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Tag Archives: romance

Beach Babymoon

20 Jul

While the word itself…”babymoon” seemed to turn my husband’s stomach – he had absolutely no problem with the concept of actually taking a fabulous trip before our little munchkin arrives.  Personally – I don’t care what you call it.  I will take a romantic get-away with my husband any chance I get!  So off to the Maldives we went to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Baby Hutch.

After rave reviews from my sweet friend and newlywed, Brandace Wilson, (who just returned from her honeymoon) we knew we must take advantage of the direct flight from Beijing to Malé while we still had the chance.  And while it was difficult to choose a resort (because they are all quite amazing) – in the end we went with the W Resort & Spa on Fesdu Island…just 1 of the 1,200 that make up this beautiful island nation situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

On the W Jetty waiting for our seaplane take-off. The W has its own lounge full of cool drinks and tasty treats while you wait for “fins up”.

The sign of a good trip…the seaplane had my monogram.

The vast majority of our time in the Maldives was spent in our own little ocean oasis.  When your “hut” has everything you need including direct ocean access, a plunge pool, a well stocked snack station and minibar, and the best in-room service…why leave?  So – we basically didn’t.  Except for breakfast.  This preggers couldn’t resist the delicious spread of the buffet and the “fruit man” who created custom fruit plate masterpieces to suit one’s individual tastes.

Outdoor space on our Ocean Oasis. The W also offers beautiful beach bungalows – but I think the over-the-water option (with glass bottom floors inside) is the more interesting and fun of the two.

Brett’s backflip into the ocean off the deck. Reminding me that I was truly not cut out to be a “boy-mom”!

In-Water Dining! Even if it is a bit warm outside…the W makes sure that your feet are cool by allowing you to give them a dip while enjoying your morning meal.

One of many “bump” pictures…

One perk of traveling to a Muslim country while pregnant…the “mocktail” list is almost as long as the “cocktail” list!

The bird and the bump!

We decided to do a little photo shoot after breakfast one morning (mainly because I had finally washed my hair for real in a legitimate shower…as opposed to an ocean one!)

One night we decided to take advantage of the W’s In-Room BBQ Service.  They provide all the “fixings”  and you can choose between American or Asian style.  Clearly, with the current lack of American BBQ in our lives …we opted for the potato salad and grilled corn-on-the-cob option.  All that was left for us to do (after they delivered the spread and set-up the grill for us) was to actually throw the meat (ribs, burgers, and wings) on the grill and eat it!

My Grill Master!

Great food. Great view. Extra great company.

The proximity to China and the lack of visa issues for mainland Chinese makes the Maldives a great destination for Chinese honeymooners.  Here were some of our favorites…

This couple wore matching outfits everyday. Not your typical “trousseau” to say the least!

Although we only caught a quick glimpse of their husbands, these ladies went all out for a not-so-impromptu photo shoot around the tiny island wearing formal gowns. We see this constantly in the Mainland!

On our last day at the resort, before heading back to Malé for a quick tour of the world’s smallest capital city and then back to Beijing, we decided to allow ourselves the ultimate cliché in destination drinking…Pina Coladas!  (A virgin one for me of course!)  But who could resist this packaging??

Puckering up for his Pineapple! His was much better than mine…I did have a tiny sip!

Until next time beautiful blue water and soft silky sand!

A parting message in honor of our little beach-bun-in-the-oven!

 

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FALLing for Valentine’s

15 Feb

Perhaps it is a coincidence.  Perhaps it is just a true love for the color red.  Or…perhaps the fact that New York Fashion Week fell during Valentine’s Day this year inspired designers to include the color of love into their Fall 2012 collections.  Whatever the reason – I don’t care.  I love red, and even more – I love the nod to the day set aside for romance.  Let’s FALL in love…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2012

Diane von Furstenburg Fall 2012

Christian Siriano Fall 2012

Rachel Zoe Fall 2012

Kevork Kiledjian Fall 2012

Wes Gordan Fall 2012

Moncler Grenoble Fall 2012

Images courtesy of http://www.style.com

A Burnt Bride

23 Dec

After our ceremony in the wide open bush (see Chitwa Chitwa Part Three for more details) we were taken to a surprise location for a romantic wedding dinner for two.  Tucked away in the quaint courtyard of the lodge and centered around a roaring fire-pit, the crew at Chitwa, once again amazed us with a perfectly picturesque setting.

