June 14, 2017

Last Minute Wedding Planning Tips

We most recently had the honor and challenge of pulling of a beautiful, earth day inspired wedding in less than 6 weeks.

When the first email came through, our bride, Isabel, sounded hopeless. Like no one could pull off a wedding in such a short amount of time. I said huh? Us? We strive under pressure and tight timelines. I said Bring.It.On.

Isabel knew what she wanted. She had a clear vision, she just needed someone to execute it. That’s where we stepped in. And here’s how we accomplished one of the most beautiful events to date…

Venue: The big popular venues book up months, even years in advance. However there are always options as long as you’re willing to be flexible. Isabel was lucky enough to be able to hold her wedding in her fiancé’s parent’s  apartment. We made the space work by setting up chairs that we rented for the ceremony, set up a satellite bar for cocktail hour in the hallway (one neighbor, and she was cool with it!) and flipped the room for dinner.

Officiant: Isabel had this all lined up with a best friend who prepared a beautiful ceremony led with passion and love.

Marriage license: You will need to have this arranged ASAP to have in time for your ceremony. You can find all the details and paperwork to apply with a simple search online.

Attire: The best site for last minute, quality, well priced wedding dresses is BHLDNThey offer a huge variety of styles in the latest fashions and are ready to ship so you can receive quickly and with enough time to take to your local seamstress to alter if necessary. Isabel was on this and already had her dress when she got in touch.

Photographer: The most important vendor at your wedding. We booked Dave Robbins Photography for Isabel’s wedding and she told us after receiving the photos, it was the best decision she made.

Look & Feel of the wedding: The wedding date was set for April 22nd, Earth Day. Isabel wanted decor to give an eco-feel to her party with tons of lush greenery and pops of fuchsia. She had inspiration photos for us to review including a photo of a stunning flower crown that she wanted us to make for her to wear for the day.

The team over at Paperfinger took care of sourcing these brooklyn light bulbs for our table cards and wrote in stunning calligraphy, the name of each guest. For the menu, we used recycled sparkling water bottles and affixed the menu.

Hair & Make up: For wedding beauty we love to refer our clients to Beautini. They show up with a team of artists who work their magic and leave you looking gorgeous and ready for photos.

Food:  Fresh, seasonal ingredients are a little last minute themselves. So the food is the easy part. Check out your local caterer, tell them what you love, or leave it to them. We love Poppy’s Catering for their creative, delicious, gorgeous meal for Isabel’s wedding. They also baked a cake to perfection. We decorated the simple, buttercream frosting with greenery and Isabel placed it with a meaningful cake topper.

Flowers:  Flowers  can add up quickly at a wedding. If you’re on a budget you can find flowers at your local farmer’s market or flower shop and if you tell them they are for your wedding the vendor should be willing to negotiate. Use household items such as recycled wine bottles, glass jars or pretty water glasses as vases. Prep the flowers the night before and keep them in a cool, dark spot until you are ready to use them.  For Isabel’s wedding we arranged a huge runner of greens and fuchsia peonies to line the dinner tables. It was a dramatic look but low enough that everyone could see the person they were sitting across from.

Guest Book: It’s so nice to have something when it’s all said and done, to remember your wedding day. Of course, the photos are #1. But we love coming up with a creative way to have a guest book.  For Isabel’s wedding we took a page from my Sister’s wedding and set up a Jenga game with markers so each guest could sign a block. After the wedding and for years to follow, Isabel & Sean will always be able to look back at their guest’s notes and remember their special day.

All photos by Dave Robbins Photography

xx, Seri
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  1. Homes & Weddings

    I LOVE love that bridal crown. So beautiful,

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June 5, 2017

The Golden Years

It’s funny when you have kids, people offer up all kinds of advice and say super cliché things like “enjoy every moment they grow up so fast”. Or “enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts” – when the baby is born. Or “just wait for when they are old enough to entertain each other, those are the golden years”.

All those clichés? Well obviously they are true.

YES they grow up too fast.

YES the first few months of life was 100% the honeymoon. Omg the thought of my babies lying on my chest. Those memories take my breath away.

YES…we just reached the golden years.

Sounds so glamorous doesn’t it? Well I don’t mean it to be. Kids are HARD no matter what age. BUT I’ll tell you, this stage that we just reached certainly is a nice change from watching their every move. Always worried they will choke. Or fall and crack their skull open.

