culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · relaxation · travel · wine

My Time in Spain Part 1 – My Time In Malaga

Hi friends! After spending a few days in Portugal (including taking in incredible sights around Lisboa, touring Sintra National Palace, time at Rock in Rio Lisboa, dinner at Hotel do Chiado’s rooftop bar, Entretanto, and an unexpected viewing of Sarah Ferreira’s art, I was off to my next stop. I flew TAP Air Portugal from Lisbon to Malaga, Spain, to embark on the next leg of my adventure.

I arrived in Malaga and was taken by private car to the town of Benalmadena, a beachy stretch a little less than two hours from Granada. I stayed at Hotel Best Siroco, a darling resort that offered all-inclusive packages as well as standard lodging. The hotel was beautiful, and the weather was divine!

My hotel was a short walk away from the beach and some fantastic local eateries. There was also some fantastic art and gorgeous flowers everywhere I went.

One beer, a good tan, some sangria, and many tapas later, I can confirm that Malaga is a must-see for people who love good food and lots of sun.

This one little town in Spain is such a jewel, and I can’t wait to return!

art · culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · travel · wine

My Time In Portugal, Part 4 – Hotel do Chiado and Entretanto

This is the penultimate post on Portugal, and I feel just as sad writing it as I did when I left Lisbon for the next stop on my trip!

The night before we left, we stopped by an elegant hotel and decided to dine there. The hotel we chose was Hotel do Chiado, and we dined at Entretanto, the hotel’s exquisite rooftop bar and restaurant. The meal options were just enough: there was a little something for everyone. I enjoyed my cocktail – the Pink Affair – and my entree, tortellini with cheese and spinach. We also tried some exquisite port and Madeira. We ended our meal with apple pie and a twirl around the rooftop. Here are some pics from my time at Entretanto:

I’m so glad we got to enjoy a meal at Entretanto. I would love to return and try the 5 o’clock tea meal next time.

The next – and final – Portugal post will have some incredible photos from within Hotel do Chiado, because, as it turns out, the corridor leading to the restaurant had an art collection from a Portuguese-based artist. I’m so excited to share those pictures soon! Until then, take care.

beauty · life curation · luxury · relaxation · wine

Glimmers of My Future Life

I completed a workshop a few days ago, and the goal of the entire program was to see my future life and lining up with that reality. Here’s the thing: if you have a vision, you can absolutely create it. But there’s a catch: you can unravel your dream by being unprepared and overwhelmed. The best way to create a dream life that you can sustain is to get ready for it now.

One of the exercises I completed was to bring an object from my future reality into my current world. I sat quietly and the idea came to me: champagne flutes. My future self always has something to celebrate, so she’d have gorgeous champagne flutes at the ready. I went ahead and ordered glasses from a collection named after one of my totem animals, the Black Swan.

I realized that my recent order history has several items that reflect my future self and what’s normal for her. I had essential oils that smell incredible and have cultural significance (both scents are Southern-inspired). I combined these to make a lusciously scented body oil. My future self is always glowing, hydrated and smelling fabulous.

Speaking to my hydrated, silky-skinned future self, I also know that maintaining the softness of my skin is a priority, both now and in the future. So I invest regularly in exfoliating products and debriding creams. I re-purchased my debriding cream recently (I just finished up my supply), and I will be repurchasing my facial exfoliating pads if I don’t get the result I desire from some of the other exfoliating products I want to try.

Finally, my future self is prepared for emergencies and makes sure that herself and her family. My future self isn’t undertaking this responsibility by herself (my future husband is at my side, being even more prepared than I am!) But, having emergency supplies always ready is something she prioritizes. I ordered some additional “bug out” bags a few days ago, for my grandmother and her sister (I already have some at my house).

