Lauderdale-By-The-Sea ~ why yes please, it sounds like heaven to me!
A charming seaside village on the barrier island just north of Fort Lauderdale and minutes from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport. With ocean views, this community has managed to capture and keep its small town charm. A motto of: “Relax . . . You’re here”, how can one not fall in love with this beautiful community?!
A mix of shops, restaurants, and a beautiful wooden Angeline’s Pier, this
village appeals to all. Friday and Saturday evenings you will find tourist and towns people listening and dancing to the bands play at the local street party. Here people say hello and are friendly, and even though it is a tourist location, there is a genuine kindness.
This I found out prior to my travel. With a wonderful gift of visiting one
of my favorite states (especially in escape of our Winters), I had the chore of finding a location. Now, I will tell you, as most of you may know, when it comes to beach towns, you run the risk of getting what you pay for. The streets are often filled with Mom and Pop motels - some wonderful and some not so much. There are beautiful hotels, rentals, and options to take into consideration and of course, high season means high prices.
This trip was quite a planning experience for me. We had the dates, we knew we were not renting a vehicle so we needed to be within walking distance to stores, and we would like a pool or at least to be able to walk to the ocean. I sent out hundreds of requests (yes, seriously) from South to North. I was truly beginning to think it just wasn’t going to happen and I really didn’t want to go on a vacation and sit beside a highway in a run down establishment with no pool, too far to walk anywhere and just waiting to go back home.
I believe in good things and good people and I have had the pleasure of many on this trip. Here is where my excitement begins . . . YOU SHOULD SEE THIS NEW PLACE (just please leave a room open for me)! Hotel Seacrest
~ absolutely, without a doubt, is AMAZING!!! Do you remember when I said you get what you pay for? You will get far, far, more than what you could ever imagine. Please keep in mind I have stayed in outstanding places where I was simply a paying customer
- here, I was a guest in this beautiful boutique and what a pleasure it was!
We arrived early afternoon and were welcomed with that ever present warmth of the sun and our ride to Hotel Seacrest
. Within a short time we were transported to the most luxurious establishment in what I call - Bliss! Tropical landscaping, a crystal clear pool in a beautifully designed courtyard with stylish loungers, seating areas, and our poolside room. Welcome to the King Suite in which I will tell you is definitely made for a king! Luxurious linens with textiles professionally sewn differently for each of the available five designer rooms. Travertine marble flooring, granite countertops (complete with glass cook tops), custom headboards, a refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, dishware, cookware and utensils, a wine rack and even an ice bucket. The rooms are beautifully furnished from the tables to the lamps, an alarm clock with I-phone docking,
cd/dvd players and individual air conditioners with remotes. Walking into the bathroom I discovered the shower from my dreams of open glass with mosaic tile and rain heads complete with luxurious soft and plentiful towels. I should mention that this vacation surprisingly took place during the Super Bowl - but no worries for my husband was elated with the 46” wall mounted flat-screen LCD swivel television!
In opting not to rent a vehicle, I couldn’t had been more happy to see that truly everything was within walking distance and sight. Down the street for groceries along with shops for liquor, salons, restaurants, ice-cream, a drugstore, dollar store, donuts, subs and more. Down the other street was our ocean and I commend the city on what a wonderful job they did with their public areas. At the entrance of the beach you have beautiful landscaping, Adirondack chairs with umbrellas and even pavilions, each complete with water towers to wash the sand from you. What a wonderful place to sit, have a cup of coffee and just watch the world go by.
By evening we decided for a quiet evening in with a simple meal, and imagine our delight to sit poolside within this lovely lit oasis. We were transported with the beauty of their state of the art pool glowing in its LED light show and the graceful in-ground fountains flowing into the pool. The white lights dappled the landscaping making for a perfect evening, and each evening thereafter!