We’ve reached that stage where we can sit up on the deck…while they play on the swing set and dare I say…they don’t need us.  It’s pretty lovely.

I’m also starting to notice Gavin maturing. He shows empathy and true concern for his family and friends in a way I never knew he could pick up. Last week when we went to Paris, before leaving he said, Mom, I’d like to bring the extra “Aviator” book (a booklet from American Airlines that he gets the pilots to sign every time he flies) to Mazzy so she doesn’t feel left out. I was so touched by this thought. Something I would have asked him to do if I remembered but he did all on his own.

Same goes for how he treats his brother. He’s so thoughtful and caring when it comes to protecting his baby bro and making sure he’s safe, especially when he’s in charge while I’m off making dinner for example.

Now I know damn well these special years are going to FLY by so I’m savoring every moment of my boys taking care of each other, playing together, with friends and our family. Soon enough they’ll be beating each other up and rolling through the teenager years. You guys, I’ve never been so terrified for something in my life. TEENS! NO! Please stay this age of 4 and 7 FOREVER!

HUGE thanks to Patricia BurmickyPhotographer & Founder of PhotoUno Photography School who I met at the most lovely Crepes party that my friend Jennifer Crêpes à la Maison for these fantastic photos of my little men. And a few that I snagged with my baby Luke.

xx, Seri
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June 1, 2017

LMP Travels: Three days in Paris with Two Kids

I have forever dreamt of taking my children to Europe but wanted to do so when they were good and ready so they would have some type of appreciation for such a special trip. Taking a trip to Paris was something I had discussed with my friend Ilana awhile back. When we first chatted about the idea we knew the kids were too young to even consider taking them. But a few years later, about 6 months ago, we were talking about planning a trip together and realized Gavin + Mazzy may be at an age that could work! So we did it. We booked a trip for the 4 of us to go to PARIS!

NOTE: Skip to the end of this blog post to go directly to a recap of our itinerary in Paris.

We decided to go over Memorial Day Weekend so the kids would only have to miss one day of school. It was a short amount of time to go so far so we had to really cram everything into the itinerary.  It wasn’t easy. The weather was unexpectedly HOT rising to almost 100 degrees every day but I was determined to make it the most memorable trip and did so by being relaxed and adjusting to the kids needs as we got through each day.

Before I share our planned itinerary vs. the actual itinerary please let me just say how thankful I am for all of the incredible advice and suggestions you all gave to us over Snapchat and Instagram. I am including many of your suggestions at the end of this post just in case others wish to use for a trip to Paris!

Ok here it is folks, the inside and out of our trip…

Planning Paris
Hotel – We booked the Westin Vendome. This hotel was suggested to me by a friend who works in Europe and whom I traveled to Paris with many years ago. Back in the day we stayed at one of those awesome little boutique hotels. Was great for a bunch of 20-something gals who just cared about shopping and fashion parties. However for this trip we needed a kid friendly, well located place to stay. It was a fantastic recommendation. We loved this hotel.
Babysitters – when traveling with kids and another adult be it my husband or a friend, I always book a babysitter for late in the night so I can enjoy an adults only dinner. I had arranged an English speaking babysitter through my travel agent, Tate Escapes prior to the trip but if you’re not as organized as me, don’t worry! Just speak to the concierge at the hotel and they will happily arrange.
Tickets to the sites and museums – Thank goodness someone told me to book tickets to the Eiffel tower in advance. If I didn’t take this advice, the tower would have sold out and we would not have had the opportunity to go up. Crazy I know. Someone referred me to Fat Tire Tours. I looked them up and immediately found their website super easy to navigate later finding out that they are an American company who runs tours in European cities. While on there I saw they offer picnics, bike rides and more. I booked it all!
Dinner Reservations – Seeing as I love to dine at fine restaurants, it was important to book them in advance. Luckily I had the foresight to book very late dinner reservations (9:30pm!) since our days were long and it was important to us to get the kids settled back in the hotel before ditching them for a night out. Worked out…perfectly each day that we planned adult dinners for.

Paris Itinerary:  Planned Vs. Actual

Day 1

10:30am Friday Morning we arrived in Paris.
Plan:  Take an uber.
Actual:  Uber didn’t speak English and couldn’t find us.  Canceled the Uber and took a taxi. 

11:30am Checked into hotel. Room wasn’t ready quite yet so we grabbed a bite.

