LIFE

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

May 2, 2015
mother and daughter

HANNAH SHELBY: Mothers Day Gift Guide

 

1. Matching Jewelry

Over the last 10 years, my mother and I have picked a few pieces of matching jewelry, and it has become one of our favorite traditions. We don’t live in the same state, but everyday I look down at our special ring knowing she is doing the same, and it brings an immense amount of comfort. We recently ordered some rings from the jewelers at Bario Neal in Philadelphia. They make lovely handcrafted pieces with reclaimed precious metals, Fairmined gold, ethically sourced stones, and low-impact, environmentally conscious practices. Bario Neal

2. Eames Hang-It-All

If your mother is one who appreciates midcentury design, this classic piece from Charles and Ray Eames will not only look great in her home, but help keep her things organized and tidy. The Hang-it-all comes available in the classic multi-color, as well as two newer options—solid black and solid white. Design Within Reach

3. Fancy Candles

The candles from Le Labo are made with 100% soy wax and blended with essential oils for a luxury experience at home. She can curl up with her favorite book, and a glass of wine, and relax like she deserves. Le Labo Santal 26

4. House Plant

Plants are more popular than ever, and this is a gift that keeps on giving. Every time she looks at the plant, she will be reminded of just how much you care for her—even if she has no green thumb at all. This “snake plant” or “mother in law’s tongue” is well known for being nearly impossible to kill, requiring little water or sunlight. Available at Home Depot.

5. Pretty Stationary

Perfect for the mom who loves to write notes the old fashioned way. This glamorous stationary set by Rifle Paper Company can be used for many occasions—to say thank you, happy birthday, or just to say hello. Rifle Paper Company Assorted Crown Card Set

6. Marble Baking Slab

It never fails—every time you come to visit, your mother has a fresh baked pie, gooey chocolate chip cookies, or piping hot cinnamon rolls ready when you arrive. This marble pastry board is a sophisticated addition to her kitchen and doubles as a beautiful serving tray for parties and holidays. French Kitchen Pastry Slab

7. Sparkling Wine

You’re mother’s love deserves to be celebrated! Pop a bottle of bubbly together and reminisce on all the good times you’ve shared and all the reasons you love her so. Bonus, this bottle from Sofia Coppla comes pre wrapped with pink cellophane and the bottle is pretty enough to used as a vase after. Sofia Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine

8. Cookies delivered right to her door

If you’ve ever devoured a cookie from Milk Bar in New York, you know this gift needs little explanation. Sold by the half dozen, all the classic Milk Bar flavors are available for delivery straight to her door—including Blueberry and Cream, Cornflake, Compost, and Confetti. Milk Bar

9. Essential Cookbook

There are some cookbooks you go back to over and over, and this is one of them. Full of recipes for everyday, including brunch ideas, family dinners, and everything in between. Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

10. Outdoor Dinnerware

These plastic dishes are perfect for all the outdoor parties and dinners on the porch your mother is bound to enjoy this summer. This 1964 award winning design by Massimo Vignelli is made to stack straight on top of one another for easy and compact storage. Heller Dinnerware Set

TRAVEL & LEISURE

Tulum | Travel Guide Part 2: Where to Eat and Shop

April 16, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

Before arriving in Tulum, I had pretty high expectations of the food. But honestly, I didn’t fully realize just how good the food scene would be. After 9 days, we still had restaurants we failed to make it to, and several we wished we could eat at again. If you’re like me and one of your favorite things about travel is trying new and unique dishes, and soaking in the atmosphere of a well put together restaurant/bar, Tulum is for you. And beyond the food, the same goes for the many great shops that line the beach road and pueblo. All that and one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable? Tulum truly is a magical place and one we’ll never forget. We can’t wait to return again and again!

