Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Happy Place

One of my all time favorite movies is Happy Gilmore. I love the part when Chubbs is teaching Happy how to putt and tells him in order to focus he has to clear his mind and go to his "Happy Place".

"Think of a place that's really perfect. Your own happy place. Go there and all your anger will disappear."

Ever since I can remember my happy place always has been Abakee Cottages on Lake Winnipesaukee.

This is an annual family vacation that we've been doing for well over 20 years. My grandparents first discovered Abakee Cottages in 1978. My parents have been taking our family there since I was two and for the past four years Mike and I have rented our own cottage. Its nice little family reunion for us and my sister even comes up from Chicago for the week.

It is an absolutely beautiful property with 12 lakefront cottages nestled together at the end of a dead end road. All the cottages have a water view and it is so relaxing to just sit on the porch stare out to the lake and see the White Mountains in the distance. The air is so fresh and clean. I swear a little fresh air and some sunshine makes me feel so much healthier.

In addition to the beautiful property and scenery, there is a great atmosphere at Abakee. It has become an annual tradition for many families to rent the same cottage for the same week every year. We've gotten to know some great people over the years that have become lifelong friends.

One of my favorite activities is lounging on the sun deck with a good book. When it gets too hot, nothings more refreshing than a dip in the lake.

Another thing I love about Abakee is its close proximity to Weirs Beach. With it being located at the end of a quiet private road you wouldn't know that you're so close to all the Weirs Beach action. It's about a 10 minute walk from Abakee to the Boardwalk and Pier. One morning we went down pretty early and I got a few shots before everything opened up. There are two arcades, bumper cars, souvenir shops and restaurants. Normally the streets and boardwalk are packed with people.

If you are at Weirs beach its worth stopping by the Winnipesaukee pier to get your cheap T-Shirt and Sunglasses fix. This is where I stock up on cheapy sunglasses to keep in my beach bag and car. Its nice to have a few inexpensive pairs that you don't mind losing. This place has an entire wall of sunglasses and I've found some awesome shades there over the years. A serious hidden gem! Also, be sure to try the GIANT fried dough at the shop next door, its delicious and not to be missed!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous every day. We hardly ever get a week like that so we made sure to make the most of it and spent most of our time in the water and soaking up the sunshine.

For the last two days of our vacation we rented a Pontoon boat. The whole family enjoyed this so much. It was such a fun way to cruise around the lake, and yes, we did listen to the Pontoon song a few many times. The first day we dropped anchor at Governor's Island and did some drinking, appetizing, swimming and floating. You need this Floating Lounge Chair in your life. 

Of course, no day on the boat is complete without a stop at the Naswa Beach Bar. Their frozen drinks are delicious and its a really fun atmosphere with live music and events going on all the time. Don't forget to ask for a souvenir sunglasses pin, this is your badge of honor, wear it proudly!

On our last day of vacation we got up early and took a boat ride to Meredith for breakfast. We ate at the Waterfall Cafe which is inside the Inn at Mill Falls. I always love seeing the lush flower arrangements there. I especially love the adorable window boxes.

After breakfast we went back to Abakee, changed into our swimsuits and packed the essentials for an afternoon at the Braun Bay sandbar. With the shallow water and sandy bottom, Braun Bay one of the most popular spots to drop anchor on the lake. This place gets hoppin' on the weekends and can be very crowded but its such a fun and carefree atmosphere its really the more the merrier. Its also extremely dog friendly, was wishing we had the pups with us! You'll see a dog on almost every boat. We swam, broke out Floating Corn Hole and drank in the last day of vacation.

I look forward to this vacation every year. It is a much needed recharge that helps me clear my head and get back to the simple things in life for a while. Visiting the lake, or even just thinking about it, helps me relax and gives me the ability to re-focus.

Some of my favorite childhood memories took place at Abakee and I've only grown to love it more as an adult. Its where I discovered some very important things like wine tumblers, spent countless hours around a campfire and took the time to experience some of the most beautiful sunsets. 

What does your happy place look like?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nail Care Basics

I love nail polish to the moon and back, but the perfect nail color is nothing if you don't have healthy nails to apply it to. Today I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips and tools for keeping your nails healthy and looking great!

Cuticle Nippers

I don't go around and remove all my cuticles, I prefer to push them back.  Nippers are handy if you have a hangnail or an uncomfortable cuticle on the side of your nail.  These get right in there and nip it away safely. 

Cuticle Pusher

Pretty self explanatory, but I prefer the metal pushers to the wooden stick ones.