Plan:  Eat lunch at hotel and then play in the Tuileries Garden.
Actual:  Ate lunch at the hotel but had to skip the Tuileries Garden as we did not have time before our first scheduled activity… 

After lunch, our room was ready. We went upstairs and got ourselves changed into shorts and a tee, loaded up on sunblock and packed a bottle of water.
Plan:  2:30pm – A Bike Tour of Paris.
Actual:  2:45pm – we made it a few minutes late…but thankfully the group waited for us and we got to go on a Bike Tour of Paris!

Finding the tour was super easy and our guide, Phil was the sweetest and so knowledgeable on the city and all the history behind the major attractions. We booked tandem bikes so Gavin and Mazzy could ride behind us and pedal if they weren’t too tired or, just enjoy the ride and see the sites. Gavin did a little bit of both and when the ride was over he told me it was “awesome”. Given the jet lag and heat, I was so thrilled and relieved to hear this.

I will tell you that the bike ride was long, almost 4 hours. It could have been 1-2 hours shorter in my opinion but we sure did cover a lot of ground and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The kids were exhausted at the end of this ride. However they spotted a playground outside of the drop off and immediately ran towards it. It was so nice to sit and watch the run around and play for a short while…until they realized they were craving ICE CREAM! So we took a stroll and found a gelato stand. The perfect pit stop.

At this point it was late and all I had written on the itinerary following the bike ride was “Feed the Kids”.  We had a whole list of suggested restaurants to take the kids to however we had no idea where these restaurants were in relation to where we were at that moment. What we did know is that we were near the Seine river which we rode by on our bikes and noticed tons of really cool looking restaurants.

We hopped into a taxi to take us over there and then we walked along the water to find a place to eat. There were so many incredible looking bars there filled with gorgeous Parisian people drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes. If Ilana and I were alone, boy would that have been great. With the kiddos, it was like playing a game of survival of the fittest. We tried one spot (way too cool for us) and found nothing on the menu that the kids would eat. So we left and continued to stroll until we found a whole bunch of food carts. Bingo! A hamburger for Mazzy and Dim Sum Dumplings for Gavin. The kids ate while Ilana and I sipped on Rosé. It was perfect.

I had booked the babysitter for 8pm and she was waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived back with the kids. Her name was Hannah and she could not have been more fantastic. She wore glasses, looking just like a school teacher. She spoke perfect English and she was immediately hands on with the kids, helping them get ready for bed. We all felt very at ease with Hannah right off the bat.

Ilana and I got the kids into their jammies and tucked into bed. Then we hopped in the shower and were off to our dinner.

Plan:  9:30pm at L’Atelier Robuchon
Actual: 9:30pm at L’Atelier Robuchon!

We ordered a bottle of wine and the chef’s tasting menu. I was super excited until…I passed out at the dinner table. Poor Ilana was literally talking to herself. She was doing her very best to keep me awake by telling me animated stories and that’s when the unspeakable happened. Just as she was reaching the climax of a old dating story, her hands whipped up into the air at the same time that the waiter was about to place a foamy egg served in a martini glass down in front of her. The egg went FLYING and landed onto her lap then made a skip and a jump onto the table next to us, finally landing on the floor shattering glass and egg all over the place. Believe it if you can, Ilana came away from this episode without one drop of egg on her clothes, only finding the egg on her napkin.

This was the point in the meal when Ilana suggested I order a coffee. They brought me an espresso. I was later up till 5am.  No matter how that dinner went down, we had a great night.

Day 2

Plan: Wake up at 9am to eat breakfast in the hotel (it was included with our room package)
Actual: Woke up at 10:30am and missed breakfast in the hotel. 

Since we were going on a walking tour (which is exciting for us adults who care about seeing pretty buildings however less than thrilling to a 7 year old child), I wanted to somehow make it sound cool for Gavin. I asked him if he’d like to be our photographer for the day, and in charge of my really good camera. His eyes lit up like he had just won the lottery and he accepted this job with great enthusiasm!

Plan: 11am – meet Sarah, a Mommy Shorts Fan, who offered to give us on a walking tour of Montmarte and have lunch at Marcel.
Actual: 11:30am – met Sarah at the Moulin Rouge with starving children who had no interest in walking and walked straight to lunch (well…we found a kids clothing store along the way and that they had interest in. They each chose a few items to purchase. Well worth it – tee shirts were $5 bucks!).

