A Sexy Bikini for a Trip to Jamaica

My good friend, Crystal, came to me with a strong idea of the type of swimsuit she was looking for, and I was very excited to make her something unique and sexy. Crystal is a cool girl with a rock n roll meets southern belle vibe, and she's got a hot bod. 

Crystal wanted a high neck black bikini with a fun print on the reverse. We toiled a little bit over finding the right print, but as soon as I saw it, I knew she would love it. -->

She wanted it to fit like a glove. Hidden elastic in the top and bottom make this reversible, seamless-style bikini comfy and ultra flattering, not to mention secure enough to enjoy some body surfing or snorkeling.

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Thanks for the opportunity to make a gorgeous suit, Crystal! Can't wait to make some sexy ones for us both for St. Martin! <3

Enchanting Charleston

Recently my husband and I and another couple took a very quick road trip to Charleston, SC. It involved a van, some medical equipment, and plenty of snacks, but we made it there in 12 hours, had one full day, then drove 12 hours back home on the third day. It was great fun and Charleston is absolutely lovely. I've only ever heard great things about Charleston, and it definitely lived up to its reputation. Here are a few of my favorite shots from our trip, as well as the places we ate and stayed and shopped. 

 Our hotel, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Superbly charming.

Our hotel, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Superbly charming.

 Lush courtyards were hidden between nearly every building. I loved it!

Lush courtyards were hidden between nearly every building. I loved it!

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 Just so cute.

Just so cute.

 The row of mansions along the water are all painted in such pretty, salt-washed pastels!

The row of mansions along the water are all painted in such pretty, salt-washed pastels!

 Every alley way, courtyard and walkway between buildings was utterly charming. Like a fairytale.

Every alley way, courtyard and walkway between buildings was utterly charming. Like a fairytale.

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 My favorite little souk-like shop. Glittering lanterns, textured pillows and woven boots!&nbsp;

My favorite little souk-like shop. Glittering lanterns, textured pillows and woven boots! 

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 The Mills House. They have a champagne hour here from 3-4!

The Mills House. They have a champagne hour here from 3-4!

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Hotel: The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Excellent service, free Starbucks coffee, free champagne hour from 3-4, good weight/fitness room, clean and comfy guest rooms!

First Night
Dinner: Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar. Great cocktails and excellent seafood. I don't even like oysters and their fresh oysters were pretty great. Down by the water, make a reservation to get outdoor seating!

Second Day
Breakfast: I ate at Toast. The cheesy grits and omelette were perfect fuel for a day of walking! Meghan ate at Eli's Table; despite finding eggshell in her meal, she thought it was otherwise pretty good. Tom and Joe ate at the hotel, which was a little pricey.

Lunch: Jim & Nick's Bar-B-Q. I had a really hard time finding something to eat here that was gluten free, but they did their best and used lettuce leaves for my chicken tacos. (Who doesn't have corn tortillas??) Everyone else loved their dishes. More importantly, it was near all the good shopping.

Dinner: We had a glass of wine at Charlestowne Tobacco & Wine while we waited to be seated. Felt exclusive though. Magnolia's for dinner was superb. They were very accommodating to my gluten intolerance, and brought out my own special loaf of crusty, warm, soft-in-the-middle gluten free bread. Best meal of the trip!

Shopping: We didn't do a whole lot of shopping, but if you see an antique store, definitely pop in. Pretty sure some of that stuff was used by the Founding Fathers. There are lots of great little stores hidden off the main shopping drag, you really won't be disappointed if you walk around and go into whatever strikes your fancy. We also went to the Charleston City Market, which is listed as one of the top things to do, but I was a little disappointed to be honest. There was a lot of cheap crap mixed into the quality stuff. Very busy. We didn't take any carriage rides, maybe next time, but if you find the stables, don't hesitate to talk to the drivers and owners and pet the horses. That made me happy!

