Put A Little Umbrella In Your Drink

July 27, 2014

Milestone Birthday Party Supplies from Oriental Trading


My husband is turning 40 next week! He is not taking it so well, so I decided to give him a surprise 40th birthday party this weekend to rub it in a little. I am not 40 yet, so I can do that. For now. Anyway, did you know that you can get all of your Milestone Birthday Party Supplies from Oriental Trading?! They offer a wide array of Over the Hill party supplies, 30th birthday party supplies, 40th birthday party supplies and 50th birthday party supplies. You can gear up for some party fun with milestone dated cups, banners, birthday yard signs, tablecloths, invitations and much more. Banners can even be personalized with the name of the birthday person.


Make birthday party desserts and appetizers extra special with food picks stamped with 30th birthday, 40th or 50th. These colorful food picks are the ideal way to ramp up the birthday party decorations and festivities. I used the Look Who’s 40 Food Picks to decorate even the food for the party! I think they are super cute.


Drinks were served in style. We used the Striped Paper Straws that are so on trend. They come in a variety of colors and offer a fun way to make your drinks match your party colors. We also used the Black Velvet Cups. These large plastic 16 oz. cups are a perfect way to extend the color and style of your event to each of your guests' place settings. They were very sturdy and perfect for serving drinks.


We combined the Black Jumbo Streamers and the Birthday Pattern “40” Streamers for a fun and festive look. The crepe paper streamers are bleed, fade and flame-resistant. You can mix and match rolls in different colors to coordinate for holidays, parties or celebrations. We used them to create a curtain in the doorways. Then we took the Birthday Pattern “40” Streamers and put them along the edge of the pool. The plastic streamers made turning the big four-oh more festive.


For food, I selected the Black Square Dinner Plates, Black Square Dessert Plates, and the Black Luncheon Napkins. The plates can be a colorful addition to birthdays, wedding receptions, showers, graduations and other events. Serve lunch, finger food or snacks on the paper plates. I was impressed with the quality of the plates. No flimsy materials here! They held a full meal with no problem. They come in many colors. Choose a color that best goes along with your decorations. The 12 7/8" paper luncheon napkins are perfect for any party and also come in many colors.


I invited everyone with the Look Who's 40! Invitations. The fill-in cards are perfect for birthday parties and a great choice for those who want a lighthearted theme! The inside says, "Come on out and help us count the wrinkles!" They are very cute. Finally, I wanted to add extra embarrassment by ordering my husband a Personalized Team Grey T-Shirt. I personalized it by adding his nickname and then 40. He loved it and so did our friends and family. Need personalized t-shirts for your event? Order one, two, three or more t-shirts personalized with your own unique message, name or date! It was very high quality and was larger than I expected it to be. Don't be afraid to order your normal size. Oriental Trading made planning this 40th Birthday Party for my husband so easy!


Don't have any milestone birthdays coming soon? Don't let summer end without having a great summer party. Make a splash at all your summer parties with beach balls, water guns and nautical decorations from the summer fun party shop. Keep the kids entertained with summer crafts for kids, including jewelry kits, DIY sunglasses and color your own sun catchers, wind chimes and water bottle holders. Throw a beach theme party and decorate with flower cutouts, paper lanterns and a grass table skirt for a fun beach look.

Haier 12-Bottle Capacity Dual Zone Wine Cellar :: Review :: #HaierAmbassador



#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Haier. This could include Haier providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.



I have really been enjoying my Haier Wine Cellar. Do you really need a wine cellar? The answer is yes. You can find out why you need a wine cellar from my previous post. Once you have one, you will be able to chill your wine to perfect temperatures. This model even features dual zones so I can chill whites and reds in the same cellar!


The features of the Haier 12-Bottle Capacity Dual Zone Wine Cellar include:
  • Thermoelectric Cooling :: Vibration free, Ultra-Quiet Cooling System
  • Dual Zone :: Allows for simultaneous storage of both red and white wine at different temperatures.
  • Electronic control with LED Display :: Conveniently set the optimal temperature for red wines or white wines.
  • Soft Interior Light :: Lighting makes it easy to organize and view your wine collection


I found the wine cellar to be fairly quiet. I can hear it in the next room, but it is not overly loud. The dual zone controls is probably my favorite feature. I set the red zone for 60 degrees and the white zone for 54 degrees. It stays within 1 degree at all times, so it is quite accurate! The LED Display makes it easy to set and view the zone temperatures. You just tap the electronic control. It is as easy as setting an alarm clock. I also really love the soft interior light. Sometimes I leave it on just for a soft nightlight. Other times, it shows off my collection, or makes for an easy way to see what is in your wine cellar!


