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The Nomadic Life: Austin, Texas

By  March 05, 2015

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With South by Southwest right around the corner, there’s no better time than now to plan your trip to Austin, Texas. We’ll be there, keeping Austin weird. Join us.

Graze: Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden.
You could honestly spend your entire trip to Austin stopping at our favorite places to eat. But for your sake (and the sake of your pant size), we’ll just make one recommendation here. Pick up a morning pastry and dirty chai latte at Easy Tiger Bake Shop to start the day off right. The freshly made pretzels and biergarten may even have you coming back for lunch.

Walk: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike trail
Meander through the 10 miles of paths and trails that this park has to offer. Grab a bike or just stroll awhile as you take in that beautiful thing we call nature. You’re going to need it after all of that food you’re sure to eat.

Stay: Hotel Ella
A historic mansion turned into a boutique hotel near the University of Texas campus. Need we say more?

tomboy kc bioTOMBOY KC is a fashion and lifestyle blog written by actress Katie Cassidy and pint-sized real-life friend, Lynsey Eaton. Focused on personal style that is, well, personal, TKC is a place for smart and opinionated (read: sarcastic) women to join together and accumulate stilettos while collectively wearing their sneakers…everywhere. Self proclaimed nomads, when the girls aren’t traveling for work or buying two of everything (one apiece, you see), you can find them sitting on Lynsey’s couch eating pizza and drinking champagne in men’s pajamas while waxing poetic about the present state of culottes. Feel free to come on over.

The Glam Girl's Guide to a Casino Weekend

By  March 03, 2015

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For New York City gals, Atlantic City is the perfect destination for an easy weekend getaway with the girls. For the rest of the world, it’s a vacation worth taking. And not just to get your blackjack on, either. If you choose the right accommodations and follow our advice, your casino trip can turn into a whole lot more —especially if you hit up Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, AC’s luxury hot spot.

1. Cruise the casino floor
Whether you’re a rookie roulette player or a poker professional, the thrill of the slots and tables is a do-not-miss experience. Borgata has the games you’ll want to play in an environment you’ll love: More than 3,400 slots and 180 table games, not to mention 100 Racebook seats. You can stay on the floor all day and not get bored.

2. Scope out the spa
No trip to Atlantic City is complete without playing a hand or two at the tables, but be sure to make time for Borgata’s other luxuries. After all, what’s a girl’s trip without a day at the spa? Or better yet two days at two spas? Stop in at Spa Toccare for a rejuvenating body treatment, a glowing effect facial, or a relaxing massage. Post-treatment, take a stroll through the pool garden and rest under a shady veranda. Immersion Spa offers plenty of body treatments too, plus multiple massage styles, including deep tissue, hot stone, Thai, and Balinese. Recover while looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows with 360-degree views, or check out the indoor lap pool and fitness center.

3. Shop till you drop
Shopping on vacation doesn’t count, right? Especially if you never actually step outside because all your favorite stores are located conveniently inside your hotel. Grab the girls and browse the boutiques in Borgata. Whether you hit up Carina, Hugo Boss, or Just Cavalli, you’re sure to find something fantastic to wear for your night out.

4. Indulge your taste buds
Weekend getaways are supposed to be relaxing and indulgent. Instead of cooking a harried weeknight chicken something-or-other like you usually do, have someone else do the work for a change. At Borgata and its five fine-dining restaurants, you’ll get something much more extravagant than usual. Choose among sushi spot Izakaya, Bobby Flay Steak, Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Old Homestead Steak House, or Fornelletto.

5. Hit the dance floor
A great vacation calls for celebration, and celebration calls for dancing. For maximum stumble-back-to-the-room ability, look for a casino that brings your evening’s entertainment to you via in-house clubs. Borgata has two—top DJs and delicious drinks can be found both at MIXX and mur.mur. Hit up one on the first night and the other on the second. And if you end up hitting the dance floor too hard, you can always recuperate at the spa the next morning.

