Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hallmark Channel’s Paw-Star Kitten Game

Kitten Bowl lovers, rejoice! While the next fur-flying gridiron showdown is still months away, this Sunday’s paw-star baseball game is sure to be every bit as furr-ific.

Will you be tuning in to Hallmark Channel to watch? Based on the preview videos and cat-lete lineup, it looks as if North Shore Animal League has rounded up yet another all-star litter of adorable, adoptable felines.

The big game airs Sunday, July 12 at 5 p.m./4 p.m. Central. I'll be watching and rooting for each of these sweet kitties to walk away with the ultimate prize – a loving forever home. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bridesmaid Hairstyle Idea: Elsa-Inspired Side Braid

Why, hello there! Long time, no see! I took an extended blogging break while traveling out to California for a best friend’s wedding, and let me tell you, I had an absolute blast. Wedding pictures and trip recaps are soon to come, but today, I’m kicking things off with a look at the Elsa-inspired side braid I rocked as a bridesmaid.

Since the weather on California’s Central Coast can be windy and damp, I knew I wanted something pulled back, yet different from the traditional updo, for my bestie’s beachfront soiree. Being a major fan of Frozen, I fell head over heels in love with this dramatic side braid the minute I saw it on Pinterest. But would my stylist be able to recreate it?

(via Pinterest)

As it turned out, she had a pretty hard time getting it right, having to start over several times and not truly mimicking the look in the photo. Overall, though, I was still happy with the end result, which looked very Elsa-esque when paired with my blue-green dress that featured a series of pretty back ruffles.

What do you think of this style? Would you wear a braid at a wedding? Check out some other unique looks, including braided updos, in my recent Brit + Co post showcasing 20 Stunning Updos to Rock at Every Summer Wedding

Thursday, June 4, 2015


From honeymooning in Hawaii and adopting kitties to mourning the loss of loved ones and purchasing our first home together, Stephen and I have faced a whirlwind of adventures – both good and bad – ever since saying  "I do" on June 4, 2010. Today, we celebrate our first five years, and look forward to the next.  

(Photos via Alex Neumann Photography)

Happy anniversary, my dearest friend! 

For more of our story and pictures, visit my wedding blog, Bicoastal Bride

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Loving My Body Through Fitness

What does it mean to love your body? It’s different for each one of us, and today, I’m honored to be sharing my own take as part of The World Around Her’s inspiring Love Your Body series.  

Stop by to read about my past struggles with fitness, what finally changed, and how I’ve now learned to better love and care for my body. Last week, I also shared an excerpt from a previous High Heels & Flip-Flops post that explains why I'm forever proud to be porcelain-skinned and tan-free. 

While visiting the site, you can check out other bloggers’ empowering stories, and even consider submitting your own.

Tell me, what do you love most about your body, and what challenges have you faced? 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Return of the Flip-Flops

All right, so I've actually been wearing them for a couple months already, but since this weekend marks the unofficial start of my favorite season, I figured it was the perfect time to re-share this cool, quirky and totally true quote.

Wishing you all a safe and fun holiday! While you're off enjoying your BBQs and pool parties, don't forget to also pause and remember those who have given their lives while serving our country. We are forever in their debt.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DC Up Close: World War II VE Day Vintage Plane Flyover

One of the best things about living in the DC area is having access to so many unique cultural amenities and events. Last Friday, in honor of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the Arsenal of Democracy organization staged a unique flyover featuring more than 50 vintage planes from the World War II era.

A big-time plane buff, my husband took the day off so that he and I could head into the city and watch the formations soar above the National Mall. After grabbing lunch at Sweetgreen (best bacon-blue cheese salads ever!), we found a good place to stand and view the hour-long show, which featured various types of planes flown in sequential order based on when they were used during the war. 






Missing Man Formation

While we enjoyed watching all of the planes, we especially loved seeing a B-24, the type of aircraft Stephen’s grandfather once flew. 


What types of cultural events does your city usually host? Do you like witnessing them in person? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Birds

So far, the spring season has brought us freshly grown flowers, backyard BBQs and, unfortunately, birds moving into one of the air vents on the side of our house. Yup, just like the mouse we dealt with during the winter, this is another not-so-nice thing about owning a home.