—BEST DINNER SPOTS—

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideHartwood

Hartwood really is as good as its reputation. We tried three days in a row to get a reservation and were finally successful when we arrived at 2pm on a Saturday as the first people to stand in line. The hostess arrives at 3pm, but the restaurant is pretty small, so only the first 20 people or so will get reservations—which are available between 7pm-9:30pm. Once you give the host your name and preferred time, you can be on your way and come back at your designated time. As soon as we were seated, we ordered two jalepeno margaritas to start, followed by the tomato salad, coronado fish, and the agave ribs. Then finished with more drinks, and two scoops of gelato: one coconut and one corn. The fish was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the ribs were some of the best I’ve ever had—smokey and sticky sweet. The drinks were perfectly crafted, the ambiance indescribable—oh, and Jake Gyllenhaal sat at the table next to us. So that didn’t hurt our overall experience either :) (Located at km 7.6)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuidePosada Margherita

We went early and were fortunate to be seated at a big, cozy table directly overlooking the ocean. The decor at this restaurant is unparalleled. Plants everywhere, mason jars filled with candles, perfectly weathered wood and antiques all around. Without question I give the “Most Beautiful Ambiance” award to Posada Margherita. As the sun began to set, the whole place was bustling and twinkled with candles, with a soft ocean breeze in the air. It was pure magic. We tried the Mojito and the Sauvignon Blanc to start—both delicious. The menu is small and consists of just a few options each of fresh made pasta, shrimp, and fish. We ordered the broccoli and mushroom pasta, shrimp in white sauce, and fish poached in sea water. (And I have to note this, only because it was so bizarre—Jake Gyllenhaal was seated right by us here as well. Two nights in a row, I mean what are the chances? Not complaining :) We loved it so much here, we came back a second night for more drinks and dessert—the vanilla gelato and tiramisu—which happened to be some of the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. (Located at km 4.5)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideEl Tabano!

El Tabano! was our first meal in Tulum after a long day of travel. We arrived early—5:30ish—as some of the first people there for dinner. By the time we had our food half an hour later, the entire place was full. We ordered a Cucumber Margarita and a Mezcalrita, and quickly realized we had a new obsession with Mezcal. From that point forward, any chance we had to order a drink with our new favorite libation, we did. Having spent most of the day traveling, we ordered way too much out of sheer exhaustion and excitement: the stuffed poblano pepper, ceviche, fish tacos, and pork. The food at El Tabano! has a bit of a Spanish flair, and as with every restaurant in Tulum, the portions here are not small. We enjoyed El Tabano! so much that we came back again on our last night. It felt right to end our trip right where it had began. (Located at km 7)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideCasa Banana

Located at km 8.5, Casa Banana has a lively atmosphere and an open kitchen serving up food with an Argentinean flare. We ordered carpaccio, asparagus with balsamic, almonds and goat cheese, and the ribeye steak. We also ordered two mojitos, which turned out to be one of our favorite cocktails of the trip. Fair warning: seats near the wood fire ovens are very warm. Some seating is also communal, so we had a great time chatting with our tablemates—Canadians on our left and and a couple from Finland on our right. Cheers!

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideEncanto Cantina

This is a great restaurant in the Pueblo. Encanto has a big open layout with a really nice garden area full of seating in the back. Our favorite drinks on the trip were here, and we also had a fun lesson on Mezcal from the bartender. The food was very well put together, we ordered the steak (perfectly cooked) with mashed potatoes and the white fish wrapped in banana leaves with mashed zucchini. The vibe was relaxed but lively, with good service and good music. And we happened to sit next to another really nice couple from Chicago at the bar and bonded quickly over our mutual love for Mezcal. Even if you’re staying exclusively on the beach road of Tulum, it’s definitely worth your time to make a trip into the Pueblo for a meal at Encanto Cantina.