12:30pm: Lunch (I mean breakfast) at Marcel. It was SO lovely! Gavin ordered Bagels & Lox just like the good little Jewish boy that he is and I had EGGS and a Mimosa. We were hot but happy!

After lunch we officially began the walking tour. It felt like the temperature had risen to 4,000 degrees and the streets were all upward hills but we powered through to enjoy the beauty of this area.

Sarah took us down hidden paths and past the most beautiful homes as well as right by the Sacré Coeur. Gavin stopped to photograph it all, but his main focus was Mazzy…

After about a half hour of walking, we knew we had to finish up and give the kids a break to do something that they were interested in. Ilana was dying to go to the Louis Vuitton Foundation. A museum that is apparently wonderful for kids. Sarah told us that right behind this museum was a beautiful amusement park. Done. We were heading there for the afternoon. But before we finished walking Montmarte, Sarah made sure we got to see the best parts.

A flamingo and wizard wall….

The Wall of Love…

And of course, Ice Cream!

We even walked by a photo booth right in the middle of the street. Gavin and Mazzy hopped in as we scrambled to find change and walked away with the cutest strip of photos.

Plan for the Afternoon: Walk through Saint Germain or the Canal St. Martin
Actual: Le Jardin acclimatation

Never in my life…have I seen a more beautiful amusement park. The trees and even the rides, it was gorgeous! The kids were in all of their glory. Ilana and I looked at each, took a sigh of relief and had the biggest smile on our face for the rest of the day knowing how happy they were.

Beleive it or not, we made our way into the Louis Vuitton Museum, to cool off! It was literally in the park and it was so fabulous.

We weren’t in the museum for all that long, but long enough to take some beautiful photos and see a few of the exhibits. We went right back to the park and grabbed a bite for the kids while fitting in a few more rides.

Back to the hotel we went and as planned, Hannah, our babysitter was there right on time for Ilana and I to enjoy another night out.

Plan: Grab a drink at the Ritz and then dinner at 9:30pm
Actual: Straight to dinner at Clover for 9:30pm, drink at the Ritz after dinner

Dinner was incredible. Delicious and beautiful. This restaurant came recommended to us and we loved it. However if I did it all over again, I would have loved to eat at a local cafe on the street in Saint Germain, where they serve traditional Mussels + Frites.

After dinner we did make it to the Ritz Hotel and it was lovely. Truffled cashews, chips and olives were served with our cocktail and even though we were stuffed from dinner we savored every bite. After our cocktail we were so close to our hotel we were able to walk home.

Day 3

Plan for the Morning: Wake up at 8am, breakfast at Lou Lou and play at the Luxemborg Gardens. Pick up the picnic I ordered from Fat Tire Tours for our lunch in the afternoon.
Actual: Woke up at 10am, made it to the hotel breakfast, walked to Palais Royal for photos, picked up picnic food even though we had ordered picnic food, missed our window to pick up the picnic that we ordered so I called the hotel and asked them to pick it up, went to the Musee D’Orsay.

Day 3, was a highlight of the trip. First of all, the jet lag was starting to wear off and the kids were starting to adjust to the time change. The heat was still intense but we had many plans and they were plans that we intended on sticking to.

Ilana was raving about the Palais Royal. Said we had to get over there just for a photo op. She was right. It was unreal. It was a short walk from our hotel and along the way we walked right past Angelina’s, a bakery that almost every single person I know suggested we pop into. So we did just that, popped in..and left with a box of macarons.

What we weren’t expecting when we got to the Palais Royal, was a full blown Orchestra to be playing outside, for all to enjoy.  It was incredible. We listened to the music and then strolled over to the rose garden to take photos of the gorgeous flowers before making our wait out of this fantastic area.

Next on our list was to visit the Luxemborg Gardens. We heard it was a great place for kids to run around with sailboats that they could control and more. We passed by a small market and stopped in for some fruit, wine and flowers to take with us to the garden. I found the most beautiful peonies at this market and loaded up with bags full of goodies to enjoy outside.

We grabbed a taxi and the second we took off, it started to rain. CHANGE OF PLANS. We had to think quickly and asked the driver to take us to the Musee D’Orsay. No better plan than a museum for a rainy day. The only problem was…I was terrified the kids would hate it AND we didn’t have tickets so I was worried about the line…

To my great great surprise, the line was long but moved so fast we waited no more than 10 minutes to get in, there was a coat check at the museum to store all of the picnic items I had just purchased AND the best part was, the kids LOVED every moment of this museum. From the fact that it was an old train station, to photographing every corner, to the New York Statue of Liberty sculpture that they recognized when they walked in to the art that Gavin knew about from his school studies. My heart was so full I thought it may explode.

