About this time, mid-winter, all you fashionistas are probably freezing your leather leggings off and dreaming of beach days in your ruffled bikinis. The perfect solution? An escape to Curaçao for International Swim Fashion Week! This February 19-22, 2015, the first ever International Swim Fashion Week is premiering in the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Is there a better way to escape the frozen tundra and defrost in style? I think not. Especially when the International Swim Week Fashion shows will feature designs from Curacao’s own Aquavita, Lybethras Swimwear from Brazil, Sirénes de Soleil Swim from the U.S., and Island State from Australia…and the venue looks like this…

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao…just try and resist it this winter when it looks this good.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao…just try and resist it this winter when it looks this good.

The elegant lobby at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao

The elegant lobby at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao

Jun's Sushi Bar, one of the four restaurants at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao.

Jun’s Sushi Bar, one of the four restaurants at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is Curaçao’s premier luxury resort on a 27 acre property with 3 resort pools, a full service Spa, a 24-hour fitness center, 4 restaurants, and a dive & water sport facility. Still haven’t started packing yet? Here’s another reason to head to Curaçao for International Swim Fashion Week this February. Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is offering a “Swim Fashion Week Package” for $1,299 which includes four nights at their elegant resort, a VIP invite to the kick-off party (benefitting a local charity), access to all ISFW runway shows, and a VIP invite to the after parties.

So grab your man (there’s a 18-hole Pete Dye designed championship golf course too), your best sunnies, and a ticket to the Caribbean to get your tush in a bikini, your toes in the sand, and your fashion show tickets before you’re frozen solid. You can thank me later.

The survivors of Core Fusion Bootcamp at Exhale Spa in Downtown Miami

The survivors of Core Fusion Bootcamp at Exhale Spa in Downtown Miami…I’m second from the right.

Earlier this week, I met up with these blogger babes, media mavens, and journalists for a Core Fusion Boot Camp & a Nutrition Workshop at Exhale Spa in the Epic Hotel in Downtown Miami, thanks to Shayne Benowitz. As you might remember, I was recently inspired to get active again. (I seem to have taken a sabbatical from that in 2014.) So, I was psyched to be invited to Exhale Spa Miami and RSVPed immediately for this event. Clearly, I didn’t know this was about to be Survival of the Fittest. I was even warned by several people to “be prepared, this class is no joke.” That should’ve been my cue to run for the hills. But, the heavenly smell in Exhale Spa was addicting (seriously, I need to pump that scent through my house) and these adorable crop tops, smartly placed front and center at the entrance, gave this fashion girl serious motivation.

Cute crop tops = instant core fusion motivation to this fashion girl

Cute crop tops = instant core fusion motivation to this fashion girl

Besides, the studio looked so peaceful to me…

The calm before the storm in the Exhale Spa Miami Studio before Core Fusion Boot Camp.

The calm before the storm in the Exhale Spa Miami Studio before Core Fusion Boot Camp.

Ready for Core Fusion Boot Camp…or so I think.

Ready for Core Fusion Boot Camp…or so I think.

Ha! Wrong. This was a killer class. And by killer, I mean burpees & pushups & leaps in the air with medicine balls, never-ending running planks, power yoga, and belly burning ab work…all at warp speed…for 60 minutes. Somehow, I powered through it and even felt amazing afterwards, not to mention, damn proud of myself for not crawling into the fetal position on my mat 5 minutes in. I’m pretty sure our petite instructor, Alexandra, had a lot to do with that. She was high-energy the entire hour, took the time to help everyone perfect each pose, and wisely reminded us that the body is stronger than the mind thinks it is. And thank god for that. Hands down, the best workout I’ve gotten in…okay, well I can’t actually remember when. But it’s now 5 days later, there are still parts of my body that ache, and I want to go back for more.

Post-workout fuel from Jugo Fresh. I LOVED the Summer Chia.

Post-workout fuel from Jugo Fresh. I LOVED the Summer Chia.

After class, our instructor, Alexandra, sat us down (thank god) for a Nutrition Workshop over juice & “sprouted sandwiches” (wrapped in collard greens) from Jugo Fresh. She gave us the low down on foods that are great (and not so great) for getting and maintaining a flat bikini-ready belly. Here are a few tips which you may have heard already, but a reminder never hurt anyone.

