TRAVEL & LEISURE

Hotel Lust: Destination BCN

May 24, 2016
HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN

Calling all design lovers! If you’ve ever dreamed of a delightful summer holiday filled with beaches, museums, and all the tapas you can eat, look no further than DestinationBCN. This Catalonian company offers fourteen stylish apartments, all centrally located in historic buildings in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities—Barcelona.

The apartments, each given and unique and catchy name, are decorated with a range of natural elements in neutral tones, creating warm and inviting spaces. I imagine waking up each morning, sun pouring in, to enjoy a cafe and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood around me—pure magic!

HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN

Apartment Marimon

HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN

Apartment Figi

HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN

Apartment Finn

HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN HANNAH SHELBY: DESTINATION BCN

Apartment Canadilla

From DestinationBCN:

“Thoughtful, individually and carefully sourced elements ensure that no two rooms or apartments are the same: the unique character of every last detail has been carefully created to adapt to a range of tastes and requirements. State-of the art kitchen and bathroom fixtures fuse with ultra comfortable contemporary furnishings. Lavish bedrooms come with crisp Egyptian cotton sheets, Swissflex beds and a choice of goose down or anti-allergic pillows. Additional complimentary touches such as a plate of crispy chocolate biscuits, a wine list and lifestyle, art and design books for leisurely reading is a true reflection of the way in which the company likes to host and make guests feel welcome.”

For more information and to book an apartment from DestinationBCN, click here.

LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

Wedding Portraitbooth!

May 13, 2016
HANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo Booth

Our amazing wedding photographers, Sean and Aaron, also run an equally amazing company called The Portraitbooth Co. Here is the inspiration for the idea according to Sean:

“Portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz used to tour with the Rolling Stones, and in a constant attempt to capture them at their best, she realized that they would go on stage, give it everything they had, and come off stage sweating, full of adrenaline, and never looking better. So she set up a back drop and some lights, and would take photos of them just as they got off stage. This is what I want for your wedding. So we set up a large gray backdrop and one light right next to the dancefloor. Weddings are a big deal to everyone involved, even the guests, and this allows me to get photos of all of them, looking their best, full of life and energy. Whether it’s one person or 25, it can accommodate most groups, and still make everyone look amazing.”

I mean, WOW. Kind of gives you goosebumps, right!? This turned out to be one of my favorite ideas for our wedding reception and made our wedding in Tulum even more fun than we already knew it would be. When I look at these and see everyone having a blast, it brings back the best memories of the most crazy and fun day ever! They truly are timeless. Thank you Sean and Aaron!

For more information and to book The Portraitbooth Co. for your wedding, click here.
HANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo BoothHANNAH SHELBY: Wedding Photo Booth

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TRAVEL & LEISURE

The St. Barts Beach House You’ve Been Dreaming About

May 10, 2016
HANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier

Hold your breathe, because this house in St. Barts is what vacations dreams are made of. Villa Palmier is a two bedroom, two bathroom villa located in the neighborhood of Anse Des Cayes. American owners Kate and Matt, who fell in love with St. Barts after their first trip to the island, took their passion for the ocean and french culture and created their dream beach home, “We believe in a curated home, where every part of the house has a story, a purpose and aesthetic appeal. We are passionate about timeless, simple, elegant design, and spaces that cultivate a sense of well being. At Villa Palmier, time slows down, sea breezes flow continuously though the house, and you’ll find it hard to leave your perch from the pool deck, looking out on the sea.”

Sleeping up to four people, the villa features indoor-outdoor living, a large pool, a private outdoor shower with hot & cold water, beautiful ocean views, ipe decks and the sound of the waves from every room. It has been decorated in a modern organic style with a neutral color pallet to invoke a sense of serenity. Personal touches and attention to detail are found throughout the house with the softest linens, beautiful art, and found objects. The spacious open air kitchen is perfect for cooking fresh fish from the local fish market. The house is conveniently located in the neighborhood of Anse Des Cayes, less than a 5 minute drive to Gustavia, St Jean, and Flamands.

HANNAH SHELBY: Villa PalmierHANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier HANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier HANNAH SHELBY: Villa PalmierHANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier HANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier HANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier HANNAH SHELBY: Villa Palmier

“White sand beneath your toes, sea breezes flowing through the villa, palm tress swaying in the wind, fresh fish caught that morning, warm croissants from the local boulangerie… these are just a few delights of Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts). Located in the Caribbean Sea and only 25 sq km large, St. Barts is endlessly charming. Dotted with rustic yet elegant red-roofed abodes, winding narrow roads and white crescent beaches, you won’t find a single traffic light or high-rise building on the island. What you will find is a laid back French culture, with a particular attention to design and detail, that attracts an international crowd. With 22 stunning beaches to choose from, world class dining and shopping, and a “je ne sais quoi” that will leave you wanting to return to the island again and again, St. Barts leaves little to be desired.”

For more information on rates and how to book Villa Palmier, click here.

Incredible, right? Have you been to St. Barts? What are your favorite warm weather getaways?

Credit and Source: Villa Palmier / Images by Kate Holstein

LIFE

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

April 28, 2016
jane berkin and kids

How do you thank the woman who has been there for you, through thick and thin, through good days and bad, from the very beginning? It’s a grandiose task, friends. And frankly, no gift will ever come close to doing her justice. But there is no sense in not trying. Below are a few ideas to help show the #1 lady in your life just how much she means to you.

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TRAVEL & LEISURE

California Dreamin’

October 1, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

Some highlights from our recent trip to California.

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

We began our trip in wine country at a private rental home 3000ft. up in the Vaca Mountains. The property is known as  “Girl on the Hill” and is owned by the sweetest couple, Dan and Denise, who grow grapes and lavender on the property which they use to make both their own small batch wines and lots of wonderful lavender products. We spent an entire day lounging around the property, laying out buy the pool, exploring the grounds, and even hitting a few golf balls at the putting green. Then we ended the evening by grilling a big feast and drinking local wines while star gazing. It was pure heaven.

Before we left, Denise and Dan gave us a tour of their home, also on the property, which they have made out of shipping containers. We all sat around chatting and drinking Girl On the Hill wine (which is spectacular) and it was so refreshing to learn their story and really get to know such an inspiring couple who have done something really unique with their land. If you find yourself planning a trip to Napa/Sonoma, I would highly recommend staying at Girl on the Hill.

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

HANNAH SHELBY: California Dreamin'

How spectacular are these views!

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LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

4th of July Surprise

July 14, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

The 4th of July is always one of the most fun holidays of the year, but this year it was one of the best weekends of my life.

For the last 3 years, we’ve spent the holiday weekend at Joe’s family lake house. This year we decided to do the same, only to my surprise, we made the trip in that pretty little white number below! After a relaxing Friday, Saturday the 4th was no different: the day was spent sunbathing on the dock with ice cold drinks and good music, followed by an afternoon grilling a proper Independence Day feast. Together with family and friends, we finished our last bites and headed back down to the dock for fireworks. The sun was just beginning to set, and to kick things off, we all agreed sparklers were the best way to get things started. Each of us had one in hand, jumping and dancing around the dock. And then, to my complete surprise, I looked over to see Joe down on one knee with what he referred to as “a special sparkler just for you” :) After some tears, lots of pictures, and one very important YES!, we celebrated with Champagne and of course fireworks. It was the perfect weekend and one I’ll never forget. But best of all, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life adventuring through it all with my best friend.

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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)

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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. Continue Reading…

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.