Our first evening out to relax beachside was a quick walk to Aruba Beach Café
. With seating right on the beach, there didn’t seem to be a better way to start our vacation than with a Hawaiian Cosmopolitan ~ a wonderful mix of Sky Pineapple Vodka, Triple Sec and Cranberry Juice, Caribbean Conch Chowder (a spicy tomato based soup with conch, vegetables and corn, Pizza San Remo (a 12” white cheese pizza with mozzarella, goat cheese and roma tomatoes) and Bimini Bread with Aruba Glaze served with shipped honey butter. Let’s just say this trip was definitely going in the right direction!
Now we were ready for the street music and stopped at Ocean 101
for a cocktail located on a busy corner 50 yards from the fishing pier. Sporting a huge indoor/outdoor bar, a beautiful indoor fish tank and waterfalls this was perfect for people watching and listening to music
before venturing back to one of the most restful sleeps in our heavenly Sterns and Foster bed and it’s luxurious linens - did I mention the 600 thread sheet count and freshly laundered and hand steamed?!
After a perfect week of rest, relaxation, lots of sight seeing, walks, breakfast while sitting in the open air at our private patio,
we decided to end our last outing at Athena By The Sea
, a Mediterranean Greek restaurant that also serves American choices in a beautifully newly renovated open air restaurant.
Starting with a pitcher of their homemade Sangria with fermenting fruit
overnight, Saganaki (flaming cheese) with pita bread, Zucchini Strips, Lamb Kabobs over rice and my husband - Spaghetti and Keftedes (Meatballs). I know, so not Greek - but the meatballs were a meal on their own.
Excellent service and I was impressed that when I had stopped by earlier and spoken with Luciana that she remembered me several hours later and was a wonderful waitress. Every empty dish was promptly removed and everyone there seemed to pitch in and help one another. I also was impressed that our leftovers were removed from the table and packaged up and returned to us.
Note to self - at several restaurants, although it states that a 18% service gratuity will be added to parties of 10 or more, I did notice many times that our gratuity already added into our bill. Needless to say, I think I may have made a couple happy waitresses.
To get around easier, the city offers a free community shuttle, the Pelican Hopper
with hours of operation Monday thru Friday 9 AM to 5:25 PM (although their flyer states 8:30 AM to 5 PM), Saturday 10 AM to 7:55 PM, and Sunday 8 AM to 6 PM visit their website
for further information and for their map and timetable.
Lauderdale By The Sea is definitely for me. It’s quaint and quiet. It’s easily accessible and being a walker, a perfect location. I don’t usually write about my personal travels, but this was such an experience that I
had to share with you. The owners at Hotel Seacrest
have done an extraordinary job in remodeling this hidden gem along with their amazing personal service. Would I look further into staying someplace else on my next visit? Absolutely not! Visiting here with the beauty, outstanding customer service, cutting edge and luxury perfectly mixed together - it’s like being transported to that “Bliss” and I can’t wait to visit again! Our many thanks for such a wonderful and memorable trip!!!
Here's a sneak peak into another room. Be sure to visit Hotel Seacrest
for even more amazing photos and booking information!
Bon Voyage ~ Amy
Although there is some debate when exactly National Popcorn Day is, many celebrate it today on January 19 while others celebrate it whatever day the Super Bowl falls on - either way, it’s definitely good taste! While National Popcorn Month is celebrated in October during the popcorn harvesting season and Carmel Popcorn Day is celebrated on April 7.
Popcorn has been around for centuries. It had originated in New Mexico in 1948 by archeologists who discovered popcorn in a bat cave that were at least 5,600 years old. Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks and the average American eats approximately 17 gallons per person per year equaling to an astounding 4.3 billion gallons of popcorn a year.
Popcorn is actually a healthy snack (depending on how it’s cooked and what toppings are added), but for air-popped popcorn, at a mere 31 calories per cup, while oil-popped popcorn boast at 55 calories per cup, it‘s still a great go-to snack.
For a little extra knowledge to share with your fellow “poppers”; a popcorn kernel can pop up to three feet in the air, the first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885 by Charles Cretors, and when visiting a movie theater and enjoying your popcorn, remember that tradition started in 1912.
With so many ideas and toppings from sweet to sour and uses for soup
toppings, salads, the ideas are endless!