Belly Nutrition Tips & Suggestions

  • Cut out carbs & sugars…they’re your worst enemy. Too bad they taste so good.
  • Sugar is like a drug…the more you have, the more you want/need. Try and avoid it as much as possible.
  • Drink green tea instead of coffee…it’s the sugar you’re putting in it that’s so bad for you. Goodbye, salted caramel mocha frappacino.
  • Use 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for cooking…it’s much healthier than soy oil or any of the others and helps reduce belly fat.
  • 8 cups of water is not the suggested daily amount anymore…divide your body weight in half and that’s the amount of ounces you should be drinking each day….and drink all day, especially before meals.
  • When at all possible, swap out rice or pasta for extra veggies whether at home or in a restaurant.
  • Eat more green leafy veggies, cherries (powerful antioxidants), & avocado (helps with weight management & the body’s absorption of nutrients)
  • A healthy snacks is celery or apples with almond butter
  • Plantain chips instead of potato chips
  • Use collard greens or lettuce instead of bread for wraps and burgers
  • Full fat, grass fed dairy is the best dairy for you
  • Milk has lots of sugar! Try to switch to almond milk.
  • Try not to eat breads for breakfast…think proteins…eggs, bacon, sausage.
  • Fruit & Veggie Juices will give you the same nutrients as eating the raw food but you won’t get the fiber
  • Watch your yogurt labels (preferably before you eat). They tend to have TONS of sugar…especially the greek honey yogurt I just shoved down. Oops.
  • Be a food detective and read ALL your labels for carbs and sugar quantities.
  • Eat at home more…you’ll know exactly what you’re eating. Most restaurants only care about the first part of that saying, “A moment on the lips…”
  • For dessert, because you know you’ll never cut that out completely, opt for a piece of dark chocolate or the panacotta over the cakes and cookies.
Exhale Spa's Snacks…you had me at chocolate.

Exhale Spa’s Healthy Snacks…you had me at dark chocolate.

Hope these smart belly nutrition tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. Five days later, I’ve passed on a bagel, I’ve purchased green tea (though I have yet to really give up that coffee), and I’m, at least, thinking about the amount of carbs in cheese fries before I order them. Full diet transition may take this foodie a while. But, as for being active, I’ve already recruited friends to sign up for Core Fusion Boot Camp classes with me. Clearly, Exhale Spa Miami has motivated me to get it together in 2015 with both diet and exercise. After all, life truly is survival of the fittest, right?

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Our ride: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Our family reunion ride: Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas

Over the holidays, 30 members of my family and I were lucky enough to have a family reunion on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas for 5 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back. We had a fabulous time. Here are 12 reasons why family reunion cruises rule:

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

1. You Can Get Lost

Seeing your long lost relatives again will be wonderful…at least for the first few days. But, let’s face it, at some point you’ll need a break from all the together time (and inevitable drama). There are plenty of places to get lost and not found on a cruise ship. Our ship, Liberty of the Seas, had 15 decks and plenty to see…including jaw-dropping sunsets.

2. Entire Family Tree Pictures

On family reunion cruises, you’ll have nightly opportunities to take an entire family tree picture. My suggestions? Meet 30-45 minute before your dinner seating so everyone is looking their best. Pose on the grand staircase so everyone can be seen, from Grandpa to baby Ethan. Then, go to your “happy place” while it takes the photographer 5 minutes to get everyone to look at the camera, smile, and not blink. Didn’t get a framer? No worries, the photogs will be ready to shoot the entire gang again tomorrow night…that is, if you have the patience for it.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

3. Matching Family Reunion Gear Seems Cool

On a cruise ship, matching family reunion gear seems cool. Why? Well, first off, your family won’t be the only ones wearing it. Also, though some cruisers are trés chic, most? Not so much. So, get your artsy-fartsy family member to have a hand in the design and your matching family reunion gear will be the best on the ship. We chose to do matching hats instead of family reunion t-shirts as, well, there’s more chance everyone will wear them…and more than once.

