Weekending + A Giveaway

July 28, 2014

Happy Monday!! This Monday is extra special because it just so happens to be my older sister's birthday!! 
She is without a doubt my best friend! There are two people in this world I would have trusted to do my make-up on my wedding day and the other one happens to be sitting getting her make-up done!! There are no words to describe what an amazing mother, daughter and wife she is - but most of all she is the best sister and I will forever be in awe of all she does and how she manages to look so fabulous while doing so!! 
When I was little I would watch her get ready to go out with friends, I wanted to be just like her and I guess I picked up all her mannerisms because people always say we are identical! Not much has changed and I still watch her get ready when we babysit the kiddies!! Wishing my sister a very Happy - I'm certain I would not be where I am today without her! 

Onto the weekend!! I mentioned Friday my parents were in town visiting for a few days and they came up to celebrate a couple of birthday's! If you've read my blog for a while then you know how spot on my mom is at picking stuff out for me and this time she really hit it out of the park!! 
I joked with her that she was better than the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale :) Not pictured are the two sweaters, maxi dress and makeup she also found! You'll also notice the crest white strips - my mom definitely reads the blog!! 
We spent Saturday at the beach and the weather totally cooperated!
My two nieces and nephew absolutely adore Gary and I'm chopped liver when he's around. Which I'll be honest is pretty awesome, especially when babysitting and they listen to him because they want "stories!"
My sister recently re-decorated their formal living room and it's quickly become my favorite room in their house!! Riesling on the right is also a favorite of mine - so yummy! 
Sunday afternoon I re-organized my closet. I don't organize nearly enough - but I bought Slim Hangers and have this thing where I need to make sure they all match! Is anyone else like that?
An hour later and everything was back in it's place - slightly more organized! You'll also notice I still need a few more of those skinny hangers - they really are the best and give me so much more space in my basically nonexistent closet!
Sunday night was spent planning!! The upcoming month calls for a new planner and a huge thank you to Ananya for hosting a fabulous giveaway so that I could finally get my hands on a Kate Spade planner!! 

And now it's your turn to win a little something!! I'm part of a seriously amazing giveaway for some Tieks!! I wish I could enter this one myself because these have been on my wish list for a while!! Which color would you choose?!
Brought to you by 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you all have a wonderful start to your week and good luck in the giveaway!!

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Friday Favorites

July 25, 2014

Woo hoo for Friday!! This week has flown by and I'm so excited because my parents are here and we have a full weekend planned! I've missed these round-ups with Amanda over the past two weeks so let's get right to it!! 

Favorite Recipe
Ashley had my mouth watering with these Cheddar Baked Chicken Fingers - can't even wait to try this one! 

Favorite Look
Jessica Alba is always crushing it with her style, but this casual outfit was a knockout for me - I just love that the belt matches the loafers and then the pretty pink lady-like bag - LOVE! 

Favorite Purchase
After seeing Tara wearing this necklace on a recent vacation - I had to find it!! Sadly the Zara's here in Boston didn't have it, so off to eBay I went. I found it brand new and for 50% less!! Can't wait to wear it! 

Favorite Workout
This workout is no joke!! I was sweating up a storm within minutes of starting!! 

Favorite Links
+I've been on a Washi tape kick lately - so finding new things to do with it is fun!
+10 foods to help you feel more energized during the day - printed this one out! 
+ July's B~Inspired Feature with Natalia

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and hope to see you back here on Monday for Weekending!! 

