Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Las Vegas Travel Diary & Guide

Another day another city. I've been traveling basically all of February and it's been crazy! But, today I am bringing you a full guide of what I did in Las Vegas. When I was traveling to Vegas not a lot of people had recommendations for restaurants and what to do. Basically in Vegas people just sit and gamble all day and drink all night, which is not my thing. But, you do you and you gamble and drink your heart out. If you're looking for other things to do I am here to help! 

I did go to Vegas for work purposes, so I was not out drinking all night, going to shows, or out at clubs. So, I can't help ya there. But, I'll give you the run down of where I stayed and what I ate along with my reviews for everything! 

Where I stayed | For work we stayed at the Palazzo hotel which is attached to the Venetian. Then, of course, my flight got cancelled going home to Chicago. So I headed back to the strip for an extra night which I spent at The Paris. Luckily I can give you some thoughts on both hotels! The Palazzo is for sure a higher end hotel, while the Paris has some more price conscience rooms available. 

The Palazzo | To say the Palazzo is a gorgeous hotel is an understatement. Everything was so pretty! I stayed in a king bed suite and it was spectacular. Honestly, one of the nicest rooms I have ever stayed in. A huge bathroom with double sinks, huge tub, glass shower, and even a vanity to get ready at! The room had two TV's one near the bed and one in the separate sitting area. My view overlooked the pool and some other hotels. Everything was clean and pristine with marble tile in the bathroom to gorgeous decor in the bedroom and living space. Overall, had a great experience in the room! The rest of the hotel is equally as gorgeous. The lobby had amazing Chinese New Year decor, just as every hotel on the strip did. There was some areas that were under renovation, but I could hardly notice. The Palazzo is connected to the Venetian so there was a ton to do just in the comfort of our own hotel. If you really wanted to you wouldn't have to leave your hotel property! We of course did, but there were a ton of options right in the hotel. The Palazzo was a great hotel and if you want to splurge on a nice room I would totally recommend the Palazzo!  

The Paris | Then, in a weird twist of fate I got stuck in Vegas an extra night because my flight back home to Chicago was cancelled. When I was booking a reservation for the night The Paris was an option. I had visited the hotel while I was walking around one night and I loved the theming. So I decided to go with it! It has a great central location and is right in the middle of everything. The lobby and casino area are gorgeous and totally remind me of classic fancy Paris. There are so many beautiful touches, and I love the fake Eiffel Tower! My room for the night was only $56, no joke. If you want to go to Vegas go during the week! Hotels are so much cheaper versus the weekend, naturally. I will say for an extra $20 you could upgrade to a nicer room, which I opted out of. But, my room was fine. It was clean, but it was old. Bathroom could have used an update, and the furniture was on the older side. However, I was only there for the one night so it wasn't a huge deal. But, if you are on a budge the room was fine and the hotel is fabulous! So many restaurants and also some nice casual dinning options. Most of the restaurants in Vegas are $60+ an entree. But, the Paris has some more affordable food options and grab and go food. Overall, my stay at The Paris was nice for the night! I loved eating dinner at the hotel and grabbing a crepe for dessert at the end of the night. 

Hotel's to visit | I feel like everyone talks about all of the hotels in Vegas. Visiting hotels is an activity in itself in Vegas and I hit a lot of the highlights. Every hotel has such amazing theming, which I loved about Vegas. There were so many different vibes and themes in each hotel, they are all so different! Some of them have amazing lobbies, shopping areas, or even shows to see. 

The Bellagio | The Bellagio is probably most well known for their fountain show which is displayed at the front of the hotel. You can view the show from many different areas. If you go to where the cars pull up for drop off in the front of the hotel there is a small balcony great for viewing the fountain. Also, it was a great spot to snap pictures of the strip! There was hardly anyone out there when we were there so it was super easy to get a picture without a million people around. Cross the drop off area in front and its right past a gorgeous fountain! You can also view the fountains from right near the sidewalk on the strip, or you can walk around to the other side of the fountain as well. The show places every 30 min from late afternoon till night. So, head there either at the top of the hour or the half hour to see the show. If you want to venture into the Bellagio it is just as pretty as the fountain show! Gorgeous decor is everywhere and you can find a ton of upscale shopping as well. The theming of this hotel is Italian so there are also some re-created Italy landmarks, similar to the Venetian. This hotel is a must-do in terms of exploring! So many beautiful areas to see. 