4. Big Family Dinners Every Night

The beauty of family reunion cruises is that you can do your own thing during the day (because not everyone will want to spend hours in the arcade like my 5 year old) and plan on meeting up each night for the dinner seating. Our big family dinners every night were so much fun because we could catch up on who won Bingo and who climbed the rock wall that day and it was just the right amount of time ALL together. Make dinner even better by having one person in the family assign tables each night so everyone sits with each relative at some point.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can't even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can’t even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

5. Drink Packages + Large Groups = Fantastic Stories

If you like your cocktails, get the drink package for sure as you’ll get your money’s worth. Entertainment seems to be guaranteed with that package too with a big enough group. It seems that on cruises, drink packages + large groups = fantastic stories…like when my Aunt Marian stayed out all night dancing at the hip hop club…by herself.

6. Everyone Can Afford It

Cruising, in case you haven’t heard, is one of the most inexpensive ways to travel…especially internationally. So, nobody can get out of going on the family reunion cruise because they “can’t afford it.” Need a bargain cruise? Try vacationstogo.com…today I saw a 3 day Bahamas cruise for $229…and remember, food is included.

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

7. Adults Only Time

Family reunions bring kids of all ages and sizes and obnoxiousness levels. Luckily, family reunion cruises come with Kids Clubs (that kiddos usually love) and Adults Only Pools & Solariums. Give yourself (and everyone else) some adults only time. If your incredibly adorable children are annoying you, imagine how the rest of the family feels. Plus, parents are allowed to decompress, eat a meal while it’s hot, and complete a conversation every once in a while.

8. Keep Calm & Carry Nothing

One of the things I love most about cruising is that you don’t have to schlep anything around with you…no wallet or cash or even a handbag if you don’t want. All you need is their “SeaPass” card, as it’s called on Royal Caribbean, which gives you access to your cabin, checks your identity on and off the ship, and can be used for additional purchases like the sea-themed Christmas ornaments my kids had to have. By not having to think about the extra things, everyone can relax a little…or a lot.

Entertainment for All…Sorry, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

Entertainment for All…Board Games, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

9. Entertainment For All

With entertainment for all on a cruise, there’s no chance of boredom. Plus, nobody has to plan activities for the family reunion group as there are endless options of how to pass the time while cruising. Our favorite activities with the kids included the arcade, mini golf, the H2O Splash Zone, watching the Flowrider, Bingo, the Ice Show, and the Dreamworks Breakfast. But, everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves too with rock wall climbing, cupcake decorating, the spa, the gym, the casino, and the comedy club…to name a few things.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

10. Unplugging Required

Though we’ve come a long way with internet speed on cruise ships, you’ll never get the same high speed connection that you have on land. So, using your cell phone while cruising often results in frustration and you’ll end up putting the thing down for once (Wow! It’s not attached?), relaxing, and maybe even truly connecting with your family.

Formal Night fanciness.

Formal Night fanciness.

11. You Look Maaahvalous

Even 3 day cruises now have a formal night. Whether you translate that as suit & tie and cocktail dresses or go big with tuxedos and gowns, you and your family will probably never look better. We all have to make some effort with formal night. Be sure to take a picture for evidence and post it on FaceBrag (I mean, Facebook)…because you look maaahvalous.

12. There’s No Going Home

Once you’re onboard, you’re in it for the long haul. There’s no going home once this family reunion ship has set sail. So there will be no escapees. Family time must be had…like it or not. My family LOVED it and I hope yours does too. But, if family overload strikes and you want to throw yourself overboard, please refer to reason #1. And remember, you have to disembark eventually.

My little one, sad to disembark.

My little one, sad to disembark.

SoulCycle opening the doors in Miami

SoulCycle opening the doors in Miami

It’s not often I write about exercising. That’s because I tend to lose interest quickly with most (yawn) workout routines. You’ll more likely find this girl at Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning than a gym. But every once and a while, I’ll find something fun and challenging that will reinspire the active girl in me. That happened last weekend at the opening of SoulCycle COGA in Miami.

