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Florida Packing Travel

Summer Miami Getaway

July 26, 2018

EAST Miami Hotel Review | The Beauty Look Book

Earlier this month we took a spontaneous trip to Miami. This was our third visit to Miami (first trip here during Art Basel and second trip snippets here for the Boat Show) and we decided to try all new things. Some might say staying in South Beach is one of the best ways to experience Miami. I think it’s definitely worth doing and we loved staying at the beach on previous trips. There’s actually a lot more to explore around the city too! This round we stayed in Brickell for three days and had a great time. We also spent time in Wynwood (where the food is amazing!). There’s still so much on my list that I want to see, I hope next time we can stay a little bit longer. Trip recap, food recommendations and highlights below.

Where We Stayed

We booked a room at EAST, Miami located in Brickell. It came highly recommended by a few friends and we decided to try it. It’s attached to the Brickell City Centre which has some really good shopping like Diptyque, Saks, Sephora etc. In addition it’s one of the stopping points for the Metromover which is a free transit system. They are mini metrorail cars which take you short distances from Brickell to Bayfront Park or Museum Park.

I found a good deal on Hotels.com for a Bay King Room. These are corner rooms that run around 410 sq feet with views of the city and bay plus a wrap-around balcony. Our room was on the 26th floor and the views were amazing! We had a really nice stay and both highly recommend it. Rooms were clean, beautifully designed, modern and the views were incredible with both sunshine and stormy skies. Summer weather in Florida can be a bit crazy but we are used to it living in Tampa now for a year and half (time flies!). As we drove into Miami we passed through a major thunder lightening storm. Rain was so heavy we could barely see the cars in front of us. By the time we arrived at Brickell the skies were clear but we did see storms throughout the week. Lightening shot through the entire sky in the evening which was both scary and fascinating at the same time from high up in the sky. Storms are usually scattered and often pass through quickly. However there are times multiple storms pass through!

East Miami Hotel Review Stay

Top Bella Dahl, Shorts STS Blue, Sunglasses Kate Spade

East Miami Hotel Views City

East Miami Hotel Review | The Beauty Look Book

Views during a storm and at night:

Miami Skyline Brickell

East Miami Hotel Pool

Where We Ate

Again a priority on our agenda was to find amazing food. We had a rather indulgent few days but it was 100% worth it. Our previous favorites include Bodega and Taquiza in South Beach and we were both dying to go back but forced ourselves to try new places. We had one miss, but the rest were hits! Places we tried:

  • All Day located at 1035 N Miami Avenue @alldaymia – We stopped here for breakfast, as we drove up we had second thoughts but decided to try it anyways because of the reviews. This was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Don’t let the exterior deter you! Inside is minimalist and cute. We ordered the Runny and Everything, Avocado Tartine and one regular croissant. For our caffeine fix I had the Double Shot + Milk and Andrew ordered the Pourover. Everything was excellent although a bit steep in price.
  • Coyo Taco (Brickell) located at 1111 SW 1st Ave @coyotaco – This was our only miss. Perhaps the other locations are better, but the food was just ok. Not worth the calories for either of us even though the menu looked really good!
  • Panther Coffee (Wynwood) located at 2390 NW 2nd Ave @panthercoffee – Dozens of you recommended this place to me months ago. I’m so glad we finally made it. This place has the strongest and most intense coffee and espresso I’ve ever tried.
  • The Salty Donut located at 50 NW 23rd St #112 @thesaltydonut – Life changing donuts. I think the flavors change but the Tres Leches was the best one. We bought extras to take home to Andrew’s parents and I wanted to eat them all the 4 hour drive back to Tampa. I will do anything for these donuts.
  • 1-800-Lucky located at 143 NW 23rd St @1800lucky – This is a food court-style restaurant with different Asian food stations. We thoroughly enjoyed the buns and dumplings.
  • Taiyaki NYC in Miami, located inside 1-800-Lucky @taiyakinyc – I’m so impressed Andrew found this place! He told me earlier in the day that he found the perfect place for dessert but wouldn’t tell me where. They had a limited Pineapple Twist that comes inside a small pineapple. I ordered one of the rainbow sprinkle options in their fish-shaped ice cream cone which has red bean at the base. My hands were entirely covered with melting ice cream as I ate it all.

