Welcome to the blog...
This space is all about seeking
EXCITED CHILLS and creating a
simple, authentic, beautiful life.
I do hope you'll stay a while!
It's a bittersweet time. Today marks the end of summer vacation in the United States. With the holiday weekend upon us (already), I'm feeling the urge to revisit how my summer began. In May, I learned (for the millionth time), how easy it is for me to become stuck in wanting things to go my way...and how much better my life is when I ease up and simply go with the flow.
In addition to looking back, I'm going to spend the next few days gearing up for a brand new season. There are some big things on the horizon for me professionally and personally. It's been a wonderful summer, but honestly, I'm eager for some change. I'm super excited for what's ahead...
Wishing you an awesome weekend!
Just for fun here's a glimpse of where my summer started and what I learned...
I love to travel! I sometimes become myopic with regards to how I see a vacation playing out. I conjure a certain (usually very detailed) vision of the entire trip from start to finish. Over the years, I've obviously learned that often trips (and other things) don't flow exactly as planned:-) but I still get stuck, wanting my own version to play out.
My husband and I went to Mexico in May to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. It was an incredible trip. Relaxing, delicious and beautiful.
We didn't take the trip we'd originally envisioned, but the results were even better than we'd imagined.
We originally thought we’d opt for an adult, all-inclusive (airfare, too) resort in the Riviera Maya. We spent lots of time on TripAdvisor and other sites, researching and reading reviews.
We wanted/needed this trip to be affordable and romantic.
We wanted sunshine, good food and a whole lot of alone time.
I figured that an all-inclusive (which we have never done as a couple) would be the way to go...great deals, no grocery shopping, cooking or clean up...easy living.
We began our search for the perfect accommodations.
After much discussion and deliberation...Matthew and I agreed that we weren’t finding anything in our budget that really matched our style. We read tons of less than glowing reviews of all-inclusive resorts..."crazy loud music at the pool, tons of construction noise, mid-May is rainy season, too loud to nap, terrible food, super crowded, lots of hidden charges".
I was becoming a bit discouraged.
And, we kept seeing comments about the dreaded rainy season! We really wanted sunshine!
Matthew decided to check the weather in other parts of Mexico. The weather on the west coast seemed to be more stable in May. We moved our search to Los Cabos and beach towns on the west coast of Mexico.
Again, mixed reviews on the more affordable all-inclusives.
I was slipping into a pre-vacation funk, feeling like we might not be able to make it happen.
Then Matthew looked at airfare options from Denver to Mexico. Living in Colorado makes traveling to Mexico fairly easy. Lots of affordable, direct flights.
It was time to shift my thinking and consider some other options for accommodations. Not easy for me...
Enter the amazing world of renting a home away from home. We have done this many times, in many cities, but it took me a while to come around to this idea for our anniversary getaway.
A little time online and it was clear that we could find an awesome rental in Mexico for a great price.
In the end, we chose a small casita in Sayulita, Mexico. We found it on VRBO. It was perfect for our anniversary getaway!
We rented Casa Escondida for five nights. Check it out!
In case you'd like to stay there, here are some details of our experience...
The owner was a true delight to work with remotely. Every single detail was handled. There is a property manager available on-site when needed.
The owner offered the option of arranging transportation to and from the airport in Puerto Vallarta. This round-trip service included a stop at the Mega Supermarket outside of Puerto Vallarta where we could stock up on groceries and wine for our visit. Our driver, Javier met us at the airport. He drove us to the Mega and parked. Then kindly told us to take all the time we needed, he’d be waiting:-) There are small food markets in Sayulita, but not a real grocery store. This added service was very affordable and enhanced our stay.
Sayulita was wonderful!
What rainy season? Sunny and 85 degrees every day. Absolutely breathtaking!
That time of year, the town was lively, but not packed. The people were incredibly friendly. We always felt safe...even on the mile-long walk from town back to our house on pitch dark streets. This walk was delightful as it allowed us to walk off our dinner and then enjoy a swim and a nightcap at home:-)
Planning a trip? If you haven’t ever tried a rental, I urge you to go for it! Renting a home away from home can be incredible!
Here’s why I love renting homes on vacation:
Want to start looking for a great rental?
Check out these sites…
It's funny how I need to be presented with some lessons repeatedly before I finally 'GET IT'. I've lived long enough to know that things usually work out in the end. Yet, I still become strongly attached to 'my way'. Seems I could make it my life's work to master the art of letting go. Gracefully.
The struggle is real. I want situations to go the way I picture them. I'm often not good at letting things unfold at their own pace and in their own direction.
The thing is, when I finally, actually do let go...most times (if not, every single time) the result is far better than I could have imagined.