What to Do in NYC This Winter, Part Two

By  February 20, 2015

Regardless of whether you’re a life-long city slicker or just visiting for the weekend, it can be tough to find things to do in New York City during the winter. I recently shared my advice on where to wine and dine in the city this season – today, it’s all what and where is worthy of bundling up and venturing out.

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From new shops in SoHo to a handful of worthy indulgences, here’s a few of my favorite spots in New York City:

Paintbox: This place is a must-visit if you’re a mani-loving gal. It’s a trendy nail studio in the heart of SoHo that offers a variety services from classic manicures to super-cool nail art. Just in time for…

Fashion Week: If you’re around in February, stop by Lincoln Center to people-watch during New York Fashion Week (Feb. 12-19, 2015). Runway shows and events are by-invitation-only, but if you’re interested in learning more about getting involved, you can read my post on how to get into Fashion Week.

La Maison du Chocolat: During an afternoon of shopping (cardio!), treat yourself to an indulgent cup of cocoa and a box of delicious, praline-dusted almonds. You deserve it!

& Other Stories: The European fan-favorite recently opened an outpost in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. I’m thrilled – my wallet, on the other hand, is not.

Restaurant Week: Mark your calendar for Feb. 16 – March 6, 2015, make a reservation and enjoy a five-course lunch or dinner at more than 300 participating restaurants.

Ice skating: Wollman Rink in Central Park is Manhattan magic at it’s finest. It boasts some seriously Instagram-worthy views of the city’s skyline, too.

Head to corals + cognacs for more of my favorite New York City spots.

Contributing Editor, Hallie Wilson is the blogger behind corals + cognacs, an almost-daily dose of life and style. Here, she shares outfit inspirations, wardrobe creations and general musings on her evolving list of latest obsessions. Offline, Hallie takes time to enjoying life’s little luxuries – like shoe shopping, manicures, and Zara.

8 Award-Worthy CocktailsTo Serve at Your Oscar Party

By  February 20, 2015

Awards season is almost over! With the Academy Awards afoot, everyone will be gathering to cull their top picks for who will take home an Oscar. With plenty to celebrate, a chic cocktail becomes a necessity for anyone who’s hosting their own red carpet spectacle. We’ve found a few new favorites to add to our repertoire, many based on the evening’s nominees, that you won’t want to wait to shake up!

A Glorious Evening

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1 oz. Courvoisier VSOP
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Sour
1/2 oz. DeKuyper Apricot Brandy
4 oz. Apple Cider

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon spiral twist and a dash of fresh ground cinnamon.

Pinnacle Best Picture

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1½ oz. Pinnacle Raspberry Vodka
1 oz. DeKuyper Creme de Cocoa White Liqueur

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Place chocolate chips in raspberries and float in martini if you’d like.

All That Glitters

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1 1/2 oz. Belvedere Wild Berry
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. sparkling wine

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of starfruit.

Broadway Bramble, inspired by Birdman

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2 oz. Wild Turkey 80
5 Blackberries
1 oz. Lime Sour
Soda Water

In a Boston Shaker add all ingredients except soda water, fill with ice, cap and shake well in order to crush the blackberries. Strain into an ice filled bucket glass and top with soda water. Add blackberry garnish.

Theory of Everything, served at The Roof 

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1 1/2 oz.  Stoli
1 oz. Singani
1/2 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup

Muddled strawberries in a coup cup and add all of the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into the glass, top with Prosecco, and garnish with a mint leaf.

The Hotel Lobby, inspired by the The Grand Budapest Hotel

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1 ½ oz. Skinnygirl Meyer Lemon Vodka
2 oz. club soda
Muddled raspberries
Fresh lemon twist for garnish

Muddle raspberries in a glass and add ice.  Pour ingredients and stir.  Garnish with a fresh lemon twist.

The Decoded Mocktail, inspired by The Imitation Game

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1 oz. Tarragon Infused Simple Syrup*
2 Lemon Wedges
Soda Water

Pour simple syrup into a soda set, squeeze and drop lemon wedges into bottom of the glass.  Fill glass with ice and top with soda water.  Roll contents from glass to mixing tin and back into the glass to mix.