Last Morning
Breakfast: We ate at Toast again. It was fine, but we could have gone somewhere else. Our waitress wasn't great and it was a very different experience than the previous morning. Not sure what that was about!

Overall, we had a great impromptu trip. I had some anxiety before going, but I'm so glad I said yes to a new adventure and got to see a city that I had heard so many positive things about. It would really be a great city to retire to! And I'm sure we'll be back to visit in no time!

Flashback Friday: Adventure Honeymoon in Nicaragua

Two years ago at this time we were traipsing around Nicaragua, completely removed from our regular life and utterly transfixed by this steamy, tropical slice of heaven. It was an eye-opening experience for us, me especially, as I had never been to a foreign country, much less one that spoke a different language. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in this hemisphere and seeing it first-hand made me realize that as humans, we require very little to be happy. It's a country on the rise, thanks to backpackers and surfers and ambitious travelers, but Nicaragua's unity is being threatened by people with too much power and too much money. If you haven't heard of the transoceanic canal, you might want to take a look. To split a country in half using one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world in order to establish a Chinese presence in the Western hemisphere and connect the Pacific to the Caribbean, doesn't strike one as the most ethical when you learn a little more about the proponents and investors, as well as the impact on the people and the environment. To me, it's a sad outcome for a beautiful and charming country trying to level up.  

So, today, I'm going to share some of my favorite photos of our time there. And try not to weep.

 Pegasus, my charming steed at Rancho Chilamate. Dreams do come true &lt;3

Pegasus, my charming steed at Rancho Chilamate. Dreams do come true <3

 The view of Lake Nicaragua from Mombacho

The view of Lake Nicaragua from Mombacho

 The hacienda and piscina at Rancho Chilamate

The hacienda and piscina at Rancho Chilamate

 Playa Maderas. Empty, grand, lush.

Playa Maderas. Empty, grand, lush.

 Laguna de Apoyo, the mystical warm lake among the mountains.

Laguna de Apoyo, the mystical warm lake among the mountains.

 Hotel Spa Granada.

Hotel Spa Granada.

 Fulfilling life-long dreams with Rancho Chilamate in Nicaragua.&nbsp;

Fulfilling life-long dreams with Rancho Chilamate in Nicaragua. 

 Soaking it in.

Soaking it in.

 Our pool in the hills above San Juan Del Sur.

Our pool in the hills above San Juan Del Sur.

 A not crowded street in Granada. But a very crowded bus.

A not crowded street in Granada. But a very crowded bus.

 Granada, Nicaragua.

Granada, Nicaragua.

 The view of the ocean, overlooking our pool in San Juan Del Sur.

The view of the ocean, overlooking our pool in San Juan Del Sur.



Latest Inspirations

I've been pretty active on Pinterest and Tumblr, which you'll totally want to check out if, like me, you're being drowned in rain.

But the ultra cool woman behind Lady Slider recently posted some photos from a shoot with Samudra that have me nearly rolling on the floor in a mix of jealousy and nirvana. It seriously makes me want to stop everything else I'm doing and launch full force into a lifestyle brand where photo shoots like this are the norm. I have so much to learn though and plenty of time to make the right decisions to get there.

Here are some of my absolute favorites

Fitness Vacations: Would You?

We got back from Sanibel Island on Sunday and it rained for the next three days. So I can't help but dream of my next vacation to pleasanter weather. 

One thing I'd absolutely love to try is an active, fitness-focused getaway! We usually stay quite active when we vacation, whether that means hiking or surfing, horseback riding, running, or hitting the gym. It makes us feel good and gives us more wiggle room to enjoy some cocktails or desserts. 

But I think it would be totally fun to have a whole vacation focused on fitness with like-minded people! So here are the ones I've been eyeing, they look so fun! Take a look and tell me, would you ever take an active vacation?