–BEST LUNCH SPOTS–

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

Hemingway Restaurant Tulum

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideHemingway

Ahhh yes, the perfect relaxing beachside lunch spot. Just a few tables and only one cook, but a really good one. We ordered the fried calamari, seafood salad, and the Mediterranean grouper. Everything was delicious, including the drinks, and the atmosphere can’t be beat. (Located at km 5.5)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

Coqui Coqui Tulum

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideCoqui Coqui

Another great spot right on the beach. A little bit more expensive compared to other places, but worth it. We ordered the classic ceviche and the chef’s special that day—chicken and shrimp in a regional mole-like sauce with grilled pineapple. Both were very good. And after eating, don’t miss a visit to the beautifully curated shop and perfmeria. (Located at km 7.5)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideLa Chiapaneca

This small family run spot in the Pueblo is not the easiest to find. We walked past it a few times before realizing it was right in front of us. There are only a couple tables, and luckily one was open when we arrived. We ordered two of the famed El Pastor tacos and weren’t disappointed. Plus it’s unbelievably inexpensive. We had plans to come back again during our stay, but unfortunately that didn’t end up happening. We’ll be sure to go for more next time we visit Tulum.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideFlor de Michoacan

Across the street from El Chiapanca, Flor de Michoacan is paleta heaven. The freezer is full of the brightly colored fresh fruit popsicles, and the only negative is trying to decide which flavor to order. We chose Jalepeno Pineapple and Strawberry-Kiwi Yogurt. You guys, I could have eaten 10 of these things. They are so refreshing and delicious. This is an absolute must while in Tulum.

 

 —BEST FOR DRINKS—

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideGitano

Directly next to Hartwood, Gitano is the perfect spot for small bites and after dinner drinks. They have a heavily Mezcal focused cocktail list and a good food menu with several small plates, tacos, and a few larger entrees as well. We went one night for a smaller dinner and ordered the spicy shrimp and pastor tacos (both great)—but focused more on drinks, with our favorites being the ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Kisses in the Car’. Between the neon lights, chandeliers hanging from tropical trees, a gigantic disco ball, and really great music—it doesn’t get much cooler than Gitano. We came back a couple more times and couldn’t get enough. (Located at km 7)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum GuideCasa Jaguar

This eclectically decorated jungle side restaurant is located at km 7.5, not too far from Hartwood and Gitano. We arrived about 30 mins before close, so the atmosphere was very chill and relaxed. The drinks were big and delicious, and while we didn’t order anything, the menu looked really good—especially the breakfast. For an extra cool view, there’s one table on the roof of the bar—which we plan to request on our next visit.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideBatey

Word is Batey serves some of the best mojitos in Tulum. We unfortunatly didn’t make it for a drink, but from the outside, the vibe looked very relaxed and fun. We could see a band setting up out back when we walked by, and the place was completely full—always a good sign.

—WHERE TO SHOP—

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideCoqui Coqui Perfumeria

As to be expected, Coqui Coqui Perfumeria is perfectly put together. Every detail down to each individual hanger has been carefully thought out. Beyond the beautiful locally made clothing and accessories line Hacienda Montaecristo, there is also a large assortment of exclusive scents, which come available in perfumes, oils, linen sprays, and candles.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideBlackbird

This tiny shop directly across from Hartwood has a nice selection of jewelry and accessories. I picked up a copper necklace and also loved the beautiful gemstone rings and crossbody bags. (Located at km 7.5)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideCaravana

Right across from Coqui Coqui you’ll find Caravana, cleverly located in an old military tent. Beautiful accessories and shoes, as well as the same clothing line you will find at Coqui Coqui: Hacienda Montaecristo. (Located at km 7.5)

For more tips on where to stay, what to bring and more, check out Part 1 of my Tulum Travel Guide.

—WHAT IM WEARING—

Tye Dye Romper: Blue Life, Black/White Off the Shoulder Top: ASOS, White Shorts: J. Brand, Sandals: Birkenstock, Black Hat: J. Crew, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban.

