Posts in the ‘Travel’ Category

Railroad Museum

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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The California State Railroad Museum is awesome. I have a 5 1/2 year old son whose love of trains has not waned over the years. We have a Marklin train set, a remote control Lego train and of course there is Thomas and all of his friends who have taken over the living room floor. We recently took him to the California State Railroad Museum and were so impressed with everything about it. There is 100,000 square feet of engaging exhibits and California history.

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The museum is located in Old Sacramento and is “widely regarded as North America’s most popular railroad museum.” You will find amazing restored trains, wonderful exhibits (from dining cars to mail cars and so much more), and unique special events (weekend summer train rides). While you are walking through one of the sleeping cars, it actually shakes so you get the feeling of what is was like to actually ride on the train. My son loved that!

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One of my other favorite exhibits was a beautiful collection of formal china used in the train dining cars over the years. It was a delight to see the range of pretty patterns. In addition to all of the huge trains all around the museum, they also have a full exhibit of train toys. To top it all off, on the top floor you will find about 5 tables full of Thomas and friends so the kids can play with one another, and the parents can take a seat and check their iPhones.  A little something for everyone…

And after your trip to the museum you can have a little walk around Old Town Sacramento. Never in a million years did I think I would eat at a restaurant with “fat” in the name but we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Fat City Bar & Cafe which is conveniently located just a few blocks from the museum.

Staycation Ideas

Monday, July 9th, 2012

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More and more of my friends are opting for family ‘staycations’ this summer. In lieu of packing suitcases, hopping on an airplane with all of their children, and jetting away to some exotic location, they are vacationing at home. I used to think they were crazy. Why would I pass up the chance to stay at a fabulous hotel and explore the yummy food and wonderful boutiques in a new town? Staying put at home just sounded a little boring to tell you the truth. I know I live in a beautiful area, but I really didn’t think I would be able to relax and peel myself away from everything I needed to do around the house. I didn’t think my husband and son would really enjoy it much either since I would probably wrangle them into some massive cleaning project. But now that we are almost at the half point of summer vacation, I have started to come around to the idea. In fact, I think I have finally found the perfect plan to an awesome staycation for my entire family.

I recently visited a few of the properties owned by Western Athletic Clubs and I had an epiphany. If I joined their Clubs, planning a great family staycation would be a breeze.  They had just about everything I needed for a relaxing getaway – no packing, 3 ounce bottles or security lines required…

Here is how I would enjoy my week long staycation right here at home in Northern California:

#1 – Spa Treatments – A massage one day, a facial the next, and throw in a manicure and pedicure and I would be over the moon. Western Athletic Clubs has wonderful Sanctuary Spas in all of their locations so I could be enjoying my relaxing massage while my family was playing racketball or tennis. Perfect.

#2 – No Dishes – Three meals a day, the Club could take care of every meal for me so I wouldn’t need to dirty a dish. I’d get my meals delivered right to the pool so I wouldn’t even need to peel myself away from my magazines and sunshine. I’d let my husband and son order their meals whenever they were hungry – no reservations required.

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#3 – Lazy days by the poolWestern Athletic Clubs facilities have amazing pools. At Courtside the little ones can play in the fountain, and my husband could swim laps in the adult pool. I of course would soak in the jacuzzi. And up at their Redwood Shores location – the water playground is incredible. Yes – that photo at the top of the post is from their club! It is comparable to any resort. I wouldn’t have to stand at line at a busy water park for my son to laugh and splash all day long.  I’d let me son bring his best friend and I know they would have a blast all day long.

#4 – A little exercise – I always like to exercise on vacation so I don’t have to feel guilty about the extra calories. It would be a treat to find time to take a new exercise or yoga class and maybe even get back on an elliptical machine for old time sake…And now that I have started playing tennis again it would be fun to play doubles one afternoon with some of my friends.

#5 – A little alone time – I’d love to sign up my son for some special activities so I can finally have a few hours of quite time to finally read Fifty Shades of Grey (I can’t be the last woman on the planet to read it!). During my ideal vacation I want to actually find time to read a book cover to cover. Luckily Western Athletic Clubs has amazing programs and activities for kids to keep them busy and active all day long. I know my son always loves playing with new friends and I would have a few hours to just relax and finally open a book.

Mixed in with all of this we would certainly do a few local tourist activities. We’d walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy a yummy lunch at the Ferry Building and visit a few museums too. Before I know it our week would be up and I know we would have enjoyed every minute of it. Added bonus – I wouldn’t have to unpack a thing…

I want to thank Western Athletic Clubs for hosting me at their Courtside Club for the afternoon. I had a tour of the facility, enjoyed a delicious poolside lunch, took my first yoga class in 10 years and had a wonderful visit to their spa. I have many many friends who are members of Western Athletic Clubs too and they love it because there are so many activities for everyone in their family. If you don’t live in Northern California – I still recommend looking for a great Club in your own area where you can enjoy ‘staycations’ with your family all year long.