For those of you that are feeling less creative, you can still enjoy the
festivities by visiting on of many a popcorn stores such as the Popcorn Factory
Here is a great recipe to keep those taste buds popping ~ Enjoy!!! Blazing Buffalo Ranch Popcorn
In a small bowl blend:
1 TBLS Ranch Dressing or Dip Mix
1 TBLSP Celery Salt (or Seafood Spice Mix)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Powder Sugar (or regular Sugar)
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp Vegetable Oil over mix and blend together
Place 6 quarts popped popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle mixture overtop and stir. I using air-popped popcorn, you may want to lightly spray your popcorn with a cooking or butter spray.
To make sure your festivities are just right, be sure to serve up the fun in some of the great planet friendly products from Green Party Goods
~ an absolutely amazing selection that will keep you coming back for more!
Please don't send out the search party for I have found PARADISE!!!
Come join me at the exotic and breathtaking Ayada Maldlives Resort
~ I'm betting you won't want to leave either.
I think this is what they mean when they say, "This is just what the Doctor ordered". Miles of powder white sand, blue waters, swaying palms, beautiful weather, uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, remote, regal and oh so relaxing.
Set on the island of Maguhdhuvaa, within the beautiful Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll district, this resort consists of 112 luxurious villas complete with your own private pool in creating your own personal paradise. Then, let's not forget the large resort pool connecting all the villas with a lovely boardwalk and sitting areas leading up to the main resort.
Beyond the exterior beauty, Ayada Maldlives has absolutely EVERYTHING I need!!! Let's start first with complimentary wi-fi in all villas (I can work and relax), laundry, dry cleaning, pressing services, Ayspa
complete with a hair salon, an amazing spa, and a fitness center complete with a Yoga Studio and a variety of other classes offered. There's a clinic with a doctor on call 24 hours a day, and the ultimate, my butler!!!
If you think I'm going to go hungry in this paradise ~ no worries. I have seven dining
venues and bars that offer not only regional cuisine, but also international cuisine, along with 24 hour in villa dining.
If you think I might get bored, please remember there are over 3,000 coral reefs, over 1,000 species of fish, coral and other marine life that inhabits the waters throughout the Maldives. I think the array of activites
offered, only to name a few, should keep me busy ~ at least for a little while.
Now, join me in retreating to my personal paradise ~ yes, this really is paradise!!!
It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I do love Summer, but I especially love this weekend. Not only did I meet my husband, but I also met my
best friend and am lucky enough to be married to him.
It’s funny how we look back on the years and realize all the memories that have been made. From the tears to the laughter; the sadness, the happiness, routines, craziness, fears, support, family and friends ~ a life that has woven our marriage into the most wonderful moments!
Our wedding seems like it was only yesterday, and each day I am lucky enough to still be so in love! Life has changed from the first day we met, but the butterflies still float inside me, and there is no one other I would want “next to me”. I found this song by Emeli Sande that I just had to share.
I find a bit of bitter sweetness in the day for he built the deck we got
married on in which we carved our names and date in ~ our life has moved forward, and our deck sits at our old home but I know the memories, and that is something that cannot be taken away.
I love weddings, but most of all, I love the chance of happily ever after,
the wonder of love and the strength of two hearts and souls. I wake each day thankful as I look beside me, and each night to reach over and know I am right where I belong with him next to me!
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart and thank you for the beautiful memories and “what a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven‘t happened yet”.
I truly don't think I have had more of a pleasure than working with this
amazing bride and groom who not only gave me their vision but entrusted me to make the right decisions to plan their memorable wedding day.
The beginning of a vintage, shabby chic wedding was easily created with such a lovely location ~ a lush green lawn, white tents and an amazing gazebo ~ a perfect setting to begin this beautiful celebration with a lifetime of memories created.
A dream that started with a country setting; rustic natural flowers, Mason jars and burlap soon became an astounding celebration with hand crafted newsprint paper flowers ~ fitting perfect for the bride who loves to read; jars filled with split peas to match their colors in a beautiful mix of grey and green, curly willow, a pewter photo charm tied onto the bouquet complete for "Something Old" and even a surprise boutonniere for the groom done in the orchids he had so wanted.