TRAVEL & LEISURE

Tulum | Travel Guide Part 1: The Basics

April 15, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

I first learned of Tulum two years ago while writing a piece on up-and-coming travel destinations for my work. Since then, I’ve dreamed of walking the white sandy beach, eating and drinking an endless supply of ceviche and mojitos, and falling asleep to the crashing sound of waves. But Tulum is so much more—and when you’re there, it feels as though you’ve stumbled upon something truly unique. On our third day, we gave a ride up the beach road to a nice couple visiting from Buenos Aires. Later that night, we struck up conversation with a Canadian woman and her incredibly intelligent 13 year old daughter. We stayed in a hotel run by an Italian family, and ate at a critically acclaimed restaurant run by chefs from New York. We also devoured some of the best al pastor tacos we’ve ever had at a local family owned restaurant in the pueblo, toured mayan ruins, and swam in an ancient centote. Tulum is a place all its own—like a castaway dream, a bohemian beach paradise bringing together people from all over the world. I left feeling not only relaxed and refreshed, but inspired—by the people we met, the food we ate, and the artistry and attention to detail of each and every thing that makes up this magical place.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideWhen to Go

Tulum is of course a great winter getaway destination. For weather info and tips on when to go click here. Personally, I prioritize good weather over crowds and price points when choosing an ideal visit time. February and March to me are the perfect combination of low rainfall and warm temps. We were fortunate to have no rain and almost entirely sunny skies. And other than the ruins being busy, visiting in March did not feel overcrowded at all.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideRenting a Car

Don’t be fooled—renting a car in Mexico may appear to be super inexpensive, but that $30 booking you made for an entire week will quickly turn to $350 once you pick up the car and add the various insurance and liability fees. Still, prices aren’t unreasonable in US terms, just be prepared for a much higher total than what you initial booked. Driving from Cancun to Tulum is very easy. The airport is right off of highway 307, which runs down the coast, past Playa del Carmen, and straight to Tulum pueblo.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

—WHAT TO BRING—

Bug Spray Wipes

Tulum is located in the jungle, so there is no shortage of bugs. The breeze keeps the bugs away from the water, but with many of the restaurants located on the jungle side of the road, you’ll want to make sure and have a good form of bug repellent. We brought only carry-on bags, so bug spray wipes were not only convenient but very practical. They are easy to keep in your purse if you find yourself in an extra buggy location (although honestly, most places were very good about keeping the bugs at bay with citronella candles). We brought these deet free wipes by Bugband and a bottle of Ben’s 30% DEET spray for ankles and behind the knees only, and came home with very minimal bug bites.

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen

Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen! With the proximity to the equator and the reflection off the white sand, the sun in Tulum is incredibly intense. We went through two full sized bottles in one week. We also brought a really great SPF 30 Oil Free Face StickSPF 30 Lip Balm, and Cool Down After Sun Hydrating Lotion from Sun Bum. Reapply often and don’t forget your ears, feet and hands. Nothing is worse than getting burned the first day of a beach vacation and spending the rest of the time in pain in the shade.

Cleansing Towelettes

Between all the sunscreen, bug repellant, and salt water, we found it very nice to have some cleansing towelettes to wipe off after a day at the beach or a night out in the jungle. They are also great for washing your face quickly and easily. We brought these Acure Organic’s Argan Oil Towelettes.

Umbrella

Luckily we had no rain on our trip, but being the tropical climate it is, rain is definitely a possibility. And with many of the restaurants being primarily outdoors, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared.

Flashlight

The jungle road is very dark at night. There are several areas less populated with hotels and restaurants, and these areas in particular are very dangerous to walk along at night without either a flashlight or head lamp to let oncoming traffic know you’re there.

Charcoal pills

After a little stomach issue during our trip to Europe last year, our friends from Austria gave me a few activated charcoal pills and miraculously in only a few hours, I felt almost back to normal. Since then, we swore never to go on another trip without these.

Lightweight Beach Towels

Oversized, fast drying, and light enough to pack in a carry-on, these turkish towels from Hammamas are a perfect addition to any beach vacation. Their compactness made them easy to carry around with us everywhere we went, and as an added bonus, they doubled as an excellent bike seat cushion.