We first discovered the nest last Friday, after I heard a scrabbling sound and series of clanks that seemed to be coming from inside the living room ceiling. Since then, my husband has tried a couple different ways of getting them out, including running the fan and taping up a makeshift cardboard grate, which they have since managed to remove twice.

(via Wikipedia

Has anyone else dealt with this issue? Do you have any advice? We don’t want to harm the birds, but just prevent them from damaging the vent and producing waste that makes its way inside. I imagine we may have to contact animal control or try putting a more permanent grate over the opening, which is located three stories up and very difficult to get to. 

No matter what ends up happening, I'm sure we’ll continue learning as we go, and eventually get the hang of this whole "owning a house" thing! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Flowers & Showers

Yes, I took another short blogging break, but what can I say? I’ve been outdoors enjoying the spring sunshine and warm weather, both very welcome after such a long, cold winter.

Stephen’s parents were in town last week, and we had a great time hosting them at our house for the first BBQ of the spring season. Using the new Webber grill that his family gave us for Christmas, Stephen cooked up a tasty batch of blue cheese burgers, which we served along with red wine and Greek salad. It was all so delicious, and we had such a fun time, that I didn’t even remember to snap any pictures of the meal. Though we’ve only done it a couple times so far, hosting dinners at our new house is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities.

While his dad was working, Stephen, his mom and I also braved a rainy day to head to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum and one of our favorite wineries, Fabbioli Cellars. As always, we had a great time there, and came home with a nice red to enjoy the next time we grill. 

How have you been welcoming spring? Do you love spending time outdoors when the weather warms up? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New York, New York: The Metropolitan Opera

As a musical theater and opera fan, it had long been one of my dreams to visit the Metropolitan Opera and see a performance by Diana Damrau, who I once had the pleasure of hearing in recital at DC’s Kennedy Center.

That dream finally came true a couple weeks ago when Stephen and I visited the Met for a Saturday night performance of Manon, staring the amazing Damrau as the title character. From the story and music to the performances and costumes, everything about this show was spectacular, and it now stands out as one of the two best operas I’ve ever seen. (The other was the Kennedy Center's The Elixir of Love, staring the sadly now-divorcing husband-and-wife duo Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello.) 

Damrau’s charming and charismatic Manon was everything I expected her to be, and even our seats, way up in the highest tier, offered a decent view and great acoustics. Though the show lasted four hours (including two intermissions), I was so caught up in the love story and phenomenal singing that I hardly even noticed the time. 

After the performance ended around midnight, we walked back to the hotel in late-March snow flurries and rested up for our backstage tour the following morning. Just like the show, this tour was an opera lover’s dream come true, as we got to visit the costume and carpentry shops, singers’ dressing rooms, group rehearsal spaces and more. And while we couldn't actually walk onstage, we did get to see the crew using a huge elevator and tons of equipment to erect sets for Don Carlo, the Met’s next performance. 

If you're ever in New York and would like to take this tour, visit the Metropolitan Opera Guild's website to reserve tickets. You won't be disappointed!

Finally, no visit to NYC would have been complete without a quick trip to the Museum of Natural History. I may be a grownup, but I still love me some dino bones. :) 

Thanks for a great time, New York! I will definitely be back soon. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New York, New York: 9/11 Tribute Center & Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Our New York City vacation continued Friday morning, when, after a quick breakfast, we headed downtown for two scheduled tours – one at the 9/11 Tribute Center and the other at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The day got off to a slightly confusing start, though, when we accidentally got on a Brooklyn-bound express train and missed our original tour time at the Tribute Center. Fortunately, the staff members were understanding and transferred us to the next time slot.

For those not familiar with the Tribute Center, it was created by the September 11th Families’ Association and features “the stories of 9/11, told by those who were there.” Our two tour guides, for example, were both longtime residents of the surrounding neighborhood. While showing us the outdoor memorial, they each shared facts and personal accounts, including stories about meeting World Trade Center survivors and seeing New Yorkers come together in the hours and days immediately following the attacks.

Inspired by memories of hope, horror, love, loss, tragedy and human compassion, our guides' stories were incredibly moving, and I'd strongly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to connect with neighborhood residents or survivors in a very personal way. In addition to these firsthand accounts, the Tribute Center also offers a gallery of photos and artifacts visitors can look through either before or after their tours, thus adding to the powerful, emotional nature of the experience. 