Plan for the afternoon:
2pm – picnic at the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower
3:45pm – Tour the Eiffel Tour (fast pass to the second level)
6:15pm – Dinner Cruise on the Seine River
9:30pm – Bus Tour of Paris at night

Actual: AS ABOVE! We did it!…

The afternoon was filled with plans and tours that we committed to. We would have been out a nice chunk of change if we couldn’t make these plans. Not to mention, we were all very excited about what was ahead! Most especially, seeing the Eiffel Tower.

We all had outfits specifically planned for the Eiffel Tower so after the museum we hopped in one of those biker cabs and took a ride home. Was a total fortune but worth every penny, kids loved it.

We changed our outfits and packed our bags knowing we wouldn’t be back at the hotel till around midnight.

We had asked the concierge to pick up the picnic that I booked from Fat Tire Tours since we couldn’t make it there during the window that was allotted to us.

I had dreams of setting up this lavish picnic with the gorgeous peonies that I found, wine, cheese and baguettes.

When we got to the park, the sun was so hot I quite literally thought we all may melt. So landing our picnic blanket in front of the eiffel tower was not an option, we had to run for the shade where the tower was hidden behind trees. My heart was broken. My dream was dead. And ready for this? We went to unpack the picnic and half of the picnic items that I had ordered – WERE NOT IN THERE. NO salami, NO cheese, no protein. There was salad and bread.  I almost fainted. Long story short…it was stolen. So we think. Moral of this story? Pick up the picnic yourself like you’re supposed to!

Our picnic should have been an hour+ however we had to cut it short to find food for the kids before heading into the Eiffel Tower. I told Ilana, Listen – I’m going to run over to the middle of the park, front + center of the Eiffel Tower and set up a quick picnic for a moment. It was worth every, crazy person second for that one shot.

Off we went to the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, Ilana found a shop with chicken sandwiches so we were able to feed the kids. Watching Gavin gaze up at the tower was one of my favorite moments. He knew he was in a place that was truly special and one he would always remember.

Remember above I told you tickets to the Eiffel Tower could sell out?  Well even though I booked well in advance, the top floor tickets had sold out! So we had tickets to the second floor. Honestly?  I did not care. I inquired about going to the top when we were there. When they told us it was a 40 minute wait we said sianara and just made the best of being on the second floor. And by that I mean we found ice cream for the kids and champagne for us. I grabbed my peonies that I had been schlepping around ALL DAY and took them for a photo with my plastic cup of champagne. Perfection? For me, yes! And the kids…were relaxed in the shade. It was all good.

Next up, was our dinner cruise on the Seine river. Someone had suggested the Bateaux Parisiene. We looked into it and when we saw it was only an hour and a half, had a great menu that the kids would enjoy we went for it. You guys…it was the best. The kids were relaxed, Ilana and I sipped on wine, the food was delicious, Paris was whizzing by us, it was pure perfection.

To close out the trip, Ilana had suggested we take a bus tour of the city at night. I was worried it would wreck the kids to be up so late but we said screw it. It’s a once and a lifetime opportunity for them, so who cares! Well who cares was right. It was that bus ride where the children got to see and truly feel the magic of Paris. All of the major sites lit up at night ending at the Eiffel Towel sparkling like we were in a movie, it was out of this world.

At the end of the day, it’s not easy traveling with kids. It never is easy. You always need to adjust and be flexible. Ilana wrote all about the truth of traveling with kids and provided a huge list of tips that you can read here. However there’s no doubt this trip was one that we will have in our memories forever and I am so grateful that I got to go on with Gavin.