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

We packed this Jawbone Mini Jambox for its great sounds and small size. No cord or wifi needed, just a bluetooth connection and a nice, relaxing playlist.

Cash

Many restaurant take only cash. Often they will take both Mexican pesos and American dollars, but the peso is the preferred form of currency. There are several ATMs along the beach road, as well as in town at various convenience stores and banks. The exchange rate fluctuates daily—while we were there, $3000 pesos was the equivalent of about $200 dollars.

—WHERE TO STAY—

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideRosa Del Viento

We spent 4 nights at Rosa Del Viento and loved everything about it. It’s located at Km 10, basically the last hotel on the road before you hit the Sian Ka’an Bioreserve. We found the beach to be nicer the farther south you go, and with no hotels directly on either side of Rosa, there’s a wonderful sense of seclusion and a huge amount of private beach for guests only. Our room was large and extremely comfortable, with two king beds, a large bathroom, closet space, air conditioning, and a private porch with a hammock. When we arrived, the hotel provided us with complimentary welcome cocktails at the restaurant overlooking the ocean. There are plenty of chairs and beds on the beach for all the guests, a masseuse on staff, and an impressive complimentary breakfast (including omelettes, pancakes, fresh fruit, chilaquiles, etc). Rosa del Viento also has free parking and is only a few minutes drive to anywhere on the beach road.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideTulum Pueblo

The first four nights of our stay, we rented an apartment in the pueblo through AirBnb. It was stocked with everything we needed, including a full kitchen, a huge tank of drinking water, air conditioning, a nice back porch with hammock, and two bikes. The apartment was also conveniently located between ‘downtown’ Tulum and the beach. There is a convenience store right near by with an ATM, as well as a Walmart-like grocery store called Super Chadral within easy driving/biking distance. There we were able to stock up on extra bottled water, sunscreen, fresh fruit and of course cervezas. It was fun to get a sense of the town and what daily life is like living in Tulum. While staying in the pueblo, we planned to do all of our non-beach related activities like visiting the ruins, riding bikes, and swimming in a cenote so that once we were staying on the beach, we really had no reason to leave. And staying in the AirBnb also gave us the opportunity to easily spend an evening out at some of the great restaurants/bars in town.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideSanara Tulum

Next time we visit Tulum, this hotel is high on our list for where we’d like to stay. I’m already dreaming of their modern and well designed rooms, and waking up to a yoga class in that beautiful studio. We stopped in early one morning on our walk up the beach and ordered two smoothies—the ‘deep greens’ and the ‘almond vanilla’. They were so insanely good, we had to come back again the following morning. Sanara is also nicely located at km 8—within easy walking distance of Hartwood, Gitano, Casa Jaguar, and Coqui Coqui.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideLa Zebra

While staying in the pueblo, we scouted a good spot to set up shop on the beach for the day and landed at La Zebra two days in a row. Located directly next to Sanara, Le Zebra has great beach chairs, a nice restaurant overlooking the ocean (with delicious guacamole and live music), and a fun playground if you’re bringing kids along.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuidePosada Margherita

A little farther north on the road (km 4.5), Posada Margherita is an Italian beach dream. The entrance feels like walking through a secret garden, with plant after plant, mixed with candles in mason jars and rustic wood doors. The beachfront is smaller and not quite as nice as the beach farther south, but still good. The only downside might be how busy Posada is at night. If you’re looking for secluded peace and quiet, the bustling restaurant could be a bit of a nuisance.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideCoqui Coqui

Coqui Coqui is wonderfully small and intimate, with only 7 rooms total. The furnishings are rustic yet chic, and the location very well situated at km 7.5. One of the best full service spas is also located here, in addition to the beautiful shop and perfumeria.