My mind wants to limit the outcome to only what I can see.
Silly mind...there is something far greater beyond the horizon.
My goal in the coming months is to let go more often.
To really loosen my grip on 'my way' and allow the Universe to show me the way.
I'd love to know how you manage the art of letting go.
Please share your tips for letting things happen without holding on too tightly. Just add your thoughts in the comments below:-)
I'm working on new projects for fall!
I'll be sharing some exciting news very soon!
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Have a super weekend! Don't forget to just let it unfold...
Wow! I put it out there and you certainly delivered. What great questions you asked. Thank you so much for all of your responses. I enjoyed reading each and every question. I’m ready to answer the first round. To make this a bit easier, I’ve separated the queries into a few categories.
This first Q&A video addresses non-style related questions. I'll cover the style questions very soon.
Thanks for your patience. This is my very first Q&A video…and it shows:-) You'll note that I completely forgot to answer a question that I say I'm going to answer! I promise I'll include that one in a later video.
I probably wouldn’t have decided to make this type of video on my own. However, on a New Year’s Day hike, my family was talking about our plans for 2016. Some brainstorming about my business prompted my 12 year old son to mention how much people love Q&A videos. He assured me that I should make one for my viewers. So, I listened and here’s my first attempt. Be gentle with me, please.
Hope you find my answers helpful...
Weekly updates are the best way to stay informed.
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If you have any questions, I’m always happy to provide my best answer. Just comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for being here.
I’ve just spent a few days in New York City with my daughter. She’s 16 and has incredible style. We went to tour a few campuses, celebrate her birthday and check out the happenings at New York Fashion Week.
Here’s what I rediscovered about city style…
City street style is a category unto itself. Whenever I visit a big city, I’m quickly reminded that personal style is just that…personal. The urban vibe seems to spark creativity. While some women want to blend in…it seems most would rather stand out. Crowded streets provide a shield and it becomes easier to take a risk when you won’t be seeing anyone you know.
On this trip to the Big Apple, I saw combinations that were unique and fashionable…and plenty that were so unusual that 'getting dressed in the dark' came to mind. The women who looked the most fabulous had a subtle sense of 'take it or leave it' this is what I'm wearing today! I was inspired. Inspired by the bold and unexpected looks that reassured me...
if you wear a look with confidence...you can really rock any look imaginable!
I think we’re often hung up on what others think of our wardrobe choices. We shy away from trying new styles because we fear that those around us might not approve. We are afraid to feel silly or different.
Here’s the deal. They are only clothes! Branch out a smidge.
Never worn camo or leopard print?…start with a belt or a scarf.
Not sure you can work a leather bomber jacket into your closet?…maybe borrow one from a friend to test the waters.
In most cases, no one really cares what you wear…and if you step out of your comfort zone…you might just inspire someone watching you, as well as yourself!
This season, I’m going to take my own advice. Here’s how I plan to stretch myself and my wardrobe…
I’d like to include a few more urban pieces in my fall wardrobe…like grey suede booties and grey jeans- I LOVE grey denim on other women! So chic.
I’m also ready to venture out of the diamond-stud-only earring situation…maybe some cool colored stone studs or simple hoops. Crazy, I know.
And my usual look is pretty tailored, so I’m going to try a few longer, softer, flowy layers. A little bit of Bohemian-style never hurt anyone, right?
Maybe...I'll even try on a red lip...like my brave daughter:-)
I am repeatedly drawn to these styles on others (who at one time were maybe afraid to wear them also)…so I’m going to give them a go!
Still not convinced you can wear something a bit different? Take another look at the Seat Belt Dress.
Anything is possible!
How do you plan to push your style boundaries this season?
Please share! What would you like to try that’s not part of your usual ‘uniform’? Comment below or shoot me an email -email@example.com.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve just returned from a wonderful week at the beach. And, while everything fit into
my carry-on luggage, there were many pieces that I just didn’t need or wear.
As a stylist, I know better and yet I still came home with unworn clothes!
I tend to forget that the vibe for our family-beach-getaway is always extremely laid-back, easy, and casual. Since I don't live at the beach, my beach wardrobe is much different than what I typically wear at home. I love my vacation clothes...they feel like VACATION! When packing, I failed to realize that I'd want to wear my favorite sundress more than once while I was away.
On this annual trip, there is no reason to dress up…simple and relaxed
is always the dress code.
So, I’m taking my own advice. Following a getaway, I advise my clients to make a list of the things they take, but don’t actually wear. I just made my list. I saved it to my calendar on our return date so I can refer to it next year.
