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Aloft SFO Review

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aloft-sfo-review

Hi loves!  I was able to attend Generation Beauty San Francisco.  For those of you who have never been to the bay area, let me tell ya- it’s busy!  When deciding on where to stay, I thought I needed somewhere centralized and different than where I usually stay.  I did a lot of research on areas to stay, amenities, etc.  I found Aloft SFO.  Aloft is close to the airport with shuttle services to take you to areas in the vicinity.  If you have never heard of Aloft hotels, they’re part of Starwood Hotel and Resorts.  Their hotels and resort also include the Westin and Sheraton.

Aloft hotels are very modern, trendy, and chic.  I found Aloft SFO to be a rather large property with lots of communal areas.  Upon arrival, the staff were very friendly and accommodating.  They provided information on Filipino restaurants and must try desserts shops in the area.  What can I say, they spoke my language! An extra bonus to staying at Aloft was the security this hotel offered.  My room was located on the 4th floor, and to gain access, you needed to have a key card.  A little relief knowing that you have to be a guest of the hotel to get to the upper floors.  The rest of the grounds looked up-kept, modern, and beautiful.  You can chill in the lobby, play a board game, have a drink at the bar, or if you are lucky- catch one of the live shows offered at Aloft SFO.

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There is also an indoor pool, a couple of lounging areas outside, and a pretty amazing gym.  I would have gotten a picture, but there was always someone using the facility when I was there.  Creepin’ is not my thing, lol!

Let’s Talk Rooms:

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I stayed in a non-smoking: King bed room.  I love how they incorporated the city with the room decor.  It really works with the environment.  The rooms are larger than others I have stayed in, which was great!  What I enjoyed the most, was the bathroom! 

You get a large step in shower with a rain faucet.  Aloft showers did have something I have never seen before- shower gel and 2-1 shampoo & conditioner dispenser.  There are pros and cons to this because it saves product and helps with cost.  However, it does take away from taking home the little mini’s most hotels provide.  Normally, I wouldn’t care, but they use Bliss products.  The view was alright, just pool lounge area.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay with Aloft SFO and definitely plan on staying again.  It’s a great place for single travelers, couples, and families.  All based on the atmosphere alone.  It’s also pet-friendly.  With my most people, this is a huge plus. I hope you enjoyed our review on Aloft SFO.  Have you stayed at an Aloft before?  If not, what’s your favorite boutique hotel?


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in Beauty, Travel

10 Tips & Tricks for Attending Generation Beauty

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Hey, beauties!  Can you believe that Generation beauty San Francisco is over?  I definitely can’t.  Tia and I have attended Generation beauty the past four years and have accumulated some pretty helpful tips for your visit to the next Generation Beauty.

What is Generation Beauty?

For those of you who do not know what Generation Beauty is, it’s a beauty event created by Michelle Phan.  She wanted a place where brands, You tubers, bloggers, makeup artists, and makeup lovers come together to enjoy something we all love.  The swag isn’t half bad either.  I personally love meeting with brands and learning about the new products or current faves.

10 Tips & Tricks for Generation Beauty
  1.  Early Registration.  Generation beauty is always on Saturday and Sunday, but they always have an early registration.  This happens on Friday before the event between 5-7pm.  This gives you a sneak peek of the venue and you get your admission badges early.
  2. Prior to the event, check out the brand’s page on the Gen beauty website.  Follow and like all the brands on social media.  Believe me, this simple step will save you a lot of time.  This is also a great time to prioritize what brands you want to visit with first.  Create your plan of action.
  3. Eat breakfast!
  4.  Arrive early.  The lines fill up quickly.  IPSY has an early entry admission that can be added on to your ticket.  Kind of like Disney’s magical hour.  You pay an extra fee of $39.95 for an extra hour to spend with the brands.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes.  You won’t believe how many girls come fully glam in 9″ heels.
  6. Do not carry a huge bag/purse.  Believe me, you will receive so many bags through out the day that you won’t need them.  A wrist-let or cross body bag will suffice.
  7. If you are a blogger or Vlogger- have your business cards and elevator pitch ready.
  8. Necessities- phone, portable charger,  water, and a snack.  They do have food trucks outside of the venue to grab some lunch or drinks.
  9. Bring cash and card to purchase goodies at a discounted price.  Brands like Benefit and Tarte sell their products at a discount.
  10. If you are not local to the event, bring a big luggage or an extra bag to carry onto the plane.  You will need it!

Final Thoughts

This is was by far the most organized Generation Beauty that we have attended.  All the lines went by smoothly and we were actually able to visit all the booths this time around.  Which is something we were not able to do in the past?  Another change is swag bags.  Instead of getting a swag bag each day, you are given one big swag bag, whenever you decide to pick it up.  Have you attended Generation beauty?  How was your experience?  Tell us in the comments.

 

Have a beautiful day!

 

in Travel

100 Things To Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die- Review & Interview with Author Ann Smith

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Hi, Friends! I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend. I had a fun-filled weekend with family, playing tourists in our city. Recently, we had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a wonderful book called “100 Things to Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die.”