—WHAT TO DO—

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideVisit Ruins

On our first morning in Tulum, we hopped on the bikes provided by our AirBnb and made the 10 min. ride to the Tulum ruins. We arrived around 11am and there was already a big crowd of people. Basic entrance tickets are 65 pesos ($5 each), however there is an option of a guided tour for more. We decided to forgo a tour and walk around ourselves. Without a beach breeze, the ruins are pretty warm, so dress accordingly and make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. There’s a small beach you can walk down to, but it’s pretty crowded with all the tourists, so if you’re wanting to lounge on the beach, don’t plan to do it here. In addition to the Tulum Ruins, the ruins in Coba are 45 mins away and Chichen Itza is a 2 hours drive straight up highway 109.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideSwim in a Cenote

We came across a picture of this lesser-known cenote called Nicte-Ha and knew we had to go. Originally we had some trouble locating it, but thanks to some deep Google-ing, we found it’s on the same road you take to cenote Dos Ojos, just off of highway 307. There’s a small entrance fee of 50 pesos ($3), which includes a life vest if you want one. The water in Nicte-ha isn’t super deep, but its crystal clear. There were only two other locals swimming while we were there, which was really nice. You can’t rent a snorkel at Nicte Ha, but several cenotes which do rent them, including Dos Ojos, are on the same road and it would be easy to hop from one to the next if you wanted to make a day out of it.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideChill at the beach

There’s nothing better than waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean, and spending a day doing nothing but lounging on the beach with a good book and an endless supply of ice cold mojitos. The sand in Tulum is bright white and as soft as cake flour, and the water is crystal clear and warm. If you’re like most people, a carefree day at the beach is few and far between, so we soaked up every moment we could doing nothing but simply relaxing.

Shop and EAT!

(click here for Part 2 of my guide for details on where to Eat and Shop)

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideHANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

—WHAT I’M WEARING—

White Walls Crop Top: Asilio, White Shorts: J Brand

Tye Dye Romper: Blue Life, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban, Beach Bag: J. Crew

Floral Playsuit: Zimmermann, Black Panama Hat: J. Crew, Tan Sandals: Birkenstock

Orange Printed Dress: Faithfull the Brand

Nude Swimsuit: ACACIA Santorini Top & Maui Bottom, Turkish Beach Towel: Hammamas, Book: How to be Parisian Wherever You Are

Maroon Off the Shoulder Top: Faithfull the Brand, Denim Shorts: Zara (similar), Black Sandals: Birkenstock

LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

February 7, 2015
balloons

Still trying to think of that perfect Valentine’s Day gift idea? If you’re looking for something thoughtful to make the day extra special for someone you love (without breaking the bank), here are a few fun ideas…

52 Things I Love About You52 Things You Love About Him

I made this deck of cards for Joe two years ago when he was traveling for work almost every other week. They are the perfect size to pack in a suitcase and a fun reminder of all the reasons you love them so. Mine are made with classic Bicycle Playing Cards. Or if you’re looking for something more unique, this site has a huge selection of card options.

Build a Fort

Build a Fort Filled With All His Favorite Things and Spend The Day Relaxing

What could be better than a pile of pillows, blankets, and all his favorite things? Build a fort just like in the carefree days of your childhood and fill it with his favorite snack food, candles and wine. Then kick back and watch movies, listen to music, read books, or whatever it is you both love to do together, and let the outside world fade away.

Pinhole Press Photo BookA Book Filled With All Your Favorite Memories

If you’re anything like us, you have more photos than you know what to do with. But photos are always more fun when you have a good way to view them. Pinhole Press has a beautiful collection of photo books that make for a perfect walk down memory lane. Every time he flips through the book, he will be reminded of the fun you have together and the love you have for one another. Shop this exact photo book here.

Barrel aged SrirachaSet His Heart on Fire

Does he like it hot? Keep things spicy with a unique take on his favorite condiment. Sosu’s version of this classic sauce is aged in whiskey barrels for a fruity, spicy, and smoky flavor. Sriracha and whiskey in one? Dynamite. And for bonus points, order his favorite pizza or wings as a second surprise so he can get to tasting his new sauce right away. Sosu’s Barrel Aged Sriracha, $30 for 2 bottles.

