Monday, February 23, 2015

My Red Carpet Favorites!

Oscar Sunday is one of my favorite days of the entire year. I make the same joke every year - "THIS IS MY SUPERBOWL!" and completely crack myself up. We had a party at our house and almost 20 people came - it was a packed house! Between running around after the puppy (who was SO well behaved!) and arranging cheese platters, I barely got a chance to look at the red carpet :( thank god for websites putting up pictures with all the details!

Honestly, barely anyone blew me away this year. I don't understand why people don't take more risks. I know they're my favorite colors, but where was the hot pink? Where was the turquoise? Bright colors photograph beautifully on the carpet and in an age where everyone plays it safe, wearing a bright bold color in the right silhouette gets you SO much attention and accolades. I would have paid money to see someone in a bold fuschia or teal. 

But anyway - here's who I did like, in reverse order! My top five starts off with Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph & Russo (photo via EOnline). I actually don't even LIKE Gwyneth, but I like a girl who takes a risk in a classy way (not in the Naomi Watts way - wtf was that glitter sports bra situation?). The color looked beautiful on her skin and I am personally always a fan of a one-shoulder, plus there's no large flower pouf situation I can't get on board with!

Next up - Anna Faris in Zuhair Murad (photo via Just Jared). What can I say? I'm a creature of habit and I love me a princess sparkle ballgown. This dress looks great because the proportions are right - the top is formfitting but not too tight and the length flows, but isn't too long. I would have liked a different hairstyle (and hair color for that matter) but she does look beautiful. And she's married to Chris Pratt so she WINS AT LIFE. #prattprattpratt

The night's big winner was Julianne Moore who is just a goddamn stunning national treasure, isn't she? In my next life I will have her gorgeous skin and her beautiful gorgeous red hair. TRUE STORY: One time I sat behind her on a plane to NYC and one single strand of her gorgeous hair peeked through the seats AND I TOUCHED IT. Yes I'm crazy. Anyway - I dream of being able to say "Oh, this dress? It's custom Chanel. By Karl." I love the shimmery white simplicity paired with the whimsical little sequined flowers. Just beautiful. (Photo via Us Weekly.)

Second place for Best Dressed of the Evening goes to Rosamund Pike in Givenchy (Photo by Us Weekly). Do we think she wore red to signify that terrifying scene in Gone Girl?! Whatever her reasoning - girlfriend looked ON POINT. I loved her structured scarlet lace column - especially the top - paired with a more casual, pulled back bun. A great lesson in balances! Also - extra points go towards her simple, elegant strappy heel in the EXACT same color as the gown #perfectaccessorizing. Truly, this woman is beautiful and talented and the dress reflects that.

Okay - my choice for the night's big winner? J.LO, YALL!!!! One glimpse of that gorgeous, iridescent, beaded, sparkly Elie Saab ballgown and it was all over for me (Photo via InStyle). I loved the juxtaposition of the slightly sexier top with the more traditional poufy bottom - stunning. I also liked her very simple, elegant ponytail - a little more fun than a bun, but still understated enough so as not to take attention away from the gown. And may I remind you all that the woman is FORTY FIVE YEARS OLD?! God has truly blessed her. Or she is drinking the blood of virgins. One of those things. 

So there ya have it! Very excited to watch Fashion Police tonight and see who else people loved. Who did you think nailed it tonight? And who failed miserably? I would love to hear! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

V-Day Treats

With a cute new puppy and a cute new husband I am just full of love these days :) Valentine's Day is just a few days away and I am looking forward to celebrating! This is our first V-Day as a married couple and I can't wait to see what Ram has up his sleeve.

There is something really nice about a day dedicated to celebrating love - no matter who you are or who you love! I made this little roundup of things that have caught my eye lately... feel free to send it onto your Valentine for ideas - hint hint! And if you are still looking for a the perfect gift for someone - your mom, your sister, your BFF - you're gonna love this list. Plus, the best part is they're ALL under $75! 


ONE: I happen to LOVE patterned tights - nothing is cuter with a cocktail dress! I own polka dots and leopard print, but I'm thinking a pair of tights with hearts could make my Valentine's Day ensemble even cuter. Only $18!

TWO: A day-planner may seem to be a strange gift, but I own this Moleskine planner and I LOVE MINE. If you have a friend who is always scatter-brained, buy her one of these - they're 30% off right now, making them $12! My planner keeps me organized and I love how slim and light it is - I can throw it in any bag and be good to go!