TOSS Designs

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Toss Designs

Have you ever stepped foot into a store for the first time and kind of freaked out in excitement. You are so giddy and happy and overwhelmed by all of the cute things you just don’t know where to start. The store kind of whisks you away to another very happy and wonderful place and you find yourself just standing there smiling wishing you could just wrap the whole place up and take it home. Or better yet – just move in.  It has happened to me. Not often, but a few times. The Kate Spade boutique at the Stanford Mall definitely elicits that reaction from me, especially after their most recent remodel. The bold colors, the sparkle, the pretty perfectly stacked boxes that line the walls and all of my favorite accessories everywhere – it is such a happy place for me. And the Jonathan Adler store on Fillmore street in San Francisco makes me over the moon happy too. I just want to jump on a couch, grab a cold beverage and a fabulous art book or two and hang out all day long.

A few weeks ago I found a new store that made me equally dizzy with excitement – Toss Designs. I LOVE this store! The Toss store I visited was in Town & Country in Palo Alto (boy has that place changed since my undergrad days at Stanford!) but they also have locations in other wonderful places in Northern California like San Francisco, San Anselmo, St Helena and Corte Madera. The store is bursting with all of my favorite color combinations – lots of orange and blue and green and pink. It has a cool resort vibe to it with added dashes of sparkle, attitude and great sense of humor.

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Toss Designs makes super cool bags and totes in all shapes and sizes that are incredibly well priced, and they are overflowing with unique gifts for all of your girlfriends. Every bride should shop at Toss for all of her bridesmaid gifts! Needless to say I could barely contain my excitement…I had found my new favorite store.

Now for the drum roll…..I am so so so thrilled to announce that you will very soon be able to purchase Sweet Peas & Stilettos infant onesies at Toss! I thought they were perfect for the store and I was happy that I was able to çonvince their buyer too. So please please visit Toss and check out the onesies and all of the other super fabulous merchandise. I hope I can sell lots and lots of onesies there so I can buy absolutely everything else in their store.

And for those of you who don’t live in Northern California – don’t worry – you can shop the Toss online store


Las Vegas Family Vacation

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

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Never in a million years did I ever think I would say that Las Vegas was a fabulous place for a family vacation. My memories of Las Vegas include leather pants and leopard print and lots of things my 4 year old does not need to know about. So when some new family friends invited us to join them in Vegas for the weekend, I was cautiously optimistic. But I must say it was the best 48 hours we’ve had in a long long time. Vegas was fabulous!

When we landed in Las Vegas we quickly settled into our room at the Mandarin Oriental. It is a gorgeous hotel, very low key and has none of that icky smoky smell you get at most hotels. My son loved pressing all of the magic buttons to open and close the curtains. Once we were able to peel him away from that great toy, we went over to Serendipity for a yummy family dinner. I had the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Yum!

On Saturday we enjoyed the hotel pool and then the moms went off for an afternoon of shopping (Chanel and Louis Vuitton around every corner – love that!) while the dads spent a few hours with the kids – the M&M store, the lions at MGM, the Ferrari store at the Wynn, and of course a trip through ‘the castle’ and a happy meal at the McDonalds at ‘the pyramid’. The hotel was able to arrange for Mary Poppins to come take care of our boys why the adults enjoyed an incredible dinner at StripSteak – Michael Mina’s amazing restaurant. In lieu of bread and butter they serve crispy French fries with dipping sauce. Need I say more? The husbands went out for a night (and morning of gambling) and we went back to get a good night sleep with the kids.

We wrapped up the weekend at the hotel. The boys enjoyed a few hours splashing at the pool while my friend and I went to the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental spa. Between the steam room, and bubbling pools and perfectly relaxing facial – it was a blissful end to an amazing 48 hours. A huge thank you to our new friends Colleen, Andrew and Cooper for a perfect 48 hours.


Expedia.com

Little Passports Subscription

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

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With the new school year here I can’t help but think about play dates and birthday parties.  I am always on the lookout for something new, or using something old in a new way. I have featured Little Passports on Sweet Peas & Stilettos before because I think the company has a great concept and I love the idea of teaching kids about geography, history, culture, and language. I had two ideas pop into my head this morning that I wanted to share.

1) Birthday party gifts – I know my son does not need 20 $20 gifts when his birthday rolls around in a few months. Why not chip in with a few other families and buy a subscription to Little Passports for the birthday boy or girl? What child isn’t going to love getting a birthday gift every month, all year long! The child will be able to learn and enjoy and you will feel good about giving a meaning, educational and fun gift.

2) International play dates. I am usually not very creative when it comes to play dates. The kids come over and tear my house apart and leave 2 hours later after the hurricanes get tired. I love the idea of theme play dates that will keep kids engaged and interested. Subscribe to Little Passports for your own child and then they can host international theme play dates for their friends. They can learn about Brazil and then play soccer outside, or check out the Japanese kit and have fun making sushi. The kids can learn all about the world around them and have fun too. I love it.

Here is a little more scoop about Little Passports:

Little Passports is a subscription service for children featuring two loveable characters, Sam and Sofia. Sam and Sofia travel to a new country every month and share their experiences with your child. Your child will receive an exciting package via postal mail that includes an adventure letter, fun souvenirs, activities, and access to the Little Passports Boarding Zone full of games and activities. Visit www.littlepassports.com to learn how to bring the world to your door!