Active Escapes -->

AE goes to amazing resorts in Bali and the Maldives for a week of group fitness and activity challenges. They do everything from surfing, to pilates, to horseback riding, to ropes courses, to running. The accommodations are 5 star, breakfast and dinner are provided daily, as well as transportation and two daily training sessions. Other fun activities are available at an extra cost. For the week: $3600-$4790. LEARN MORE HERE.

 
 

<-- Bikini Bootcamp 

Bikini Bootcamp is a weeklong, organized fitness retreat in Tulum. They have structured days, which include journaling, meals, training sessions, spa time, cultural sessions and artistic endeavors. This would make for the most amazing girls trip. For the week: $2250-$3950. LEARN MORE HERE.

Escape to Shape -->

Escape to Shape is an adventurous, exploratory week to a destination that is perhaps outside of your comfort zone. Destinations include Atacama, Chile; Marrakech, Morocco; Galle, Sri Lanka; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and more. Each experience includes regional and cultural learning experiences, plush accommodations, daily yoga, cardio and circuit sessions, meals, and outdoor activities and sight-seeing. For the week: $3200-5000. LEARN MORE HERE.

So what piques your interest? Where would you go and what would you love to do on an active getaway? I would go in heartbeat to any of these cool retreats.

Desert Wanderer

So with much anticipation and excitement, I boarded a plane about two weeks to have a little fun and downtime in Phoenix with my cousin. 

At the airport however, what I thought were allergy sniffles turned into a little something more, and by the time I arrived in Phoenix, I was well aware I was trying to fight off a cold.

The next morning I picked up some drugs and some groceries and tried to chill by the pool (love that pools are so common out there). It was too much and I went back inside to finish my book (The Island by Elin Hilderbrand). 

That evening my cousin, Rachel, and I went to Elephant Bar in Peoria. It was delicious, the decor was very fun - safari themed - and it was so nice to catch up.

The third day there I decided to go out to Scottsdale and visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. I was glad I booked a tour on my iphone before going out there since many of the tours were sold out and it's cheaper to book in advance. I booked the insights tour, and was very impressed with it. Before Taliesin West, I went to Old Town Scottsdale, which is very kitschy and a bit touristy. I did find a pretty larimar ring to buy. Note: the sellers are open to negotiation, give it a try. I got $10 off my ring just by showing some hesitation. 

Taliesin West was like a dream. I have loved FLW's style for a long time and hearing so much more about his passion for this location, as well as his philosophy on designing for the land, was so inspiring and something I just connected with deeply. It made me want to drop everything else and go to the school there for architecture! 

By day 4 I was feeling a little better, visited Rachel's class for a couple hours, and rallied enough to go up to Thunderbird Conservation Area for some hiking and photography. I did the loop northwest of 59th Ave. which was a little over 3 miles, and I did maybe another mile of the southwest portion. It was really lovely. I saw two very large lizards, some small lizards, a snake, and plenty of Gambels quails, which I have fallen in love with. Their little gurgly peeps are too much. 

That evening, after some pretty normal Mexican food, we set off for Indio near Joshua Tree in CA. I booked a room at the Best Western Date Tree Hotel with plans to hike most of the day Saturday and take a day trip on Sunday to Palm Springs.

The Date Tree was fantastic. The bed was so comfortable and the reception desk had fresh dates and fruit infused water available to guests. Sublime. 

On Saturday we ventured into the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park to hike the 3.2 mi (6.4 round trip) trail to the Lost Palms Oasis. Note: fill up on gas before you leave a town. We cut it a little close. The hike was really nice, beautiful and surreal. The palm trees seemed huge and out of place. We went fairly early in the day and the trail was quite busy. But, I really can't blame anyone because the weather was absolutely perfect - sunny, breezy, low 70s. I would so love to come back and hike some of the northern trails; we didn't see a single Joshua tree, ha! After our hike, we got ice cream at a super sketch mall, relaxed by the pool, showered, and then had dinner in La Quinta at Solano's Bistro. It was rather overpriced and overrun with rich retirees. I kind of liked La Quinta though - I am a huge fan of the Florida retirement/equestrian community vibe (I know, weird) and that's what La Quinta is.

