Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Favorite Self-Tanner

With Summer officially in full swing and the shorts and dresses getting shorter, it's time for a tan. Since I don't live in a place where I can easily acquire said tan, I learned awhile ago about the power of a good self-tanner. Of course, there are a million kinds out there so I def had some smelly nights and orange days before I found the self-tanner for me. 

That self-tanner is St Tropez bronzing mousse for my body and the St Tropez bronzing lotion for my face. Add in the tanning mitt and it's a worry-free tan. You see, the mousse is incredibly lightweight, easy-to-apply and dries in 60 seconds. However, I would say that the end product, the tan, is the best part. These St Tropez products deliver the perfect shade of tan. Many of you actually have been asking about my complexion/make-up routine recently and every comment is made on a photo where I've done a tan the night before. So that's the secret!

Xo J

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

The stunning patio at Kunde Estate.

I know I am not alone in saying this but man do I love long weekends! This past weekend, after a long week of traveling, a holiday weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Saturday, we spent the day at a winery, Kunde, where we are members. We sat outside on the patio, listened to live music and enjoyed some tastings. Sort of my idea of heaven :)

My main squeeze.

Jennifer Lee Miller Earrings (similar KJL ones here), Mink Pink Dress (old, but similar here, here and here)

On Sunday, we headed down the road to Crissy Field for a Memorial Day BBQ. We spent the day enjoying the sun, playing games and grilling out. It was a ton of fun! 

Oh yes, that's a DAVID apron he refused to take off.

Watermelon, cucumber and mint salad.

Panzanella Salad.

Ribs for days.

The boys.

It started to get chilly so, naturally, a festive outfit change was required.

Why do all BBQs end with boys shotgunning beers?

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend too!

Xo J

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bikini Bonanza

Last week, a friend emailed me asking for bikini suggestions. After putting together a short list, I thought to myself, HEY I MAY NEED SOME NEW BIKINIS TOO. I stocked up last year for my bachelorette party but it's a new year with new festivities right around the corner like Memorial Day and 4th of July, so it's due time. I thought some of you may be in the same position too, so here are some of my favorites!

Zinke, MINKPINK, Lolli Swim

SeafollyMIKOH Swimwear, Tori Praver Swimwear

MIKOH SwimwearMarysiaLolli Swim

Zimmerman, Ella Moss, Marysia

Happy shopping!

Xo J

Monday, May 19, 2014

Restaurant Guides - Florence, Italy

Hello lover.

When people asked what I was most excited about for Italy, I would always respond "the food." You see, my husband was in charge of the sights, lodging, etc, and I was in charge of the food. I took my job very seriously and thanks to all of your recos and a TaskRabbit who spoke Italian (to make reservations), I put together an awesome dining plan for both Florence and Rome.

The pasta from our lunch at Verrazzano- not to be missed!

As expected, the food in Italy was amazing. Just super delicious, unpretentious, simple food. We had the best time checking out different places and trying different dishes. In the event that any of you are traveling to Florence and/or Rome soon, here are our favorites. This post will focus on the best Florentine restaurants and there will be another post on the best Roman restaurants.

Our first night in Florence - Gusta Pizza and wine make for a happy traveler.

Favorite Pizza Place 

Gusta Pizza  
  • This place was incredible. A fun little corner spot, we grabbed pizzas there a couple of times. They have a simple menu of only a few pizzas and each is divine. Do yourself a favor and grab a pizza here and some wine, take it to Pitti Palace and enjoy!

His and hers pizzas.

Palazzo Pitti for an al fresco lunch ;)

Favorite Dinner Spots 

Trattoria 13 Gobbi 
  • This place was so good we went there twice. It's causal, but nice, unpretentious, but has great service. All of the waiters speak really good English and are very helpful.
  • They make ordering easy for you by highlighting the restaurant's specialties on the menu. They did not steer me wrong because, both times, I ordered the rigatoni and was in heaven. My husband ordered the veal oscobucco and then the Florentine steak and was also very pleased.
  • I would recommend making a reservation for dinner.
Best rigatoni everrr.

Where's the bad part?

Trattoria 4 Leoni 
  • This place was a little fancier than 13 Gobbi. Not that you would wear sneakers to either but it's just a little more "fine dining" if you will, but still not "fancy." The ambiance is very cool- like rustic but polished.
  • I did my research and saw which menu items people were loving. My husband and I shared the pesto salad and a bottle of the house wine. I then had the truffle pasta (mind-blowing) and my husband had the steak. He actually said this steak was his favorite meal of the trip! We finished our meal with the cheesecake which is not to be missed (said by non-cheesecake people).
  • I would recommend making a reservation for dinner. You can do it online- super easy!
The house wine, a Chianti Classico, was fantastic.

No caption needed. You can see just from the photo how divine the pasta was!

TC's steak.