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Paris Part Deux

July 24, 2014

I hope you aren't too tired of all the recaps and I haven't bored you to tears, but I promise this is the last one!! After we finished our mini photo shoot at the love bridge - we headed towards Pigalle & The Moulin Rouge. 
Paris In the Summer
{so scandalous}
The show would have been nice to see but it was outrageously priced and we've heard it's just not as good as it once was! The area itself is sort of, how shall I put, sketchy, but has been cleaned up in recent years (think red light district in Amsterdam)! 
We ventured here for two reasons, it was on our way to Sacré Coeur & we surprised Gary with lunch at the restaurant made famous by the movie Amelie. It's one of his absolute favorite movies - so he was pretty excited to walk through the neighborhood where all the scenes took place!
Sacré Coeur sits atop one of the highest points in Paris and you can climb all 300+ steps to get to the top to see the sprawling views! 
{worth the trip if you have the time}
After a day full of sights it was the moment I had been waiting for...my first ever macaron! 
{dramatic enough for you?!}
Michael took us to Pierre Hermé and it was the such a pleasurable experience - unlike the craziness of Laduree, which don't worry, I still went to anyway! 
These little guys were devoured straightaway and everything I had hoped they would taste like!

I'm  not sure if I mentioned this in my London post, but we were able to do a river cruise in London as well as in Paris - if I had to rate the two - Paris was way better! Both cruises were included in our bus tours, lasting about an hour in Paris and if you take it at night the views of the city are pretty incredible!! 
{she's a beauty}
Thursday: We pre-booked a trip to Versailles through Viator and again made sure to choose the one with a skip the line option - thanks to the suggestion from Birdie to Be!  
The Gardens were absolutely stunning and in my opinion better than the Chateau. To say the grounds are palatial would be an understatement - it sprawls over 80,000 acres (yep you read that correctly)!!!
As for the Chateau itself, it's ornate to the max, you can see why there was a revolution against the monarchy!! The Hall of Mirrors was my favorite "room" in the palace! 
We opted for a half day at Versailles because we wanted to get back and make it to the Lourve!
{they have little boxes set up so you can stand and get the perfect photo}
We hit all the highlights and some other things that Gary wanted to see - but our feet were absolutely throbbing so we didn't spend more than 2 hours there! It was a mob to get near the Mona Lisa, but you know me and I totally pushed my way to the front to get a picture! We stood off to the side for a little while just taking it in - it's another one of those bucket list items! 
We had the best dinner at Cafe Trama that night!  It's on a quiet side street in Saint Germain and offers delicious French cuisine with friendly service.
Croque Monsieur Sandwich and ice cream drizzled with espresso 

Friday: We had two items to tick off our to-do list's for our final day in Paris. First up were the Catacombs. The trick to getting in is to be one of the first 200 people in line, after that you could be waiting for hours!! It doesn't open until 10 AM, but if you arrive between 8:30-8:45 you're basically guaranteeing entry. 

It's pretty creepy if you let yourself think about the 6 million bodies that are buried under there! 
After a quick photo-op near near the Eiffel Tower we made our way to the Champs Élysées!
Had to make at stop at Louis Vuitton - my mecca! And finally tasted a Laduree macaron! 
We finished the night with another delicious meal at Pizza Chic and were ready to get back home! 

And just like that 10 days had come and gone and our European vacation was over! Thank you guys so much for reading, scrolling and commenting on these posts and also a huge thank you to Amanda, Pamela, Shelby & Brittany for their wonderful  guest posts!! 

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B~Inspired with Natalia

July 23, 2014

I'd like to introduce you to Natalia! Natalia is the voice behind All The Things, Etc and co-owner of Tailor & Table. I've been following her blog for quite some time, but when she started her own business this year - I knew she'd be a perfect addition to my B~Inspired series, not to mention she pretty much has my dream job! I'm so happy that she agreed to take part in this little Q&A and hope you all enjoy getting to know Natalia a bit more! 

Biana: What are three things you'll never leave the house without?
Natalia: iPhone, sunglasses (I have quite the collection), and lip balm.

Biana: What is your current go-to scent?
Natalia: Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black is my go-to on most days, but I always wear Robert Piguet Fracas when I put my fancy pants on.

Biana: If you were to give your 21 year old self advice what would it be?
Natalia: Know who you are, and know that it's enough. Treat others with that same respect. Stay true to your convictions and always, always, ALWAYS trust your gut. Stop eating pizza that's sat out on the counter overnight (um, I'm still working on this one).