Although this is my first experience with Haier, I am impressed by the quality of this product. It is made of high quality materials like Double Pane Insulated door glass and Chrome Wavy Wire storage racks. The glass not only keeps your wine cooler from shifting temperatures, it also looks great as you view your wine through it. The chrome racks are sturdy and do not move. The chrome is also a nice color contrast to the black exterior. The modern black design that will fit in anywhere no matter the style of your home. I placed it next to my water cooler and it looks awesome.


You can see how thick the door is in the photo above, yet is it light and easy to open and close. It opens all the way to my wall and stays open so it won't slam shut on you. When you close it, it closes nice and easy. It doesn't disturb any of the bottles. I can tell it seals after closing, therefore not interfering with the temperature settings.


Your wine has been perfectly chilled with your new Wine Cellar. Now, all that is left is to enjoy your wine! Whether you are throwing a large dinner party (this wine cellar holds 12 bottles) or just an intimate dinner for two, you will always have wine that is ready to enjoy! What is your favorite feature of the Haier 12-Bottle Capacity Dual Zone Wine Cellar?!

Tea Collection's New Arrivals :: Bauhaus Bang

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.



Tea Collection's new arrivals are here! These new styles are inspired by Germany's early 20th century school of Bauhaus, which became famous for its radical union of art and design, and transformed everything from architecture to music. Tea Collection's new arrivals feature bold primary colors and modern geometric shapes; fairy tale romance meets art nouveau. The perfect combination for little ones ready for fun and adventure, and perfect for back-to-school too! Go take a peek at the Tea Collection's new arrivals and start shopping today!

Organic Candles


To really understand why organic candles are the better option for your home, you must first understand the main three different types available: conventional, natural and organic.

Conventional - These candles are you everyday made-from-petroleum paraffin wax candles that can be found in just about any department store. They generally contain various additives that are designed to preserve the candle and its color while helping to disburse the scent. Sometimes these candles can contain lead-based wicks.

Natural - Natural wax candles are made from palm wax, beeswax, soy or other vegetable-based wax. Unlike conventional candles, these candles don’t contain synthetic ingredients nor do they have lead-based wicks.

Organic - These candles are similar yet different to natural candles. For example, they generally use the same natural ingredients -- such as soy -- but with an organic candle, the soy plants where grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides.

Keep in mind, however, that not all soy candles are actually natural. Many companies mix synthetic ingredients in with the soy wax, and unless the candle is labeled natural, you may not be getting the benefits of an all-natural candle.

The Downfalls of Conventional Wax Candles

Conventional wax candles contain paraffin wax, which is known to emit about 11 toxins that can pose a risk to your health. They also burn quicker and hotter, which increases their fire hazard. Paraffin candles also produce an abundance of soot, which dirties the air and covers the walls, ceilings and other surfaces of your home with an unpleasant greasy black residue.

Benefits of Organic Natural Candles
  1. Organic wax candles contain no genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. Recently, it has come to light the dangers of using seeds treated with chemicals. Choosing organic wax candles means you help to eliminate these dangers from your life.
  2. Organic wax candles are actually healthier for the environment, which is a plus for everyone, even those who are not usually environmentally conscious. Because they are grown organically, there is a reduction in the ground pollution because no chemical fertilizers were used to grow the ingredients.
  3. When you purchase organic wax candles, you are helping to support small businesses and farmers who are trying to compete with low quality yet extremely cheap conventional candles.
  4. Organic wax candles contain no synthetic or additives. And there is never a downfall to reducing the amount of toxins in your life.

July 25, 2014

Harkiss Designs T-Sandals :: Review


Harkiss Designs empowers artisans, one item at a time. Harkiss Designs is unique in offering fine handcrafted jewelry, handbags, baskets and accessories directly from the women artisans of East Africa. Designed with contemporary fashion in mind, each meticulously crafted artifact contains the spark of its exotic origins.


Do you have the right footwear to show off your fancy summer pedi? Any of the sandals from Harkiss Designs will do! You will find cozy leather, bright beading, and trendy footwear that is every fashionista's shoe dream. Harkiss Designs is selling these on-trend looks at affordable prices for a great cause! All sandals are handcrafted by talented Ugandan women and men. With East African inspiration and contemporary designs each sandal is a work of art on it's own. Harkiss Designs also donates a percentage of proceeds from every purchase to the charity organization Lend A Hand Uganda. They now offer this incredible collection!



The sandal collection includes eight styles that will keep you cool and classy. These sturdy yet stunning leather designs combine with hand-beaded motifs to make this trend-friendly footwear a fine choice through summer. Choose from various styles of the fashion-forward gladiator sandals or the lithe and lovely Leaf and Stone Sandals. Check out the great color options too. I reviewed the T-Sandals in turquoise.


The T-Sandals are made with Coral Stone Beads. Aren't they gorgeous? They come in various colors including: Peach-Multi, Tiger-Eye, Turquoise, Coral-Red, Masai-Sparkle, Coral-Black, Orange, and Masia-Bold. They are just so different from what you would normally find. I get compliments every time I wear them. They demand attention and definitely show off that perfect pedi!