Little Passports

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

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Inspire your children to learn about the world. I have always been impressed with the concept of Little Passports and their mission to teach kids about different countries and cultures. I had the travel bug from a very young age and I hope my son will have it too. Sign up and Little Passports will send your child a new country package every month full of games, stickers, souvenirs and more teaching them about a new country. This is a great gift for grandparents to give to their grandchildren or aunts and uncles to give to their nieces and nephews. Save 10% on Little Passports with code “SHARE10”! Exp. 7/31!

Stephanie Johnson Travel Bags

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

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I have found a little travel bag that I will never ever tuck away in a drawer. I received this glorious Stephanie Johnson cosmetic case as a gift (thank you Susan!!) about 2 months ago and I swear it has been on my counter or in my bag every day since. It is to pretty and festive to put away. It has been wonderful for vacations – I love the little compartments inside where I can organize my make-up and brushes. The bag has been equally useful to use on a daily basis to carry little items in my bag. I’ve used it for my iPhone, for glasses, you name it. I toss it into my Louis Vuitton Neverfull and I can always find it.

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I love Stephanie Johnson’s website too because she makes it really easy to see all of your options and all of the products you have to choose from all on one screen. Above is a snapshot of some of her bags (there are many more too!) so you just pick a bag style you like. She really has designed a bag for everyone and every possible need.

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And then you have all of these gorgeous fabrics to choose from. If you fall in love with a particular print you can quickly see all of the bags available in that print. It is so simple and intuitive. The hardest part is narrowing down your selection because the colors and fabrics are so pretty.

Go to her website and play and have fun with all of the colors. I am sure you will find a new cosmetic bag you’ll love. And while you are at it, you can pick up a cute evening pouch and an iPad case too. Happy Shopping!


L’Auberge Del Mar

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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Have you started planning your summer vacation? I know that many people with kids vacation in San Diego. With the gorgeous weather, the beaches and so many kid friendly activities, it is easy to understand why. We went down that way for Mother’s Day weekend and had a fantastic time. Instead of staying in San Diego, we opted to stay a little further north at the L’Auberge Del Mar, and we loved it. For my Mother’s Day gift my husband took my son to Lego Land and I enjoyed the spa at the hotel (pictured above). It has a very cool relaxed surfer vibe to it and the services were great too. I must admit I was happy to skip out on Lego Land….

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My favorite part about the hotel had to be the lobby. I just loved the beach decor – the pretty white walls, cool fabrics and of course the modern fireplace. All the windows and doors are usually kept open so you can enjoy the spectacular ocean view. My son loved the pancetta flatbread and would have eaten it for every meal. I would have too…. The walk to the beach is just a few blocks and the hotel provides beach chairs and towels. We went down there everyday. What is particularly nice about the beaches in Del Mar is that they are not crowded like other Southern California beach towns. I am not into crowds so in my book it is perfect.

Needless to say, we will be staying at the L’Auberge Del Mar again.



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Girl Up

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

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Recently I read a few articles about Girl Up and immediately wanted to learn more. I loved the idea of connecting girls in the US to girls all over the world. I was incredibly lucky to be able to spend a summer in Kenya while I was in high school and it was an amazing experience to meet girls my own age who lived a world away. I had a similar experience going to China when I was still in grade school. These amazing adventures forever changed me and always made me very aware of what my reality was vs. what was real for so many other kids around the world. I was always grateful for my home, my private school eduction, my loving and supportive family, and the food on my table. The thing that has always stuck with me are the vivid memories I have of the smiles, laughter and fun that kids all over the world have, without the material possessions that we have grown accustomed to. Kids don’t need fancy train sets and elaborate outfits for their dolls to be happy, what they really need is love, food, shelter, friendship, security, education and a little imagination.

Here is a little scoop about Girl Up that I am quoting from their website:

“Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, gives American girls the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders.  Campaign supporters are encouraged to give a “High Five” to girls in developing countries by donating $5 or more to provide girls with such basic needs as access to school supplies, clean water, life-saving health services, safety from violence, and more. To give a High Five and learn more, join us at GirlUp.org.”

I am looking forward to introducing my 15 year old niece to Girl Up. I know that she and her friends will love be part of something like this – knowing that they too can make a difference.

I think we should all join Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan (one of the organization’s global champions, and an amazing mother of four) to do what ever each of us can to support these girls all over the world.

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Mom-to-be, and super entrepreneur, Ivanka Trump is a Girl Up champion who is using her voice to help teen girls. Through her Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry line, she designed this stylish bracelet that can be purchased for $40 and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Girl Up.

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Santa Barbara Zoo

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

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My son and I went down to Southern California for the weekend to enjoy the sunshine. Was it beautiful! (A huge thank you to our new iPad for keeping him happy during the long drive both ways!) My son rode a bike for the very first time (my 35 year old little green Schwinn no less…) so we were all very excited. What better way to celebrate than a glorious day at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Here is an action shot of my son feeding a giraffe. If you are ever in Santa Barbara with the kids you must stop by. You’ve got to love a zoo with an ocean view!