Pssst! Here are some eco-friendly gifts!

We’re in the midst of the Black Friday rage and the Cyber Monday craze, which means we’ve all begun to prepare for the holidays and thus the search for the perfect gifts commences. Not that you haven’t been bombarded already with “buy this” and “buy that” but I just thought I’d add my two cents here ;) Just wanted to show you guys a product that I love and I know it would make a great gift for any lady on your list…it’s Lauren Conrad’s eco-friendly line, XO (eco) by Blue Avocado. Here are two items that I think are fabulous…

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Take a walk on The High Line

There are a lot of things to see in New York City…this is obvious just by looking around at any given location…but one thing that I will tell you is a “must see” is the beautiful High Line walkway on the lower west side of the city. Finished in 2009, this former railroad track has been transformed into one of the most beautiful “parks” in the city. The hubby and I planed our morning to walk the High Line from one end to the another and these are just some of the amazing views I was able to see.
First off, depending on where you are…the subway a super easy way to get anywhere (including the High Line)…so although I may be a Princess, I am not a snob…and I’m smart. Save that taxi fare for more important items like shoes and jump on the train…it’s fast, easy and totally safe.
So let’s get started on this little adventure…
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Love is in the air!

There are a lot of things about me you don’t know of yet but the one that you NEED to know for this post is that I love weddings…all weddings. Doesn’t matter if I’ve known you all my life or we just met, if I am at your wedding, I will cry, get all mushy and gush about the bride’s dress like she and I are bffs. So you can imagine my joy when the hubby and I were invited to his cousin’s wedding yesterday. The weather in Switzerland has been beyond perfection (actually tough to leave it when the weather is like this) and since the location for the wedding was on the lake, the setting was cast for an amazing evening.
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Top of the world in Pilatus!

My brother and I did a day trip to Luzern and we just had to experience the views of Pilatus. This place has such a magical feeling to it and the story behind it is quite interesting.
According to one legend, Pontius Pilates’ tormented soul haunted the lake and because of this…going up to the top of the mountain was prohibited for many years.
Another legend is that during the medieval times a dragon was said to live on the mountain itself…so as I said, this area has a very magical and almost mysterious appeal.
Here are some pictures of our day on the beautiful Pilatus Mountain…we started with a boat cruise around the Lake of Luzern then took a train to the top (actually, we took the steepest cog railway). Once on top we hiked around, sat in some sun chairs and enjoyed the breathtaking views. It was probably the best trip we did during his visit to Switzerland.
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Ciao, Lugano!

One of the best things about Switzerland is the diversity in their cultures and languages…take for instance the city of Lugano, located in southern part of Switzerland…which is the Italian part of this tiny country.
Just a couple hours by train from Zurich and you are transported into an Italian Riviera…Swiss style of course ;)
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Zermatt: A little village with a big heart!

I always wanted to do a Zermatt post but for some reason I hadn’t come around to it until now. This is our fourth year coming and I fell in love with the village on the first visit. It’s small, picturesque and peaceful…and for me, it’s my favorite city in Switzerland. And because of its no cars ban…the views and the air are crystal clear. Everyone knows that Zermatt is the place for the world’s elite and fancy to come ski during the winter…but in the summer, the city has a completely different vibe. It’s super laidback…filled with hikers, bikers and young families coming to spend their holidays in the beautiful nature that surrounds Zermatt.
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En route to Zermatt via Furka Pass

Hi friends,
Yesterday we left Zurich and began our trek to Zermatt for a couple days…we always come here and it’s one of my favorite places in Switzerland so I was very happy to be able to come visit this year again. I will definitely do a post about where to stay and dine in the next couple days…but for starters, I invite you to get in the car and drive up to Zermatt with us….and this time, we’re not taking the usual auto-train route through the mountain. Nope…this time my hubby decided that taking the Furka pass would be more scenic…and it was…except for those that suffer from motion sickness because this road is not for the faint of heart. It’s got more twists and turns than an episode of True Blood…but if you’d like to check it out…here.we.go…
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The glamorous world of Monte Carlo

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Mon Dieu…what is it about this city that makes us feel royal, beautiful, elegant and completely chic? Is it the glamorous sea coast? The million-dollar cars? The palace perched up on the hill? Or the world-famous casino? No, we think the answer is slightly less tangible than those things…the reason this city is so extraordinary is because of its history and its residents.


It was the Grimaldi family that really put Monaco on the map, first by becoming their rulers for hundreds of years and second because they stopped the normal heavy taxation of their people (the Casino was making so much money that the principality actually didn’t need tax payers anymore)…which came as a major relief to the residents and a much loved tax-haven for the rich. It soon became a favorite place amongst the wealthy and famous.
Of course, one cannot talk about the Grimaldi family without bringing up the marriage of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. It was a marriage that captivated both sides of the Atlantic…Hollywood royal turns into a real life Princess…it definitely had the makings of a fairytale. Princess Grace, with all her beauty, style, elegance was and is admired by many. Here are some pictures that we felt best captured her undeniably chic taste, her effortless style and the elegance in her ways.