A lovely wedding dinner for two!

Within a few minutes of being seated, we began to hear a rumbling of strange noises…drums…unusual calling sounds – and then they appeared!  An authentic tribe of African dancers to perform for us!

These dancers were no joke. Completely in sync with their moves and their chanting. Incredible!

Then…they ask us to join in the fun with a special serenade for us to have yet another first dance (officially our fourth!).

Then the party really got started (before dinner of course…I mean why not?).  The leader of the group called out to all with a loud party cry!  I have never heard anything quite like it.  I hope to hear it again some day!

African Style Congo Line!

This is when things started to go south…Actually – when they started to go DOWN south…down in flames really…

The photograph above was the last picture taken at our African Bush Wedding Celebration…why you might ask?  Well…moments later when my feet actually came back down to earth, they were completely twisted and intertwined with my wedding dress – which caused me to lose my balance ,and I fell flat on my back into the FIRE!  That’s right…at that very moment I became A Blonde Burnt Bride in the Bush!

Luckily, the tribe leader and Brett were able to pull me from the flames in record time.  Thank God.  Do you know how much aerosol hairspray I use?  I would have gone up like a nuclear bomb if my entire head of hair had hit.  I did lose a few locks – but the real victims were the dress and my back.  “Sorry” to our future daughter (or maybe a, “you’re welcome” is more likely in order) wearing your mother’s wedding dress will not be an option.

Thanks to Shannon – Dr. Shannon that is – lodge manager, wedding planner, and burn unit warrior extraordinaire – things turned out much better than they could have.  The lodge had all the tools and equipment necessary, and she had the skills to treat my wounds (2nd and 3rd degree burns) just as a hospital would have (which was hours away BTW).  Note to self: avoid dancing around fire-pits when miles away from medical care.  In fact: avoid dancing around  fire-pits all together.

The shock of it all (and let’s be honest the Champagne probably helped the cause) allowed me to power through it for a bit.  Truth be told, I remember laughing about it at first.  Thinking…you silly blonde you.  What a hoot!  That hoot turned into serious hurt within about 30 minutes – leaving our lovely wedding dinner uneaten and a beautiful 3-tiered pink wedding cake uncut.  (Silver lining…wedding cake for breakfast for the rest of our stay at Chitwa Chitwa.)

Back in our room, the smell of singed skin, scorched silk, and burnt hair (sounds lovely for your honeymoon night right?) filled the air.  Shannon was in and out throughout the night checking and/or changing the dressings on my back and arm.  Let’s just say – it wasn’t an ideal situation for romance.  That and the fact that they gave me some crazy pain killers that knocked me out….  But – it does make for a great story now, right?  Frankly, even if this entry has bored the pants off of you, I hope you will at least lie to me.

The picture above was taken a few days later when we were finally near a pharmacy on our way to another lodge.  The pharmacist prescribed an antibiotic and Silvadene creme (this stuff works miracles).  My arm had nothing on my back…but my back just looked too gross to show the pictures.  I would like to report that 3 months later – things are looking much better.  I will most likely have permanent scars – but at least Stefan du Plessis got a lot of pictures of me in a backless dress that day.  Plus, I know how much worse this could have been.  I thank my lucky stars (i.e. God) every day, and I am more than happy to LIVE with scars.  And truthfully, the happy memories of that day way outweigh the burnt ones.

Images courtesy of Stefan du Plessis – South Africa Photographer.

Paris in the Springtime….Part I

3 Jun

There is a reason that a song was written for this time of year in Paris…because springtime in Paris is absolute perfection!  And while one doesn’t need an excuse to visit the city in all of its blooming glory, what better reason to go than a Parisian Wedding of a fellow Kentuckian childhood friend?!

Like any trip to Paris – ours was filled with delicious cuisine, tasty wines, outdoor cafes, rich culture, high-end window shopping, and a highly contagious “c’est la vie” attitude.  I think I can best describe the trip through our photos…they speak much louder than my words!

First though, on a quick practical note – I would like to share with any Beijingers traveling to Paris that we flew on the direct flight from PEK to CDG on Air France which left around 11AM getting us to Paris by 2:30PM.  This was actually really convenient timing – it allowed us to check it, take a quick catnap, and freshen up before hitting the town that night.  On our last visit we took a redeye on Aeroflot and connected through Moscow.  This trip was much easier and we were more adapt to “Parisian time” (i.e. waiting until 10-11AM to really get the day started!).

