Scott & I went on a quick trip that was very spontaneous to Vieques, Puerto Rico – we flew into San Juan using Jet Blue and then stayed overnight and then woke up the next day and went on Cape Air ( a small 6 – 8 person plane ) to Vieques. It was about a 25 – 30 minute flight.  You can also drive about 1.5 hr and take a ferry that takes another 1 hour + but it is very hard to find out the confirmed times of the ferry I hear so to be safe we flew. http://www.wvieques.com/ I loved my W experience – I wouldn’t have stayed anywhere else in Vieques it was a great experience all around !
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Upon arrival we went straight to the W HOTEL where we enjoyed the pool and the beach and the yummy food.

W always offers the best culinary experiences from yummy fish tacos to watermelon feta salads to french fries that were amazingly delicious. Speaking of …. Scott was a little under the weather and we WHATEVER / WHENEVER some soup – the chef – Jimmy made an incredible soup with some spice to kick Scott’s little cold – it was amazingly tasty and so nice that he did this with some orange slices on the side. Such a nice chef and such a W experience.
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The best thing to do in Vieques is to rent a car if you want so that you can explore the island a bit and not have to wait for taxis.  Taxis are very inexpensive like $5.00 a person so if you are not in a rush – a taxi is the way to go but if you do want to go beach hopping you can’t really do that with a taxi. The taxis are best for one destination drop offs.

The first night we went to El Quenepo which is rated #1 on tripadvisor and who a lot of people love –  I thought the place was pretty & a bit romantic and the waitress was so nice – the food was ok but expensive and there was no real atmosphere – it was very serious. When I am on vacation I want some local flavor – some fun music or interesting over the top flavors in my food — I wish I went somewhere else the first night. If you have a week in Vieques go there but if I could do it again I don’t know personally if I would have went there again – I think I had other places that were more unique experiences that I didn’t get to try.

The second night we went to eat at COQUI FIRE which is a newer place on the island and amazing !!! The mole sauce is out of this WORLD – I met Jimmy one of the owners and I have to say the guy is brilliant. There is true atmosphere, extremely fair prices and between the food & the cheesecake the food experience is AWESOME !

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The next day we wanted to go exploring so we decided to rent a car at AVIS which seemed to be working out amazingly until our car got stuck in the middle of nowhere.  We got the car so we could go beach hopping and these beaches are out there and sometimes you could be parked all by yourself – sometimes on a secret road – we luckily had some people amongst us but we were the last stop on a very long road. THANKFULLY SCOTT who I tease got a sim card and his phone was working and we were able to call for help.  The good news is help finally came but we had a faulty engine … so we had to go and replace the car – now we already lost almost 2 hours with this experience. We go back to AVIS to get attitude from the front desk girl – she doesn’t have a new car ready for us and we have to wait for the engine to be replaced in another car and she wants us to take the faulty car they gave us to get gas ?????? This blew my mind – we are now over 2.5 hours of wasted time because of AVIS and she wants us to drive the car to get gas before she gives us another car.  Not fair and terrible customer service plus so much attitude.  They should have had a car waiting for us when they gave us a faulty car with terrible brake pads too that kept screeching. If you are going to rent from AVIS you should check out the car first. It is a bit of a monopoly since we didn’t have that many car places to choose from. This was a bit upsetting since AVIS ruined her beach exploration day – we wanted to get in about 6 – 7 beaches and we only got in 3!

We did get to see the following beaches  –  but we didn’t get to do too much snorkeling and we hear there are caves and so much to see…. but we went to Caracas, The Secret Beach ( which was very unique ) and Chiva Beach that was also beautiful. I thought Caracas was a bit crowded but it is very convenient since they have places that offer water and snacks and they don’t have anything like that at the other spots. On the way to the beaches we stopped at SOL FOOD which was amazing – the owner is from Long Island originally and her recipes do not disappoint – they also offered some amazing veggie options for me and I loved them !! It was an amazing experience. There are several food trucks around Vieques and I think it is brilliant so it is a good way to taste some flavorful food without spending a ton of money.