*For the Tarragon Infused Simple Syrup:
4 cups Simple Syrup
1 oz. Fresh Tarragon

Place simple syrup and tarragon into a sauce pan over high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute and turn off heat. Let tarragon steep in hot syrup for 5 minutes.  Strain through a chinois, and transfer to a container.

The Selma, served at The Roof

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1 1/2 oz. Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime
1/4 oz. Demerara 
3/4 oz. Apricot Liquor
3 dashes Angastora 

Build in a tumbler over ice with a spoonful of Laphroaig float 

Boho Chic Party Style: Floral Inspiration

By  February 16, 2015

Bohemian style may be nothing new, but it’s skyrocketing popularity in the party world is definitely a very current, growing trend! I’ve seen so many more Boho Chic themed celebrations and styled shoots this past year in particular… starting with weddings and quickly trickling down into gorgeous bridal showers, baby showers, and even children’s birthday parties.

Boho style is eclectic in itself, and there are lots of different elements that pop into the mix… from feathers and woodsy elements to antlers, vintage glassware, succulents, and dreamcatchers. However, whimsical flowers are the one element that seems to be consistently used throughout, so I thought it would be fun to do a round up of boho-inspired botanical party details today.

Floral Garland Backdrop

Let’s start with the absolutely gorgeous floral garland backdrop from this Greenhouse Wedding featured on Wedding Chicks. Even though it’s styled for a wedding here, this concept would also work beautifully as a guest photo area or dessert table backdrop for any boho chic  party. (I love the idea of swagging individual strands across chair backs too!)

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Floral Crowns

Speaking of party photos, another way to make yours even prettier is to accessorize with floral crowns:

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Floral Numbers, Letters, & Symbols

When it comes to party design, I’m a huge fan of the unexpected, which is why I especially love these next few examples of bohemian-style decor: numbers, letters, and symbols that just so happen to be fashioned from flowers! Let’s start with this stunning floral “3” from RockPaperScissors, as seen in the lovely Boho Chic Birthday Party that we featured on HWTM:

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Next up is a pair of ultra-creative floral backdrops dreamed up by event designer Jesi Haack: 1) YUM spelled out in fresh flowers for this stunning Bohemian Bridal Shower and 2) a cool Peace and Love Backdrop for West Elm that was crafted from paper flowers.

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Paper Flowers

And while we’re on the subject of paper flowers, let’s check out another fantastic way to utilize them… in the form of this gorgeous Crepe Paper Floral Garland by Mazzi Flowers. I love how it’s draped around the tee-pee tent (another boho chic party staple, by the way!) in this sweet Botanical 1st Birthday Party featured on 100 Layer Cakelet.

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Hope you enjoyed all this boho chic eye candy! You can find lots more party inspiration and custom paper decor in all sorts of themes and styles at Hostess with the Mostess and Hostess INK!

jen sbrantiContributing Editor, Jennifer Sbranti is a graphic designer and founder of Hostess with the Mostess®. HWTM brings stylish entertaining ideas to light through an inspirational “how-to” website, creative online community, and popular daily blog. Sbranti’s ideas have been featured in media outlets such as The Today Show, People, InStyle Weddings, Pregnancy, and Everyday with Rachael Ray. Sbranti resides in San Diego with her husband (& HWTM co-founder) Sonny Sbranti and their two young daughters, Macy & Rylie.

Oh, So Glam: A Glamorous Connecticut Home

By  February 12, 2015

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Are you familiar with Sue de Chiara, owner of the gorgeous online shop Zhush? If you’re not, it’s time to get on board. Sue has an amazing eye, which translates into a fabulously well curated shop that contains wonderful home decor pieces.

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Recently, she opened up her Connecticut home for a little tour, and her abode is definitely worth the walk through. It’s a mix of contrasts: bold and airy; daring and traditional; quirky and restrained. More than anything, I’m loving the personal, lived in feel the home has, while still looking beautifully and thoughtfully designed. You can view the full tour here, along with lots of background about Sue’s inspiration!