For the first 2 nights in Paris, we stayed in a lovely Relais & Chateaux hotel in the 8th Arrondissement near the L’Arc de Triomphe.  Lucky for us – we were able to communicate with our taxi driver very easily…because he spoke English?  NO!  Because he was Chinese/French and he spoke Mandarin!  www.hoteldanielparis.com

   

Hotel Daniel in Paris

Living Room at Hotel Daniel - So Cozy!

On our first night, we started at Hotel Amour in the 9th Arr. for a romantic dinner for two in their outdoor courtyard.  The hotel is a bit edgy with a fashionable crowd, and the food was tasty.  Not Guy Savoy tasty – but not Guy Savoy prices either.  It was a very reasonable dinner (great prices on wine) and the setting was lively and Parisian chic.  I recommend a reservation – specifically for one of the hidden tables in the back, tucked among beautiful hedges in a glow of candlelight.  TIP: It is a bit difficult to find a direct contact online.  I suggest emailing your concierge to make the booking for you.

Outside the Amour Hotel. Not our best photo – but the crowd was a bit too cool for tourists! Clearly – this is a self-portrait.

Bird's Eye View of Amour Hotel's Outdoor Restaurant Seating

After dinner we grabbed a taxi to the recently renovated Royal Monceau Hotel (a Raffles Hotel) for a few drinks at Le Bar Long.  It was here where we found our second wind…a second wind to the level of a couple of 21 year olds and we would pay for this later!  Specifically, we would pay for this the next morning!  Maybe we can still go out like 21 year olds – but we can certainly not recover like them!

From The Royal Monceau we headed to Le Baron (in the 8th Arr.  Opens around 1AM).  Proud of ourselves for getting “in” ahead of a line full of 18-22 year old extremely put together Parisians, we danced the night away and left around 4:30 AM with sore feet, hungry bellies, and an inevitable headache on the way. But…what a fun way to get there!

Needless to say, we slept in on Friday and room service seemed the only option for our first meal of the day – around 11!  Afterwards, we threw on some clothes and hit the streets with the intent of buying a wedding gift for the happy couple.  Unfortunately, after unsuccessful visits to the bridal registries at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, we realized that Jennifer and Jean Marc were actually registered at Bon Marche.  With too little time to get there, we scurried back to the hotel to get ready for the rehearsal dinner and shop for the betrothed online at  www.mariage.lebonmarche.fr. Finally…success!  And let’s be honest, a bit of window shopping in two of the most famous department stores in Paris was not so bad…

Unsuccessful Shopping Excursion. I apparently decided to dress like a human traffic cone.

I love that he is still this jolly after two failed attempts at bridal registries. What a good husband!

Our very kind cab driver made a quick stop by the L'Arc de Triomphe for a photo op on the way to the rehearsal dinner. Who says the French are snobs? I think they are quite lovely!

 

Outside the Buttes Chaumont Park in the 19th Arrondissement. The dinner was inside this beautiful park at Le Pavillon du Lac. It was a fantastic evening full of great conversation with old and new friends alike! FASHION: Vintage 1980's Silk Carolina Herrera Jumpsuit & Red Bottega Veneta Clutch

Paris in the Springtime…Part Deux COMING SOON!

A Bride in Beijing

17 Feb

A Kiss at the Carlyle

To say that we kicked off our 2-week trip to the States during Chinese New Year with a BANG! is a major understatement.  Within 4-hours of landing in NYC, Brett asked me to marry him…and I said YES!

So for all the romantics out there (but mainly for our friends and family – and who am I kidding, I want to have all the details in writing!) – I would love to share the story of how my wonderful new fiancé popped the question. Apparently, unbeknownst to me of course, his process began in late October when he started a search for the “stone”.  Props to Chris Carioti of Carioti Jewelers in Columbus, Ohio who managed to find exactly what Brett was looking for from 6800 miles away.  It took several months of back and forth via email (Brett only saw the ring in person for the first time just minutes before proposing) but by December Brett knew the ring would be ready in time for our trip to the States – so he put his proposal plans in motion.  He started by giving me two nights in a suite at the Carlyle Hotel, a New York institution and home to Bemelmans Bar – where we met, in my stocking on Christmas morning.  This was one of his ways of throwing me off the scent! The sudden increase in the number of “ifs” when referring to our future was another tactic…which (btw Brett) I could have done without!