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Portrait of actress Grace Kelly wearing strapless gown with artificial flowers.  (Photo by Sharland)PBDGRKE EC105
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So beautiful, right? Perhaps that is why there is such an elegance in the air here in Monte Carlo. Everyday is enjoyable…whether you’re walking next to the coast, enjoying the sea or admiring the luxurious architecture…Monte Carlo has a beauty and a feel of its own.
Life is peaceful and relaxing…
But we mustn’t forget that sometimes in the slow and relaxed life of Monte Carlo, there is a time when things move just a little bit faster…that’s during the Formula 1 Grand Prix race. The city is turned into a racetrack and those lucky enough to secure a view watch the world’s best drivers take on the most beautiful course in the world. This all adds to the allure and exclusivity which is Monte Carlo.
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And of course, what royal family could pass up the opportunity to host and watch some of the world’s best tennis players battle it out for the Monte Carlo Rolex Open? It’s just another glamorous event that this tiny yet powerful city offers.
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So whether you’re heading to Monte Carlo for sightseeing, sailing, tennis cheering or racecar watching, here are our picks of the six things we think you should pack to make your trip extra “royal”…

For starters, we are loving these retro styled swimsuits…
Either one would look great while you’re reading poolside or enjoying a day out on the sea.
We love their glamorous detailing and although they’re quiet modest, we assure…they are very chic.
Vitamin A Retro Halter SwimsuitNorma Kamali Ruched Swimdress

Second, make sure you pack a pretty and classic day dress. We love these two options because they’re sweet, elegant and still young enough in their styling. Pair these with simple accessories and fun colored shoes (notice that both models have been dressed with red shoes). These are definitely Princess inspired lines and we love a dress that makes us feel as such.

Derek Lam 10 Sleeveless Eyelet dressYves Saint Laurent Textured Fit and Flare Dress

Next up we have a classic, everyday bag.
This is definitely our “splurge” item of the post but with styling like these, we have no doubt that either one of these bags will be in your closet for a long time to come. And we also love that although they are classic bags, they are certainly not boring. Lady like and elegant…but simple enough that they can be used everyday. Makes your lunch outfit that much more perfect.

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We can’t forget our sunglasses while visiting Monte Carlo. We think a pair of oversized shades will be just the thing to keep your look polished yet trendy. We love the Roberto Cavalli pair on the left and the Mango pair of the right…although their price is the biggest difference, they both have very similar lines and a glamorous appeal. Either choice will keep you looking fabulous for those walks on the boardwalk.

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Lastly, we think you definitely need to take at least one super chic, peplum dress.
We love these options because they’re sophisticated, glamorous and a bit sexy…
Pair these options with some bling accessories and you will be ready for a night out at Jimmy’z, the Casino or just dinner at Restaurant Joel Robuchon or Maya Bay. These styles are very much on trend while having a slight retro feel to them.

Rachel Gilbert Kamilla cutout dressNotte by Marchesa Pleated silk-satin dress

Well, that’s it for this post, Ladies…we hope you love your trip to the beautiful Monte Carlo..and don’t forget that a true Princess is always classy, well-mannered and true to herself.
We have the late Princess Grace to thank for her examples.

Places to Visit:
1) Musee Oceanographie: Jacques Cousteau was the director of this fabulous museum for 30 years. Housing a spectacular aquarium and much history of the water life around Monte Carlo, this is a must see.
2) Monaco Cathedral: The location where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier married. It is also the final resting place for many Grimaldis, including Princess Grace. Her tomb is very touching and you definitely feel the love and respect that the Monegasque people had for her.
3) The Palais du Prince: Located in old Monaco-Ville, it is the residence of the royal family. If you see the flag flying over the palace, you know the Prince is in the residence. There is a changing of the guards that takes place daily at 11:55am so try to plan your visit to include this traditional ritual.

XOXO,
Martha

Hungry for fashion…let Hong Kong fill your appetite!

