Toting Around…

Memorial Day typically kicks off the summer season, and this weekend many of us started our beach and pool routines.  I don’t know about you, but the one thing that sometimes detracts me from driving to the beach, as much as I love it, is all that stuff we have to bring with us. That’s why a few years ago I decided to look for the perfect beach bag, as large as I could find it, to help carry the million bottles of sunscreen, towels, snacks, and everything else I normally carry in my purse.  I also prefer bags that can be thrown in the washer (I’m a big Vera Bradley fan for this reason), or can easily be cleaned.  I’ve had tons of different beach bags in the past, as living in Miami provides us the opportunity to go to the beach a lot during the year, but here is a roundup of some of my favorite beach totes for Summer 2015:

beach totes

1) SCOUT 4 Boys Jumbo Zip-Top Tote,Captain Hooked pattern.  www.scoutbags.com, $54.  Available in various other patterns too.

2) The New England Trading Company Recycled Sailcloth Bag, large, zipper top, www.thenewenglandtradingcompany.com, $120.  Available in various other patterns too.

3) Tommy Hilfiger Grommets Woven Rugby Stripe Tote, www.macys.com, $65.

4) Ashville Crocheted Raffia Tote from Calypso St. Barth, www.calypsostbarth.com, $175.

5) Pink & Green Geometric Tote with Pockets from http://razzberryfizz.com, $24.

6) Whale Mesh Beach Bag from www.saltwatercanvas.com, $36.

7) Vera Bradley Large Family Tote in Rio Squiggle pattern, www.verabradley.com, $58.  Available in various other patterns too.

8) Deluxe Utility Tote in the Bubble Bloom pattern. www.thirtyonegifts.com, $50.  Available in various other patterns too.

9) Palm Tree Dockside Beach Bag, www.lifeisgood.com, $50.

What types of bags/totes do you use for your summer outings?  Do you have any favorites?

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Scenic Sorrento

If you follow my blog you’ll know by now that I have a bit of a travel addiction and I especially love to visit Italy.  I’ve blogged about Rome, Venice, Positano, Capri, Ravello and today I will share with you my adventures in Sorrento.  Sorrento is usually the base city for our visits to the Amalfi Coast, and even though it may not get as much attention as Amalfi or Positano, we love this quaint town.  It’s also situated on a cliffside as all of the Amalfi Coast towns, and also has plenty or history, beautiful sights, shops and restaurants.  But perhaps one of the things we love about it most is the hotel we always stay at, the Hilton Sorrento Palace.  I can’t say enough about this property, especially if you’re traveling with kids.  While it is not situated right in town, it’s only a 10 minute car or cab ride away, and it has all of the amenities you may need.  Let me just say, it’s definitely worth to spend the extra money and reserve a room with a view, because the views you will wake up to are absolutely stunning!  Take a look at this:

View from the Sorrento Palace Hotel

View from the Sorrento Palace Hotel

The hotel also has a great Kid’s Club with plenty of activities every day, situated right by the gorgeous multi-level pool area (again with stunning views of Mount Vesuvius), as well as a great poolside café, perfect for lunch or gelato snacks. Also worth mentioning is the amazing buffet breakfast served in the breakfast room every morning.  My daughter goes crazy over the freshly made crepe and pancake stations, not to mention any other item one can desire for breakfast.  And last but not least is the amazingly delicious rooftop restaurant, serving some of the best dishes we’ve eaten in Sorrento, and mind you, we are not usually big on hotel restaurants.

Hubby and daughter ordering their freshly made crepes at the breakfast buffet.

Hubby and daughter ordering their freshly made crepes at the breakfast buffet.

Dinner at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel.

Dinner at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel.

But enough about the accommodations and let’s get to the beauty of this town.  The cobblestone streets and narrow lanes that lead out of the Piazza Tasso, the town’s main square, include Via San Cesareo, the town’s primary shopping street, full of shops and cafes. If you return in the evenings, when vehicle access is restricted the central hub becomes one of the town’s most popular places for the traditional Mediterranean pastime of an easygoing evening stroll. And in typical Italian fashion, all of the stores and restaurants stay open pretty late.  Also on the main square is a terrific little snack bar, Bar Ercolano, that sells the most amazing gelato, our daughter had her nightly treat at this place. A small white tourist train (Sorrento City Train) also leaves from the square. For a few euros it takes you on a 30-minute round trip through the old town and down to Marina Piccola. But perhaps one of my favorite sights on the square is the Baroque Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, with its beautiful  yellow and white facade, stop in and take a look inside this gorgeous church. In the center of the square stands a statue of St. Antonino Abate, the patron saint of Sorrento.