 AUTHORS

100 Things to Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die” was written by Ann Smith and Allison Symonds, who wanted to give readers a glimpse of what Portland has to offer.

Ann is an Oregon native who has lived in Portland since the early 2000’s. She also owns a local PR company called A.wordsmith PR in downtown Portland. Being centrally located, Ann knows all the wonders this city has to offer.

Allison only moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2014, but it didn’t take long for our wonderful state to win her over.

100 Things to Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die

I, myself, have lived in Portland since 2000, but have yet to experience everything the city has to offer. Honestly, I was not even aware of many of the experiences highlighted in this book. Fortunately, I do now.

This book is perfect for anyone, whether you live here or are just visiting the area. It has a suggestion for just about anything one could need, from food and entertainment to culture and shopping. The authors also provide tips for some of the attractions, such as when to visit (in order to skip lines) and what to order from certain eateries. Fortunately, many of the activities contained within the book can be done year-round.

MY EXPERIENCES

My family and I have decided to try and make it a point, each month, of picking at least one activity from the book to gain a new experience or revisit a previous one.  Keep in mind, though, that not all of the activities are appropriate for children – so use those as opportunities for a date night with your partner, or just a night out with friends.

GO WILD:

 

The Oregon Zoo is a must-see for any visitor, no matter what time of the year. My kids and I had not visited the zoo in a while but took the opportunity to do so last month. The zoo offered free admission to everyone on that day, and it was pretty packed – but very much worth the visit.

**On the second Tuesday of every month is a discount day**

EAT ON THE STREET:

One thing Portland is known for is the abundance of food carts. It’s no wonder then, that they are also the first activity in the book. With over 600 food carts to choose from, you are guaranteed to find something you like.  My fiancé and I are avid foodies, yet we have barely scratched the surface. We have some go-to favorites, of course, but with so many options available we began making it a rule to try a new one each time we have a food cart date. Anything’s PASTAble and The Grilled Cheese Grill are just a couple of our favorites.

**Anything’s PASTAble closed down this month, with the hopes of coming back in the spring of 2017**

GET INSTAGRAM-WORTHY SHOTS:

Visiting Tom McCall Waterfront park is probably one of my favorite things to do. Many things happen at the waterfront – getting great pictures, riding KERR bikes, visiting the Saturday market, or even taking a jog.  No matter the time of year, though, there’s always a beautiful view.

TASTE PORTLAND’S BEST DONUTS

This is a controversial topic depending on who you are talking to. Many will say Voodoo Doughnuts have the best. Others will say Blue Star Donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts are nostalgic and creative, but I also love heading to the little mom & pop donut shops – like Sesame Donuts or Donut Land. Donut Land is a newly discovered favorite, recommended by Ann herself. Her favorite donut is the cinnamon crunch donut; and speaking from personal experience, it does not disappoint! The doughnut itself was fresh and soft on the inside and had just the right amount of crunch on the outside.

 

These are just a handful of the attractions and experiences the book has to offer. The book even offers “activities by season,” and I can’t wait to take part in some of these seasonal recommendations.

Interview with Author: Ann Smith

I also had the honor of interviewing Ann herself on the book research, writing process, and some of her Portland favorites!

– What was the inspiration behind creating the book?

I was fortunate to have been contacted directly the publisher, Reedy Press, which is based in St. Louis.  They were looking for someone to write a Portland-focused book and a former colleague of mine (from my time in St. Louis) sent them my way.  How could I say no?!

– Did you find the writing process to be long? Or was it quick once all the research was complete?

For me coming up with the list of 100 items was the easy part.  In reality, we could have filled many more pages! The writing process was supported heavily by my co-author Allison Wofsey Symonds who made sure that we stayed on course and within the deadlines.

-The book is full of amazing activities with a wide range of options.  How did you narrow down your list?

The narrowing down part was hard!  Like I said we could have easily come up with hundreds of more great suggestions for things to do in Portland. To come up with the list I started by brainstorming my favorite things in Portland and then had a larger meeting of the minds with everyone on my team at work.  It was important to me that the book didn’t just include my favorite things as that wouldn’t be a very well-rounded list!

– Is there an activity or place that did not make the cut, but deserves an honorable mention?

Most definitely.  I keep thinking of additional experiences that would have been great in the book.  Darcelle XV as one of the city’s most iconic performances; what’s the Scoop for great (and fun!) ice cream; and Wildfang for girl-power clothing.

– How long did the research process take?

Not long, really. We already knew something about every place on the list and for those needing a little more research; we dug in as we went along.

– When it comes to Portland and donuts, people automatically think Voodoo Donuts.  What donut shop is your favorite?  If any. 

I actually live out in Tualatin and my absolute favorite donut shop is Donut Land, located in a nondescript strip mall out there.  If you go, you must try the cinnamon crunch donut!

– Portland is also known for food carts.  Is there one food cart that is an absolute must try?