Miami Eats: All Day, Coyo Taco, 1-800-LuckyMiami Sweet Eats Taiyaki, Panther Coffee and The Salty DonutThe Salty Donut Miami

Tee Madewell, Sunglasses Kate Spade, Nail Polish OPI Climb Every Castle

Other Visits

We took our time to explore and do a little shopping. We actually didn’t make it to South Beach this round because there was so much to do and see in Brickell and Wynwood! The weather this time of year is heavy with thunder and lightening storms. They are scattered similar to Tampa. One area will be experiencing a downpour while a few miles away will be clear and sunny.

  • Brickell City Centre – This is a cute mall and I stopped by at Saks Fifth Avenue since we don’t have one in Tampa. There are always so many cute clothes inside this one! I bought this Joie top and wore it right away (also on sale here). There’s a Diptyque store as well with the Miami candle but I had stopped by on previous trips so didn’t go back this round.
  • Museum Park – We stopped by to walk around the beautiful park area and visit the Perez Art Museum but the day we stopped by the Museum was closed. Hopefully next time! We got some really good pictures as the area is beautiful.
  • Wynwood Walls and the neighborhood – We had driven through Wynwood during Art Basel last December. If you’ve ever been to Miami during that time you know it’s pretty chaotic everywhere! We were happy to stop by this time when it was less crowded. We ate at a few places here, stopped by the Wynwood Walls and walked around the area.

Miami Travels

Museum Park Miami

Top by Joie, Shorts by BlankNYC (similar), Sandals Tory Burch, Bag Chloe, Sunglasses Kate Spade

 

Miami Wynwood

Miami Wynwood Walls

Miami Wynwood Le Labo Posters

Miami Vacation East Hotel Elevators

What I Packed + What I Wore

I packed a bunch of shorts and tank tops. This light blue top from Bella Dahl has been one of my favorites for months now. It’s perfect for Florida weather. I also picked up a few things while in Miami. I had to change each day as we ended up leaving our umbrella in the car each time we were out and got caught in downpours. I was 100% drenched head to toe. Each time we thought the rain would pass within 15 minutes or so, but it did not. The good thing about Florida rain is that it’s hot warm rain. Once it stops you can dry off fairly quickly but even damp clothes are prone to sticking to you with the humidity. My note to self is to bring my own umbrella even if Andrew says “it’s probably not going to rain.”

Summer Packing Away Bigger Carry On

What I packed in my Away Bigger Carry-On. We brought two other suitcases with us, one for Andrew and one for workout clothes and sneakers. I didn’t end up wearing any of my sneakers during the trip. I’m forever in sandals!

Away Bigger Carry-On Luggage

Outfits I packed for a mini getaway, two of the tops I bought on the trip:

Summer Miami Outfits Packing Picks

From left to right, top row first, then bottom row:

Accessories and Shoes:

Summer Vacation Accessories Lack of Color, Chloe Mini Marcie, Tory Burch Marsden, The Daily Edited

Shown above I packed one small crossbody (which held up in the rain really well, I wouldn’t recommend letting it get soaked though) and one tote. I also brought a couple hats but didn’t end up wearing them this round.

Makeup Picks: I was really impressed that my makeup held up in Miami heat. Even Andrew was! The only problem is with travel photographs the color doesn’t always show up in photos but in real life it looks good and stays put! If you want a full list of everything let me know and I’ll list it all. I found the Armani Neo Nude Powder and Becca Be a Light Palette in Light/Medium to be amazing for setting the face and staying put. I finally tried the Armani Face Fabric (my shade is #4) because so many of you were asking me to. I don’t like the ingredients but it truly performed well and looked like skin in a natural matte way. The key is to apply with fingers and rub it in a circular motion. No clogged pores or irritation with this one! The Chanel Les Beiges Multi Color Powder in Medium served me well all through the trip. My top skincare pick is the Kate Somerville Eradikate Cleanser because it really helps prevent breakouts. And as always my go-to sunscreen is anything from Supergoop!. Everything fit inside The Daily Edited Transparent Cosmetic Case and Large Cosmetic Case.

Summer Travel Makeup Essentials

A few other snapshots:

Miami Brickell

Miami Wynwood Street Graffiti

Andrew’s sneakers are Cole Haan Grandpro Stitchlite from the Nordstrom sale (also just ordered him these), mine are the Tory Burch Sienna Sandals in white (I went up 1/2 a size from my normal Tory Burch sizing). My toe polish color is Chanel Resplendisant.