The Venetian | I explored a ton of the Venetian because it was connected to my hotel the Palazzo. This hotel is most well known for the gondola rides you can take in and outside of the hotel. Sadly, I didn't find the time to go on the gondola, but maybe next time! Outside of the hotel is an amazing re-creation of Venice, Italy. There is a little river with gondolas, a tower, and beautiful architecture. Be sure to explore the outside area before you head on inside. In the hotel there is great shopping, food, and things to see! I stopped into Basin Fresh to pick up a bath bomb, for my amazing hotel bath tub, and some bath salts to bring home. They also had a few fun dessert places like gelato, Godiva, and Carlos Bakery. There was a good mix of high-end shops and more affordable stores in the Venetian so in terms of shopping there is something for almost everyone! We ate a ton in the Venetian, but I'll talk about that a little later in the post... 

Caesars Palace | Whenever I think of Caesars Palace I think of The Hangover... just me?? But, for real this hotel is also an amazing spot to explore! We were eating dinner at Hell's Kitchen which was right outside of Caesars Palace, so we did a lot of exploring in the hotel. There are again more beautiful shops, interiors, and things to explore. After a while all of the hotels blur together haha, but they are all so cool to explore! 

The Cosmopolitan | This is such a hip and cool hotel property, with everything from Egg Slut to a giant crystal chandelier this place is the definition of cool. There are subtle Alice & Wonderland touches in the interiors which made me love it! Plus I couldn't get over the giant chandelier that makes up the center bar in the lobby. The Cosmopolitan has again, great restaurants and some cool shopping. Mostly there are higher end things here, but they have a few quick service places that would be good for a quick bite!  

The Paris | As you know I stayed at the Paris so I had a chance to experience this hotel a little more then the others. But, this place has some really cool treasures inside. I'll talk about food from the Paris later on, but you can't ignore the awesome fake Eiffel Tower in the center of the hotel! You can actually go up to the top and see a view of the strip. I didn't end up going up, but it sounds like something cool to do! There is even a restaurant at the top with an amazing view. The Paris also has a gorgeous bar in the lobby. It would be the perfect spot to have a chic drink with your friends! Obviously, the theming of the hotel is all Paris inspired, and I love a good Parisian vibe. So, naturally I loved it! It really makes you feel like your in Paris, in a cheesy Vegas kind of way. But, the hotel is very pretty and worth a visit. 

Planet Hollywood | Planet Hollywood is a much younger vibe then the rest of the hotels I visited. It has a ton more affordable shopping like Urban Outfitters, Pandora, and more. I didn't explore much of the actual hotel, but there is a TON of shopping that was more my price point. I swear there is 10 Gucci's on the strip! But, Planet Hollywood's shopping area had some great stores. 

The Aria | The Aria is another very high end hotel. You can find all of the high-end stores like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, and Gucci in their gorgeous shopping area. Again, I didn't explore much of the actual hotel, but everything I saw as gorgeous! 

What I ate | Vegas has such a wide range of food. I was surprised to see how much high end restaurants there were. Most restaurants on Open Table have $60+ entrees. But, I ate at a few nice meals thanks to work! But, I also ate some more affordable options that would great if you are on a budget. 
In-N-Out | Holy moly, I love In-N-Out you guys... People always say you are either a Shake Shack person or an In-N-Out person. I am for sure both. Bring me all the burgers and fries!!! In-N-Out is a must if you are on the west coast in general, so I was so happy to have ate it while in Vegas. I got a simple hamburger and fry meal and it was delicious. So so good! The best part is it is super affordable, and there is one right on the strip. 

Canaletto | I ate at Canaletto the first night and it was pretty good! The restaurant is right inside of the Venetian so it was super convienent to walk from the Palazzo. Canaletto is an Italian restaurant that serves everything from pasta, pizza, to true entrees. My co-worker and I started with a pizza and then we both got gnocchi as an entree. The pizza was super yummy, my pasta was just okay. Obviously when you've eaten true Italian food nothing compares, but this was pretty good! Overall, the place had a good vibe and atmosphere. It was right in the center of the Venetian and you had a great view of the sky inside the hotel and it really makes you feel like you're eating in Italy.  