I truly don't think my job could be anymore priceless than when the bride says, "This is more than I ever dreamt of!!!". How does one not smile and know all is right in the world?!!!
One of my many favorites were placing hand stamped tags of “A Little Something”, tied onto green apple favors for each place setting ~ another tribute to the bride and groom and what a DIY financial aspect also. I am so glad that this lovely couple entrusted their "day to remember" with me! From the flowers, the décor, to the final aspects for each guest to remember; it was a wedding to remember!
It's no secret that I love each person at an event to leave with a "WoW" and to know not only did they celebrate a special occasion but they too were special. This I believe was accomplished with so many details and an absolutely beautiful day for a perfect setting.
As I look through the lovely photos, some courtesy of Joe Veselenak, owner of In Action Photography at www.facebook.com/pages/In-Action-Photography-Joe-Veselenak-Owner/145010138848666
, I am not only satisfied but also gratified and so honored in knowing I was allowed to make moments into everlasting memories.
Thank you Chelsey and Nathan!!!! My wishes for a life more beautiful than your glorious wedding and for allowing me to be a part of it!
The unseasonably hot Summer is providing an ongoing record heat wave with temperatures scorching near and above 100 degrees. Instead of sweltering away, maybe it’s time to cool down.
Imagine ~ artic air, blizzards, surrounded in a room of ice complete with furniture made of ice; bundled like an Eskimo and sipping an ice-cold cocktail - no ice required because even your glass is made of ice. Cold enough for you?
Then come tour these amazing and creative Ice Bars and accommodations to put a chill back in your day.
First stop, where else but the city that has every imaginable finding ~ Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit Minus5 Ice Bar
at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Hence being its name, the frosty temperature is minus five degrees. Here you will be decked out in Eskimo-like ice gear to keep warm and explore the wonderland of intricate ice sculptures that change every 6 - 8 weeks, while relaxing on ice couches that are covered in deer skin and sipping your premium vodka out of, of course, custom designed ice
glasses. To upgrade your experience, be sure to take a look at their packages
including the faux fur coat and Russian hat (which you get to keep). Bonus!!!
Now to the sunshine state, Orlando, Florida. Icebar Orlando
the first largest ice bar in America with over 50 tons of ice making this a
winter wonderland one cool place of 27 degrees in a state of warmth. Take an expedition to the North while keeping warm with your thermal cape and gloves during this limited 45 minutes adventure.
Continue traveling the world with more of these “chilling adventures”.
Travel to Dubai and visit the Chill Out Café with their sub-zero temperatures and an interesting combination of ice, glass and
steel complete with unique lighting and architecture.
With Winters being so cold in Russia, St. Petersburg decided to create an Ice Bar so no wasted heating was necessary. This ice bar is found on a small street right behind the Kazan Cathedral. Still to hot for you? Off to XtraCold Amsterdam in Centre of Amsterdam, Amstel. This Ice Bar consists of two parts. You are first introduced to a “cool” lounge where you are able to enjoy your food and drinks and then you will be able to venture further to the Ice Bar where you will receive special clothing to keep you warm in the -10 degree Celsius bar. Enjoy a drink and journey over icebergs and steep cliffs of a fantasy landscape with a 20 minute 3D movie - including a wind turbine to make the scene complete. Or, what about a blizzard to cool you down? The Ice Lounge in the heart of Southbank, Australia will make you feel like you’ve entered an Antarctic winter for a limited 30 minutes. Enjoy state-of-the-art lighting, exquisite carved sculptures while wrapped in warmth in the - 10 degree
Celsius Ice Bar.
Minus 5 is another ice bar located in Queenstown, New Zealand. Everything is carved purely of ice but don’t worry about getting a chill because, once again, you’ll be provided with jackets, gloves and even warm footwear. Ready for a real adventure? Climb aboard the Norwegian Epic, Norwegians Cruise Line’s newest, largest and most innovative ship.