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Btw there are horses everywhere in VIEQUES they supposedly might have more horses then people… thousands upon thousands of horses… it is so sweet !

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While at the W we also had massages from AWAY SPA – they are a bit pricey maybe like by $20 too much for each person but felt great and the room was very lovely they had us in for our couple massage – the spa is really beautiful.

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W Vieques also offers YOGA class for FREE two times a day and that was AWESOME !!! I took the 5pm class and it was so lovely to see the moon coming out and the beautiful clouds in the sky and blue color — and the yoga teacher was so amazingly sweet and very skilled. I love my LESPORTSAC bag so awesome !

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W Vieques also offers some amazing bath products from lovely body soaps to shower gels.  Of course I took my sponsored products of NYM with me but definitely used some of the lovely BLISS.

The last night we ate dinner at SABORES which is where we tried the MOFANGA that everyone raves about – and it didn’t disappoint I hear chefs come here from all over the place to try there version – SABORES means FLAVOR and it was certainly filled with a ton of that.
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The next day we ate at Bananas which was a grill – so lots of fried food – more of a fun bar experience.
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I wish in retrospect we got to try TIN BOX for lunch that place looked so cool or went back to SOL FOOD food truck.

I was lucky to try HAPPY ICE CREAM which didn’t disappoint – it was some amazing ice cream.

I loved staying at the W VIEQUES but wish the first night I ate at EL BLOK which was supposed to be an amazing food experience – instead we went to EL QUENEPO which was good but not for me.  If I ever go back EL BLOK, TIN BOX and also the sushi lasagna from NOCHE are on my list of things to try. http://www.elblok.com/

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We took this trip forever ago but I never blogged about it and there are so many trips I really need to go back and blog about – this was our first real trip as boyfriend / girlfriend back in June 2011. We loved our trip to Peru – we started en route to Cusco and went to Sacsayhuaman, visited the Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco – which was incredible if you are a fashion lover -Sacred Valley of the INCAS, and of course the Machu Picchu.  We hiked the highest mountain in Machu Picchu which was very rewarding.  In Cusco we stayed at  The Hotel Monasterio in Cusco which was incredible, we met this lovely Shaman, Andre there as well during the trip. At the Machu Picchu we stayed at the SANCTUARY LODGE which was an incredible experience. The markets were so fun, lots of beautiful hiking and we met incredible people. We ended our trip in Lima – with one day and I think that was enough – it was really great to be so in the middle of nature for days and one day was enough in the city.

We booked our trips with Ales at :

www.LuxuryTravelJourneys.com

www.JourneysoftheSpirit.com


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I love my pizza so Scott & I went on a pizza tour of Greenwich Village that we found appropriately called SCOTT’S PIZZA TOURS.  This is a no joke tour – yes the tour guide was funny and had some jokes but the insight and information is awesome.  We learned a bit about the history of pizza and all about the cooking processes. It was a lot of great information and of course we got to try some pizza. For this tour it started at around 11:15 and was about 2 hours and went to 4 spots in Greenwich Village – I had about 3 slices of pizza in total some were half slices – so you don’t get too full but they did have some bonus slices in our group – Scott had one from John’s.  I don’t want to ruin the tour and where they go for you but I can say we start at this very traditional pizza shop that does it just like you went to Naples, then you move to a place that has a really cool history even a bit of a nightlife history in the late 20s – early 30s and is still there today – then we went on to a place that rang some homage to Staten Island and had a very nice story and lastly to one of my favorite places that is always great!

http://www.scottspizzatours.com/

I loved the tour so much I definitely plan to go to the other tours – crosstown and Brooklyn.

Our guide who was AWESOME told us about a fundraiser in October that you can go and pay $1.00 a slice and try pizza from so many great pizza spots around – that is on my to – do list for sure !

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It was a great day and we ended at Dominique Ansel which yet again we were too late for the cronut but we did get their SMORE that was incredible and an apple tartin and spotted the most adorable desserts.