THREE: "I Freaking Love You." Enough said! This mug is $13 and would make me laugh every time I used it.

FOUR: I am obsessed with these colors of these tassel bracelets - I want every single one! For $26, you could get someone a couple of them... magenta, coral, and tangerine would make a great V-Day stack! 

FIVE: These stacking heart bowls ($36) were actually on my Hanukkah wish-list... I would love to display all my bracelets and jewels in them on my dresser. I'm partial to pink, of course, but they also come in navy and a beautiful pale blue.

SIX: I love anything with a lipstick print. This little makeup bag is only $20 - stuff it with your favorite nail polishes and lipglosses and you've got a fabulous gift.

SEVEN: I am a huge fan of giving pictures frames as gifts - it's something everyone loves and can use in their homes, and it's even cuter if you take the time to print out a photo of you and the recipient and slip it into the frame. We actually registered for a few of these Michael Aram heart frames ($69) and put wedding photos in them - they're all around our house and I just love the fun, bold heart design.

EIGHT: In my opinion, Kendra Scott makes the best colorful earrings out there - I have like a dozen pairs. Every season, she comes out with new colors and new shapes - I have these drop earrings ($55) in turquoise but I'm thinking the magenta may need to join my collection!

NINE: Know any newlyweds? This Mr. & Mrs. dishtowel duo ($42 for two) would be the cutest gift for their first V-Day!

TEN: This is one of those quirky little gifts that I would personally love to get. It's a "Love Letter Tray" from West Elm, currently on sale for $12 - for that price you could buy one for everyone you love! 

ELEVEN: This heart-printed duffel bag could not be any cuter. It's the perfect size for an overnight or weekend get-away! I happen to already have a little duffel with hearts, but if I didn't, I'd snap this up in one second flat. I was also really surprised by the price - I think $54 for a bag this big is super reasonable!

I'm ALWAYS a girly girl, but Valentine's Day really brings it out of me.... pink, red, hearts, kisses, flowers, glitter... I love it all!!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The SIXTH Annual White Elephant Party!

Worst blogger of the year award definitely goes to me. It has been exactly a month since the SIXTH Annual Post-Holiday White Elephant Party, and I have yet to post about it! 

If you're new around here, here's the basic rundown... for the past six years, each January, my friend Alexandra and I have thrown a party and asked our friends to bring the WORST gift they got over the holiday season to trade in a white Elephant game! We make delicious food, we drink, we snack, we nosh, we get competitive... it's a great time and we all look forward to it every year! (Check out our parties from past years - 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010!)

Me and Al. Hostesses with the mostest!


This year, because of our crazy schedules, we decided to break tradition (the last two years have been a Sunday brunch shindig) and throw a little wine & cheese party on a Friday night. Of course, I was not content to JUST stick to serving plain old cheese... so we also served veggies, dips, charcuterie, homemade crostini (feta and roasted tomato + goat cheese with proscuitto), and the big hit of the evening... SUSHI! I ordered a party tray from a fabulous little place I like and the whole platter was gone in less than ten minutes. 



I stocked my bar cart with wine and booze and put up my cute little drink stand - an engagement gift from my sis which I LOVE - and filled it with champagne, soda, sparkling juices, and more.


Here is the pile of gifts before the game got started. This year's haul included some crazy stuff - a Grumpy Cat stuffed animal, flavored liqueurs, an iPhone 6 Hobbit-themed cover, an amazing leopard ombre scarf that I actually really wanted, stinky candles, nail polish, Wild West-patterned kitchen towels, and a Snoopy-themed HOT DOG maker that yours truly ended up with :)


Goofing around during the game:


Three musketeers :)


I love this picture because everyone says I look exactly like my mom here and I agree:


More pals!


Every year, Alexandra and I take this picture with our friends from high school. We always say how much fun we have when we get together and it really only happens at this party every year, so we actually planned an outing for dinner and it's taking place tomorrow night! 


Another year, another fun White Elephant party! Can't wait for the SEVENTH annual shindig!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Meet TRUFFLE!!!!

We have some very exciting news in our household. Over the weekend, we welcomed a new member of the family! Everyone, please welcome TRUFFLE!!!



If you are not not melting at the sight of her, you have a heart of stone. Truffle is a cream French Bulldog! She is eight weeks old and she weighs six pounds. She is LITERALLY the smallest thing ever - do not let these photos deceive you! You can hold her in one hand. She is the length of my shoe!