 

Miami Wynwood Travel Diary

Miami Travel Diary

We had a really nice and relaxing time. Miami can get pretty hectic if a major event is happening so it was nice to explore the city when it was a bit calmer. In hindsight we should have booked one or two more days to enjoy the city more, but for a last minute spontaneous trip I think we’d call it a success! Hopefully we can go back to Miami soon. I’m dying for another Salty Donut. I was in a state of sugar bliss the entire day after we stopped by.

Thanks for following along! As always I truly appreciate your travel recommendations. If you have any more Miami recs let me know in the comments! I have some really exciting news I’ve shared on Instagram @beautylookbook today – thank you so much for all your love and support ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Florida Home / Interiors Lifestyle

Instagram Roundup

February 27, 2018

Miami Weekend Wear | Beauty Look Book

Rounding up some FAQs from my Instagram feed! The sunshine is finally back in South Florida and everything is starting to warm up. I’ve been so lucky to live in a city that has warm weather but from New Year’s Eve through a couple weeks ago we had some low temperatures down to the mid 40s. I finally got to wear my leather jackets again! Now that we are back to warm weather I’ve been shopping around for new sandals and spring weather clothes.

Two weekends ago we drove to Miami for the day to see the Miami Boat Show. We’ve now been in Florida for almost a year and with all the water, keys and beaches around us are looking to buy a boat. I’m not familiar with boats at all so it was really incredible to see all the different models, sizes, types and designs. We did not buy anything but had the best time taking the day to browse and explore. We were in Miami last December for Art Basel and it was so packed and busy we were not able to see everything I wanted to. This trip I made sure we had some time to see the Bal Harbour Shops so I could visit the Diptyque store there. This was hands down the most luxurious shopping center I’ve ever seen in the US. I bought several of the Miami Candle (you can buy them in the two Diptyque Miami stores, the other is at Brickell City Center). They will also ship if you order over the phone.

So many of you asked questions about my outfits from Instagram stories. For reference on sizing I’m 5’3″ – top is from O’Neill (XS, true to size), shorts are from STS Blue (Size 25, shorts in general run big on me, I usually wear a 26 or 27 in denim), sandals are the Tory Burch Millers (true to size, I wear 6 1/2). Tote is the Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM which is the medium size. Straps have a lot of patina since it’s been exposed to a lot of humidity, oil and rain. It holds a lot of items and is quite sturdy.

Diptyque Miami Bal Harbour and Miami Beach

This past weekend we had family in town so we rented a boat for the day. We also wanted to get a feel for what a small boat would feel like. We rented a small 20 foot motor boat and WOW when boats are in the water they look and feel so much smaller compared to what they look like when they’re above ground. Four of us took the boat for a spin around Tampa Bay. It was my first time driving a boat in open water.

What I packed with me included: Straw Tote Bag from Revolve, miniature R+Co Dry Shampoo, Supergoop! Mousse Sunscreen, new Invincible Setting Powder * (review soon), Everyday Sunscreen * (my favorite), Sisley Phtyo-Lip Twist in Shade#11, Tory Burch Foldable Sunglasses, Defense Refresh Spray + other minis from this Meet the Minis set. Leica Sofort Instant Print Camera, same Tory Burch sandals I wear almost all the time.

The boat had a cover but we were in the sun a good portion of the day. I touched up once while we were out and got a little color but no burn, yay! Some of you asked why I had so many sunscreens with me. When I’m out and about I bring more than one kind of sunscreen because everyone I’m with usually has different preferences for what formula and finish they like. My husband has his fav and I have mine too. I try to buy the smaller travel sizes so it doesn’t weigh down my bag.

Tampa Bay Boating Essentials

Outfit details: top is from LA Made Aria Top, shorts are from O’Neill (size 3)

Weekend Boating Tampa

A few snippets from home. I found this simple bath tray from Amazon. We have a really wide tub and this was one of the few that would expand wide enough to fit. It comes with a removable book stand as well but I’m never in the bath long enough to read. I searched through dozens of options and reviews. I’m pretty happy with the quality and sturdiness of this one!

Also shown includes the Kate Somerville Exfolikate Face Scrub (I use this once a week because it’s pretty strong), the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask (a great five minute soothing, cooling and refreshing face mask), Shu Uemura POREfinist Cleansing Oil (all formulas reviewed here), Glossier Shower Oil (yes I know it’s for the shower, but I still use it in the bath), Aesop Geranium Body Cleanser from the Sway Set (I usually get the larger size with the pump) and Herbivore Botanicals Calm Bath Salts.

