Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LAST MINUTE GIFT GUIDE FOR HER: UNDER $25


Ok, so maybe you're like me and waited last minute to do your shopping and don't want to break the bank with your gift giving this year.  Don't fret, I got you.  This gift guide features nine items all under $25 that the ladies on your list will love.  Merry shopping!
  1. Birchbox Perfect Blowout Collection - How adorable is this haircare kit from Birchbox?  Featuring five best-selling products to achieve that salon worthy blow out and at only $22 any gal would love this, especially one with a DryBar addiction. 
  2. American Atelier Monogram Beauty Box - Love this cute jewelry box, it comes in three colors and you can personalize it with her initial. 
  3. Five Minute Journal - Probably my favorite item from this gift guide, this journal encourages you to focus on the positive at the start and end of each day and is filled with inspirational quotes and happiness tidbits.  
  4. BAN.DO 'But First, Coffee' Thermal Travel Mug - Prefect for the coffee addict on your list...because really who is productive before a cup of jo?
  5. Dogeared Coffee For President Tote - With all the presidential election hum drum swirling about, let's get real about who we should be electing in 2016.  I have so many gal pals who I know would love this!
  6. Vera Bradley Small Zip Cosmetic Bag - It's funny since I moved to Florida I've notice no one has Vera Bradley or knows about the company...maybe it's a northeast thing?  Well regardless, they're missing out.  Their cloth bags and accessories come in so many fun patterns and are superb quality, I especially love this travel cosmetic pouch. 
  7. Juliet & Company Forget Me Knot Earrings - These earrings look way more expensive than they actually are and fit the bill for the perfect understated jewelry gift that will go with everything in her wardrobe.  
  8. Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Fireside Candle - This candle is heaven on earth.  My favorite scent from the Bath & Body Works Holiday collection you will find Marshmallow Fireside burning in my apartment all season long.  
  9. Philosophy Holiday Cookies Trio - Philosophy makes the cutest holiday sets, am I right??  This aromatic trio features a shower gel, body lotion, and decadent lip gloss.  If I am ever stuck on what to get someone, one of these sets is always my go-to option.
If you're still searching for the perfect last minute gift why not go the DIY route?  This video from YouTuber Ingrid Nielsen features an adorable DIY Spa Jar and I love these easy to make gift ideas in Allison Andersen's video here.  Or if you're searching for a present for a new Mom why not plan a prepaid girls night out?  I know most mothers would take any chance to dress up and have some time out with friends.  Another favorite is a painted pottery piece from a paint your own pottery location ala, You Do The Dishes in Tampa.  Whether you paint an ornament, vase, or mug, a hand crafted item always add a nice personal touch.  

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide and may your holiday shopping be stress free!  This year I will be spending Christmas with my family in Upstate NY.  I just landed last night and can't wait to relax and spend quality time with my family and friends who I've missed dearly.  Blog content will be light the next week or so as I take a break to enjoy the holidays, but I have lots of fun and exciting things in store for the new year!  Thank you for all your support and I hope you have an absolutely darling holiday and are able to spend it with those you love.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

xoxo Nicole


Sunday, December 20, 2015

YOU NEED TO VISIT NYC THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. HERE'S WHY...



What better place on earth to spend the holidays than the magical land that is NYC.   The big apple doesn't mess around come Christmas time...carols are playing, cups of cocoa are cradled by mittened hands, and every tree and window is graced with twinkle lights and decorations galore.  So many of our favorite holiday movies are filmed in NYC and paint it as the epitome of Christmas spirit.  Well I am here to tell you the depiction is true, NYC really is that magical this time of year.  (And if anyone sees the bird lady in Central Park from Home Alone 2 please let me know.  My efforts to locate her have been fruitless up to this point.)  Given that I used to live in NYC and spent the last weekend with my college bestie traipsing around Manhattan I thought why not share my go-to guide for visiting this time of year.  I separated this post into my favorite activities, shopping destinations, restaurants, and bars below.  I hope you enjoy this guide and have a chance to visit New York this holiday season!

Top 5 Activities:
-Book tickets for the Nutcracker.
Maybe it was the little kid in me, but this was by far the event I was most excited about this year.  The nutcracker is such a classic and seeing it at the renowned Lincoln Center was such a treat.  The set was so beautiful and the talent of the dancers was unimaginable.
-Go Ice Skating. 
You’ve got a lot of options here...you can hit up Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, or the Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park.  And if you're feeling sentimental you can recreate that dreamy scene from Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale on the ice.  You know you want to…
-Get a manicure at Paint Box Nails. (17 Crosby St.)
Maybe the chicest nail salon in NYC, this pricey but delightful beauty establishment serves up champagne while manicurists apply cool custom designs to your nails.  This place books up quick, so best to make an appointment in advance.
-Walk down Fifth Avenue. 
Just think you can walk off brunch while oohing and ahhing over all the gorgeous window displays.  Some of my favorites this year were Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barney's.
-See the tree at Rockefeller Center. 
Fun fact: the tree this year stands at 78 feet tall, is decorated with over 45,000 LED lights, and is topped with a stunning Swarovski crystal star.