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Images by Nicole Cohen

Victoria McGinley is the editor of vmac+cheese, a San Francisco based daily lifestyle blog that covers plenty of topics to delight and inspire, including style, design, art, culture, beauty, and original recipes. A native of Austin, TX, she’s blogged since 2008, and in early 2012, launched Vivaleur, a graphic design and blog consulting company. When she’s not blogging or working with clients, you can find her enjoying the San Francisco fog with her husband Joe, and their French bulldog puppy, Lucy.

7 Date Night Dining Ideas With a Wine Country Twist

By  February 12, 2015

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Everyone has an ideal Valentine’s Day. For me, February 14th would begin with a drive with my beau north from the San Francisco Bay Area to beautiful Sonoma in the heart of wine country. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa would be our humble abode for the weekend, providing a romantic oasis with its magical mesh of modernity and luxury alongside charming nods to the area’s rustic aesthetic. While on any other occasion I’d be taking advantage of the Fairmont’s long list of activities, from nature hikes to water yoga to zumba, my Valentine’s Day is all about relaxation. I’m headed to the 40,000 square foot spa for a full afternoon of pampering amidst the mineral springs. The love-filled evening would, of course, end with a delicious meal. For the love of food, is there any other way to end Valentine’s Day?

Speaking of food, Sonoma is the perfect place to indulge. The charming town takes pride in its rich culinary treasures, showcasing many of them at the annual Feast of the Olive dinner in January at the world-renowned Ramekins Culinary School. Each top caliber chef offered his or her talents by creating the food for a portion of the event’s menu. Does their expertise get put to good use on Valentine’s Day? Being that February 14th is one of the busiest days in the restaurant business, more often than not, chefs end up working. But for the love birds with plans to feast at home, these wine country cooks had some advice to offer. Here’s what each had to say about creating the perfect Valentine’s Day date meal. 

 

Love Is In The Air: Jess Levin's Advice for Newly Engaged Ladies

By  February 03, 2015

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photo via Instagram.com/caratsandcake

‘Tis the season of love, ladies. February 14th is just on the horizon, which means couples are ramping up the romance and according to statistics, more than just a few of them are set to make their relationship official too. Valentine’s Day: a popular occasion to get engaged? Who would have thought…

Sarcasm aside, if your beau pops the question this season, it’s important to address the following weeks accordingly. Jess Levin, the creator of the interactive wedding site, Carats & Cake, offers her expertise with five tips for newly engaged couples. After the proposal comes the journey of the party planning process. Here’s what to know!

1. Just got engaged? Embrace the moment! So many couples rush into planning mode right away without taking the time to bask in the “just engaged glow”. Regardless of whether you are planning a 12 week or 12 month engagement, you have time. Beginnings only happen once. So breathe.

2. Set boundaries. When you do start the planning process, it is important that you have a sit-down with all parties involved and discuss the big picture from responsibilities to budget. The biggest piece of advice I hear from brides everyday is that communication and organization are key. Not only does this help everyone get on the same page, but it also avoids future conflicts.

3. It’s all about you and your beloved. Period. Too many couples say they lose sight of this and get wrapped up in trying to make everyone else happy but themselves. Remember this is your wedding. As harsh as it sounds, you have to come to terms with the fact that you aren’t going to please everyone. Setting boundaries as mentioned above can help.

4.  Prioritize. Make a list of the things that are important to you and rank them. Working on a limited budget? Splurge on the things that matter and figure out how to save with things that don’t. Obsessing over a designer dress? Then see if a friend can make you an amazing play list so you don’t have to pay for a DJ. A flower aficionado? Make sure your florist can re-use flowers from the ceremony in the reception.

5. Photographs last a lifetime. Even though I said it’s all about you, arguably the third most important person at your wedding is the photographer. Choosing the right person to capture your special day can be daunting, so make sure you not only ask to view multiple weddings they have shot but also ask for referrals. In addition, many girls recommend you meet your photographer before the big day so that the photographer gets a sense of you as a couple and knows what to look for. One more tip, make a list of the shots you absolutely want so nobody misses a thing.

Style for Your Stomach?