Those of you who know me know that I have been talking about getting a Frenchie for YEARS. I liked to pretend that Rami was the reason why we hadn't just bought one already - it was far easier to fake-blame him than to actually admit that puppies take time, energy, and money... and up until now, we were not in the place to be able to handle one. But we're finally in a house and don't have to worry about a puppy messing up a rented apartment, and last month I actually got laid off (I don't think I mentioned that on the blog yet - don't worry, I'm fine) and figured while I have time on my hands to be at home/train a puppy, it was now or never! 


We started looking for Frenchie breeders when we came back from the honeymoon - I am a member of several French Bulldog groups on Facebook where breeders post pictures of their available puppies, and I read every post, waiting for just the right puppy to become available. (PS. Before I get scolded, I have also been a member of several Frenchie rescue groups for years - I waited and waited for a young Frenchie to become available in California, but none ever did. Our next dog very well may be a shelter dog!) 

Anyway - I emailed with lots of breeders, but none of them were the one. One day, two weeks ago, I randomly searched #availablefrenchies as a hashtag on Instagram, and lo and behold, stumbled on a husband & wife in Sacramento whose dog had delivered a little of SIX Frenchies in December! A couple of emails and a Facetime phone call (where I CRIED at the sight of the puppies like a real goddamn lunatic), she was ours! The breeders drove down from Sacramento and delivered our baby to our door on Super Bowl Sunday and just like that, we became dog parents!


I cannot tell a lie - I forgot that puppies were THIS MUCH WORK. I am exhausted! I have been running after this little booger all day long. The good news is she is truly a sweetheart - she is sooooo calm, very quiet, rarely barks or whines, and is a champion eater and sleeper, just like her parents :) The last two nights, she has slept in her crate for six hours without making a peep - when Ram wakes up for work, he feeds her and lets her go potty, and then puts her back in bed with me, where she sleeps for another 2-3 hours! Here she is this morning :)


Other facts about her: the vet gave her a good report and said she was in good health, and the vet technician nearly lost it when she saw her and said she was the cutest baby she ever saw. She is not at all potty-trained, and has been peeing ALL OVER our brand new wood floors like it's her job. Gonna have to work on that. And I was nervous to take her in the car, but she seemed to like it once I set her on the seat next to me in her bag.... I pet her while I drove and she actually fell asleep! Look at this face!


As I type this, she is sleeping next to me like a champion:


One look at her tiny face and I melt. She has only been ours for three days and we love her so much already it hurts. If you want to see more pictures of her as she grows, follow me on Instagram @queenjord... I have been posting lots of pictures (and so have my friends!), so check out her hashtag - #babytruff! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Honeymoon Part Three: Sydney!

Our final stop on the #honeymoondownunder was Sydney! 

I was so, so excited to go to Sydney. When my sister was in college she studied abroad in Sydney - my parents went to visit her but I got asked to staff my very first MOTL trip and decided to do that instead. I have always been bummed that I never got to visit - and so this was a long-awaited trip!

We stayed at the Sydney Intercontinental for four nights and I have to say, I thought the location was fantastic. We were a five-minute walk away from the Sydney Harbor and the Opera House, which was very convenient for all the sightseeing we wanted to do... and we did a lot!

(I will make one caveat about visiting Australia during this time of year - yes, it's their summer there, and yes, the weather is stunning, so it's easy to want to visit around the holidays, but many restaurants and shops in Sydney close down for the week between Christmas and New Years. We still did mostly everything we wanted to do, but there were a couple of things that were unfortunately closed and I was disappointed! Just thought I'd point that out in case you are planning your own trip.)

Anyway! Onto the fun! These four and a half days in Sydney were our real "touristy" days and we packed a LOT into them. On the night that we arrived, we kicked off the fun with dinner at a famous Sydney restaurant, Rockpool Bar & Grill - we loved the art deco ceiling in the restaurant! And on our first day, we visited Bondi Beach, where Bailey lived when she was in Australia, ate lunch outside at a fabulous and very chic restaurant called Bill's, did some shopping and of course, admired the beautiful beaches.




We purposely planned our trip so that we would be in Sydney over New Years Eve, so we could experience what it was like being the very first people in the world to celebrate the new year! Years ago, when Bailey studied in Sydney, she had told me a story about a world famous restaurant - Tetsuya's - and ever since then, for years, I had wanted to go. New Years Eve was the perfect time to have that amazing meal, and I made our reservations there almost a YEAR in advance. 


