Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Currently Want: Everything Kate Wears

This year has been a big year of personal growth for me.  I am starting to accept that even when I want things and pray for them fervently, the answer is sometimes no.  I haven't always had a good time with accepting things as they are, but I am getting better at it.  In the past, I could always figure out how to get a pair of shoes or a fancy dress for much less than retail; how to schmooze an invite to a swanky party; how to master an interview to get the job I wanted.  All of that started changing in the last 3-5 years.  Much of the change was that I didn't necessarily want only designer goods or an invite to a great party, I started wanting things that I can't necessarily buy.  Workwise, I stopped playing nice just to keep the peace and learned the very hard way why everyone HAS to play nice, even in situations of great injustice.  In the last few years, I've stopped wanting to be at every great party and have relished having quality time with my husband and my close friends.  And there are some things that no matter how much money you throw at them, are just not going to come to fruition.  Sometimes, I feel nostalgic for the days when all I wanted were pretty things.  So this is what is currently on my want list.  It's basically everything the Duchess of Cambridge wears because she always looks stylish without being trendy and she has reminded me that if you buy quality staples, you can wear them over and over again. These are some of my favorite accessories we see her reach for time and time again.
Kate's casual looks with her signature accessories.
Annoushka Pearl Earrings; Kiki McDonough Citrine Drops; Cartier Trinity Necklace; Cartier Ballon Bleu Watch
I really enjoy looking at Kate's jewelry collection. Her sapphire engagement ring and earrings are classic and elegant and it has made me think a lot about heirloom jewelry. Growing up we never had much money and the one nice piece (my mother's ruby ring) was stolen from me in college. We visited the Czech Republic last month and my husband allowed me to commission a few garnet pieces while we were there.  I am excited to finally wear them because garnets are his birthstone and also because I look forward to sharing them with my sisters and nieces in the future. All the pieces in the photo above are worn by Kate on a regular basis and I can especially see the Cartier pieces as future heirlooms.
Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch; Prada Silk Clutch; Mulberry Bayswater Clutch (other color)

As a princess, Kate is rarely required to carry more than some make-up in her bag and she is often seen carrying a simple clutch both during the day and for nighttime activities. I can only pull off small clutches and minauderies with formalwear, and have to carry a tote or hobo during the day.  But again, the Duchess of Cambridge is often photographed with her favorite bags repeatedly.
Jimmy Choo Vamp; Stuart Weitzman Corkswoon; Stuart Weitzman Minx
Shoes are the hardest for me to narrow down because I really love her footwear. These Minx wedges by Stuart Weitzman have been on my radar since two years ago when Kate wore them on the Diamond Jubilee Tour  of Southeast Asia in both the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, but they were sold out.  Then last year fellow blogger, Kate at All Things Kate, wore them in this post and mentioned how comfortable they were and she got them on sale for $125, I was sold.  Or course, they sold out again by the time I looked for them and I was excited when Stuart Weitzman re-released Minx and the Corkswoon wedges after she repeated them both numerous times during the tour of Australia and New Zealand. However, the fact that both were priced close to $400 was very disappointing for our household budget.  I still want them and I try to keep an eye out for deals on Zappos and eBay.  The Jimmy Choo Vamp heels have been sold out in my size for over a year and every time a pair pops up on eBay in my size, they are always over $500, which I just can't pay.

What's on your current want list?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Best of Prague

To wrap up the visit to Prague, I curated my favorite photos from our trip. I didn't want to make these into a collage of smaller photos because these really bring back the best memories of our trip.  When we first realized we had a free companion pass and miles, we wanted to take a beach trip to a very exotic location.  We looked at the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Tahiti before realizing that he couldn't take the necessary days off from his new job and there was no way to get a sitter for the kids.  We hadn't taken an international trip alone since our honeymoon on our first anniversary and it was starting to look grim.  When the boys summer schedule gave me an unexpected break, Mr. Fantastic checked his work schedule and saw that he was already scheduled to be in Europe for part of that time, so we took advantage and extended his trip to include some down time to take an abbreviated anniversary trip.  Fortunately, we know how to make the best of our travel and this was one of our best trips!
View of St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle
Love Locks over the Vltava in the Malá Strana district. We didn't leave a lock here, but they were pretty!
Graffiti on the Lennon Wall in the Malá Strana district.
View of Malá Strana from underneath a Bridge Tower at the end of the Charles Bridge.
Il Commendatore in homage to Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Estates Theater. This is not a dementor, as I first thought.
Inside St. James Church. It has one of the creepiest histories, I'm glad it was daytime and my husband was there!
The guards at the Prague Castle. We got to watch the changing of the guard and that was really cool.
Inside St. Vitus Cathedral had beautiful stained glass. We lit a candle in the chapel.
St. Wenceslas Vineyard on the trek down from the castle grows Riesling grapes. It was a beautiful view.
I hope you enjoyed these photos!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Wedding Anniversary!