By  February 03, 2015

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image via HolliThompson.com 

Now that we are in the second month of the New Year, the resolution craze seems to be dying down. No more lines at treadmill and those pesky bad eating habits are probably starting to creep back in. Why? Because “resolutions” rarely work!

What does work is a change in perspective, a change in the way you look at your life and your relationship with food.

Back in November I discovered a book that changed the way I eat – for good! The book is called Discover Your Nutritional Style. The author, Holli Thompson, is a former exec at Chanel (yes, Chanel), changed the way she ate and changed her whole entire life. Just as you would style yourself, Holli “styles” your diet. What you eat is dependent on your nutritional style.

I’ve been following Holli’s simple method for months and the results are quite stylish – clearer skin, brighter eyes, a few pounds lost, and a feeling so good its almost impossible to describe. So forget your resolution, and style your diet for 2015.

Lauren Messiah, is a Los Angeles based stylist and the creator of LaurenMessiah.com, a blog about designer deals, the hottest trends, and Lauren’s life as a fashion stylist.Lauren styles some of Hollywood’s most successful women in entertainment, celebrities, fashion editorials, and national ad campaigns. Lauren has been featured in Marie Claire, Vogue Italia, Grazia, WWD, OK! Magazine and Health Magazine.

How to Host a Modern, Fun Afternoon Tea Party

By  January 28, 2015

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Tea parties are cute. Tea parties are fancy. Tea parties are a great occasion to get dressed up for. Please note, were not discussing the political variety. This is a guide to a time honored afternoon tradition that centers around celebration, delicious delicacies, chic dresses, festive decor and of course, tea. The history of the afternoon tea party can be traced directly to British culture. There’s high tea (which tends to be a heavier affair), and then there’s “low tea” or afternoon tea. According to this in depth history of the celebration by What’s Cooking America, the latter practice dates back to the 19th Century, when the Duchess of Bedford created an afternoon meal at around 5 pm, centering around small cakes, sandwiches and tea with friends. The practice has only grown with popularity through the ages.

I grew up in Trinidad with a mom who loves British history and culture. Every year – especially around the holidays – my mom would host afternoon tea with her best girlfriends. I grew up loving the ceremony of it all, and I grew up always wanting to have tea parties of my own. Tea parties aren’t stuffy affairs (or they don’t HAVE to be). They don’t have to be old fashioned, either. You can throw a fresh, fun, festive afternoon tea for your friends that channels the old and celebrates the new. Here are my top tea party tips!

1. Create a balanced tea party menu. Think “two parts sweet, one part savory.” Traditionally popular tea party items include scones, petit fours, tiny sandwiches and savory pastries like meat pies. Caribbean afternoon tea might include something a bit more spicy, like empanadas or Venezuelan style arepas. For a modern twist, consider crostini, bruschetta, flatbread or mini sliders made with gourmet ingredients as your savory items, and for sweet, think about macarons, cupcakes, cake pops, or mini pies.

2. Not everyone drinks tea, so plan accordingly. Coffee is also super popular at American get togethers (although nobody has an afternoon coffee party). Modern afternoon tea parties have been known to include light cocktails or non alcoholic punch, so consider making champagne cocktails or a pitcher of mojitos.

3. When it comes to decor, think dainty but not necessarily delicate. The days of having to serve afternoon tea on dainty china is over. Feel free to mix and match your own colorful dishes, or purchase cute plastic plates with matching or coordinating napkins.

4. Consider your guest list carefully. You want to curate a group that’s lively and conversational, friends who you know will get along and new folks who you’d like to get to know better.

5. Have a variety of teas and milks and sweetener options at the ready. Nowadays, so many of us are lactose intolerant! Having a little soy milk, almond milk or rice milk available can help your guests with allergies. For dietary concerns, having honey, agave, stevia and brown sugar on hand can cover all the bases.

6. What kind of tea to serve? Have a variety! Think of when you order tea at a fancy restaurant and they bring you that fabulous box of tea with all of those options. There’s typically a black breakfast kind of tea, a green tea variety or two, something fruit based, something mint, and a light floral like jasmine or chrysanthemum. Follow that guideline to develop a well-rounded tea selection of your own.

Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of Afrobella.com, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.