When I visit my in – laws and if we have time I always drag Scott to see this space I love – there are so many special items for sale – I love it – every time you go it is a place of discovery – check out some of these awesome finds ! If you are decorating your house and want antiques or if you just want fun gifts that are hand sewn – or created by artisans this is the place ! DSC00817 DSC00818 DSC00819 DSC00820DSC00891 DSC00889DSC00884 DSC00881DSC00877 DSC00876 DSC00874 DSC00872 DSC00871 DSC00870 DSC00868 DSC00866 DSC00865 DSC00864 DSC00863 DSC00862 DSC00861DSC00858 DSC00857 DSC00856 DSC00855 DSC00854 DSC00852 DSC00851 DSC00850 DSC00849 DSC00848 DSC00847DSC00844 DSC00843 DSC00842 DSC00841 DSC00840 DSC00839 DSC00838
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My tree from Urban Outfitters might be small but filled with so many lovely memories.  I used to have a big large live tree and it had lights and they were beautiful and then I moved downtown and got myself this little guy – it is blue and a bit silly but it makes me so happy. My mother has kindly saved so many of my ornaments from childhood such as my Hollie Hobbie from my grandmother, my parents bought me so many from Disney characters to Snoopy to E.T.  There are so many special ornaments that make me so happy and smile.  Thank you to all that have given me so many beautiful ornaments that I will cherish forever. DSC00700 Check out E.T. and my little snowman and ballerina with my name on it  – along with my Kappa Kappa Gamma ornament DSC00702We brought home some ornaments from Peru – Scott doesn’t really get into the whole decorating of the holiday tree but I try to find little ornaments when we travel sometimes – here is our little friends from Peru
DSC00703Of course we have to have a NOEL ornament and an ornament from 1980 – can’t believe I was only 6 years old – and then I have a very special order from one of my Godson’s – Danny that I love so much !
DSC00706 DSC00708 Cabbage Patch Kids…. and a special ornament from my Mother In Law that is so beautiful DSC00710The tree wouldn’t be complete without several elephants – there are several lucky elephants around the tree – and my special bears from one of my Friends Forever – Lisa ! I love that ornament as well
DSC00711 Some ornaments I found at Anthropologie, I love this stringed ornament set which is a Santa in his boxers and along the tree you will find clothes pins with his clothes – his jacket, his pants, his gloves…. and then we have our special ornament from the Cayman Islands 
I love this ornament from my Mother and of course I had to get an ornament for Scott – check it out Gisele – this is where Tom Brady is …. on our Christmas tree !!! Go Patriots !! DSC00715 Several ornaments on my tree are from awesome nephews including this little boutique ornament, you can see a Rose from my Godmother Vickie and of course the muppets ! DSC00716A  little ornament from our Istanbul trip
DSC00717 A close up of the ornament from my God Son and of course Little Mermaid DSC00718 An ornament from my God Mother Rosanne DSC00721DSC00724DSC00722

http://brodonyc.com/ on 1st avenue @ 12th street you will find a window that serves broth – Broth has amazing minerals that can help give you energy and lots of nutrients.  There is a vegeterian soup as well for all the vegetarians. I read about this on a health and wellness site and was intrigued. It is definitely worth a visit.  There are smart add ons as well such as garlic and mushrooms.  Check it out. While we were there the New York Times supposedly was there taking photos so the word is going to get even more out soon – there was a line so go soon before there is an even bigger line !