It’s impossible to pick just one!  I work downtown so my go-to carts are in that area.  Chez Dodo on the corner of 4th and SW Stark; I highly recommend the chicken curry over Chef Shyam’s world-famous pan-friend noodles.  I’m also a big fan of Tito’s Burritos on the corner of 3rd and SW Washington; three Asada tacos for less than $5! And while you’re in the neighborhood, visit El Pilon on SW 2nd and Oak.  Their handcrafted Colombian arepas, empanadas, and patacones are unbelievably good.

– Using the activities in the book, what would a day in Portland look like for you?

Get a jump on the day by taking in an early-morning ride at Burncycle. After a quick shower, head out for breakfast at Waffle Window on Hawthorne Blvd.  After breakfast stroll down Hawthorne and check out some of the vintage shops for something uniquely Portland.  From there we can head out to the Columbia Gorge for a day hike at Multnomah Falls. Stop at McMenamins Edgefield for some tots and a pint of Ruby ale.

After a mid-day bite, head back toward town. Swing by the Adidas employee store in North Portland and pick up some new swag for half price before heading to the Pearl District to meet up with friends for a swanky cocktail at Teardrop (look for the extra-large ice cubes) before a fun evening of tapas-style Peruvian fare and the infamous Sacsayhuaman (aka Sexy Woman) drink at Andina.  If you still have energy after all of that, catch some live jazz at the nearby Jimmy Mak’s before calling it a day.

-Do you think there is a “thing to do” that Portland is missing, but should consider having?

I lived in St. Louis for three years so would advocate for major league baseball and frozen custard!

-Do you see a second book in the making?  If so, would you consider expanding to activities in Oregon as a whole?

Whew, I don’t think so, but you never know! I’m from southern Oregon originally so would love feature activities across the state if there’s ever a book number two.

If you intend on visiting Portland or are currently living in the area, I highly recommend picking up “100 Things To Do in Portland, Oregon Before You Die.” As a Portlander myself, it has opened my eyes to so many great things the city has to offer, just waiting for me to find and experience. I would like to thank Ann and Allison for giving me the opportunity to work with them, and for providing all of us with so many ideas of how to experience Portland. My family and I will continue to enjoy many new adventures with the help of their book.

in Lifestyle, Travel

Tigard Street Fair- Taste of Tigard

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Hey, friends!  We are back today to talk about the  Taste of Tigard.  For those of you who are local and live in Oregon, know that Tigard is a suburb outside of Portland.  On June 17th, Tigard held their first ever Taste of Tigard or tasting tour to be specific.

Tigard Street Fair

It was an opportunity for Tigardians to sample local entrepreneurs food and beverages.  This event was very much worth the visit.  There were maybe 2-3 vendors that I have actually tried and the rest were new to me.

The event was over by SYMPOSIUM coffee, which is also where  Tigard Street Heritage Trail and Rotary Plaza will be.

Admission to the event was free and there were opportunities to purchase items from the vendors.  The best route is purchasing the tasting passport.  Early bird pricing was $11 and then went up to $15.  Either way, it was worth the pricing.  You were provided a sample from each vendor including the liquor!

I, unfortunately, missed the purchasing time frame for the passport but was able to purchase items a la carte.

Vendors
  1. Tigard Farmers Market
  2. Symposium Coffee
  3. Koi Fusion
  4. Indio Spirits
  5. Flyboy Brewing
  6. Stash Tea
  7. Zuniga Foods
  8. Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake
  9. Divine Catering
  10. Don Flores
  11. Le Cookie Monkey
  12. Southern Thai
Tastes

Since I didn’t purchase the passport, I went ahead and just did a la carte items from certain booths.  I may or may not have gone back later to a specific cart for seconds.

Thai

Located on Sundays at the Tigard Farmer’s Market and Thursday Night Market in Downtown Tigard-  We tasted the Thai iced tea and Chicken Satay.  The Thai iced is probably one of the best I have ever had.  Very similar to a brand that I like to purchase in-stores.  Chicken satay and pickled veggies were great.  My favorite was the pickled veggies.  I would have gotten a whole plate of it if it was allowed.

Don Flores- Fish Tacos

Don Flores

This is a new food cart in Tigard, located behind Sherries Jewelry box.  My fiance is very picky when it comes to fish tacos.  He always compares them to the ones in San Diego, where he says the best fish tacos are found.  Surprisingly, these met his expectations and mine.  They were so good that we even went back later in the evening for a couple more!

Symposium Coffee- cardamom latte

Symposium Coffee

Is a really cool coffee shop located in the heart of downtown Tigard.  I personally am not a coffee drinker, but my fiance is.  He loved trying the Cardamom Latte with plans to go back and try the lavender.

Zuniga Foods- chips and salsa

Zuniga Foods

This was our first time tasting their salsa or even know they existed.  We seriously need to get out more!  The salsa was fresh and very tasty, partnered with the chips- they are a great healthy snack!

Le Cookie Monkey- desserts!!

Le Cookie Monkey

Amazing desserts at a reasonable price!  What more could anyone want?  The cookies are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside- exactly how they should be!  They also provide a number of other desserts, if cookies are not your thing.  We will definitely go back and grab some sweets!

Taste of Tigard is a great family friendly event.  We loved seeing everyone come out to support the community and definitely something we will attend again.