 

I said YES!

Brett continued planning for the big night with the incredible help of Fred Petry, manager of the Carlyle.  I just want to say that Fred and every employee of the Carlyle from the concierge to the elevator operators were absolutely spectacular in every possible way.  Even upon arrival (looking like homeless rag-a-muffins and smelling like plane after our 14-hour flight from Beijing) we were greeted with the utmost respect.  Albeit – possibly because the comedian Elaine Stritch (a longtime resident of the Carlyle) was collecting her mail at the check-in desk while we were checking in, and she sarcastically wished us good luck “staying in this dump”.  The look of fear on the staffs’ faces  – unsure if we knew the famous comedian or not was a bit entertaining.

 

When we made it up to our room on the 33rd floor – I was in awe.  It was beautifully decorated

The Living Room

in classic upper east side style, and it felt like a real apartment.  We even had our own kitchen – stocked with amazing snacks, beautiful stemware, and a surplus of diet coke!  Of course, I immediately began to hoard the precious soaps and chocolates embossed with the Carlyle Crest

From silverware to pillows...everything was marked with a C

as I explored the room  – but Brett wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact – he was noticeably rushing me…something that he just doesn’t do. Mainly because he is a sweet and patient man – but probably also out of defeat that it doesn’t really work.

 

After getting fancied up, I suggested we enjoy a pre-cocktail hour cocktail in the comfort of our darling living room overlooking Central Park.  He apathetically agreed and then proceeded to drink his as if it were a shot.  Needless to say – I was seriously confused.  We had been planning to make this a “date night” for weeks knowing that the next day would commence our world wind trip of trying to see every single person possible all across the country.  I finished my drink faster than normal (trying to keep up) and we headed downstairs to Bemelmans.

Welcomed with a charming jazz quartet playing old standards – we instantly entered the world of MADMen.  Surrounded by whimsical murals of scenes from Central Park painted by Ludwig Bemelmans himself, this bar exudes classic Manhattan. The room was buzzing for a Monday night.  I noticed immediately that the exact two seats where we had met 20-months before were reserved.  I looked to him – he flashed a big grin – letting me know that it was his handy work.  Even then – I didn’t see what was coming. Possibly because on our last visit, almost a year earlier, we tried to sit in the seats but the two guests before us hogged them all night – never allowing us the opportunity.  It wasn’t until we sat down and ordered a drink that I began to realize what was happening…

Sweet treats in the room!

His nerves were the biggest give away – and it was really cute.  In those next few moments, he told me that from the first time he saw me sitting in that very seat as he walked into the bar, he realized that life as he knew it was about to change.  He told me that he never imagined finding such a perfect fit – that he had hoped for a love like this, but wasn’t sure that he would ever find it – and then, the biggest smile I had ever seen spread across his face, he pulled the ring from his pocket and said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Morgan.  Will you marry me?”  To which I replied, “Of course not.”  JUST KIDDING!  Of course – I said YES!  (For the traditional ladies out there – he didn’t kneel right then as the bar stools are really high – but later, he reenacted the moment and took a knee.  It was sweet.)

 

Countless hugs and kisses later (not at all creepy like Michael Scott and Holly during last week’s PDA episode of The Office) the celebration began with pink champagne and mini burgers.  After filling me in on all the details of his planning process, we headed back up to the room for “more surprises”.  While we had been toasting and calling family at the bar – the engagement elves had filled our room with hundreds of candles, pink roses, rose petals, chocolate treats, and a bottle of 1980 (the year of my birth) Dom Pérignon that Brett special ordered.  So thoughtful, right?

Our Special Champagne

 

We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning (it was easy with the help of our jet lag) talking, planning, and toasting to our future.  And in the morning – the only appropriate thing to do was to continue the celebration with room service.  It was a perfect night.  I am an extremely happy and an incredibly blessed lady!

And, obviously…I forgave him for rushing me!

The Morning After Breakfast...Everything Frette!

Welcome 2011!

29 Jan

New Year's Eve 2011 at Maison Boulud

Maison Boulud is Daniel Boulud’s restaurant here in Beijing.  It is clearly the best “pretty” french food in town.  Although, we prefer Brasserie Flo for the classics like steak tartare and frisee salads!