We had a nine-course degustation menu featuring French and Japanese influences and it was phenomenal. I was SUCH a tourist and insisted on bringing our fancy camera and photographing each and every course - I won't post them all, but these were my favorite - oysters with caviar and ginger, and their most famous dish - confit of ocean trout with salmon roe. Out of this world. It was a wonderful last meal of 2014 and a very special memory we will always have.



After dinner, nearly every street in the city was closed, so we joined the thousands of people who were walking in the streets heading towards the Sydney Harbor Bridge to see the fireworks! We arrived around 11pm and found a spot where we could see them... and an hour later, we were two of the 1.6 million people watching the fireworks live and ringing in 2015! 


Rami was so excited for the first day of 2015... I had promised him a trip to the world-famous Taronga Zoo! We took a ferry there - it was a beautiful day and we sailed right past the Opera House. See how big Ram is smiling since he knows he is going to get to see the animals?! #shouldabeenavet



The zoo was amazing. We got to see all the indigenous animals of Australia and lots of other cuties as well! Some of our favorites - I liked the wallabies and Rami loved the echidnas (basically like tiny spiny anteaters). We both loved the seal show and I was OBSESSED with the tiny penguins - I seriously took like forty photos of them.





I was looking forward to seeing real kangaroos but they were slightly terrifying - look at that thing's arms! They're huge!


I can't believe I am posting this picture on the internet.. after the zoo, we wandered around the harbor for a little while, and ended up booking two seats on a "Sydney Thunder Jet" - basically, a half hour long boat ride that dips and twirls and nosedives and spins you around the water until you are SOAKING wet. We declined the protective ponchos and ended up looking like two little drowned rats, but it was SO FUN!


On our last day, we took a private yacht ride on the harbor with a tour guide who took us out on the water and pointed out the famous real estate that surrounds the Sydney Harbor... it was very cool and we enjoyed ourselves very much, UNTIL the guide had a bit of a rough patch controlling the sails on the boat and we ended up nearly tipping over into the water  #panic #notokay. After that frightening incident (which I am telling very calmly - BELIEVE ME I was flipping out and so was normally very calm Rami), we recovered by taking the ferry to Manly Beach, about a half hour boat ride away from Sydney, and walked around that little beach town before enjoying a delicious lunch at Manly Wine. I have to say - all the restaurants in Sydney (and surrounding areas) are SO cute, chic, and well-designed. Everything was Instagram-worthy! I could have taken a billion photos!


On our last night in Sydney, and our last night of vacation overall, we did something very cool... we saw a show at the Sydney Opera House! It was Rami's idea and he picked the show - we saw "All You Need Is Love," a Beatles spectacular featuring a 50-piece orchestra, with all the Beatles hits sung by four amazing Australian musicians. I think we'll remember it forever - what a once in a lifetime opportunity! We finished the night with dinner at an amazing Chinese restaurant - Mr. Wong's - and it was the perfect end to our vacation. Some great music, a little stir-fried shrimp and some dumplings... everyone was happy :)



So... there you have it. A two-week, four-city trip of a lifetime. Our honeymoon was everything I ever dreamed of and more. It was relaxing, it was adventurous, it was luxurious, and it was FUN... and I got to experience it all with my brand-new cute husband, who also happens to be my best friend :) We will never ever forget it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Honeymoon Part Two: The Great Barrier Reef!

Hello again! Welcome to day two of the honeymoon recaps... I sat down and banged these out and didn't get up from the computer for hours. I wanted to make sure I recorded all of my memories for posterity so I can always go back and remember how amazing the trip was :)

So! From Fiji, we left and flew directly to Brisbane for one night. This was just a stopover, because there were no direct flights from Fiji to Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef. To be honest, I was not psyched about having to stop for a night, but our travel agent made reservations for us at a restaurant right on the river in Brisbane and even though we were exhausted and kinda jetlegged, we went... and it ended up being the BEST meal of the trip! Funny how that works out :)

The next morning we woke up and flew to Hamilton Island, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands. When we had started planning the honeymoon, the GBR was high on our list, and our travel agent had insisted on us going to Hamilton Island, and staying at one resort in particular - Qualia Resort.