Baroque Church of Santa Maria del Carmine

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Another view of Piazza Tasso

Enjoying her evening gelato  at Piazza Tasso

Enjoying her evening gelato at Piazza Tasso

Finishing our train ride

Finishing our train ride

One of our favorite restaurants in town is the Michelin star rated Il Buco, (reservations strongly recommended).  The restaurant, housed in the wine cellars of an old monastery in the center of Sorrento, has some of the best food I’ve had anywhere in Europe, not to mention some of the most exceptional service as well.  The place is not easy to find,  as it’s tucked away on a side street off of Piazza San Antonino, but ask anyone and they will lead you right to it.  You can sit outside on the romantic cobblestone street, but we much preferred to sit in the stunning indoor restaurant, created in the beautiful, old cellar of the convent of Theatine monks, dating all the way back to 1400.  The dishes rotate on a nightly basis, and if you don’t particularly like anything on the menu, (our daughter is quite picky) they will try to accomodate you by creating something special with whatever fresh pasta, fish and ingredients they have for the day.  As they like to say…You are invited to discover all tastes and flavors of our tradition, reworked and revised to create exciting new experiences for the senses. The presentation of the food was also spectacular, and every meal and wine came with a perfect explanation of its components, ingredients and where it came from.  Oh and make sure you leave room for the delectable desserts. Needless to say, we went back for a second meal.

Il Buco Restaurant

Il Buco Restaurant

You will find many types of shops in Sorrento selling leather sandals, ceramics, limoncello and soaps, all sorts of goodies.  One of our favorite leather shops is La Conchiglia, where you can have your sandals custom made while you wait.  Take your time and stroll through the town and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

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Typical souvenir store

La Conchiglia leather sandal shop

La Conchiglia leather sandal shop

Gorgeous leather sandals made while you wait

Gorgeous leather sandals made while you wait

Lemon drinks, soaps and candles, all very popular throughout  the Amalfi Coast

Lemon drinks, soaps and candles, all very popular throughout the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento is also a great place to take day trips from, especially by ferry.  You can take a boat to Positano, Amalfi, Capri, and many other Amalfi Coast towns.

A view of Sorrento from the ferry

A view of Sorrento from the ferry

Here are a few more photos from our various trips for your enjoyment. Have you ever been to Sorrento? I’d love to hear what you enjoyed most…

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Bell Tower of the Sorrento Cathedral

Bell Tower of the Sorrento Cathedral

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Kid’s Club activities by the hotel pool

One of the many pedestrian shopping streets in town

One of the many pedestrian shopping streets in town

Typical limoncello shop

Typical limoncello shop

Beautiful view from our room balcony at the Hilton Sorrento Palace Hotel

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On Piazza Tasso, getting ready for our evening stroll

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One of the many unique shops in this town

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Beautiful scenery on our drive leaving Sorrento

 

Brunch at Eating House

Miami is full of incredible restaurants and my husband and I have tried many of them, but I have never experienced a brunch like the one we recently had at Eating House in Coral Gables. We finally made a reservation because the few times we tried to just show up and have brunch the line was halfway down the block (and it doesn’t help that the place is quite small).  Eating House (which started as a pop up restaurant, sharing the same space as a coffee shop) has become extremely popular with the locals, thanks to the incredible concoctions of Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli. Honestly, I was hooked when I heard of their famous Cap’n Crunch Pancakes with condensed milk syrup (yes folks, condensed milk) and their Cuban bread torrejas with guava and cream cheese!  Now mind you, I am much more of an eggs and bacon kind of gal for breakfast, as opposed to sweets, but I was very intrigued to try these dishes.  And of course, it didn’t take much convincing when hubby heard Cap’n Crunch and condensed milk in the same sentence!  Take a look at this:

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, smothered in condensed milk syrup

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, smothered in condensed milk syrup

Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, is a stack of pancakes topped with condensed milk ‘syrup’, candied cap’n crunch, and whipped vanilla butter. As I was expecting, my husband loved this dish!  Cuban Bread Torrejas, are a Cuban-inspired version of French toast made with Cuban bread, a guava/iron beer syrup and melted cream cheese, topped with Maria cookie streusel.  For the first time in my life, I actually found a dish too sweet, and could only take a few bites…but oh my, were they delicious.  Both of these dishes were huge, definitely large enough for 2-3 people to share, and then some…

Cuban Bread Torrejas...a slice of heaven

Cuban Bread Torrejas…slices of heaven

To round things out, my daughter ordered some BK hash browns served with housemade roasted ketchup and candied applewood smoked bacon cooked with brown sugar.  Both were delicious too!

‘BK hashbrowns and candied applewood smoked bacon with  brown sugar

BK hash browns and candied applewood smoked bacon with brown sugar

They serve many other items on their brunch menu, and of course make sure to check out their lunch and dinner menus as well.  So if you’re in the Miami area and you’re looking for a truly delectable dining experience, I recommend you give Eating House a try. I’m ready to go back for dinner soon.  Have you eaten at this wonderful place?  If so, I’d love to hear what you liked best!

Eating House Miami

Eating House Miami

Eating House
804 Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables
(305)  448-6524

http://www.eatinghousemiami.com/

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Celebrating Mom

Where has the year gone? I can’t believe Mother’s Day is in 6 days! I always have a very hard time shopping for Mother’s Day.  After all, in my opinion, Mother’s Day is everyday of the year.  How do you find just one gift to show your love, appreciation and admiration for that one (or several) special moms in your life?  And I think that’s why I always end up putting it off.  So in case this holiday has crept up on you too, and you haven’t had time to shop for that special “mom” in your life, here are some very nice gift ideas that I have recently come across for all types of moms, other than the usual homemade cards, flowers and breakfast in bed (although those are always appreciated too):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course don’t forget to tell your special mom how much you love her!  Have you bought your Mother’s Day gifts yet?  What are you giving the moms in your life?

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