After taking some time to visit the Tribute Center gift shop, get lunch and process what we'd heard, Stephen and I next headed to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to learn about the real immigrant families who once lived in the building. Our tour, called “Hard Times,” allowed us to view two restored apartments and hear the stories of German-Jewish and Italian-Catholic families who struggled to make new lives in America between 1863 and 1935.

We enjoyed this tour, as well, and would love to come back in the future to view other apartments, learn about the lives of sweatshop workers and experience some of the Lower East Side's unique culinary treats.

Have you been to either of these places? What are some of your favorite museums or sites to visit in New York City?  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New York, New York: The Nightly Show

Oh, hi! I know it’s been over a month since I last blogged, but honestly, I haven’t had too many exciting things going on to write about lately. Instead of creating new posts, I've been spending my time reading, revising my novel, hitting up trampoline boot camp and continuing my gig as a freelance contributor at Brit + Co.

One fun thing I did do during March was visit New York City for a mini vacation that included seeing my favorite singer perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Here, in a series of three posts, I’ll be sharing some pictures and an overview of what we did each day, beginning last Thursday with our initial road trip and the chance to see a taping of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore

After a pretty straightforward 4.5 hour drive, which included a brief lunch stop at a Delaware rest area, Stephen and I arrived at the Holiday Inn Midtown near Columbus Circle on the West Side. We chose this hotel because it was affordable and also within walking distance of Lincoln Center, where the opera house is located.

While not especially luxurious, our room was clean, comfortable and bigger than I expected. The lobby was nice, the staff members friendly, and the price no more than $180 a night. I would definitely stay there again in the future.

We dropped off our car and bags, then walked a few blocks to the The Nightly Show studio. Since we had tickets and were also the third and fourth people in line, we got great seats once we entered. (If you ever want to attend a taping, just be sure to reserve free tickets online ahead of time and get there early, since not everyone who has a ticket is guaranteed a seat.)

We were allowed to take pictures of the set before the taping started, and also got to do an audience Q&A with Larry, who was just as cool off-camera. The taping itself was of course awesome, too, especially since we got to see all the behind-the-scenes action, including makeup touch-ups and the post-show photo session with the guest panel.

After it was over, we stopped off for Thai food at an unassuming little place that ended up being decently good. Then, tired from the drive, we decided to call it an early night and rest up for our Friday tours at the 9/11 Tribute Center and Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Have you ever been to a TV taping? Despite being from So Cal, this was only my second one, the first being a Full House taping my friend and I went to see with our moms way back in middle school. Oh, the memories. :) 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Sound of Talent

Who watched the Oscars Sunday night? I did, and even though I hadn’t seen too many of the films nominated, I was completely blown away by Lady Gaga’s tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies, The Sound of Music.

Along with delivering a beautiful vocal performance, Gaga surprised everyone by forgoing wild visuals and gimmicks. Far too many singers today focus more on showing off their boobs/butts and prancing around like poll dancers than on simply sharing their gifts. Still others can’t really sing at all, relying on auto-tuning, special effects and so-called sex appeal to mask that sad reality.

(via Getty Images) 

I’m glad Gaga wowed viewers with this classy performance, and I hope we get to see more just like it from her and others in the future. Oh, and the always charming Julie Andrews stepping out right afterward? Made my night!

What was your favorite Oscar moment?

Friday, February 20, 2015

365 Workouts: Staying Fit While Fighting a Cold

It’s been a slow, cold month here, and sadly, winter doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, we’re due to get 3-5 more inches of snow tomorrow, on top of the few inches that are still on the ground from this week’s earlier storm. Worst of all, along with bitter cold temps outdoors, this winter has also brought cold viruses into our home.

While we've still managed to make it to trampoline boot camp most weeks this month, nasty winter colds did sideline us for a few days. I tried to at least continue using weights while watching TV, and even pushed myself to keep doing workout DVDs a couple nights in a row. For the most part, though, I just had to relax and take it easy.  

I’m feeling better now and working to get back on track, but a busy schedule and below-zero wind chills have left me feeling pretty unmotivated. I would much rather curl up under a soft blanket with a hot bowl of mac and cheese than put on my workout clothes and squat it out with Jillian Michaels. Here’s hoping spring makes its appearance very soon (and that in the meantime, no more viruses weasel their way into our lives). 