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Yes it’s true – everything seems to be way too expensive and if you were travelling to foreign countries you would find very similar artifacts for possibly much less. But the presentation and merchandising is so lovely that you always want to buy something – also they save you money because they save you the trip abroad. They also give you a ton of ideas.  Some of the magical moments I found on my visit this past weekend :

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monk with a camera pic

I am not sure where I read about this film but somewhere it popped up and it interested me for a few reasons.  The first is I have been trying to become more spiritual and have been visiting several meditation sessions that have some Buddhist teaching throughout the sessions.  For example, last week I went to a session from 10:30 – 3:30 and heard about how to relate to my past, present and future. Some of the teachings I really can jump on and some I don’t really believe in – but all in all the journey of taking these classes/ sessions is teaching me to have an even better understanding of myself and things I have to work on. Anyway so that is one reason why this interest me because I have been taught by a Buddhist monk last week for several hours and sang traditional songs and heard about teachings. The next reason is because I love photography and enjoy documentaries about photographers – I have not seen as many as I wish but did see Bill Cunnigham’s as well as Advanced Style recently so that part of this story interested me.  Next I am a fan of Diana Vreeland and loved the documentary about her that came out a couple years ago and this was about her grandson so I knew I would enjoy hearing about anything he might have learned from his grandmother.

Learn more here : https://www.facebook.com/monkwithacamera

So first thing when I heard about the film I emailed and heard back from one of the filmmakers – Gudio – instantly ! He was so lovely and encouraging me to see this film and told me Nicholas was going to be doing a Q&A so I thought this was a sign and I should support.

The film was beautifully done and I believe caught the right amount of history ( the story ), the journey aspect that Nicholas Vreeland had taken, a bit of the spiritual side and definitely hit me emotionally.

Nicholas was trained by top photographers including Irving Penn so he had an incredible mentor and he seems to be a good student – they talk about his discipline a bit – he is very motivated. I think he has a natural eye as well because his photography is memorable and emotional.  His photography was enlightening. Then you hear about what he did during his journey and what he created. It was very motivating.

There was a time when he seemed to be worried because of a certain situation and he figured out a way to get out of the situation and create something incredible. It shows that sometimes even in the worst situations we can still strive to our accomplishment.

It showed devotion and the art of simple living and so much more.

He did a wonderful Q&A after the film – he is very eloquent – he thinks about what he is going to say and answers each question with concise thought.

I learned a lot from the film and it was a film that allowed me to look inside myself a bit too. Those are the best types of films.

I hope to visit the monastery one day – that would be a wonderful journey to look forward too.

I also enjoyed that Wendy Goodman was in some of the film because I know her from my days at YEOHLEE and loved her insight into Nicholas’ story.

Here is some more info on the film – go and see it !

From the website written by the team behind this excellent story : 

MONK WITH A CAMERA chronicles the life and spiritual quest of Nicholas (Nicky) Vreeland, who for the past twenty-eight years has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The son of a United States Ambassador, grandson of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, and a photographer by trade, Nicky left his privileged life behind to follow his true calling. He moved to India, cutting his ties with society, photography, and his pleasure-filled world, to live in a monastery with no running water or electricity. There he would spend the next 14 years studying to become a monk. Then in one of life’s beautiful twists, Nicky went back to the worldly pursuit of photography in order to help his fellow monks rebuild their monastery, one of the most important of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His journey from being a photographer to becoming a monk and, most recently, to being appointed as the abbot of the monastery he helped to rebuild, are the core of the story.

Congratulations to the film makers as well : .Guido  Santi (Producer/Director/Editor). Tina Mascara (Producer/Director/Editor)  Vishwanath (Vish) Alluri (Producer/Exec. Producer) and of course Nicholas Vreeland – thank you for sharing your story. 

See some of Nicholas’ work :

http://asphalt-stars.squarespace.com/photos/

There is a beautiful Tibetan center in Staten Island that I have been to a few times with my parents and I highly recommend to go there to take there Tai Chi or Meditation classes http://www.tibetanmuseum.org/

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After dinner at Lucali’s I took my parents out to Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Check this out for the schedule of events and vendors – http://bkbazaar.com/-  Entrance is free and it is so fun – they have  a little mini golf area, skee ball, air hockey, games, lots of fun shopping, great food choices and live bands.  It is a great place to go on the weekends.  It is also a great way to support some local artisans.

NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN

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Lots of fun brooches and rings to look at DSC00672My mom checking out the vintage glasses – she found a fun vintage ring -

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My dad scoping out the shopping DSC00666I saw these puppets before and these characters in Union Square – I have a frame with a little puppet pic in it – so sweet – I bought one for my friend PJL who is awesome and has 3 kids now so I thought he would appreciate it – they have so much flare- and the creator is so fun and animated about the puppets I had to get one – I got the martian check out martystuff.com for more info on these characters – he has a book as well all about them- Marty Allen sock puppet madness – you can also check him out on amazon.com  DSC00675DSC00678DSC00679DSC00680DSC00686There was handcrafted ice cream of course – Brooklyn is becoming the crafted ice cream scene – my favorites are still : STEVE’s of course,  Phin & Phebe’s and Blue Marble and of course Ample Hills Creamery but I had to try Ice & Vice – I loved the idea of the flavor – I love sea salt in ice cream but I felt it wasn’t creamy enough – It also could be that this is like a pop up so the cooling systems might not be the best – it is definitely worth a try.I love ice cream so I am super critical and again it was yummy &  definitely worth a try ! Milk Money is the flavor I tried and thought the taste was very original. I stand by Steve’s ice cream and Ample Hills Creamery as my two first favorites – I love them ! And also dig the sprinkles ice cream at OddFellows in Williamsburg. DSC00690

Lastly there was a tarot card reader there – you should definitely give a shot if you go for $10 you can get a past present and future reading and she just had a nice vibe about her – so I would recommend that as something fun to do and she was very thoughtful and really put some great energy around the reading. I really liked her style and felt like it was a good reading with some interesting things to think about for my future.

This past weekend I finally checked out LUCALI pizza in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn. http://ny.eater.com/venue/lucali- I can’t believe me loving pizza have never been here before but I was with my parents all weekend so we decided to check it out since they too love pizza.  Some of my favorite pizza places are Lombardi’s in Nolita, http://www.farinellabakery.com/ on the Upper East Side is totally one of my favorite faves, I love of course http://lazzaraspizza.com/ because it is near my house and right in the Fashion District – a great gem and I think they make some great pizza.  I think Roberta’s in Bushwick has some good kick butt pizza and of course I would still say that the Sicilian pizza from L&B is definitely one of my favorites because the taste of their pizza is so distinct.  I grew up in Brooklyn and then Staten Island so I have tried some of the best pizza on 86th street to Hylan Blvd.  When I go home to Staten Island to visit my parents there is no journey complete without visiting Mr. Pizza on Richmond Avenue.  I also loved CLAUDINE’s in Carroll Gardens – the pizza there was pretty yummy as well.

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Definitely get the calzone – the crust is so crispy and baked with the perfect timing – and their cheese has to be right off the boat – because it is delicious. They give you extra marinara and cheese to put on top which makes the whole experience more heavenly.

Once you have the calzone you might feel a bit full but I still ate 3 pieces of pizza and I don’t eat that much usually but it was that good – the fresh basil on top of the pizza is delicious. I would suggest for your first time to not do toppings because  you don’t want to distract from the perfect pizza experience. The crust was perfect – the sauce incredible – the cheese heavenly and basil so fragrant and fresh.

The atmosphere is so special – dark and candlelit – very peaceful and you can bring your own wine – so I think that saves you some money and with a good bottle of red – wowzer what an experience!

The strategy was that we got there at 5pm – we were the first ones there – they took our name around 5:15 and we were the first ones on the list. We found a spot nearby so we waited in the car but heard two blocks down that Bar Bruno is a gem for drinks beforehand.  We were called around 5.55 and they had seating super organized so we took the table for three.  Although people kept lining up to put their names in – we never felt rushed. The service was really awesome constantly bringing us warm sauce and checking on us. We had two slices left to bring home to Scott to try so they wrapped those up.

There are some super cool antiques it seems in the space and they have a cute Henry street sign.

Our bill was super affordable and totally worth every cent. I highly recommend all to try Lucali pizza.

Heard they just opened one in Miami so I am sure that will be hopping during Art Basel.

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