For months, Catherine (my NYC friend) and I have been chatting about SoulCycle coming to Miami…and how it wasn’t happening fast enough for me. When I lived in Manhattan several years ago, there were only one or two SoulCycle locations. Luckily, one of those was right near my apartment on the Upper West Side. So, in one of my motivated moments, I tried it out and LOVED it. Evidently, I wasn’t the only one as they now have 36 locations nationwide. Thankfully, the 36th opening is here in my hometown, Miami.

Sick SoulCycle Bike

Sick SoulCycle Bike

I’m not sure exactly how SoulCycle inspired me to be active again after just 45 minutes. Maybe it was having a part of NYC with me here in Miami or the fresh white and yellow sleek look of the spinning studio. Maybe it was the selection of super cute workout clothes at the entrance or spending time with my best friend who came with me that morning or making it through class ALIVE. Maybe it was our instructor, Soeuraya, with her sick flock of birds shoulder tattoo or how she would tell the class, “You look so damn good.” Maybe it was these awesome yellow spin bikes or as simple as getting my blood pumping through my veins again. Maybe it was because for the first time, I passed on the Bruléed French Toast at the Cheesecake Factory at brunch after class and ordered an egg white omelette instead.

Whatever it was, it worked and I’m hooked. Just in time too. Those donuts are starting to catch up with me. New resolution for 2015?  Be an ATHELETE LEGEND WARRIOR RENEGADE ROCKSTAR and look “so damn good” ASAP. Until then, you’ll find me at SoulCycle COGA.

Post SoulCycle Class in Miami. I survived and loved every second.

Post SoulCycle Class in Miami. I survived and loved every second.

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Sparklers

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015…and to the new Arrive Chic. For the last 4+ years, our fashion-forward travel accessories e-boutique was our main focus. We were extremely proud of the businesss we created, we learned a lot, and there were plenty of exciting times including this on-air appearance

Travel Must-Haves on The Broadcast

Travel Must-Haves on The Broadcast

…and this shout out on The Huffington Post.

Arrive Chic on The Huffington Post

Arrive Chic on The Huffington Post

And we were definitely thankful of our varied partnerships with many major brands including Supergoop!, Trina Turk, and Johnathan Adler. But, as my family grew from 3 to 4, juggling both an e-commerce biz and a blog became, to say the least, challenging. So, in 2015, I have decided to close the e-commerce business and put all of my efforts into freelance writing and Arrive Chic solely as a Travel, Fashion, Food, and now also a Parenting blog…afterall, I’m a Mommy first. We would like to thank all of you who have supported the e-boutique for the last several years. We hope you’ll stay tuned to see new adventures, fashion finds, restaurant recommendations, and parenting tips to come in 2015!

Every winter, I try and put together a Holiday To-Do List before days start passing at warp-speed. This year’s Holiday To-Do List? Done. Here’s a glimpse at our favorite things to do between Thanksgiving & the New Year. What’s on your list?

Travel & See Spectacular Holiday Decor

Traveling is always a good idea. Do it early in the season (before things get nuts) and catch some spectacular holiday decor at resorts, on cruises, and in retail stores in major cities. It will instantly put you in the holiday spirit and you can grab some ideas for your own decor. This year, we took a family cruise over Thanksgiving and got to enjoy this amazing Christmas tree on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

The kids were too fascinated with this Royal Caribbean Christmas Tree to pose for the pic. Who could blame them?

The kids were too fascinated with this Royal Caribbean Christmas Tree to pose for the pic. Who could blame them?

Build A Gingerbread House with Grandma

Because she’s probably done it with you when you were little (and will love it again) and has major experience, build a gingerbread house with Grandma. A definite for the holiday to-do list. Her stellar advice? Buy the Wilson House Kit at Michaels or Joann Fabric and build the structure the day before. It has to set for 3-4 hours before kids can decorate.

Let's Build A Gingery, Gingerbread House.

Let’s Build A Gingery, Gingerbread House…with Grandma.

Indulge in Lots of Seasonal Food

Even in Miami we’re wearing more clothes this time of year. So, indulge in lots of seasonal food…and find someone to chow down with so the guilt is somewhat reduced. For me, these foods include cinnamon rolls from Knausberry Farm, my grandmother’s sausage balls, and my Father-in-law’s antipasto. It’s the last hurrah until January, people, so enjoy.

Cinnamon Rolls from Knausberry Farm...seven dozen to be exact. My favorite passenger this time of year.