Those are some of the glimmers of my future self, as well as little ways that I’m acclimating to my dream life. How have you all been injecting little bits of your “dream life” into your current reality? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links.

food · luxury · wine

More Low Cost Libations – Affordable Wine Review

As we embrace the upcoming holiday season, we may find ourselves in need of delicious wines to accompany our family dinners. One thing that I like to do is make sure that I have a mix of high/low cost wines to offer with meals. For those that choose to indulge, wine is a wonderful complement to a variety of meals, and can really enhance the flavor profile of all the foods that have been prepared.

The advantage to having wines in your home during the holidays is that you can use the wine in certain recipes, adding a rich and intensified flavor to certain dishes. I love cooking meat dishes with red wine, or crafting exquisite sauces or gravies with white wine. When cooking with wine, the alcohol cooks (or burns) off, leaving flavor with no traces of alcohol content left behind.

I realized that I’ve done several wine reviews over on my YouTube channel, but I hadn’t shared those reviews over here. So, here you go:

Also, if you want to keep track of the wines that you try, you can use what I use: the Wine Tasting Notes journal is perfect for capturing the details and your impressions of every wine that you taste. And for $5, it’s so affordable!

I’ll be adding more wine reviews in the months to come. Do you have a wine recommendation for me? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

**** This post contains affiliate links.


Low Cost Libations: I’m Trying Inexpensive Wines


A recent trip to Trader Joe’s ended up with me browsing the wine section and being floored by the super-affordable wines. So many options were less than $5! So I had to ask myself, do I, the wine lover, give inexpensive wines the thumbs up?


I bought 6 bottles for less than $5 a piece. I’m not a wine “snob” but I prefer wine that costs a bit more because they tend to taste better. But I’m curious about the overall qualities of the wine that I purchased. So here I am: trying some new wines and figuring out whether the flavor and quality far exceeds the cost. I’ve tried one so far, and I’ll be trying a new bottle every few days or so. When I’ve finished trying them all, I’ll come back and give a review.

(here’s a review of one of the wines on my Instagram account)

Do you all have any favorite inexpensive wines? Let me know in the comments below!


Wine Collectors Rejoice!

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Sotheby’s London is starting 2018 off with a bang! Their first wine sale of the year will feature nearly 400 bottles of rare and fine wines. The auction house has titled this sale, “A Great Collection From a Secret Grotto from a Northern European Connoisseur“. With a title like that, who wouldn’t want to participate?

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Serena Sutcliffe, MW, describes this enchanting collection as follows (you can read more of her thoughts in the catalogue for this incredible sale):

“In the dark days of winter, it takes a treasure trove of truly joyous wines
to bring a smile to the face – and this is just looking at them rather than
drinking them. Contemplation of mouth-wateringly beautiful bottles brings
immediate memories, as well as hopes of meeting these wines again, which
is more than possible for you, the wine-loving client. You literally can smell
them and taste them when you see them in the cellar, or on the written page
– they come to life in all their dimension and diversity. This is a collection
that displays some of the greatest wine-making talent of our days which,
on reflection, might well be on unrivalled top form in the last few decades.
These years have shown a glittering balance of technical know-how with
enormous human skill, driven to its peak by pride in the profession and
critical competition. It is the consumer who has benefited.

Above all, this collection puts the greatest vinous gems of France under
the spotlight. It is clear that the wines were chosen by someone with
remarkable gastronomic and wine knowledge.”

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The wines range from the luxurious but affordable to the truly exquisite.  On the lower end of the estimate spectrum, a Chateau Lafite 1994 is expected to fetch anywhere between $400 and $500 USD; for the most serious collectors, a Petrus 1995 is expected to soar anywhere between $21,000 and $30,000 USD.

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This sale is going to be spectacular! Too bad I won’t be anywhere near London at the end of the month: otherwise, I’d definitely attend. The sale occurs on January 24, 2018, at 10:30 GMT in London. If you can attend, I highly encourage you to do so!