AquaKnox | For one of my company dinners we ate at AquaKnox. Sadly, I am not a huge fish person, and this was a seafood restaurant. But, I had the crab legs as a starter and they were pretty good! But, they didn't come with butter... which I thought was super odd. Then for an entree I got surf and turf which included a ribeye steak and lobster. It was just okay. Nothing to special here, it was a steak and lobster. The service was not great either, we waited almost more then an hour to get our food. It felt like eternity. Finally someone asked if we could have some bread and they brought some. We were all STARVING! For an expensive meal the service was not great. But, everyone seemed to enjoy their seafood, so if you like fish this might be your jam! Personally, I'm not a huge fish fan, so it wasn't a win for me. 

Carlos Bakery | The famous Carlos Bakery was so conveniently located in the Venetian hotel. One night I wandered over there to pick up a treat. I picked out a chocolate covered strawberry and a chocolate moose. But, the employees thought I picked out something else, and when I said they packed up the wrong dessert they were very short with me. I'm not usually one to complain about service, but it was very rude... However, the delicious treat made up for it! I do recommend picking up a little treat there while you are in Vegas! I've never had the opportunity to visit one in New York, so go figure I find one in Vegas. 

Hell's Kitchen | Hell's Kitchen is a Gordan Ramsey restaurant and it was sooooo good! Everything was delicious, which is what I expected. A serious chef like Ramsey probably doesn't put up with a lot of crap in his restaurant. I got the steak and a side of mashed potatoes. So so good! We also got a side of mac and cheese for the table and it was equally as yummy. Highly recommend Hell's Kitchen for a nice dinner, that isn't crazy expensive. Not to mention the restaurant is gorgeous inside. It's very open and has an amazing aesthetic. Plus cool views of the strip! 

Sushi Samba | Let me preface this... I am NOT a sushi person, but we went to Sushi Samba as a work dinner and I have to say I actually enjoyed it! I didn't eat any sushi... but I had a small filet, wagyu fried dumplings, and fried green beans with a yummy garlic sauce. Plus, can't forget the mochi! If you actually like sushi I recommend this place! But, if you don't no fret, there are non-sushi options on the menu if you're like me and picky AF. 

Mon Ami Gabi | Mon Ami Gabi was my favorite meal of the trip. Ironically, this was the meal I made a reservation for one because I was stranded in Vegas for an extra night. This restaurant was at The Paris hotel and was mainly french cuisine. If you know anything about me you know I live for steak frites, literally no joke. I basically get steak frites anywhere they are served. I LOVE them! But, these steak frites are up there in my top 5 for sure. They were delicious! Plus they brought out a whole warm loaf of bread for me so it was a win-win. Meat and carbs, staples in my life.   

Grimaldi's Pizza | While we were working the market we ordered Grimaldi's pizza for lunch and holy moly it was good. Being from Chicago I consider myself a pizza snob, but this pizza was sooooo good. I had a piece of pepperoni and white pizza and both were very tasty! There is a location in the Palazzo, but they deliver. Which would make it the perfect pizza to order to your hotel room. 

The Pink Taco | Ignore the name of this place.... but these were pretty good tacos! This place is a little off the strip, so it is not the most convenient place to get too. However, the food was good and they had really fun drinks on the menu! I got a pink drink that was poured over cotton candy, it was sweet but delicious. Chips and salsa were also pretty yummy, in terms of Mexican food nearby the strip this was a good option! 

Shopping | There is no lack of shopping in Vegas, but it is basically all very high-end stores. There are some more affordable shopping malls within hotels, but they are the same old same old stores I see everywhere. So, unless you're planning on dropping a load on designer goods, I wouldn't count on shopping in Vegas. But, with that said I did pick up a pretty cool bath bomb for all of $4 haha. Also, picked up a Vegas exclusive Pandora charm. And that's it folks! Don't get me wrong there are some beautiful Gucci, Prada, and other high end designer stores in Vegas. However, they don't have anything you probably haven't seen before. I would spend money on experiences vs. shopping in Vegas! 

Shows / Entertainment | Since I was in Vegas for work I did not go to any shows or really gamble. So, I can't speak to anything related to entertainment in Vegas. But, I have heard good things about the Cirque du Solei shows and other concerts in town. Be sure to read reviews before you book tickets when it comes to shows and experiences!  