Biana: Where is your dream vacation take you?
Natalia: Greece. A million times Greece.

Biana: What woman would you want to have dinner with?
Natalia: Mindy Kaling. She's funny, smart and accomplished. She's a feminist who embraces femininity, and I love that about her! We'd probably drink champagne and order one of everything on the menu (dessert menu included!).

Biana: What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Natalia: I can't think of anything more risky than leaving a good, comfortable job to start my own business. Talk about a leap of faith!

Biana: What's your #1 wish list item?
Natalia: If we're dreaming big, I'd like a Cartier Solo Tank Watch and large pieces of original artwork for my home. My next big purchase in real life will be a schmancy DSLR camera (hooray!).

Biana: Who should play you in a movie?
Natalia: Anna Kendrick
{I can totally see it}

Biana: How did you decide to venture out on your own?
Natalia: I always knew that I wanted to be a boss one day (I'm bossy by nature, just ask my younger siblings!). When my amazingly talented partner approached me about starting Tailor & Table, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to do something great. I knew that it was going to be more work than I ever could imagine, but I also knew that it would be worth it. Boy, was I right about both!

Biana: What's a regular work day like for you?
Natalia: Oh goodness -- I travel all over for our clients, so every day is so different! If I'm not on-site at an event, traveling, or meeting with a client, my day goes something like this:

7AM: Wake up, fix myself a cup of coffee. Lay in bed while I drink my cup of jo and catch up on Instagram, Facebook, and a few of my favorite blogs. I so cherish this ritual!

8AM: Head upstairs to my home office, answer emails, choose my Pandora station of the day.

8AM - 3PM: Tackle current design projects, budgets/financials (blech), social media/blog posts, phone calls, etc. I usually eat breakfast and lunch at my desk. In addition to T&T work, I also try to and publish 2-3 posts a week on my personal blog, All the Things Etc.

3PM: Levi and I both take a break for fresh air and play fetch with our sweet rescue hound dog, Georgia. This is my favorite part of the day.
{couldn't resist sharing a photo of their adorable pup}

3:30-6PM: More work, errands, maybe an evening group fitness class if I'm feeling ambitious.

7PM-11PM: Levi and I eat dinner together and then the rest of the night varies -- sometimes we'll attend an event, sometimes we'll keep working from our offices, and other nights we'll just enjoy our favorite shows on Netflix.

11PM: We try to be in bed by 11PM at the latest -- I need my 8 hours! Once in bed, I'll Pinterest from my phone for about 30 minutes before falling asleep. It drives Levi crazy, but it really helps me decompress.

...Rinse and repeat!

Biana: What has been the best moment in your career thus far?
Natalia: Every single time that a client tells me that they want to pay me for doing what I love is the best moment ever. Does it get any better than that?!

Biana: What's the quote you live by?
Natalia: "If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen" -- Conan O'Brien

Biana: And finally, what has been your most inspired moment?
Natalia: I could never pick just one! The best part of my job is the ability to be a story teller through design. With every new project, I get the opportunity to craft a new tale. I'm constantly inspired by cultures, architecture, fashion, history, art, nature, and my clients' personal style.

A huge thank you to Natalia for fueling my inspirations even further!! If you want to reach out personally you can find Natalia at her blog, instagram or via pinterest

In case you missed the first installment of B~Inspired with Amanda - you can find it here

Do any of you have aspirations to own your own business?

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Bonjour Paris

July 22, 2014

On Monday the 14th we took the EuroStar train to Paris! You would have thought I was a kid on Christmas morning because I was so excited to arrive in Paris. It's on my 30 before 30 list and I'm so happy to be able to check that one off!
Both Gary and I have lived abroad before, but we don't speak a lick of French (aside from the universal words) and it became apparent we were going to have a tough time communicating when we tried to find our hotel once we got out of the train station. I wish someone would have recorded me asking a newstand guy where “Rue de Rennes” was (comedy hour at it's finest)...finally we were pointed in the right direction. 