Heart Shaped DonutsMake Him Breakfast in Bed

A tried and true romantic gesture that never gets old. Sneak away before he wakes up and return to bed with a tray full of his favorite breakfast foods. I’m drooling over this recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake Pancakes and this recipe for heart shaped bacon. And what you do after breakfast in bed? Well that is totally up to you :) (Image Credit)

Something Pretty

Something For You And Him

This gift needs little explanation. Something pretty for you in turn is something pretty for him. Sounds like a win-win to me :) I love this site which has a beautiful selection lingerie and loungewear.

 

all of me loves all of youWrite Him Love Notes and Hide Them In Places He Will Find Throughout The Day

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Write him cute love notes and hide them in places to surprise him throughout the entire day: stick one on the dashboard of his car, in his briefcase, tucked inside his laptop, stash one in his lunch, etc. He will feel the love all day long.

 

No matter what you do on Valentine’s Day or who you spend it with, I hope you have a love filled day. And remember, there is no shame in writing yourself a love note or buying yourself a big ole box of chocolates :)

P.S. Speaking of love, our good friends Adam and Lauren just got engaged! Check out their fun Chicago engagement photos here.

 

FASHION & BEAUTY

Tulum Packing Inspiration

January 25, 2015
acacia swimwear

One of my favorite things about travel is the excitement leading up to the trip. Researching where to go and what to eat, scouring Pinterest for images that get you even more excited than you already are, and imagining what you would pack if you had an endless budget for vacation wears. So in the spirit of the latter, here are some wishlist items inspired by our upcoming trip to Tulum.

Tulum Packing Guide

1. This off the shoulder top from Stone Cold Fox has the perfect easy-breezy feel for a nice dinner out after a day lazing at the beach.

2. A vacation staple, this all black version of the classic Panama Hat from J. Crew is a unique and fun alternative.

3. A patterned clutch adds a festive punch to any vacation wardrobe. Shop similar here.

4. These Lennon inspired Ray-ban’s are the perfect accessory for Tulum’s boho beach vibe.

5. This sunscreen and after sun lotion from Sun Bum – because protection is a must, and good packaging is a bonus :)

6. I love simple and delicate jewelry, and especially when traveling. This Jennifer Zeuner Petra Lariat necklace still makes a statement and takes up almost no space in your carry-on.

7. Dreaming of tossing my beach towel, sunscreen, and favorite book in this patterned tote from Antique Batik.

8. Pretty details and you’ll blend right in with the sand in this crocheted bikini from Acacia Swimwear.

9. You can never go wrong with a flowy white lace top and easy cutoff shorts. Beaudry Blouse by Wilfred.

10. The feminine details in this playsuit from Zimmermann are stunning and make for a perfect after the beach cocktails look.

11. These Birkenstock Arizona Sandals are super easy to slip on and off in the sand.

 

TRAVEL & LEISURE

Winter Getaway: Tulum

January 22, 2015
Beach

hammock_posada

Tulum Ruins

Coqui Coqui Tulum

Gitano Tulum

Gitano

Hartwood Tulum

Hotel Rosa del Viento

Tulum Mexico

 Images: 12 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13

Chicago winters are cold and dark. And it doesn’t take long for the travel bug to come back with a vengeance. So we decided to use some of the points we accumulated during our trip to Europe last summer, and planned a winter getaway to one of our bucket list destinations: Tulum, Mexico! We’re headed to the Yucatan Peninsula mid March for a week of relaxation, sun, and abundent fish tacos—and I can hardly wait. Have you been? Where do you recommend we go? Here are a few places on our must-visit list so far:

To Eat:

Hartwood

Posada Margherita

Casa Jaguar

El Tabano!

Gitano

Casa Banana

Flor de Michoacan

Encanto Cantina

To Relax:

Coqui Coqui

To See:

Tulum Ruins

Coba Ruins

Cenotes

Do you have a go-to or bucket list Winter Getaway destination?

