique hotels we were a bit worried as reviews are so mixed. We were so relieved to find both had clean rooms, excellent service and had great locations.

Royal Palm South Beach View

We would definitely consider staying at the Royal Palm South Beach again. The hotel rooms were cute and beds were super comfortable. There are cute restaurants inside the hotel, there’s a beautiful pool and outdoor bar. There are organized beach chairs and cabanas right along the beach in the hotel and they have rooms with an amazing view of the water. If you want a hotel that’s right along the beach that you can walk out and lounge around this one is a great one that’s affordable.

Royal Palm South Beach Miami Hotel, review

The Stiles Hotel is more of a budget hotel in a more simplistic way. It reminded both of us of some of the European hotels we’ve stayed at with the no-frills simple kind of approach. There’s no driveway to park the cars although they do offer valet services. The elevators are tiny and on the slow side much like some of the older boutique Parisian hotels. The staff was extremely friendly and courteous. They recommended a parking garage around the corner which they told us would be significantly cheaper to use than their valet service. While there isn’t anything luxurious about this one, sometimes all you need is a clean place to sleep while traveling and if you want an affordable option this is a great pick.

Stiles Hotel Miami Beach

Where We Went

We had a few meetings, lunches and events on our agenda and then planned to take our time exploring in between. Since our hotels were near the beaches we spent a lot of time just walking around Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. There are lots of cute Art Deco style buildings which was fun to see.

One of our favorite things to do each time we visit a new place is go on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. It’s a great way to see the city without having to worry about getting lost, hectic traffic and parking. Plus with the double-decker buses you can see a lot from the top. I’m not sure how we would have survived the heat if we tried this a month or two ago, but we did go on these in the heat of Europe and still had a lot of fun. Due to time restraints as we had meetings to get to we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked on these. If you’re new to an area and don’t know exactly where you want to go these buses hit all the popular hot spots. It gives you a good idea of where everything is, then you can go back on your own later to the spots you want to spend more time at. We’ve tried a number of different ones, this time we did the Big Bus Tours.

Miami Beach Ocean Drive

Miami Big Bus Tours View - Downtown

Miami Big Bus Tours View - Downtown

Miami Beach Ocean Drive

Also on my list was the Museum of Ice Cream. Tickets had been sold out in LA and San Francisco and I had been dying to see this. We bought preview tickets before it opened to the public and it’s literally the most pink EVERYTHING that I have ever seen. I’d definitely recommend going. It does seem better suited to girls, if you have a girls trip planned it’s the perfect place for photos. Everything is perfectly designed for Instagram photos and they give you ice cream or candy in every room.

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

Shopping

The shopping is something I’d definitely go back for. There was so much on my list but we had to save it for another trip. We did go to Aventura Mall (for Nordstrom to pick up a few things).

Louboutin Beaute Aventura Nordstrom

We had a breakfast meeting in the Brickell District and there’s a new multi-story mall there with Diptyque and Sephora. The Saks store there is what all Saks stores should be like. I feel like they’ve lost their luster over the years but this one is amazing! The shoe department is heaven.

Brickell City Centre Mall | Miami

No trip is complete for me without a stop to a Sephora!

Brickell City Centre Sephora and Diptyque

Not really shopping but we had breakfast at EAST Miami Brickell. The hotel space is lovely, I’d really love to stay here next time we visit Miami. Plus it’s connected to the mall!

EAST Miami Brickell Hotel

The Design District had a lot of events, pop-ups and new store openings. We went to see the new Creed Boutique and Sisley-Paris store openings – both of which I was so excited to see!

Miami Design District | The Beauty Look Book

Creed Boutique Miami Opening Party December 2017

Creed Boutique Miami Store | The Beauty Look Book

Creed Boutique Miami Store Opening Viking

Sisley store sneak peek:

Sisley-Paris Boutique Miami Design District

Gorgeous Louboutin Store

Louboutin Store Miami Design District

Food Picks

There were so many restaurants we wanted to try but after some bad eating habits in LA we started to gain weight and tried to limit our junk food eating while in Miami. We stopped by a few casual eating places in Miami – thank you SO MUCH to each of you who gave me recommendations! I have a solid list of 50 spots to try on our next visit when we have more time to explore. We found this cute French sandwich shop where you order and eat at the counters. They have the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever tried. We liked it a lot.

La Sandwicherie Miami

Miami Eats

I didn’t get a photo of every place we ate. We tried coffee and pastries at Shepherd Artisan Coffee (cute but wouldn’t recommend), tacos at Taquiza (would definitely go back!), La Sandwicherie in Miami (so fun), Michael’s in the Design District (delicious), Bodega in Miami (best fish tacos we’ve ever had), Rosetta Bakery on Collins (sooooo cute!!).

Some more Miami Beach Travel Diary photos

South Beach Sunrise

Miami Beach Beauty Look Book

Miami Beach Boardwalk Beauty Look Book

Royal Palm Hotel Miami

I never travel without my favorite sunscreen ever, Supergoop! (favs here). My full comprehensive sunscreen testing stories below from this summer, ingredients, recommendations etc below:

Summer Sunscreen Testing Part 1: For the Body

Summer Sunscreen Testing Part 2: For the Face

Supergoop! Miami

Miami Beach Beauty Look Book

South Beach

Miami Beach in December

South Beach Miami

If we were to do our trip over again we would have definitely picked another time to visit for our first trip together. Things during Art Basel week can get pretty hectic and busy. Traffic is pretty bad. We did go see exhibits at Art Basel although there were tons of installations and pop ups all around the city. I didn’t take any photos inside as I felt a little weird taking pictures of other people’s art – not sure why exactly, but it just didn’t feel right to me. We enjoyed a lot of people watching, walking along the beaches, enjoyed the sunshine and wished we had another week to just explore at our leisure. The good thing is we had a great last trip of the year and definitely plan on going back. We returned back home to St. Pete Beach which is a lot quieter and more laid back than Miami. If you’re looking for a warm beachy place to really kick back and relax, I’d recommend opting for the other side of Florida (our favorite Tampa Bay spots here). If you’re looking for something more cosmopolitan and energetic, Miami is the place to be.

Hope you enjoyed this Miami travel diary! I could have probably split this up into several posts. We definitely want to go back and see more. There’s a lot we didn’t get to. If you have any favorite Miami Beach spots you’ve been to let me know in the comments.

Beauty reviews coming soon on Laura Mercier, Tom Ford and NARS. I’ve been swatching away the past week and hope to have the posts up shortly.

 

Florida Travel

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!

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.