Bath Essentials Fresh, Aesop, Herbivore Botanicals

For those who don’t know you can always tap my Instagam photos for brand tags. I still received so many questions about this clothes rack. I bought several different options from Ikea to test them out. This one is Rigga Clothes Rack and it was only $12.99! It was very easy to put together and is fairly sturdy. I also bought a few of the Mackapar Coat Racks to try out. I’m still putting everything together so I’ll do a more detailed review and room tour later.

Bench is from Wayfair, rug is from Pottery Barn, mirror is from Anthropologie.

Beauty Look Book White Clothes Rack

Details about some of the shoes I had on display as well. My most-worn shoes are the Hermes Oran Sandals and Tory Burch Millers. I tend to find a couple styles I love and buy all the colors. Details below and some notes on sizing in case you’re ordering online. Sometimes if I can’t try in person I’ll buy two sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit. Most places are good about returns as long as you don’t wear them or ruin the soles. I make sure to always test on a rug!

Top row from left to right: Splendid Knotted Sandals in White Leather 6.5, Hermes Oran Sandals in 36 1/2, Tory Burch Millers in 6.5, Avec Les Files in size 6, Splendid Knotted Sandals in Dark Blush Suede 6.5

Bottom row: Stuart Weitzman Nearlynude Ankle Strap Sandals in Size 6, the best comfortable heels I’ve tried with no break in period and no pain for me!

Favorite Sandals from Splendid, Hermes, Tory Burch, Stuart Weitzman

Another look below at the Avec Les Files sandals in white. On me they run similar in size to the Stuart Weitzman (which is big). They have a slight cushion sole which makes them comfortable to wear. Other items shown include OPI Lisbon Wants Moor OPI, Byredo Eau de Parfum in Mojave Ghost, NARS Lip Cover in Embrasse Moi* (review here), Marc Jacobs Shameless Foundation in Y320*, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray mini size, Chanel La Creme Main * (review here), Sisley Brow Gel * (review soon), Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Glow Stick (review soon).

So many of you ask what my favorite Byredo is. It changes with each season but my top two are Mojave Ghost and La Tulipe. I think most of us can agree that perfume is something we should all smell in person first before buying, but some brands aren’t easily accessible for us all. You can purchase the 6-Piece Discovery Set at a number of retailers with 12 ml vials. This runs at $220 for 6. There are also trios available. This is still very spendy and online at Byredo they have a Small Discovery Service Set set for $20 with six 2 ml spritzers which I think all perfume brands should have.

Flatlay Byredo, Marc Jacobs Shameless, Avec Les Files Sandals

I posted a snapshot of my vanity and everyone had two questions:

  1. What Nail Color is shown – it’s Chanel Organdi Le Vernis (swatched and reviewed here)
  2. My thoughts on the Lawless Soft Matte Liquid Lipstick – shades I bought include George, Leo and Brad, I’ll have a separate review but first impressions are they are super soft, they have a whipped lightweight texture, lasting power is pretty good and there’s a fruity scent to them. They don’t dry out the lips or leave them looking like raisins but the finish is definitely matte.

Beauty Counter, Marc Jacobs Coconut Dew Drops, Darphin Oil, Glossier Balm, Lawless Liquid Lips

Last but not least, every time my fur babies make an appearance I get questions of how I deal with the fur and keep everything so clean. First, my husband Andrew is OCD with cleaning. Second our house require constant vacuuming + Swiffers. Third, our clothes require that we keep a stockpile of lint rollers. We have three pets with white fur – it wasn’t intentional, it just happened. They do shed quite a bit especially with the warm weather. Every time we rented an Airbnb or VRBO home over the last year, we spent the last two-three days of our stay vacuuming and cleaning every nook and corner. The cat leaves a poof of fur everywhere he goes. When we lived in San Diego we had a Roomba 980, but with regular daily use multiple times a day it died. We haven’t bought another one since since the ones that work best for us are of course the most expensive ones. I love the fur babies like crazy but I wish they didn’t shed so much!

Ragdoll Kitty

Hope this covers all the questions I’ve received! I do my best to answer Direct Messages but I get so many I can’t always get to all of them. Press samples featured indicated with a *. Stay tuned for more beauty reviews to follow!

 

Florida

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,ย 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.ย  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.ย  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!