LIFE

New Year Resolutions

January 11, 2015
future3

Do you make New Year Resolutions? I’m not super serious about them, but I do think it can be a fun way to start out the year. And once the year is over, it’s nice to look back and see which of them you accomplished and which still need more work. So in the spirit of the the New Year, here are some of my resolutions for 2015:ReadMore_DuoRead More Books.

Reading more books was also on my resolution list last year. And while I may not have read quite as many books as I was hoping, I did get through a big one on my list—Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch. 775 pages and well worth the read. This year I’m hoping to knock out at least four, beginning with All The Light We Cannot See. Others on my list: How to be Parisian Wherever You AreWild, and Gone Girl. (And please, any suggestions are welcomed!)

Spend more time with people who make you happySpend Time With People Who Make You Happy.

It may be cliche, but life is short. And the older I get, the more I realize there are just some people who contribute positivity to your life and others who don’t. And that’s okay. But in this busy world we live in, time is so precious. So why spend it with people who don’t support and love you for who you are. Recently I came across a quote that read “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” Amen.

RunMore_DuoRun Darling, Run.

My freshman year of college, for no particular reason, I started running. And before I knew it, I was running almost every day. This continued up until moving to Chicago 4 years ago. Once I moved, my routine changed and so did my exercises. Over the last few months I’ve gotten back into it more, and it’s definitely something I want to continue. Chicago winters don’t make it easy, but with a little layering and determination, anything is possible.

TakeAClass_DuoTake a Class.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved art and making things with my hands. Art classes in school were always my favorite, and lately I’ve been longing for that quiet time in the studio creating. So in the spirit of trying something completely new, I’ll be enrolling in the Beginning Metalsmithing class at Lillstreet Art Center in April to learn how to make jewelry! And who knows, maybe it will become one of my new favorite hobbies.

Wine_DuoLearn about wine.

No matter what your age, its so important to continue to learn and expand your mind. Joe and I are big wine drinkers, and especially with all the restaurants in Chicago, I’ve always wanted to really know what I’m ordering and why. For Christmas, my brother gave me Kevin Zraly’s book Windows On the World: a complete wine course. And if I have to sample many, many types of wine while learning, I suppose I can handle that. I’ll keep you updated :)

Worry LessWorry Less.

I fully admit it, I am a worrier. Much of this comes from being a bit of a perfectionist and wanting to have control over situations that can’t always be controlled. But lately, I’ve been trying my best to worry less. When a situation which may or may not even happen in the future starts to put a knot in my stomach, I take a deep breathe and remind myself theres no point in worrying until there’s actually a reason to worry. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s not always easy. However, worrying about maybe needing to worry? That’s just silly.

KeepGoing_Duo

What are your resolutions this year? Here’s to making 2015 one of the best years yet!

FASHION & BEAUTY

Winter Beauty Essentials

January 4, 2015
5 Winter Beauty Essentials

Sure, a warm drink on a cold day does just the trick, and that freshly fallen white snow is so lovely, but dry irritated skin? No thank you. Winter is not easy on the body. Between the cold dry weather and the heater running 24/7, it can be difficult to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated. Here are some beauty products I’m using right now to help fight the winter blues.

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HOME & DESIGN

Holiday Decorating Inspiration

December 10, 2014
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How are you decorating for the holidays this year? We live in a small apartment so putting up a big tree really isn’t an option for us. I’m loving these simple evergreen accents, and if we had a big home, I love the idea of hanging garland in the doorways! I’m always a fan of clean design and love the Scandinavian palette of black, white, and wood. The pop of green looks lovely in a mostly white interior, wouldn’t you agree?

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LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

Adam & Lauren are Engaged!

November 22, 2014
Chicago Engagement Pictures

Our dear friends Adam and Lauren got engaged this October! When they asked if I would shoot some photos of them around the city and in their home, I jumped at the chance. This was my first engagement shoot, and I had a great time hopping around Chicago to celebrate these two!

FD_Duo

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