Sunday we meant to sleep in, well one of us did. I woke up early and got a good breakfast, lots of coffee, and started reading outside in the sunshine while Rachel slept in. It was a luxury I won't get around here for another month at least, I had to take advantage. Eventually we set out for Palm Springs for some shopping and ogling.

We grabbed coffee at Koffi North on N Palm Canyon Dr. The shopping was good, it was a strange mix of hippy/authentic/kitschy/upscale. It was very peculiar. I found a sweet little metal Gambel's quail to bring home, which makes me very happy every time I spot it in our living room. 

There was no shortage of fine, delicious dining, and if given too much thought might have been overwhelming. But we had burgers in mind and ducked into the first place that had burgers on the menu. It was the right choice, because that was perhaps the best burger I've ever had. The Crazy Coconut is a very small place with a goofy staff, and super burgers. I had the Spicy Bob, no bun, and Rachel had the Maui Wauwi. 

As we left Palm Springs, we tried to get a good look at the houses. I was really very surprised to find how private the residences actually are. The fences are tall, the bushes and trees are positioned for privacy. I was also surprised at how small Palm Springs is and that it really is nestled right up against the mountains. It's an interesting dynamic for how popular and well known Palm Springs is. 

Kathleen Takes Ecuador

It's been a while since we last heard about Kathleen and her super cool trip to Ecuador. See, there was a snafu with her photos, but she recovered a few and we've got them now!

Her verdict on her trip? "I had an absolutely, hands-down, amazing time in Ecuador. It truly was the trip of a lifetime!" Take a look at her amazing itinerary to refresh your memory. 


Kathleen took with her the Las Isletas reversible bikini, the Big Tote, and the Travel Wrap in violet. She had this to say: 

I got compliments on EVERYTHING! Especially the bag! Holy sh**, that bag is probably my favorite thing right now. Yes of all bags I own!! It is soooo dirty, because I used it non-stop for 6 days...The wrap was an all-purpose utility for me. Not only was it gorgeous, it was my go-to as: a wrap, a scarf, a head-wrap, a shawl, a wind-blocker, blanket, pillow, face cover for shade and basically anything I needed it for. I even tried to see if I could wear it as a dress, but that was a little dicey. Lol... All of my tan/burn lines are from your bikini. It was the only one I wore. Love the top and the colors were perfect for me!

Good to know! Thank you Kathleen for being a willing test subject and sharing photos!

Kathleen Heads to Ecuador

Today, our friend, Kathleen, heads to Ecuador with 10 of her friends for her birthday! (How amazing right!?)

So, while she's in transit, I thought I'd share her story, and give you all a little background on who she is and what she's doing!

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Adventurers

I love traveling. And that's one of the things I really want to focus on for my line of swimsuits, bags and wraps. I'm making these items to help women travel easier! I know that when I travel, doesn't matter how far, I like items that do double duty, that don't take up too much space and that are durable. Because I know that unloading items at the airport is a hassle; stuff gets dirty and sandy no matter how white the sand is; and that with all the bikinis I have, I still don't have enough. That's why bags have to be not just big and cute, but also durable and versatile. Reversible bikinis double my options. And the right scarf has more uses than I can count. 

All that being said, I'm going to show you just how practical this mindset is by sending a few of my products to Ecuador with a lady named Kathleen! She's got a girls trip planned for March (I know, right), and I'm going to have her road test a bikini, a bag and a scarf. Exciting right!?

During her trip she'll be sending me photos and stories (and feedback!), and I'll be blogging about her! I'm very excited about this and sent her some sketches to select from yesterday, see below. I think I'd like to make this a regular feature on the blog, so if you've got an awesome trip planned, I'd love to hear about it!

Here are some of my rudimentary sketches for the 2014 collection. :)

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