That is everything for my Vegas travel guide! I hope this helps you when planning a trip to Vegas. When I first found out I was going to Vegas I asked for suggestions and didn't get a ton back. So, hopefully with these suggestions you can find some restaurants and things to see on your future Vegas trip! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

New York City Snapshots

If you keep up with my Instagram, you know I travel to New York once in a while for work. Although I am there for business, there is some time for play. But, this past trip we were way busier then in the summer so to be honest I was quite the grandma. Even more so then I am on a regular basis...... 

BUT, I did have the opportunity to eat a ton of good food, managed to still spend to much money, and had fun with my co-workers along the way. So, here are some fun snapshots from my trip to the big apple! 

First things first, BLACK TOP. Holy crap this was the best meal of my life. You know those places you see on Instagram and in those videos on Facebook that look amazing, then you go eat there and they are crap? This place is not one of those places. The food was amazing and the shakes were fabulous. *my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard plays in the distance* But for real, this meal was fantastic. One of the best burgers I have had, behind Shake Shack, AND the two chocolate shakes were to die for. 

I also ate some pizza while in the big city. I don't think you could call it "authentic NY pizza" but who cares it was pretty good. Look at that cheese stretch man. 

Next up, I visited my boyfriend Chuck (sorry Jeremy) and the Palace Hotel. Every time I come to New York I try and do something Gossip Girl related because I'm obsessed. I happened to be in the area so I naturally had to stop by. Sadly, I was alone and didn't feel like asking one of the many men in business suits who walked past to take my picture, another time perhaps. 

Another stop on my food tour was Milk & Cream Cereal Bar. This place was great! Basically you get ice cream blended with your choice of cereal with toppings. I opted for Coco Puffs because I love chocolate, but they had a ton of options! The interiors were very aesthetically pleasing to the eye, aka lots of photo ops for my basic-ass self. 

Some more touristy pictures. Whenever I see the St. Regis I think of Andy from the Devil Wears Prada running around like a mad women trying to get a copy of the new Harry Potter book. Anyone else? Or just me..... 

My semi-annual trip to the Henri Bendel flagship store. Of course I bought stuff.... are we surprised, nope. In my defense, they just always happen to have an amazing sale when I'm in town. The Bendel Gods were calling me to buy new things, I couldn't help it. 

Places I visited/ ate: 
Black Tap Midtown | 136 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019 
Milk & Cream Cereal Bar 159 Mott St, New York, NY 10013 
Glossier Showroom123 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013
Uncle Jack's Steakhouse44 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019 
The Palace Hotel 455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022 
Love sign | Corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan 

That about sums up my recent trip to New York! What are your favorite spots in New York I need to visit next time? Leave them in the comments! 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: For Her, For Him, and For Friends!

For Her 

For Him 

For Friends 

Valentine's day is such a fun holiday! I love all of the pink, red, and purple colors plus all of the hearts. It has to be one of the cutest holidays ever. So, today I rounded up some fun Valentine's Day gifts for anyone on your list! From a girlfriend, boyfriend, to your Galentine there is something for everyone. Of course other great gifts include flowers, candy, and the basic stuff. But, the basic stuff is still great! You can never complain about getting flowers and treats as gifts am I right?

For her, I love KJP's new pearl collection! From rosey pearls to necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with bow accents these gifts are dainty and feminine. It wouldn't be a gift guide if I didn't throw something Barbour in right? I love this red Barbour Cavalry Polarquilt! It's a super warm jacket in a fun pop color. For smaller gifts there is Sugar lip balm, a personal favorite of mine, or a cute jewelry box both are under $25! On my personal wishlist is this little bean necklace from Tiffany & Co. I don't know why but I think it is super adorable and a nice neutral necklace. For something fun and super Valentine's Day is this cute heart candy purse from Kate Spade. I'm always down for a novelty purse, and this one fits the bill for Valentine's Day perfectly!