Let me just say this - I am a very lucky girl and am part of a family who loves to travel. I have visited lots of amazing places and stayed in beautiful hotels and I never take that for granted. But never in my life have I stayed anywhere like Qualia before, and I don't think I ever will again. It was by FAR the nicest, most luxurious resort I have ever been to in my entire life. We didn't even know this, but apparently in 2012 it was chosen as the best resort in the WORLD. I kept saying to Rami, "This is way out of my paygrade" and he kept joking "Why the hell did we stay in Fiji so long if we could have been HERE instead?!" #wejoke #justkiddingfijiwestillloveyou


From the moment we stepped off the plane and were greeted by two Qualia employees, who handed us ice cold water bottles and glasses of champagne and explained one of them would take us to the hotel directly while the other waited for our luggage to come off the carousel (Rami and I were literally blown away by this) to the absolutely stunning state-of-the-art room with a full living room, ipod docks and speakers, a giant soaking tub and a huge steam shower, a beautiful patio with chaise lounges overlooking the reef itself, to the genuine kindness and helpfulness of the Qualia staff... we were in heaven. The whole time. It was just pure luxury. I can't describe it better than that.

Look how beautiful this place is!



And here is our room. We stayed in the Leeward Pavilion and it was just beautiful. I very much enjoyed that enormous tub.




There were a couple highlights from the entire honeymoon and both of them took place while we were on Hamilton Island. Probably the coolest thing we did on the entire trip was snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! We booked a half day snorkeling tour and sailed on a boat out to the reef itself. I was REALLY scared because I get nervous in deep water but I knew I would be very disappointed with myself if I didn't make myself go. So we suited up and jumped in!




I am so glad we did it. My cousin lent me his underwater camera and we got to take up close photos with all the fish - we saw soooooo many different kinds in all different colors and really beautiful pieces of coral and seaweed too. I was honestly expecting to be swimming at the top of the water gazing down at the fish below us, but I was genuinely surprised once we jumped in and I realized that these fish are NOT scared of humans - they swam right up to us at the water's surface! A few times we were literally swimming THROUGH the school of fish. It was unbelievable.




The instructor who was with us gave Rami some food to feed them with - I was terrified one would bite me so I didn't do it - but Rami did it. As soon as he put his hand with the food in the water a MILLION fish swarmed him to eat it! He said it felt like little ripples on his hand. See them jumping out of the water to get to the food?!


And the second major highlight? We got to hold koalas!!! When we first booked the trip, we told our travel agent that this was a MUST. Since touching koalas is illegal in New South Wales, we knew our only option was to do it while on Hamilton Island, so off we went to the Wildlife Park!


Let me just mention that we had an appointment to hold them booked for 8:30am our first day and I was so excited I could barely sleep and woke up at 6am that day... and when we arrived, they LOST our reservation and I SOBBED. LIKE A BABY. Rami had to take control of the situation and give me a popsicle and do an imitation of a koala while simultaneously making arrangements to come back at a different time. WHAT A GEM. Anyway - when we came back for the afternoon "koala cuddle session" it was amazing. We didn't get to hold them long - only about a minute each - but they are so cute!!! Rami calls them "teddy bears who hug you back" and they were scratchy but cuddly and kind of smelled like menthol cuz they eat eucalyptus all day. I loved them. Ours was named WILLY!!!!



Here were two other things we loved about Hamilton Island.... Number one: barely anyone on the island drives cars. Instead, everyone drives GOLF CARTS!!!! Even on the main roads! When we checked into Qualia, they gave us the keys to our very own golf cart - which they call a "buggy" - for our entire stay. It was crazy driving on the wrong side of the road! Number two: anywhere you go on the island, even if you're off your resort property - restaurants, bars, drugstores, clothing shops - lets you charge whatever you buy back to your room. So we were literally in the equivalent of Australian CVS and we were able to just tell them to put it on our room tab! It was very cool and I'm not sure why I liked that so much. Maybe because it meant I didn't have to carry a purse anywhere?

Some other fun things we did: we had lunch everyday at the hotel by the pool overlooking the waters of the reef. So gorgeous. When we checked into the room, the hotel had left chocolates and chilled champagne for us (actually, every hotel did that! #honeymoon perks). We went to delicious dinners every night off the resort property on the island - our favorite was a place called Coca Chu, which served Asian fusion. Yum!




We were only in the Great Barrier Reef for three nights and I am not kidding when I say I was SO SAD to leave. I could have easily spent a whole week there. I am not sure when we'll ever be able to go back, but I vow to return one day!