I've created a Travel Wardrobe Planner to guide me when creating travel outfits. This worksheet is helpful when I'm packing for clients or myself. The PDF is yours free...
just click on the link below.
If you are headed to a destination by the sea…
I offer these tips to keep your packing light.
1. Take simple, comfortable sandals or flip flops…and running shoes, if you run.
My go-to travel shoes are white converse for the plane and sightseeing that requires
a lot of walking.
2. Pack dresses or loose fitting pants that make you feel fabulous. Flowy, gauzy,
relaxed dressing keeps you cool when it’s hot and humid. Wide leg pants worn with
a lean tank are always chic.
3. Wear shorts or casual skirts with tanks and tees for lunch and shopping.
4. Remember, air conditioning and evenings on the beach can be chilly. Take a
sweater or sexy, slouchy sweatshirt.
5. Go lighter on make-up. Before a fashion show in college, a make-up artist told me, ‘Make-up doesn’t look good on tan or sunburned skin’. She was right. Pare down your beauty routine to include a great moisturizer and sunscreen, something sparkly for lips or eyes, mascara...and a bronzer.
6. Use a body lotion with some shimmer- I have a favorite. It's a L’Occitane lotion.
Creme Scintillante (luminous body cream) Sadly, it's been discontinued. Yet, I had to mention it because if you see it in your travels...buy it! Honestly. It smells amazing, is wonderfully moisturizing and has just a touch of sparkle. It’s so good!
Click here for a free copy of my Travel Wardrobe Planner.
This basic chart helps to keep me organized when
I'm creating outfits and packing.
Oh, how I wish for another chance to pack light and head to the beach. Until then,
I'll continue to plan incredible vacation wardrobes in my head...and on Pinterest:-)
I'm always here if you have questions. Just ask...
Thanks for reading.
I discovered the power of self tanners way back in middle school. Those were the days of Sudden Tan...and Coppertone Quick Tan. Both promised a beautiful bronze, both delivered an interesting orange wash.
Regardless, I felt better with my artificial chestnut (orange) glow...somehow a bit exotic and healthier. I'd imagine myself just back from vacation in a tropical paradise...made easier after watching a very tan Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon.
Thankfully, self tanners have improved quite a bit since 1979. Today's options produce incredible, believable color. They're affordable and available in every drug store and grocery store.
I want to share my new favorite...
I've seen at least a dozen customers showing some beautifully browned skin lately. When asked, each person let me in on their simple secret....
Banana Boat's Summer Color Self Tanning Lotion- Deep Dark Color
This stuff is AMAZING! It turns even pale skin to the most natural-looking bronze. It's a bit dark, but can easily be mixed with regular lotion to dilute it a bit.
The smell is subtle and citrusy when it goes on...and is not at all bothersome to other people in the house (I'm refering to you, Victoria's Secret Self Tanner). The cream is brown so you can see where you've applied it, but it doesn't look like a bronzer on your skin. It dries fairly quickly. Best of all...as it tans there is none of the horrible
'self tanner' smell that usually accompanies a faux tan.
And it costs less than $9.00 a tube.
Summer Color comes in a spray version also. I've tried both. The spray gives the same great color and dries a bit faster, which is nice, but I prefer the lotion. Note: the spray comes out with great force! It is not a light mist...be ready to rub it in as you apply it.
I'm at the beach this week. Enjoying some much needed time away with my family.
And yes, I'm sporting my Summer Color tan!
I'd love to know if you have a favorite self tanner....
Thanks for reading.
The Spanish have a brilliant way of eating. Tapas are genius. They offer the option of a little or a lot. By eating tapas, it becomes possible to taste lots of dishes in the same meal. Ordering seconds of things that disappear quickly the first time around. I love eating in Spain.
Here's a quick recap my three favorite spots to stop for food or drink when in Madrid.
1. Casa Labra. This is a favorite destination for my family. Just the thought of it makes us smile.
This gem is a two minute walk from Puerta del Sol. It is easy to find...sits just across from a large
El Corte Inglés (department store). It is open every day of the year except for New Year's Day.
It is not to be missed!
Most likely you will stand in line with lots of locals. That's how you know it's a good spot.
When it's your turn at the counter, place your croquetas order and move on to the bar to get a beer. The beer is served in small glasses, ice cold! Such a treat after a day of sigh- seeing or shopping...and it won't ruin your dinner.
2. Casa Lucio. Casa Lucio opened in 1974. Méson El Segoviano restaurant operated in the same spot for 100 years. Casa Lucio's owner, Lucio Blazquez began working at Méson El Segoviano when he was just 12 years old. Cool.