Today is the 5th Anniversary of my wedding to Mr. Fantastic. I must admit that my wedding didn't start off the way I expected.  My then-fiance was hustled away right after breakfast and my day of hair, makeup and organizing began soon after.  I really felt like my day was progressively getting worse and things that normally wouldn't have stressed me out, were slowly compounding to drive me crazy. Even now, when small things start to stress me out, my husband is the first person to jump in and point out that those things are no big deal and we can just sail along.  On our wedding day, I wasn't allowed to see him after breakfast and I lost my phone at one point so I couldn't even text him before the ceremony. By the time my dad showed up to walk me down the aisle, I was already in tears over the dumbest things.  When I looked up the aisle and I saw the look on his face, I knew it was all going to be okay.
When my dad and I walked up the aisle and Mr. Fantastic saw my eyes were red, he tried to ask me what was wrong (in front of everyone) and I just burst into tears.  Somehow, he managed to squeeze my hand and comfort me and my mom came up and wiped my tears.  By the time our priest declared us husband and wife, I could not wait to kiss my husband.  I may not have started the day as I had hoped, but I ended my day exactly as I always dreamed: married to the love of my life.
Happy Anniversary, my love. Thank you for comforting me every day and showing me that together we can get through anything. Five years isn't very many, but I look forward to every single day I get to spend as your bride.  I love you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rainy Tour of Prague Castle & St. Vitus Cathedral

There is only one thing I love more than being an total tourist, and that is being a tourist when it rains! On our last full day in Prague, we spent the morning wandering around the Old Town Square taking in the Astronomical Clock while we ate a Trdelnik and enjoying some beers with lunch before we spent the afternoon taking a guided tour of The Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral.  It rained almost the entire time we were on the tour, but it was great because we braved the rain and got some excellent photos of everything with a minimal number of people around!
Sweater: Zara; Denim: Joes Jeans; Necklaces: c/o Dogeared & Jane Basch; Bag: Rebecca Minkoff; Umbrella: Nicole Miller; Sneakers: Asics
I was oblivious that the soldiers were heading up for the changing of the guard!
It was much cooler than I anticipated for July in Europe and it was compounded by the rain, so I bought this sweater at a local Zara shop for $20. I probably could have spent more time and bought something more "Czech" but I ducked in and bought this in the middle of the tour the day before and I already knew how Zara sizing runs, so I didn't have to take multiple sizes to try on. I was in and out of the shop before the tour guide finished explaining that we were in the "American" side of town.  After this tour of the castle and cathedral, we did spend time and bought some nice Bohemian crystal pieces as well as some garnet jewelry that I had been wanting because it is Mr. Fantastic's birthstone.
The Astronomical Clock in Prague is just beautiful.
Trdelnik, our breakfast of champions.  This is how they cook them over coals.
The back of St. Vitus Cathedral. The front is under renovation and I was happy the rain scared away most tourists!
Lightning strikes over Prague. We were at a lookout point from the Prague Castle when we took this photo.
I have alot of sweet memories of our days in Prague and I will definitely have to do a post of all the really neat things we got to see. But these photos above are some of my favorites, especially the one of the lightning strike because I'm never that lucky with my photos, even when I TRY!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Walk Around Prague

We arrived in Prague late in the evening on a Wednesday.  I was curious about the Charles Bridge and heard it was very romantic so we headed in that direction as soon as we checked into our hotel and dropped our luggage.  Well, so did everyone else.  All the photos of the bridge that I always see online are a mirage!  The Charles Bridge is PACKED every day and every night, you can hardly walk on the bridge.  We headed back to the center of town and admired the gothic spires that are abundant in town.  They don't call Prague The City of a Thousand Spires for nothing! The next day, we woke up and headed back to the square for a Free Walking Tour and got some history on this gorgeous city.  The tour is completely free, but you get so much detail (it's a three hour tour) and see all the places you want to see and even places you didn't know you had to see. At the end of the tour, you tip your tour guide.  Maybe it's an American thing, but we tipped him the equivalent of $20 each and we were shocked when some people only tipped a few coins and one guy tipped him what would be $5 for a family of 6!  If anyone has insight, we would love to hear it because we were afraid the free tours will stop if the tour guides aren't making money and really $20/person is way cheaper than some of the tours we found online! We also booked a paid tour of the Prague Castle for the following day with the same tour company.
Cardigan: Banana Republic; Tank: Nordstrom; Scarf: Zara (similar); Denim: Citizens of Humanity
Glitter Flats: Old Navy (old) (current); Footliners: Hue; Handbag: Sam Edelman (old)
One thing that struck us immediately is how well preserved the city of Prague is and it turns out that Prague was to be the hometown of Hitler after the war, therefore it was never bombed during any of the World War II raids.  The other interesting and disappointing tidbit is that all the statues on the Charles Bridge are fake! The originals were restored and are being preserved around the city in museums, universities, and other safe locations and all the statues on the bridge are just excellent replicas to guard against further damage to them from birds, humans, and the elements. I am going to do a post later this month just on the sights in Prague because there were just too many to reduce to one post!
Mr. Fantastic and I loved the tour & our guide who showed us this great place for photos of the Charles Bridge!
My favorite photo of the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Charles Bridge.
This was my most favorite photo from the trip and I am not ashamed to admit that it took us almost 30 shots to get this one.  We had to set the exposure really long to get both the castle and the bridge lit up and in focus, but we kept getting black burrs in the sky.  Those were birds that were flying through the frame and of course, it just looked like a black blob because the exposure was set so long.  But every time I see this photo, it always makes me smile.