Here is our itinerary recapped for easy reference:
Day 1
Hotel check in + Lunch
Bike Ride with Fat Tire Tours
Grab an ice cream
Dinner on the Seine River – food carts, leisurly
Babysitter arranged through the hotel
Adult dinner at L’Atelier Robuchon

Day 2
Walking tour of Montmarte & the Sacre Cour
Lunch at Marcel
Afternoon at the Le Jardin acclimatation
Cool off and be amazed by the beauty of the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Babysitter arranged through the hotel
Adult dinner at Clover
Drinks at the Ritz Hotel

Day 3
Breakfast at the hotel
Stop by Angelina’s for macarons and pastries
Walk to Palais Royal for a photo
Musee D’Orsay
Picnic at the Champs De Mars (the park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower)
Tour of the Eiffel Tour
Dinner Cruise on the Seine River
Play time at the rock climbing wall on the Seine River
L’Open Bus Tour of Paris at Night

From our followers – suggested sites and restaurants that we did not make it to:
Climb the L’Arc D’Triomphe
Take a photo from the top of the Montparnasse Tower
Take a photo at the Musee Carnavalet
Scavenger Hunt at the Louvre
Luxemborg Gardens
Visit the Opera House, Notre Dame, Walk St. Germain and the Canal St. Martin

Restaurants for kids:
Grand Corona in the 7th near the Seine River
Marais area – many kid friendly spots specifically recommeded was La Du Falfel
Breizh Café for crepes
Diep for Chinese food
Chez L’Ami Jean

Lastly I’ll say that this was a short trip. If you can fit in a few more days, do so. It takes at least 48 hours for the kids to adjust to the time change and feel settled after flying in from so far away.

Au Revoir Paris! Till next time…

xx, Seri
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  1. چاپ ديجيتال

    hi!,I love your writing so a lot! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL?
    I require a specialist in this space to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Taking a look forward to look you.

  2. Marissa

    Awesome blog! What a trip! Sounds heavenly. I would have loved to have gone with my girls. Maybe one day…..

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May 15, 2017

A Bachelorette Bash with DivaDance

You know we’re in the thick of wedding season right now. May flowers bring weddings, bachelorettes and bridal showers!

Now when we launched the Little Miss Bachelorette Party in a Box we wanted to know how girls would be celebrating with it…so we did our research.

What did we discover? Lots. One of the best finds? DivaDance. We were immediately intrigued so we got in touch to find out what this DivaDance was all about.

I received a response immediately. And not just any response, but the most enthusiastic, excited to connect with us response ever.

Head Diva, founder and CEO Jami Stigliano was thrilled we found her and the feeling was mutual. She explained how DivaDance works and it was exactly how we hoped…

DivaDance is a full blown dance party for you and your friends. A cool, ready to “slay” professional dancer shows up and teaches your group an easy to follow dance routine. They offer DivaDance classes in NYC for folks who want to dance off some steam, get a work out, meet new people and have fun. We of course were all over this dance class and tested one to find out if we could keep up…

We had a blast and had a smile on our faces for the entire hour. It was so much fun.

And don’t be fooled, no one in the class knew how to dance. That’s part of the fun of it is just going with the moves and enjoying the music. you guys no seriously, it’s so fun!

We knew after not only meeting Jami in person but dancing with Jami that we were a match made in heaven.

We love to dance

+

We love to party.

Boom.

So now let’s talk about DivaDance and Little Miss Party.

PARTY PEOPLE:
What’s the occasion?
Think Sister’s 35th birthday party
Friend’s Bachelorette
Girls just wanna have fun

Gather your gals, pop that confetti and make it festive, dance and have FUN.

Here’s how you make this happen:
Book your DivaDance party here.
Order your Little Miss Party in a Box for all tableware + decor and guess what?  We have a discount code for you! Enter LMPlovesDivaDance at checkout and save 10%!
Invite your friends over.
Pick up some prosecco + maybe a few cupcakes…
PARTY!

Was that a joke?  Sounds too easy right? Well it is THAT EASY.

Naturally, we like to keep our glasses full with bubbly, wine and water, duh!  Have to hydrate.

Bottom line you guys…if you like to have fun, sing and dance your heart out to great music with a few cocktails to follow then we’ve got you.

Want to learn more about the DivaDance classes and pop ups around the country? Make sure you’re signed up for the DD Newsletter.

We love you Jami!  You are the ultimate DIVA! We LOVE dancing + partying with you, girl. Mwah!

 

Big huge thanks to Dave Robbins Photography for always making us look so good in photos.

xx, Seri
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May 11, 2017

Abby’s Italian Adventure

If any of you guys follow my personal Instagram account, @abbycopleston, you may have noticed that I was in Italy last week… I KNOW.

It was a week full of wine, pasta, walking, sightseeing, cheese, bread, pizza… and more wine. Aka, my dream world.  Seriously, everybody needs to book a trip (or several) to Italy in their life… there’s a reason why it has such an incredible reputation.