I love this Tripadvisor review from Marcos Simpson, Dublin, Ireland. He sums it up brilliantly....
"brilliant - anyone who says different just doesn't get it” Reviewed October 17, 2014
If you have friends - go
if you love spanish food - go
if you have a mischievous side - go
if you love healthy irreverence - go
if you get the idea of going to one of the best restaurants in the world to have egg and chips - go
don't go if you are cynical, are going with a view to find fault, are expecting waiters to speak english, french, german or japanese, have never read Hemingway or don;t understand the importance of food in spanish culture." Visited October 2014
Casa Lucio is old school and old world. It is filled with locals. The main family meal of the week happens on Sunday afternoon. Casa Lucio is bustling and full of Madrilenos. Dining here on Sunday is a treat.
My family was in Madrid for Thanksgiving a few years ago. We chose Casa Lucio for our Thanksgiving dinner. While we didn't dine on turkey and traditional American fare...it was an experience that none of us will ever forget. Incredible!
Note: The first time my husband and I dined at Casa Lucio, we messed up. We didn't order the eggs and chips (french fries). Every other plate that the seasoned waitstaff carried past our table was piled with broken fried eggs and french fries. We knew we had missed the best of Casa Lucio.
Rest assured...we haven't made that mistake again.
Order the eggs. Lucio's Scrambled Eggs... aka Huevos Estrellados de Lucio.
3. Bar Cock. This awesome bar is easy to walk past and miss completely. Don't. Find it. Go in and order your favorite cocktail. It will be delicious. I can speak with authority on their Negroni. It's perfect.... and gets better with the free house snacks of the best-potato-chips-ever and Spanish olives. You will want to snuggle into a leather sofa and stay all evening.
Located off the beaten track...down a quiet street... Calle de la Reina, 16, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Bar Cock is worth finding.
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
Every June, my husband's family spends one week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
2014 was the seventh year for this family reunion. It is quite a vacation.
The numbers vary, but usually there are about 22 people who attend. Six individual families coming together under one roof. All 22 people stay in a spacious rental home. We have stayed in several different houses over the years. Each house has lots of master bedroom suites (between 9 and 10) for all of the adults. There are also bunk rooms for the kids.
SO many people in one house for seven days could be a nightmare. Complete chaos.
Enter a very organized sister-in-law and mother-in-law. Since the very first year, one of my husband's sisters has made the vacation much easier on everyone by producing a packet.
"The Packet" is the first step in making a large family vacation work.
The concept is simple...
The packet contains the basic information needed to make the house run smoothly...
'Who brings what' instructions
Captain of the Day details
House address and check-in time
Any miscellaneous bits that might be helpful
The most interesting and helpful idea is this...
Each adult couple takes on the role of 'Captain of the Day'. This title means that on your day- you are responsible for breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone in the house. At first it might seem a bit rigid, but it is a fantastic way to keep the mealtimes from becoming an overwhelming, messy, disorganized disaster.
The couples plan their menus and head to the grocery store...some choose to pack their car at home and transports items/ingredients with them on the road trip to OBX.
We stay near Corolla and there are two large, well-stocked grocery stores. In addition to food, they sell wine and beer and beach supplies. Harris Teeter and Food Lion. They are both great stores.
If you'd like to check out a copy of our packet... just say so in the comments. I will be happy to send it along. It is a huge help in making sure that everyone knows exactly what's expected of them.
The pre-vacation organization means that once we arrive, the entire family can enjoy an awesome week together. When it's not your day to be captain, you can relax and know that all the meals are handled. Great plan!
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
In 2008, our family decided to do something we had never done before...
We decided to go on vacation for Christmas. As in, really be away for the entire holiday. We chose Vieques. A small, sister island off the coast of Puerto Rico. My husband had taken me to this amazing island for my birthday. We wanted our kids to experience this incredible place. We asked my mom to go along...she often spends the holiday with our family. She was game.
At the time our children were 9,7, and 5. We weren't sure how they would take it. Like most children, they loved the excitement of Christmas eve at home. They were up at dawn on Christmas morning waiting to be given the 'green light' to come downstairs.
Would they like being away for the holiday? We were about to find out.
We rented a house through HomeAway. We rented two Jeeps for getting around the island and especially to the beaches. We left on December 22 and returned home on December 29.
It was wonderful!
I mailed a box of little wrapped gifts ahead of time. I included a mini artificial tree with lights. Our first day at the beach we collected seashells and other beach treasures. Together we decorated our tree with the found objects. It was beautiful! And so special!
Christmas morning the kids had gifts to open. We went to the beach...the empty beach! It was like being on a deserted island. Wow!
We went out for a special Christmas dinner. It was different, but everyone had great trip.