Top 5 Bars:
-Eataly's La Birreria (200 5th Ave.)
Granted this place was very crowded when we went, but this rooftop bar/restaurant is seriously decked out for the holidays with an impressive spread of Christmas trees, Adirondack chairs, and twinkle lights.  They also have an amazing beer flight, and their drink prices are reasonable.
-Library bar at Nomad Hotel  (1170 Broadway)
It's a bar in a library, enough said.  You'll feel all Beauty enticing her Beast tossing back a cold one in this unique drinking establishment.
-Pete's Tavern  (129 E. 18th St.)
This homey bar is one of the oldest pubs in New York City, and they jazz the place up beautifully for the holidays.  Definitely a place to visit for some Manhattan history and a drink.
-Lodge at Gallow Green  (542 W. 27th St.)
This rooftop hideaway bar located at the McKittrick Hotel is the perfect place to cozy up with a sweetheart when the weather is blistering. The low key bar scene is made to resemble a ski lodge and the elderflower cocktail is not to be missed.
-Raines Law Room  (48 W 17th St.)
Definitely add this speak easy to your list.  Access is granted only by ringing a bell and being let in through the unassuming entrance, but once inside it's a gorgeous lounge with some amazing cocktails.

L to R, Top to Bottom: Rizolli Bookstore, Blackseed Bagels, The Fragrance Shop, Rolf's, 
Bite Beauty Lip Lab, and Birch Coffee
Top 5 Restaurants:
-Blackseed Bagels  (176 1st Ave.)
Nothing cures a hangover like an amazing bagel sandwich.  And nowhere else will you find such innovative combinations and delicious pairings as at Blackseed.  You will be wishing you had this East Village bagel joint on speed dial for delivery 24/7.
-Candle 79 (154 E. 79th)
It doesn't matter if you're vegan, vegetarian, or a full-blown carnivore anyone would love the fare at this plant-based establishment.  By far my favorite vegan restaurant in the city you will be amazed at what this classy joint can whip up.  Vegan cannoli anyone?
-Sarabeth's (1295 Madison Ave.)
One of my top picks for brunch in the city, this Manhattan classic serves amazing food at decent prices and has loads of convenient locations around the city.  Try the Salmon Eggs Benedict and thank me later. 
-Birch Coffee (134 E. 62nd St.)
What gets you through a day of shopping and sightseeing in NYC? Caffeine.  This new coffee chain serves up house roasted brews that are thoughtfully sourced and invariably delicious.  Try the Kyoto Cold Brew.
-Rolf's (281 Third Ave.)
While this place is not really known for it's food, it's worth it to sample some German fare to be in the presence of the glorious holiday decorations.  Best to make a reservation in advance as this NYC legend is always packed, or if you just want to stop by head to the bar for a quick drink.

Best Places to Snag a Unique Gift:
-Bryant Park Winter Village  (41 W. 40th St.)
One of the best places to pick up a unique gift or grab a delicious bite, the pop-up stores at Bryant Park Village are an experience to be had.  It really is an adorable winter village that instantly puts you in the holiday spirit.
-Bite Beauty Lip Lab (174 Prince St.)
Umm here you can make your very own lipstick, how frickin' cool is that?!?  Once in the lab you can play with different colors to make your own custom shade and also have the option of choosing your scent, the finish, and even your packaging.  
- & Other Stories (505 Fifth Ave.)
This Swedish retailer just oozes cool and sophistication.  Offering a unique line of women's clothing, accessories, and beauty/skincare items you're Zara loving gal pal would love something from this chic boutique. 
-Fragrance Shop New York (65 E 4th St.)
Here you will be provided a consultant to help you mix & match aromatherapy essential oils to make your own unique scent.  After you create your signature fragrance they will even keep the recipe on file so it can be recreated in perfume oil, bath salts, spray, or body lotion form.  What a great one of a kind gift for your Mom or boyfriend!
-Dylan's Candy Bar  (1011 Third Ave.)
Enter three floors of all things candy.  This upscale sugar emporium is the perfect place to pick up some stocking stuffers and they also stock a large collection of old school classics.  Candy Buttons anyone?
-Rizzoli Bookstore (1133 Broadway)
Specializing in illustrated tomes, literature, and European magazine this unique bookstore located in a townhouse will have the perfect gift for the literary fanatic on your list.
-Space N.K. (968 Lexington Ave.)
Take a break from Sephora and Ulta and stroll on into this adorable U.K. luxury beauty retailer.  Featuring hard to find brands such as Phillip B., Chantecaille, and By Terry you can find the perfect gift for that beauty loving bestie.

Ok, so are you booking your tickets to NYC now?  I thought so.  If you live in the city or visit often let me know your favorite places to frequent in the big apple.  I am always on the hunt to try new places!  I hope this guide was helpful and thank you so much for stopping by :)

 xoxo Nicole