What are tipping customs in Europe?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pit Stop in Dresden

After getting back from Cologne, we met one of my husband's co-workers and headed to East Germany where he had work for the first half of the week. After he finished his work on Wednesday, we decided to drive to Prague for the rest of the week.  On the way to Prague, we drove through Dresden and decided to stop in and take in the city center for a few hours. The town is just stunning! I have never seen so many beautiful buildings in one place like that. From the palaces, to the churches, to the wide town square along the cobbled streets by the Elbe River, each one older than the next.
Top: Max Studio; Cardigan: Trina Turk; Skirt: Dolan Tee (old); Necklace: c/o Dogeared Jewelry
Watch: c/o La Mer Collections (black option); Handbag: Sam Edelman (old) (similar)
Flats: Renvy via Gilt Groupe (current leopard option)
I thought I carefully picked my purses for the trip and purposely chose the small blue crossbody in this post and this purse because it also has a long strap to carry it across my torso. I was very disappointed to discover that I forgot to pack the long strap and I had to carry it in my hand everywhere we went. :/
My favorite memories of Dresden. I LOVED all the street musicians!
My love and I stand on the Augustus Bridge over the Elbe River to sneak a quick photo.
We ate lunch at a cafe in front of the Frauenkirche while serenaded by a string quartet and then headed back to the Augustus Bridge over the Elbe River for photos in front of the Katholische Hofkirche.  I love visiting old churches and this trip had one beautiful stone palace of worship after another.  AND, I just discovered earthTV, here is the stream for Dresden, go check it out!

What places attract you the most when you travel?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Romantic Day Trip to Cologne

Our big trip this summer came about very unexpectedly. My husband had to travel to Germany for work in July and because he had racked up miles, I was able to go along almost for free! For reasons unknown to me, it seems like the universe conspires to make our anniversary (August 14) the busiest time of our year every summer, so we went ahead and took this as a sign to move our 5th anniversary trip up by a couple of months.  As much as we have traveled in the last four years, this was our first international trip alone since our honeymoon four years ago.  We arrived in Frankfurt early on a Saturday morning in July and checked into our hotel to drop off our luggage and shower right away.  Since his first meeting wasn't until Monday and his co-worker was arriving Sunday for the drive to the remote location, we took the Deutsch Bahn to Cologne for a half day trip the rest of the day.
Tunic: Tory Burch; Denim: JBrand Coated Skinnies (old); Scarf: Jones New York; Umbrella: Nicole Miller
Crossbody: Rebecca Minkoff Rocker (black); Flats: Old Navy Glitter (old)
We arrived in Cologne and the Kolner Dom is right outside the Bahn Station, so we decided to climb to the top.  I don't recommend doing this if you are as horribly out of shape as I am.  I was lucky that the following day was spent in a rental car traveling to his work location because my calves were killing me.  When we climbed to the top of the Kolner, we had a gorgeous arial view of Cologne including, my favorite, the Hohenzollern Bridge, which Mr. Fantastic had already told me was our next stop to place our own Love Lock over the Rhine River! After we climbed down, it started raining as we walked to the bridge, but we still managed to place the lock on the bridge and toss our keys into the Rhine below.  I knew of the locks at the Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris, but it wasn't until this trip that I learned so many countries now have Love Locks.  I know everyone will have their own opinions on them, but it was a truly beautiful experience for us.  Mr. Fantastic isn't usually the most romantic guy around, so for him to think of this is huge.  After we placed our lock and tossed the keys, we headed to a local pub for one of the best meals of our trip.  Then we walked around Cologne and shared a beer before heading back to the Bahn and taking the train back to Frankfurt.
My favorite moments at the Hohenzollern Bridge.
Right before we climbed up the spire at the Kolner Dom.
This was definitely one of my favorite days even though it rained on us.  In fact, I've discovered that I love rain when we are exploring a new city because it feels like then it's just the two of us wandering around!

Have you ever left a Love Lock anywhere?