The Far East…a place where many have never been…which of course, leads to it’s mystery and allure…but mystery no more, Ladies. Grab your passport, buckle in and let’s get going because we’re taking you to the amazing city which is Hong Kong.
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Hong Kong is an island off the coast of China’s south and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea…which creates the world famous skyline…a modern day city surrounded by a beautiful harbor. Seems so massive in size but actually Hong Kong is only about 1,104 sq km (426 sq mi) and with a population of 7 million people, it’s one of the most densely populated areas in the world. With a so many people living in such a small area…there is bound to be a mesh of styles…and we see this so clearly in the street fashion. The young people of Hong Kong dress very uniquely…a little bit of fearlessness, a little polished, kind of funky, add some softness and always, always keep it creative. This is a truly interesting and fun blend of art, fashion and youth.
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Of course, like all places, Hong Kong has several layers and it wouldn’t be fair for us to discuss the groundbreaking fashion without also including the elegance, sophistication and glamour of the older generation. This island was under British ruling since 1842 until 1997…so there is a very delicate blend of British customs and ancient Chinese traditions. This led to the common quote of Hong Kong being the place where “East meets West”. It’s a modernized city filled with exquisite history, beautiful old architecture and deep rooted beliefs and customs. And because there is such uniqueness to this city, we thought…we can’t tell you what to pack to go there…but we definitely can tell you our picks of what to bring with you back home. In Hong Kong you will find things that are unique to this city, to the vibe and to the way of life…so bring an empty suitcase and let’s guide you along as we tell you what you must not leave this city without…
A piece of clothing from up and coming designer Singchin Lo (PLOTZ). An engineer turned fashion designer will always leave us wanting to see just how his creative visions will carry…and we think that his works are fun, fresh and true to his background of engineering…fluid yet structured. We also really loved the styling…nothing is perfectly matched yet everything looks like it goes together perfectly. Now that’s what we call a balancing act.

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Next up we have the power couple of Wong Ching Ching and her husband, Chu Kin Yip…together they took their knowledge of design, visual merchandising and textiles to create the very chic CCCHU label. They produce clothing and cutting edge accessories like necklaces and bracelets with funk. Pick up anything from this label and you’ll be the envy of all your creative friends. We loved seeing their “As a Human Being on Earth” collection (S/S 2012). It was interesting, graceful and cutting edge. But the best part was that 90% of this collection was made using organic materials, organic cotton & linens, recycled PET, hemp and Indian silk…talk about being eco-chic!
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Proving our point that Hong Kong is a mesh of different cultures and styles is the label Tangram. It is owned and run by a Colombian fashion designer, Paola Sinisterra, and her Spanish husband, Ignacio Garcio, an architect. But despite their latin roots, Tangram is a label that is designed and produced in Hong Kong. The look and feel is soft, polished and relaxed…in a super chic way. It may not be as adventurous as the other labels, but it certainly is pretty.
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Lastly we head to the world-renowned Vivienne Tam. She has a very interesting background. Today she is based in New York, but she grew up in Hong Kong and attended Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her inspiration comes from her Chinese heritage, its culture and design, but also from her modern viewpoint. Her shops are all over the world but we think you simply can’t miss her store in Hong Kong. She describes her collections as such “When you look at my forms, they’re Western but the embroidery and the trims are traditional, based in history. Combine the two and it becomes a new thing”. We agree that she is an original. Her designs contain a feminine mystique of Asia with the spirit of the modern world.
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We think picking up a piece or two or ten from any of these designers would be the best souvenir…your closet will thank you later. It’s always great to see interpretations of color, styles and fashion from all over the world…and we think that Hong Kong’s vision is unique…but if picking up something from a store isn’t your thing…make sure you check out Hong Kong’s market places for exquisite textiles, handmade accessories and beautiful jewelry.
Okay Ladies…these marketplaces are no joke. You will have a complete sensory overload when you first arrive but it will be worth it…trust us. The market offers everything from silks to pearls to the most random toys we’ve ever seen. It’s a place that is crowded, loud and very colorful. So don’t feel intimidated. Walk right in there, stop and look at all there is and be ready to put on your best negotiation face on because these sellers are all about negotiation. You may be thinking “shopping at an open air market hardly sounds chic” but keep in mind that almost everything we can think of today is made in China…yes, even those super luxury items…so keep your eyes open and you may end up with some superior quality items for clearance pricing. One of the most visited markets is Mongkok Ladies Market (Tung Choi Street).
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Another one we recommend is the Stanley Market on the sunny side of the island of Hong Kong. Here you will have a beautiful farmer’s market along with all the other things you’d expect to see at a market…and we love the restaurants around this area. It’s very cute, historical and fun.
Hong Kong, China - October 24, 2010: People walk down a street in Stanley market, Hong Kong, China as others enjoy food at restaurants. Stanley is a popular destination for shopping and relaxation in Hong Kong.stanley-market-hong-kong
Well Ladies, we think that Hong Kong is a place filled with beauty, energy, history, culture and cutting edge views. It’s truly the pearl of the Orient. We think this is a place that gets better with every visit so get ready to book your ticket, bring you empty bag and come back with a little bit of all the amazing things that Hong Kong has to offer.
Lastly, here are some other options for you to check out when visiting Hong Kong:
1) Nan Lian Garden: Buddhist monastery, gorgeous Tang dynasty architecture, a peaceful oasis, beautiful flowers & water features.
2) Aqua Spirit: breathtaking views, very trendy, extremely expensive but with all the money you saved at the markets…go ahead and splurge, the view alone is worth it
3) Hong Kong Museum of History: learn about the fascinating history that makes up this island, see ancient artifacts and follow the timeline that begins 400 million years ago,
Till next time…
XOXO,
Martha