(all photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)

luxury · wine

Adventures in Enology: Wine School, Round 2

A few months ago, I mentioned an awesome FREE Wine Tasting class on Coursera. If you missed out on the course previously, I have good news for you: the course reopened this week! I’m re-registering for it, since I only completed about 50% of it during the last session. This time, I’m determined to complete it!

all free download

(photo courtesy of All Free Downloads)

Though the course is free, it requires the purchase of wine, glasses and food for the exercises. I’m so committed to completing the course this time that I’ve already ordered some of the items that will be needed in the upcoming weeks. I hope you all join me in taking this free Wine Tasting course. Of course, if you aren’t interested in learning more about wine, you can always check out the many other free courses available on Coursera.

luxury · wine

Fenty Estates Wine False Alarm

A tweet went viral announcing that Rihanna, beauty mogul and perpetual wine sipper, filed to trademark the name, “Fenty Estates Wine and Spirits Company”. As a wine lover, I was absolutely giddy. If the wine label went anything like the beauty launch, I was anticipating amazing things.

clker wine gif

Unfortunately, Rihanna didn’t file for a trademark, nor did Roraj Trade LLC (the company that trademarked Rihanna’s name and Fenty Beauty). The Fader broke the news, and I must admit, I was a little crushed.

But never fear: I’ve got some other wines I’ve been waiting to try and I’ll be reviewing those soon. If Rihanna wants to trademark a wine, I’m still going to support it. I just have to make peace with the fact that her wine won’t be coming from Fenty Estates.


Adventures in Enology: Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club

Several months ago, I stopped in Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant on a whim. I sat at the bar and proceeded to order to my heart’s content. I chatted with the bartender and decided, at the end of my meal, to join the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club.

I signed up for the lowest commitment – one bottle per month – just to see if I would enjoy the membership. I’ve since tried 6 of their wines, read several of the monthly newsletters, did a wine tasting, and dined at the restaurant again. I feel pretty comfortable offering an opinion on Cooper’s Hawk.

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This prosecco was delicious when chilled. I had it with chocolate.


I really loved how well this went with an Indian curry I had.


I found Cooper’s Hawk’s wine club to offer fantastic value. Firstly, they offer a plethora of wines for you to try. Also, you have considerable flexibility with your monthly wine selections; you aren’t “locked in” to any particular wine offering.  They offer generous promotional coupons, both for just being a member as well as coupons in celebration of your birthday. The club also offers monthly themed events where members can enjoy exclusive menu offerings and limited edition wines.

However, if you’re looking for a spectacular wine, I can’t really recommend one from Cooper’s Hawk. I found that the wines are not particularly complex or fascinating, but decidedly SOLID. This is not a condemnation of the brand; indeed, the wines are tasty and enjoyable. I just haven’t had one that I found to be amazing.

These wines are a good option for those new to wine tasting and that want something better than most of the variety available at your local grocer. And again, the wine club is still a great way to get some experience with wine tasting.

Are any of you members of Cooper’s Hawk wine club? Do you have any particular Cooper’s Hawk wines that you could recommend?


Adventures in Enology: School is in Session!


On this journey toward living my best life, I’ve been listening carefully to my “inner voice” and learning what piques my interest. Following my interests led me to wine tasting.

I love wine: dry or sweet, red or white, sparkling or deep. I’ve done wine tastings at different wineries, but I still wanted a comprehensive education that isn’t biased toward a particular winery.

So I searched for viticulture and enology courses. I found one that could work for my schedule, but sadly, it’s located over 100 miles away. But I found the next best thing: an online wine course. Better yet, it’s free!

Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis seemed like a great course to get me reacquainted with wine basics. The class is available through Coursera, which has many interesting free courses. The platform is designed for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), so that anyone with internet access can gain knowledge from the best universities for FREE.

The beauty of this course is that enrollment is ongoing and you can access all of the materials for FREE (however, you have to pay if you want to get a certificate). I’ll go through the materials and review the course in a few weeks. However, if you’re interested, sign up with Coursera and enroll in the class.

See you all in school!


(royalty free image courtesy of ClipArts.Zone)