This trip came about when my good friend, Jules, found a deal on flights to Europe through Delta last November. We had always talked about booking a trip together, and she studied abroad in Florence and has been DYING to return.  So, when she found an unbelievably cheap roundtrip flight from JFK to Rome, she texted me and asked if I’d be down. I had been on Long Island running errands for LMP and driving between Target and Ikea and Seri’s house, and at each stop I would jump on my phone to answer Jules’ very persuasive texts.  I’m normally a stickler for planning (hence the job of party PLANNER), but the decision to go to Italy felt like exactly what I needed at the time, and the price was so right that I pulled into a Panera, whipped out my computer, hopped on their wifi and BOOKED IT.

Panic & excitement soon set in, but not one ounce of regret. After a few months of planning, we came up with an itinerary, and decided to hit 3 places – Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome! We flew into and out of Rome, and took trains between each destination.  The trains in Italy are very easy, clean and affordable… but I learned my lesson about packing too much! When you’re changing trains with only 5 minutes until your next departure, you definitely regret bringing those extra shoes.

STOP 1: FLORENCE, Wednesday – Saturday

We decided on Florence as our first stop, since Jules studied there and I had already been there twice, once with friends and once with my parents when I was studying abroad. We thought it would be a nice place to recover from our jet lag, eat, relax, and gear up for the more fast-paced last few days of our trip. I recommend all of the staples on the standard Florence itinerary – climbing to the top of the Duomo, walking along the Ponte Vecchio, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, strolling though the Boboli Gardens, but here’s some suggestions for some other special spots…

SIGHTS:
Piazzale Michelangelo: This Piazza overlooks the river and all of the city of Florence.  It is a bit of an uphill hike, but the view is beyond incredible, and a great way to justify drinking an entire bottle of wine at the top! I’d recommend heading up a half an hour before sunset, bringing wine and snacks, and staying up there until after dark when you can enjoy the view of the city lights.

Strolling along the Arno at night: The Arno is the river in Florence, and it is a beautiful place to walk along, especially at night!

EATS:
La Giostra: This place was recommended to me by our former LMP intern, the lovely Juliana, and it was my favorite meal of the whole trip! It was a touch fancier than my usual meal out, but so worth it.  The atmosphere and food were both incredible – I got a seafood risotto that I will dream about for the rest of my life.

Caffé degli ArtigianiJules and I stumbled upon this little bar while wandering on the South side of the river, and ordered wine and apertivi, and sat outside overlooking the Piazza della Passera. We loved that spot so much, we came back 2 more times. It’s quiet and removed from the touristy areas of Florence, but not to far off the beaten track.

Acqua al DueI ate here when in Florence with my parents, and it was worth the trip back.  They make some killer marinated steaks, and are most famous for their blueberry variation.  Jules and I got the tasting menu to share, and tried and sampling of 5 different house special pastas and 3 steaks.  To die for.

Gustapanino: This was definitely the most popular picture I posted during my trip, and for good reason.  Gustapanino (attached to Gusta Pizza) was a spot I went on one of my previous trips to Florence, and was recommended to me by almost every person who has been there (lookin’ at you, Kim, Kathleen and Juliana).  Its cheap, and their paninis are fresh and delicious. I mean – just look!

SHOPPING:

Leather Market: I’m a sucker for a good leather jacket, so this trip brought on the purchase of a SECOND black leather jacket.  I have no regrets. I also got some gifts for friends and family – purses, a wallet, bracelets.  My advice? Get there early, so avoid crowds, and haggle. I got my beautiful jacket for a €100 less than list price, quite easily!

Kiko Milano: I have a bit of an obsession with makeup, which Jules noted, so she insisted on taking me to Kiko Milano in Florence. And OHMYGOD i’m glad she did.  I got a ton of fun makeup, including pink, teal and purple eyeliner, AND glitter mascara, which will be popping up in future LMP photoshoots!

STOP 2: CINQUE TERRE, Saturday – Monday

I was most excited for Cinque Terre, since I had never been to the Italian Coast before, and it did not disappoint.  The whole time we were there, I felt like I was in a movie.  We stayed in Monterosso al Mare, the largest and northernmost of the 5 towns, in a beautiful Airbnb that used to be a wine cellar.