How do you stay fit while fighting a cold? Do you try to push through the discomfort or just lay low until you’re feeling better? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Cat's Quest for Love

Need a quick Monday pick-me-up? This 4-minute short film, winner of the 2015 Catdance Film Festival, tells the story of French "exchange cat" Guy, who travels to America in search of love. Will he find it...or end up suffering a broken heart?

Also, how many of my fellow cat lovers tuned in for Kitten Bowl II on Sunday? Seriously, it and the annual Puppy Bowl are the only football games I ever care to watch.

How about you? Did you watch the Kitten Bowl, Puppy Bowl and/or the "real" game?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

365 Workouts: January Check-In

If you were caught in the path of Winter Storm Juno this week, I hope you’re staying safe and warm! We got all of two inches here in the DC area, but temps have been so low that the snow is still on the ground. Seriously, this is the time of year when I just want either one big, major snowstorm or none at all.

Anyway, as part of my 365 Workouts plan for 2015, I’m holding myself accountable with monthly check-ins. I’m proud to say that I've stayed on track so far, doing a fitness DVD or heading to trampoline boot camp every day this month (except for two especially tiring evenings when I settled for weights and crunches while watching TV). But still, that's something, right?

My special Flight Fit trampoline socks with sticky grip-strips on the bottom. 
Working out consistently has me looking and feeling so much better already. I’m down a couple pounds, have more energy and have even adapted from being a night owl to turning in and waking up earlier. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to keep it up and continue seeing results during February!

How are you doing with your 2015 goals? Are you on track so far? 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

DC Up Close: Trains, Lighthouses & Sailing Ships

Along with cookies, candy canes and Christmas trees, one thing I especially love about the holiday season is the U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual train exhibit. This year’s display, which featured lighthouses and ships made from plant material, was by far my favorite collection yet. Being from So Cal and having a mother from Boston, I think I’ve just always had a natural fondness for the sea. 

Pretty cool, huh? After touring the exhibit on New Year's Day, Stephen and I then headed over to the Kennedy Center to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. While it wasn't my favorite show, I did appreciate the music, humor and moral behind the story. 

Oh, and how cute is this handmade alpaca I picked up at the National Museum of the American Indian? Definitely a cute addition to our living room shelves! 

Are there any annual exhibits in your area that you love checking out? 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Mouse in the House: When Owning a Home Isn't Quite As Much Fun

Along with all of the awesome things about owning a home, like gaining more space and no longer having to deal with rent increases, come some not-so-nice things, like unexpected repairs and unwanted critters trying to escape the winter cold.  

It was late three nights ago when we first heard the scampering coming from the vent above our microwave. At first, I hoped it was just my imagination or something else, but obviously, it wasn’t. Two semi-sleepless nights and a few stomach grumbles later (I’d been afraid to spend more than a few seconds at a time in the kitchen), a pest control expert came out to investigate.

The only mouse I ever want to see. (via Babble)
Upon checking the kitchen, utility room and yard, he found evidence of one lone mouse that had entered our home. For a fee of $189, he then set up four bait stations, two indoors and two outdoors. If the mouse hasn't already left, it will take the bait, become dehydrated and leave our house to find a new water source. Pest control will come back in one week to check the bait stations. He did say that this is the smallest mouse infestation he's ever seen, and that we caught it early, so that is very good news!

Have you dealt with this type of situation before? What's your most hated thing about being a homeowner? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Me: 365 Workouts

Happy 2015, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed wonderful holidays and are ready for new adventures in the new year. Our Christmas and New Year’s Eve were both fun and relaxing, and today we’ll be heading into DC to check out the Botanic Garden’s annual holiday display and also see a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

(via Catster

Like so many other people, I try to be serious about health and fitness all year long, but sometimes struggle to stay committed during times of stress, boredom or just plain laziness. That’s why this year, I’m launching my 365 Workouts plan and setting a goal to be physically active every day, whether by heading to a Flight Fit trampoline class, doing a Jillian Michaels DVD, going out for a walk when the weather is warm or even just lifting hand-weights while watching TV after dinner.

I already got a positive jump-start toward the end of 2014, and have seen definite improvements in the way I look and feel. Here’s hoping those improvements will continue into 2015. Now, who’s with me? 

What are your goals for 2015?