Sail away to the Caribbean and Europe with of course, a visit to the coolest bar at sea, the Svedka Ice Bar that was inspired by the original ice hotels in Scandinavia. In an exclusive partnership with SVEDKA vodka and Inniskillin ice wine, this ice bar gives the ultimate chill with the temperature not rising above 17 degrees Fahrenheit and LED lighting stimulating the Northern Lights while sipping in hooded coats and gloves surrounded by ice and carved statues of course.
Hate to return to the heat, then take your visit up, or
down a notch, and visit these Ice Bars while staying in their ice
The Ice Hotel in Sweden is located in the village of Jukkasjarvi and offers several room accommodations. Your cold rooms will range in temperature from -5 degrees Celsius to -8 degrees Celsius with special beds made of snow and ice with reindeer skins and thermal sleeping bags for your comfort. After a good nights sleep, you’ll be awakened in the morning with a cup of hot lingonberry juice at your bedside. Venture to their Icebar Jukkasjarvi where you can dance on a floor of snow and drink champagne and other cocktails from glasses of ice. Don’t worry about getting too cold, your visit is limited to 40 minutes.
Still need more? Who would’ve ever thought Paris would be the host of an Ice Bar? Well, maybe it’s time you visit The Kube Hotel (also known as Kube Rooms) in Paris, France. A trendy and hip boutique styled hotel consisting of 31 rooms and 10 suites that is a mix of retro and modern, complete with splashes of hot pink, glowing glass cubes and fake fur. Making this boutique even more special is their urban ice bar,
The Ice Kube. A cover charge, winter parka and gloves included along with unlimited vodka for 30 minutes. Make sure you make reservations for this trendy bar only allows 20 guests at a time. This could just be the topping of a night in Paris!
This is only the tip of the iceberg and hopefully it’s cooled you off a bit during our over-the-top warm weather. So, why not have a well deserved over-the-top vacation too?
The Fourth of July is such a wonderful Summer celebration!
It's a time for us to give thanks and celebration for our freedom; to those who have fought for us and those who continue to fight. What a sacrifice our men and women have given for us, and for that I thank them!
The Fourth of July also brings together family and friends to celebrate and be festive. It's a great time for beach parties, barbecues, picnics, sight-seeing in new places and watching the glory of fireworks explode in the sky on a beautiful Summers night.
What better way to start off the holiday than cheering to all in style with this Limited Edition Brut Classic
For those that want to wow their guests with some non-alcoholic drinks, these layered drinks
are sure to set the mood for a happy celebration!
For a simple salad, I love these Orzo salads
in a jar and how simple paired with some fresh bread. Place an assortment of fruit in paper cones, and enjoy. To keep things fun, try some fruit kabobs laced with minature marshmellows.
What celebration would be complete without dessert? I am in love with these cheesecake shots
! How fun to serve them with simply adorable miniature cherry pies
! I'd say you're going to have some happy guests!
So, go put on your patriotic dancing shoes
. . .
and enjoy dancing under a sky filled with glory and light! Have a wonderful holiday everyone! Be safe and make memories on this memorable holiday!
Top "Home of The Free photo courtesey of Tip Junkie
Being a tourist and roaming foreign streets, visiting markets and taking in the sights is a wonderful way to relax on vacation. We all know too well the many scams that are already out there, but the professional scammers seem to be getting even more crafty.
On a recent trip to a large city, our daughter encountered yet another breed. Far from the street pickpockets, drivers quoting you a price and then raising the price when at your destination who will then not release you luggage from the trunk until you pay, or even the scammers who will place items on you and demand payment because it is now in your possession.
Hers was an encounter via telephone. Staying in a well known popular hotel, she received a call from the front desk the morning following her check-in. It was stated that “Front Desk” was calling and that their computers system had gone down and could she verify her information. Unfortunately, she did and continued on her ventures. Luckily her banking institute caught the fraudulent action and placed a call to her notifying her that her card had been compromised. It was not the “Front Desk” that placed the call, but an out of state scammer who them proceeded to use her card. Hind sight - take the time and go down and personally speak to the front desk.