Cinnamon Rolls from Knausberry Farm…seven dozen to be exact. My favorite passenger this time of year.

Get a Kids’ Christmas Tree

I love having a kids’ Christmas tree the boys can decorate themselves with their favorite ornaments like Woody and Yoda. It’s also perfect for presents with snowman ribbon, a MUST have for my 5 year old. This 3 foot tree was found at Target in early December, pre-lit and on sale for $17.

Get a Kids' Tree they can decorate themselves.

Get a Kids’ Tree they can decorate themselves.

Visit Santa for a Picture

My boys get excited to put on something festive and visit Santa for a picture. Whether you get a “framer” or not, there’s always a story to tell…like when your Miami son asks for skis and a sled for Christmas. Colorado, anyone?

Get a Holiday Mani

Nail art is not always my fave. But at this time of year, you can get away with candy cane stripes, gold tips, and snowflakes galore. My 12 year old niece was the perfect salon partner for a holiday mani.

Gold Tips and Snowflakes, galore.

Gold Tips and Snowflakes Galore.

Donate to a Toy Drive

Take a break from all that fun holiday stuff for yourself and donate to a toy drive or two. Have your kids shop for the toys and hopefully they’ll learn what the season is really about (GIVING) and you just may get a few (or a hundred) last minute gift ideas for them too.

Make Cookies for Santa

I’m no Betty Crocker, so these Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets were calling my name when we decided to make cookies for Santa. Another time saving tip? Skip frosting and just add sprinkles while cookie cutters are still in the dough. Who really needs the extra sugar and if you press them into the dough a little, the sprinkles will bake right in.

Use Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets and skip the frosting on these Santa Cookies.

Use Pilsbury Cookie Dough Sheets and skip the frosting on these Santa Cookies.

Do Something Just for the Kids

Even if you will hate it and don’t even want to admit that you’ve done it, like go to this Christmas Carnival by the highway in Miami, do something just for the kids. You’ll survive and will get major rockstar mom points in the meantime.

Do something just for the kids...like take them to this crazy Christmas Carnival in Miami that they've been asking about.

Do something just for the kids…like take them to this crazy Christmas Carnival in Miami that they’ve been asking about.

Book One Adult Trip for the New Year

Maxed out yet on family time? Take a few minutes to book one adult trip for the New Year now. This should be a priority on the holiday to-do list. You’ll need a clear vision of grown-up time when things get nutso. Besides, once all the craziness subsides, you’ll have something to look forward to. Our plan? A weekend in New Orleans for our friend’s birthday. Beignets and Bourbon Street, here we come.

Find the Craziest Christmas Lights House Display with Grandparents

Grandparents will get a kick out of their grandkids squealing in delight at the sight of crazy Christmas lights. And yes, seeing your kids go bananas is worth risking them asking for more decorations on your own lawn (No, Rocco, we can’t have the inflatable Santa that hangs off the roof…because…it’s sold out).

Kids will go bananas over crazy Christmas lights.

Kids will go bananas over crazy Christmas lights. I think the owners may have too.

Watch Polar Express

Watch Polar Express again and again and again…because when you have kids, it’s the best movie ever and you don’t notice the awkward animated faces like you did before they were born. Then try not to sing “Hot, Hot, Hot…Hot Chocolate!” everyday until next year. Good Luck.

Surprise the Kids with a Holiday Outing at Bedtime

Once during the holiday season, we will surprise the kids with a holiday outing at bedtime. This year, their surprise was heading to Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami. By the screams of joy, you’d think we’d won the lottery. Beyond adorable and definitely worth having cranksters the next day after a late night out.

Surprise Kids with a holiday outing at bedtime...like Zoo Lights in Miami.

Surprise Kids with a holiday outing at bedtime…like Zoo Lights in Miami.

Plan Brunch on New Year’s Day with Friends

Let’s face it. With little kids, a late night out is almost torture since those stinkers will be up at dawn. Skip the all night parties and watch the ball drop in PJs with bubbly (and awesome take-out) on the couch & plan brunch on New Year’s Day with friends. My suggestion? Hire a sitter and make it adults only. After all, we all need a break sometime.

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