Nail Clipper (square end)

I like my nails to have a square tip.  The square ended nail clipper makes it easy to keep that shape.  Regular nail clippers have a half moon shape, so if you like your nails square you need to follow up with a lot of filing to get the shape you want.

Ruby Stone Crystal Nail File

A stone nail file is a must in my book to keep nails strong and protect against splitting. Once I tried the Ruby Stone, I'll never to back to paper nail files. I picked this up at Sally's, its made of aluminum oxide powder crystals, one of the materials found in Rubies (hence the name). It feels much more comfortable on the nails than the paper files. My favorite thing about this file is that its safe for filing in both directions. 

Cuticle Oil

Cuticle Oil is a must for healthy nails. I apply this all around my cuticles when I give myself a manicure. I also use it in between manicures, whenever my cuticles are feeling dry.  I brush it on and then rub it in to instantly moisturize them. This one is by Beauty Secrets and pretty much all the writing has worn off from it jumbling around at the bottom of my toiletry bag when I travel.

INM Out The Door Top Coat

This is my current holy grail top coat. I used to be a slave to the ever popular Seche Vite topcoat, but I got tired of the awful smell, polish shrinkage and the fact that the polish would goop up and become unusable about halfway through the bottle. Out The Door has the same quick dry and high gloss formula as the Seche Vite but without those three drawbacks. Its also a little cheaper! I got mine at Sally's but I've seen it at CVS too.

Be Natural Cuticle Eliminator

This is my manicure secret weapon. It makes getting cuticles under control a breeze. My normal manicure routine is I clip and file my nails, apply cuticle eliminator, let it set for 60 seconds and then push them back. It makes them so much easier to work with. After pushing, wash your hands and you're good to apply polish! I don't usually use this every time I do my nails. I alternate between this and regular cuticle oil, depending on how my cuticles are looking.

Hope these tips and reviews help you on your quest for healthy nails!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black & White Review

Nirvana is the signature fragrance release from Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen's fashion line, Elizabeth and James, available exclusively at Sephora. Growing up in the 90's I loved everything Olsen-related, from full house to those straight to VHS mystery videos, who remembers those?! They've come a long way since child stardom and have now established themselves as full-fledged fashion designers.

The Nirvana fragrance is split into two different blends, Black and White. A few months back I received a sample of the White Perfume and fell so much in love that I purchased the full size. Last week I picked up Nirvana Black as a 100 point Beauty Insider perk at Sephora and was equally impressed.  Here are my thoughts on the two fragrances:

Nirvana White

Sephora describes this fragrance as: 

"a captivating blend of delicate peony, chic muguet, and tender musk for a feminine scent with dark sophistication."

You had me at peony! I love the scent of peonies, although I will admit that scent alone can be a bit overpowering. I like that they added in a musk to add a masculine element. Its so light and fresh and its quickly becoming my new signature summer scent.

My only problem with this fragrance is the staying power.  If I put it on in the morning I can't smell it by lunchtime. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for me but definitely a downside. I'm not the type to carry around perfume in my purse to touch up throughout the day.  

Nirvana Black

Sephora describes this fragrance as:

"an addictive blend of alluring violet, sensual sandalwood, and rich vanilla that strike the perfect balance between masculine and feminine"

This is not the type of perfume I usually gravitate towards but I've been wearing it for the past week and I have to say, I'm diggin it. It is really different from any other perfume I own. It is masculine but also sweet with a touch floral. It is elegant and sensual, definitely more of a nighttime scent.

Again, there are problems with the staying power. This one has a bit better staying power than Nirvana White, but not much.  

Final Thoughts

I really love both of these fragrances. They're not the typical gimmicky "celebuscents" you see on a sale rack at Marshalls. Both scents are elegant and lovely in their own right. I also love the bottle design, very unique and edgy.

Have you tried either of the Nirvana fragrances? Is your Nirvana Black or White?

Friday, June 27, 2014

MAC Sharon & Kelly Osbourne Collection Picks

MAC recently launched a collaboration with Kelly & Sharon Osbourne.  The mother-daughter duo each have their own collection of 11 products which include lipsticks, blushes, eye shadow quads, liners and glosses. Kelly's line features violet packaging and Sharon's is bright red modeled after their vibrant hair colors. Here is what I picked up:

Cheeky Bugger Blush (Kelly Collection)

MAC describes this blush as peach brown with a satin finish. I'm not a fan of how they described it because I don't see any brown in this color. It is a nice pale pink with a yellow undertone.  It gives my cheeks a beautiful, natural rosy glow. Due to the light nature of this pink, it will show up more true to color on paler skin tones.  My only complaint with this blush was that it was a bit powdery when picking it up with a brush but it did end up blending out nicely into my skin.