The Digs:
{Tres Magnifique!}
As I mentioned in the London recap having a hotel near public transport was key! We stayed at The Legend Hotel in the 6th Arr. of the Saint Germain area. I booked directly from their site and found them through another deal website. It was actually cheaper to book directly on the hotel website, as it is for most Parisian boutique hotels. To give you an idea of location, we were about a 30 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and a 7 minute walk to the Luxembourg Gardens.

Monday: We didn't plan our arrival into Paris on Bastille Day, it was just a happy accident. We knew the Eiffel Tower would be the best view of the fireworks, but we were both in shock at just how many people would be there! It gets dark SUPER late in Paris and the fireworks didn't start until 11:00 PM.
It's an indescribable feeling to see the Eiffel Tower in person. It may sound cliché, but it's a moment I'll remember forever! Seeing the Eiffel Tower shooting out fireworks put's every other fireworks display I've seen to shame! 

Tuesday: I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in chocolate croissants during this trip and I don't feel bad about it at all, especially with all the walking we were doing.
We opted for a semi-guided tour and skip the line pass for the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to Easy Pass Tours, we didn't have to wait in the 4+ hour wait to tour the Eiffel Tower. There are two observation levels to the Eiffel Tower. The fast pass gets you to the second level without having to wait in line, but once up there everyone has to wait to get to the top viewing deck, which isn't bad if you go straightaway without looking around the second level first. We made our way to the first level viewing deck and the views are really magnificent!
After a quick lunch we decided to visit Musée d'Orsay. I'm not a big museum person (not a shocker for those who know me), but in Paris there were two that I knew we'd have to visit and Musée D'Orsay was on that list. It's a beautiful museum in a converted train station! I think we lucked out with lines on this trip because they say museums are the worst for them, but we went right around 2 PM and there was a small 10 minute wait through the security line.
You aren't allowed to take photos in the museum, but sometimes rules are meant to be broken! 

We had some great meals in Paris, but two really stood out and the first was in a cute little restaurant near our hotel.
{scallops with the most delicious cheese pesto risotto}

Wednesday: I had been looking forward to Wednesday in Paris since March, when we booked a tour with Michael. He owns ParisFind  and pretty much everyone in my family (including extended family) and friends have toured with him. He is an American who has been living Paris for the past 16 years and has been offering tours for years. He knows interesting facts that aren't in any guide books and takes your through the city in ways you wouldn't get there otherwise! As an added bonus, we wouldn't have to ask strangers to take our pictures!!
Before Michael met us at our hotel, we made sure to get some crepes!! 
{nutella heaven}
Our first stop was a walk through the Luxembourg Garden (which honestly I'm embarrassed I didn't realize was right near our hotel). The Palace is so grand and the grounds are meticulous kept up!
We walked through the Saint Germain area hooking into little streets with the most interesting stories behind them. I had heard about Sainte Chapelle and seen the stained glass in Paris Guide books, but seeing the church first hand was incredible.

Every single window pane has a chapter from the bible...beautiful work!! 

It seemed like everything was right next to each other, but it was just the way Michael guided us - didn't feel like we were walking at all!
{Outside Notre Dame}
{Back view of Notre Dame}

A must while we were in Paris was to leave our lock on the "Love Bridge," there are currently three around Paris now. {If you want to read about the history of how it started click here}
We forgot a lock at home, but of course there were endless people selling them nearby! Funny enough, this guy tried to get us to pay 12 euros for one lock! That was never going to happen, we haggled him down to 3 euros so easily - still way more than we should have paid! 
They say it means you'll have eternal love...but I already knew that :)

Hope you'll come back Thursday for Part II (also final part) of the Paris re-cap which picks up at the Moulin Rouge!

Tomorrow I'm really excited to share the second installment of the B~Inspired Series!!

In case you missed the London recap - you can read it here.

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