For him, it gets a little tricky. Buying gifts for guys I think is so hard! But, here are some basic ideas that will work for basically any boyfriend! Pick up a fun graphic tee from their favorite brand, band, or whatever interests them. My boyfriend loves vineyard vines tees, so I chose this cute Valentine's Day whale tee for this guide, but you can tailor it to whatever interests your guy! Next up, a nice belt is a great gift. You can either splurge or find a great value option. Smathers & Branson are great quality belts, plus they have a ton of different designs to choose from. A button down shirt is also a great basic gift, pair it with a fun bow tie or tie for a Date Night look you can gift your boyfriend! Next up, the most basic Valentine's Day gift, but a goodie, is a bottle of cologne. The best part is you can decide how you want your guy to smell, win-win. Lastly, is a nice fountain pen. This is a fun smaller gift your guy won't expect. You can find a ton of options on Amazon in every price range.

Then for your Galentine (where my Parks and Rec fans??)! These gifts will be sure to show your BFF how much you care. Stoney Clover Lane pouches, necklaces, or patch set make great gifts! This velvet pouch is for a special price of $30. For $30 you get a small velvet pouch, in red or pink, with a heart patch, which is such a good deal. Plus their heart chocker necklace is on sale for $19, also a steal. For their sweet tooth, you gotta go with a Sugarfina bento box or candy cube. Their candy is my absolute favorite! Hello cute gummies in even cuter packaging, best thing ever. For a more sophisticated friend pick up a piece of pearl jewelry from KJP! Just as I suggested for her, these pieces are so gorgeous and pretty affordable. Then for your goofy friend pick up a pair of heart sunglasses or another goofy gag gift. A giant teddy bear with candy is also a great option because let's be honest your probably basically dating your BFF anyways.

I hope you enjoyed this Valentine's gift guide! What are you giving your loved ones for V-Day? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dose of Disney: Disney Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Another gift guide is coming your way, this time for Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorites. I long for the days I used to go and pick out my Valentines to pass out during elementary school. Those were the days! But, now I get to celebrate Valentine's with my gals and my boyfriend. 

So, here are a few fun Disney themed gift ideas that would make perfect Valentine's Day gifts for a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend! Personally on my wishlist is the adorable Tsum Tsum heart pillow. Plus, it smells like chocolate. Hell yes. Not to mention I'm crushing over those adorable love Mickey and Minnie tees. Plus the Lillian & Co. Sally and Jack inspired bracelet. 

All of these gifts are super adorable! What is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Glossier Showroom Visit + REVIEW!

While I was in New York I had the chance to stop by the Glossier Showroom near Soho. To be honest, I had not jumped on the Glossier bandwagon yet. I see so many bloggers and people talking about how great Glossier products were. But, for me it's hard to try a new beauty brand without seeing or trying the products in person. So, it was great to see the Glossier Showroom and see the products first hand. 

While I was at the showroom I picked up two Glossier products! First I picked up the Balm Dot Com in rose. This is a super thick lip balm that feels a lot like Vaseline. It goes on really thick, but really moisturizes your lips. I've used it a few times and I do think it makes a difference in the appearance of my lips. But, my only complaint is that you have to apply it with your finger, which I am not a huge fan of. I just find it not sanitary and a little gross to have leftover lip balm all over your finger. Despite that small issue, I like the product and I think it has helped my lips! 

The next product I picked up was Glossier's newest product Solution. Solution is essential a liquid exfoliator. This product is applied just as you would apply toner, with a cotton pad after cleansing. The sales associate said that when you first use the product to only use a small amount to see how your skin reacts. At first I think this product made my skin break out slightly, but I am now just using it once a week because it is very strong and fast acting. I haven't used it quite long enough to see results. But, I do think it leaves your skin feeling refreshed after using. 

We had a great experience at the showroom! When you walk into the door you have to go up an elevator to the actual store space. The space is very aesthetically pleasing, aka Instagram opportunities galore. I particularly loved the mirror that said "You look good". The sales associates were super helpful, and explained their products well (for any newbies like me!). 

Plus you get a super cute Glossier bag (pictured below) and a larger little makeup bag that every order comes with online. The stickers also add a fun extra touch, I love a good sheet of stickers. 

Overall, it was a great shopping experience! We went later at night, around 7:30, and they close at 8pm. Normally, there is a huge line so if you go later at night you might be able to skip out on waiting in a long line to get in! 

What Glossier products do you like? Let me know what I should try in the comments below!