SIGHTS:

Hiking:  This is a no-brainer, and the reason that people flock to Cinque Terre.  There are trails connecting all 5 towns, and people can choose the red (hard) or blue (easy) trail to hike between them.  The idea is to hike between all 5 cities in one day, which is totally doable. We had planned on hiking the blue trail and heading south from Monterosso to Vernazza, then Corniglia, then Manarola, and ending in Riomaggiore, and then taking a boat back up to the Monterosso al Mare to drink wine and collapse.

Unfortunately, most of the blue trails were closed, so we had to do the red trail first thing, from Monterosso to Vernazza, which was almost entirely uphill on stone steps for 2 hours straight.  It was beautiful, and so worth it, but my legs have never hurt so bad in my life.  We ended up making it to 4 of the 5 cities, skipping only Riomaggiore. Each city was extremely beautiful, but Jules and I both agreed that our favorite was Manarola – it was quaint, quiet and beyond beautiful!

Chilling on the beach in Monterosso al Mare: The first day we got to Cinque Terre, we were exhausted from the train ride, and decided to grab a blanket, a bottle of sparkling rosé, and chill on the beautiful beach, which was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb.  It was the perfect spot to read and enjoy the incredibly blue ocean. We didn’t go in the water, but plenty of people were swimming, so definitely bring your bathing suit!

EATS:

Trattoria da OscarThis place was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it was a very small, cute little spot around the corner from home.  I recommend the linguini with clam sauce.

Enoteca InternazionaleThis was a little store/ restaurant where we picked up the keys to our Airbnb, and it was so cute that we wen’t back as soon as we were settled for wine, prosciutto and bufala mozzarella. They had an excellent selection of white wine, which is typically my go-to, and I had been craving it after all of the red wine we were having.

Pizzeria La Smorfia: Delicious, cheap, straightforward pizza place.  With wine, of course!

Bar Enrica: This was a little wine bar at the base of the trail in Manarola, at the top of the city. It was so picturesque and an excellent place to people watch and enjoy a hard earned glass of wine.

STOP 3: ROME, Monday – Wednesday

SIGHTS:
I’ll state the obvious first… the Coliseum, Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon… all worth seeing! I didn’t pay to go inside and tour any of them, because our time in Rome was so short and the lines were always long, but if you have time you definitely should!

Trevi fountain

Vatican City


The Spanish Steps

Since Jules had already been to Rome, we also made it a priority to explore some less-touristy areas, based on recommendations from random travel blogs. They turned out to be our favorite stops along the way!

Quartiere Coppedé: This is a very small group of buildings, called “The Fantasy District”, entirely designed by architect Gino Coppedé with influences of Art Nouveau, Baroque and medieval architecture. It was a little bit of a trek, but beyond worth it.  Jules and I spent some time there taking pictures and picking which building we’d be living in when we can have our second homes in Rome (HA!)

Street Art in OstienseI’m a sucker for cool street art, so we trekked out to where the locals live to visit the Ostiense District and their extensive collection. The neighborhood that these murals were in is mostly an area that locals live in, and was full of cool bars and restaurants

Trastavere DistrictWe walked through this neighborhood across the river on our way to Vatican City, and upon some research found out that this is where a lot of young locals and college kids live.  It was chock full of cafés, bars and restaurants.. and incredible gelato spots! When I come back to Rome, I will for sure be staying here.

EATS:
Locanda del ProsciuttoThis place makes the top 3 list for meals in Italy.  We came here because of the fact that it had “prosciutto” in the name… can’t go wrong with that! We each got wine and shared this incredible charcuterie platter.

Arco di San CalistoJules and I had walked through this beautiful Piazza in Trastavere on our way to Vatican City, and made a note to come back to it for dinner.  When we did, this beautiful little archway on a side street was all lit up with bulb lights, and we snagged a table outside at this cute little place.

My advice? Book a trip to Italy. Now. It lives up to the hype.  Most of the time, I felt like I was in a dream.  That might have been aided by all of the wine drinking, but still! Thanks to Jules for being an excellent travel buddy, and for teaching me to ALWAYS order a bottle of the vino rosso della casa, or house red wine.  Not one time did I regret that!

Feel free to reach out for any more suggestions or if you’d like more info on any other the places I suggested! Make sure you eat gelato every day, drink all of the wine, eat plenty of prosciutto and mozzarella, and never turn down the bread. EVER. Happy traveling, eating, drinking… etc.

Ciao!

xx, Abby
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