Our kids said they would do it again, but they did miss waking up in our house on Christmas day. We haven't been away for Christmas since that adventure...I'd say we are due. Mexico is close....
Thanks for reading. More tomorrow...
Welcome to Excited Chills!
In a very bold move, I've decided to take on the challenge of writing a post a day for
31 days...in a row. Consecutively.
The challenge is to write on one topic every day during the month of October.
I chose to focus on Excited Chills through travel. It all begins on October 1st. New
posts will appear here daily. The common thread will be travel, but with a wide reach.
I'll include tips and tricks, favorite places, great meals, and more.
I welcome you on my journey. Thanks for your patience as I test the waters and my wings.
Day 1 - Three days max...but you should go to Las Vegas
Day 2 - Carry-on only
Day 3 - Wheels Up- Alone
Day 4 - Boulder, Colorado
Day 5 - Learn from the Unworn
Day 6 - Up in the Air
Day 7 - Paris Perfect
Day 8 - Pont des Arts - Love Locks Bridge
Day 9 - A 'must' in Paris
Day 10 - My 3 favorite things to bring home from Paris
Day 11 - Better than nothing - Combo Washer/Dryer
Day 12 - Free'p'star - Thrifting in Paris
Day 13 - Be still my heart- Anthropologie in Paris
Day 14 - Thanksgiving in Paris - Le Villaret
Day 15 - The Ides of October slipped past me
Day 16 - Vieques - tropical paradise!
Day 17 - A Tropical Christmas
Day 18 - The trick to a great 22 person family vacation - OBX
Day 19 - Surprise Vacations - Yes or No?
Day 20 - Wanderlust - the trip that started it all
Day 21- Finally, Spain... Two cool hotels in Madrid
Day 22 - El Rastro - Be in Madrid on a Sunday
Day 23 - Madrid - My three favorite spots for food and drink
Day 24 - Spanish sensory overload!
Day 25 & Day 26 - Finding the fun! - Soccer abroad
Day 27 - Simplicity in Siena
Day 28 - Zijuatanejo- A hotel with five rooms
Day 29 - A toast to you, Theresa. Happy Birthday!
Day 30 - Tips for a top flight
Day 31 - "How is this even possible?"
What the full story on this cool challenge?...
The first move I really remember was when my husband, our almost two year
old daughter and I moved out of our rental house and into our first purchased home.
I remember boxing up the contents of the home we had lived in for 7 years.
Even though the house was bungalow-like with only two bedrooms, we had filled
it with lots of stuff.
Each day, I would box up the things we weren't using regularly. The things I didn't think we would need before the move. The pile of boxes in the living room grew. Soon I couldn't remember what the living room looked like without the box towers.
Yet as the boxes filled and the cupboards emptied...an interesting thing happened...
I realized I wasn't really missing anything. We were living with and using the bare essentials...and it was enough. It was plenty. There was freedom in less.
Full disclosure- this was not the beginning of my great push for a minimalist life. I was a hard sell. My husband would often say that he would be happy with living room that held only one really GREAT chair. The concept was lost on me... I was still attached to my stuff. But, the seed was planted...somewhere inside I remembered how nice it felt to only have the 'things I used every day' available to me.
The seed began to sprout...
Over the years we began to travel often. Two elements of our wanderlust led me to finally pare down-
1. We often rented flats or houses instead of staying in a hotel. A practice I highly recommend...especially if you have children (more in future post:-)
2. I became a 'carry-on only' girl. There was some reluctance, but I have never looked back.
Rental homes are awesome, but they don't have all of your stuff. So...you have to
make do and get creative. I have always found this exciting. We would open all of the cupboards to assess what we had to work with and then make a plan. There is magic
in having to stretch. Having to 'figure it out' goes a long way toward enriching the entire experience. Real memories are made in the 'struggle' of roughing it.
In addition, I had only the clothes, shoes, accessories and toiletries that fit in my
carry-on luggage. This too was a revelation. I managed to get dressed everyday and look put together... out of one small bag. I always packed the pieces that I knew looked and felt great. I knew they all worked together. I enjoyed getting dressed on vacation.
At some point during our time away... I would start to think, "I'm not missing any of my stuff"...except maybe my own bed. I quickly realized that I didn't need all of the 'extras'
I had in my house...especially the things I didn't really love! I'd return home ready to purge! I wanted to feel the lightness of living on vacation!
My family moved cross-country last summer. The move had an enormous impact on our stuff.
Only things we LOVED made the cut.
I haven't missed anything!
Well, except for the small Thermos' that my kids said they would never use...and now wish they had for their lunches:-)