Of note, the thing about dinner service in Florence is that there are usually only two seatings - one at 7:30pm and one at 9:30pm. The 7:30pm seating is usually more touristy, although fine and the 9:30pm service is more locals. Depending on your schedule and what vibe you want, make reservations accordingly :)

Favorite Gelato 

  • In each new European place I visit, I pick one food and attempt to find the best in the city. In Spain it was Patatas Bravas, in France it was macarons and then in Italy, it was gelato. After a city-wide search, and let me tell you, it was exhaustive, I found my favorite. A little off the beaten path, you def have to seek out Vivoli.
  • The gelato there was insane. So fresh and yummy. When I say fresh, I mean the tiramisu gelato actually have cake it in it! It was divine. Both times we went, I got the tiramisu + caffe combo (a real winner).

Makes me want a gelato reaaaaaaalll bad!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all about traveling to Italy! I'm not an expert but I'd be happy to help :)

Xo J

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Travel Recap - Florence, Italy

The insane view from the restaurant at Verrazzano. Dress by Dolce Vita (use the Special Order function to get your size)

As you all know, my husband and I returned last week our vacation in Italy. We headed to both Florence and Rome for about five days each. Between my husband's diligent planning and all of the excellent recommendations you all provided, we had an incredible time!! I am going to do a separate post on all of my restaurant recos in case any of you are headed there soon, so today's post includes some of the broader activities about Florence specifically. 

About every day was structured the same way. A quick breakfast in the morning either at home or on the road, several hours of sightseeing, a yummy lunch, more sightseeing, back to the apartment to rest, some antipasto and wine while getting ready, a divine dinner and then a tour of the city at night. Throw in some shopping and gelato tastings and that was pretty much our time in Florence. It was such an amazing time! Here are some snaps from the Florence leg of our trip.

Wine in plastic cups- the classiest way to travel!

Ponte Vecchio at night <3.

Wine and gelato aka the perfect combo!

Our first night in Florence was "The White Night," the eve before May 1st. All of the restaurants and museums stay open really late and the city of Florence stays up even later. The streets were packed with people and music- it was such great energy!

Our first day, we jetted to Tuscany for a tour, tasting and lunch at a local vineyard, Castello di Verrazzano. As expected, Tuscany was STUNNING and the vineyard was incredible. We had a great multi-course meal that should have been a clear indication that I was in for some serious weight gain during our trip ;).

Guess who is the only one in the family to drive stick?

Mr Cool living the dream in Tuscany.

After our lunch at the vineyard, we headed back to Florence and to an incredible dinner (more on that in an upcoming post). Afterwards, we grabbed a bottle of wine and hit the streets of Florence to explore. 

The most incredible rigatoni!

The next day we headed to the Duomo and the Galleria dell'Accademia to see the David. Naturally, for breakfast, I had to sample a waffle and Nutella sandwich.


Being too cool for school at the Duomo.

Side view of the Duomo.
Proof that I actually went outside and wasn't just using the location for a photoshoot. 

The insane ceiling of the Duomo.

For lunch, we stopped by Mercado Central to check out the goods. So many wonderful and fresh ingredients, I wanted to sample everything! We ended up getting some spices that we had had on our pasta at Verrazzano. We are excited to put them to use now that we're back in the states :)

After the market and David, we headed to a yummy dinner that many had recommended. You sit family style and actually don't order any specific food. Instead, they just bring out plates and plates of food for you to try. Since I am a vegetarian, TC got all of the meat portions, and boy was he happy about it.

TC and his various meats.

Salty and crunchy farro salad.

Real talk - this was the complimentary bottle of wine included at the table.

On the third day, after our jug of wine (WOOF), we headed to the Uffizi Gallery. I cannot recommend enough that you buy tickets online ahead of time for all of these things. Many times, we would walk up to a museum, see people waiting two hours in line, but be able to walk right in ourselves. TOTALLY worth it!

Happy tourist with his salami sandwich to go.


After seeing the sights, we headed out to one of our favorite meals of the trip. More on the specifics later!

On the fourth day, at my insistence, we went on a Dan Brown Inferno/Secret Passages tour at Palazzo Vecchio. You see, we both read Inferno on our honeymoon (I know, sooooo romantic) and I really wanted to see all of the places the characters visited in the book. While it could have been totally cheesy, our guide was great and the tour was really cool.

Entering into the first of many secret passages.

Dante's mask.

The map room with a secret passage.

In the afternoon, at TC's insistence, we headed to Palazzo Michelangelo for an incredible view of the city. Also, the rain finally cleared so we were able to enjoy the weather!

The view of Florence from Palazzo Michaelangelo.

The rose garden next to Palazzo Michelangelo.

Rewarding myself after the long trek to Palazzo Michaelangelo with gelato (as if I needed an excuse).

As you can see, we had a wonderful time in Florence. Up next… ROMA!

Xo J