Peaches & Cream Blush (Sharon Collection)

MAC describes this blush as a mid-tone rose color with a satin finish.  The satin finish gives it a nice subtle sheen, which radiates a natural looking "summer glow" on your cheeks. The color was very pigmented and blended nicely. A perfect everyday blush.

Kelly Yum Yum Lipstick (Kelly Collection)

This is a satin version of the ever popular, Candy Yum Yum lipstick. Candy Yum Yum is matte and more cool toned while Kelly Yum Yum is slightly warmer and pinker.  I chose this shade because I've always wanted Candy Yum Yum but was a bit scared of the electric color and matte finish.  I think Kelly Yum Yum is a more wearable version. The color can easily be sheered out by layering it on top of a lip balm or by lightly dabbing it onto your lips. The satin finish is also more comfortable to wear.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately all of these items are now sold out on the MAC website but I was able to find them in-store. With the limited edition MAC collections I always have better luck finding them at a counter than I do trying to buy them off the website. Overall I am happy with my picks.  Did you purchase anything from the Kelly & Sharon Osbourne collections?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nailed It! OPI Damone Roberts 1968

I wanted to do a quick post about OPI's highly sought out shade, Damone Roberts 1968.  To be honest I didn't know about this shade until I saw a few posts from some of the nail blogs I follow.  From what I gather, this shade was from a limited edition collection by Damone Roberts, of eyebrow shaping fame. He created his own signature shade that mirrors the green color of the walls in his salons.

(natural light)


The color is absolutely gorgeous! At first I want to call it mint green, but it is unlike any of the other mints I own.  It is darker, greener, but still soft and pastel.  I think the best way to describe it is pistachio green.

This is a true creme formula, no shimmer at all. The formula is slightly streaky due to the pastel nature of the color, but I actually got away with only two coats.  The pigmentation was great and formula was thin. Sometimes with pastels they try to amp up the pigmentation which results in a goopy formula.  Not the case here!

Of course, this is limited edition again. It was first released back in 2009, then re-released in 2010 and now its coming back for the last time this summer. I picked up my bottle during the pre-sale but the regular sale begins this Friday, June 20th, on his website and in his salons.

Bottom line, if you love green nail polish and don't mind the inflated price tag (regular OPI polish is $9, this is $20) this is the creme de la creme! Check out this fan favorite before its gone!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Let them (finally) eat cake!

To piggyback on last week's post, last Wednesday was our third wedding anniversary.  When planning our wedding one of our favorite things we designed was our wedding cake! Since we were doing a Cape Cod theme I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the cake.  

We settled on a four tiered cake with White Buttercream icing and a Swiss Dot pattern allover. We incorporated the Cape Cod theme by adding bouquets of candy shells and topped the cake with two Adirondack chairs. I just love the way it turned out!  Two of the tiers were Chocolate Torte - Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse filling and two were Lemon Citron - Gold Cake with Lemon Mousse.  The bakery we used was Konditor Meister in Braintree, MA.

We were so excited to try a piece of this masterpiece during the reception.  Problem was, we were socializing with our guests when the cake was served and our pieces were cleared by the time we got back to the table! The horror!

We had the venue save the top tier of our cake so we figured no big deal, we'll get to have some on our first anniversary.  This didn't work out so well either.  Turns out that thawed, 1 year old cake isn't the most appetizing desert.  This tradition is really more ceremonial than anything.  We each took a bite and that was it, kind of a letdown.

The lack of wedding cake on our wedding and our first anniversary seemed to come up in conversation a lot between us as the years went by.  Mike is a big dessert lover and he was especially irked that he didn't get to enjoy any cake.  So for our third anniversary I decided to have Konditor Meister recreate the top tier of our cake.

I had them do the Chocolate Torte filling but skipped the shells this time. It didn't really make sense for just the single tier.

I also got a bottle of champagne and broke out our Mr. & Mrs. champagne flutes.  Mike was really surprised and loved the cake.  I even dug out our cake toppers and threw them on for the big reveal. I have to say it was worth the wait.  The cake was to die for, so moist and delicious!

We are going away to celebrate both our birthdays and our anniversary coming up so on our actually anniversary we had a nice night in cooking dinner, eating cake and watching our new favorite show, Fargo. Mike loves the movie and forced me to watch the show, but I have to say I'm really into it. I can't believe next week is the finale! I'm wondering if it will only be this one season or if its going to come back next year? I guess I'll knew more next week!