NYE 2011! FASHION: Vintage Silver Lame Animal Print Strapless Dress with a Thin Black Patent Leather Belt, Michael Kors Pewter Platforms, and a Black and Silver Tulle Fascinator

I wanted to get a full length picture before the meal – or should I say…before the I put a giant food baby in my belly!  The dress was already a bit tight!

NYE 2011

The grand entrance to Maison Boulud – which at one time was the American Embassy.  It is absolutely stunning!

New Year's Eve Wrist Corsage

Like I said before (in the Christmas Eve Blog Entry)…I am trying to bring the wrist corsage back.  I actually just ordered 2 dozen elastic bands from a floral supply  store in the states.  I will be bringing them back to Beijing after our trip home next week!  Can’t wait!  The options are endless here as far as flowers go – and they are soooo cheap!

New Year's Day at Union Cafe in Sanlitun

We went to Union Cafe (a western restaurant that caters to expats) in search of Black Eyed Peas, Pork, and Greens…no luck! Hopefully – this doesn’t mean 2011 is going to be a bust.  Fingers crossed!

Happy 2011 to you all!  Or better yet…Tu Nian Kuai Le!  Happy Bunny Year!

Egyptian Ladies Love Louboutin!

1 Oct

My Christian Louboutin Ulona Platform Sandals http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/60226

If there is one man who can break any language barrier – it is Christian Louboutin.  His shoes are a language that almost every woman can speak.  I was able to confirm this on our first night in Cairo.  We were leaving the hotel after a quick costume change (after the Souk) to have a picnic dinner on a Felucca ride down the Nile (I will write more about this in a bit).  Just after closing the car door, I heard a tap on my window.  I rolled it down to discover 3 gorgeous Egyptian ladies peering in. After a few seconds, one of them spoke up, “My friend would like to take a picture of your outfit…particulary your shoes for her blog.  Do you mind?”  Of course I didn’t mind!

I stepped out of the car onto the sidewalk, and Maissa Azab (Fashion Director and Blogger for Enigma Magazine) began to snap images of the shoes and ensemble.  She had taken about 3 pictures when we were interrupted by a man in a black suit.  He began to speak while pointing to a large black car with a woman’s head poking out of the window,  “Excuse me ladies but my client, who doesn’t speak any English, noticed your shoes while we were driving by.  She wanted me to ask you the brand and where to purchase them.”  I looked over to find Brett and our driver laughing hysterically.  Men will never truly understand the bond between women and shoes.  Before I could answer the man, the 3 Egyptian ladies began speaking directly to his client in Arabic to answer all of her questions.  As it turned out, the other woman was from Saudi Arabia.  A huge smile spread across my face as I realized the power of a single pair of shoes. In an instant – 5 women from 3 different countries became pals over platforms. Perhaps we should send Christian Louboutin to the Middle East peace talks.

Maissa’s blog is actually a division of Enigma Magazine (The leading glossy international Arab lifestyle magazine for sophisticated Arab readers in the Middle East and around the world.)  You can find it at the link below:                                                                           www.enigma-mag.com

Or join their group on Facebook:                                          http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2611435629&ref=search

After the fashion detour, we headed to the Nile to hop on a Felucca (a traditional wooden sailboat).  The sun was just beginning to set and the views were beautiful.  The hotel prepared a wonderful picnic basket for us with a variety of tasty egyptian food and wine.  Of course my shoes were not the most practical choice (I almost fell into the river as I was entering the boat) but it was well worth it!

During the 2 hour cruise we saw many interesting things – huge boats filled with of hundreds of people dancing to crazy Egyptian music, an Egyptian wedding taking place on a yacht, and

Gold's Gym on the Nile in Cairo

dozens of other vessels with tourists taking in the scenery.  But something out of the ordinary is what really caught our eye…a Gold’s Gym right on the Nile!  I mean – can you imagine if your daily run on the treadmill was overlooking the Nile?

TRAVEL TIP:  We had a fantastic time on the Felucca in Cairo, however; if your trip to Egypt only allows enough time for one Felucca ride on the Nile, then I suggest that you wait until Luxor.  Our experience in Luxor seemed more authentic and picturesque.  I will discuss this in more detail in my entries about our time in Luxor.

Also, don’t be immediately sold on the big dinner cruises because you think a private boat will be too expensive.  A private Felucca runs less that $50 an hour.  You can choose to order food, provide your own, or just enjoy the trip sans snack and beverage.   Private is definitely the most romantic option!


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