Being on an out-of-state vacation herself, she was able to go to her banking institute and discuss the situation. Again, unfortunately being out of state, they were not able to issue her a temporary card and needed to close her account. Lesson learned? Yes!
If you are traveling to a foreign country, remember to call you banking
institute and your credit cards. Some companies do not allow international card transactions unless previously notified - make sure you check with yours!
There are many scams such as the “Free” drink. Here you are invited to have a free drink with someone who has picked you out. After a few drinks, a large bill, the scammer has suddenly disappeared leaving you and the bill.
Make sure you carry small bills and enough change - especially when
purchasing items and for transportaion. Many scammers will state they don’t have change and will not refund your purchase leaving you with more money spent than necessary. While speaking of money, beware of “Fake Police”. Yes, hard to believe, but these scammers will show you fake badges and demand to see your identification often stating they are searching for illegal contraband. When you take out your wallet, they too will take your wallet. In this situation, be on the lookout for plain clothed accomplices. Stay in well lit areas and even take down their badge number to verify with the local police that they are
legitimate before doing anything.
Scammers are not just adults dropping gold rings in front of you and claiming it must be yours, but unfortunately, young children are often part of this circle. Children often are quick and distract us, but know they are not working
Beware of using the ATM, and be wary when you have to push past a group. These are situations where you won’t realize what happened until it’s too late. If you are in a situation and become uncomfortable, walk away quickly and be stern with your “NO’S”. Many times the scammers don’t want attention drawn to them and this may divert them for you to quickly exit. Do not let anyone place anything on you or have you hold something - many times these are part of a scam too.
Even though you are on vacation and you are a tourist; try not to look like one. Before your trip make yourself familiar with your destination and read reviews from others. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are some interesting posted scams that may keep your red flag flying from Rick Steves
Wherever you go, be alert and be safe and may all your travels be only
What a delight to have the privilege to work with a bride on her Bridal Shower and upcoming Wedding!
To not giveaway too many wedding surprises, we based her shower on the bright colors of orange and green with a youthful flair for the young couple.
A "Roadtrip Honeymoon" was the beginning of this venture complete with appetizers threaded onto cute knotted bamboo picks
followed with simple finger foods of cucumber and salmon canapes, individual vegetable cups, chicken walnut crossiants, tuna and pineapple salad all served on an array of floral fine china and silver. To complete the luncheon, a "Sweet Dreams" dessert table was filled with glazed lemon cookies, key-lime cream puffs on a stick and a finish of adorable cupcakes in a jar with tied biodegradable compostable natural disposable wooden spoons
To keep with the whimiscal feeling of this shower, youthful orange striped paper straws
complimented the drinks and the adorable favors included handstamped organza bags of "Wherever you go ~ Go with all your heart" filled with individual unique keychains.
Each guests wrote a "Love Note" to the bride on hung papers that were fastened to a vintage window. What wonderful memories were created and what a pleasure to work such a great event!
I love lazy Sundays. I love to start the beautiful morning off curled-up in comfort, morning coffee while reading the Sunday paper, listening to the the world wake up and wondering what the day will bring. I love Sunday dinners, barbecues with family and friends.
Sundays are a day to play catch-up for some, but it's always wonderful to take a break, read a book, lay and watch the clouds pass by, watch a movie, play a game, go for a walk, or my favorite . . . take a roadtrip.
I love an adventure and we all know, I love to travel, and what better time than a lazy Sunday! I don't always have a plan and never know if I'll end up at a beach, a roadside park, or a town I've never visited, but if you need some direction, Best Road Trip Planner
is a great site for some wonderful roadtrips.
What better way to add to a perfect lazy day than stopping for a picnic along the way. My favorite thing to do is stop at a Farmer's Roadside Market and fill my basket with fresh fruits, vegetable, homemade breads, cheeses and of course, fresh flowers. If you need help and want to prepare a picnic before, Allrecipes
has a great selection of ideas.
I love Green Options
for all their eco friendly and recycled products ~ what better way to pack for you day of laziness!
Wherever your travels bring you remember: "Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way." ~ Douglas Pagels