Look at the cute way they tie in the back too! There are many more stunning varieties of sandals to choose from. Some of my favorites are shown below. From left to right: Fig 8 Gladiator ($65), Aisha Gladiators ($75), and the Korosho Sandals ($59). Any of these styles pick up on the latest gladiator trend in footwear, so they look great. They also incorporate East African bead designs, so they have unique flair.

Lavanila :: The Healthy Collection :: Review


Lavanila provides beautiful and luxurious products that are 100% good for you. Dedicated to this purpose, they deliver a new generation of 100% healthy products that are formulated with the highest quality natural & organic ingredients and completely free of harsh chemicals. I was excited to try three products from The Healthy Collection!


Fresh Vanilla Lemon is a new bright and clean, limited edition scent from Lavanila. Juicy lemon blends with lush watery fruits, bamboo and pure Madagascar vanilla for a clean and sexy softness. Bursting with freshness this energizing scent is utterly addictive and perfect for summer! I reviewed The Healthy Fragrance and The Healthy Body Butter in this scent.


Lavanila's all-natural fragrances are luxurious and addictive. Each fragrance starts with a warm base of Madagascar vanilla and layers on a unique blend of pure essential oils for an exquisite expression of nature that capture a mood, a memory or a moment in time. Hailed as the World’s First Healthy Fragrance, organic sugar cane alcohol is infused with skin saving antioxidants for a modern twist on the classic art of perfumery.

I love The Healthy Fragrance in Fresh Vanilla Lemon. It smells divine. It smells bright and energizing. You can definitely smell the lemon and vanilla. It almost smells like a yummy cake. This fragrance is warm and inviting too. My husband loves it! What a perfect fragrance for summer!


Want soft, swimsuit ready skin? Lavanila Healthy Body Butters made from the pure Madagascar vanilla, contain naturally hydrating ingredients that moisturize your skin the healthy way! These beautifully scented, creamy body butters help maintain the natural moisture level of the skin.

The Healthy Body Butter is perfect for getting your skin summer ready. If you want instant hydration, this is it. This velvety smooth body butter absorbs instantly for deeply hydrated, luxuriously soft skin. 100% pure shea & cocoa Butters blend with powerful antioxidants and essential oils for long-lasting hydration. I love the super soft scent too! This non-greasy formula totally delivers the ultimate indulgence.


Have you heard of healthy deodorant? My hair stylist was telling me about it. I had no idea what it was, but after she explained why people are using it, it made perfect sense! Keeping up with your beauty routine and a healthy lifestyle is a reality. The Healthy Deodorant is completely free of Aluminum, Parabens, Propylene Glycol, Talc, Phthalates and Triclosan. That means it’s the safe and effective way to fight odor. The multi-tasking formula uses a health-promoting beta-glucan technology packed with anti-oxidants, active botanicals and essential oils to not only fight odor, but condition, soothe and nourish the skin.

I tried The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Summer. The scent is a tropical pineapple and mango blend with exotic coconut and Madagascar vanilla for an island freshness that lasts all day. I was hesitant about this actually working, but even on the hottest days, it worked! I didn't notice much of a difference from my regular deodorant, so why not use something that is safe?! It also smells really good. I am making the switch! How about you?

 

Free from compromise, The Healthy Collection bridges the gap between what you want in beauty and what you love about beauty. Taking serious care of yourself should be enjoyable and our modern approach integrates the best of nature, health, and beauty for the ultimate in uncomplicated luxury.

HairMax for den•si•ty Revitalizer :: Review


Do have dull, lifeless, or thinning hair? HairMax thinks the solution starts at the scalp. When developing the HairMax for den•si•ty Collection, the company set out to devise a structure that worked to cleanse, nourish and treat the scalp - providing a healthy base to stimulate new, healthy hair growth. I reviewed one product from this collection.

HairMax for den•si•ty Revitalizer

This scalp treatment deeply cleanses and exfoliates the scalp dissolving excess sebum, perspiration and environmental pollutants that can clog hair follicles and inhibit hair growth. An invigorating blend of menthol and peppermint oil leaves the scalp feeling refreshed and revitalized. My husband has been using this for about a month now and he really likes it. He says that he can instantly feel the refreshing cleansing taking place. He likes it so much he would love to try the other products in the collection.

Biore Charcoal Products :: Review :: #BlackOutWithBiore


Charcoal has become the skincare staple of young Hollywood starlets such as Kylie Jenner and Brittany Snow. Two of their go-to products include: Bioré Skincare Self Heating One Minute Mask and Bioré Skincare Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser. Known for its ability to attract and absorb pollutants, black charcoal acts as a magnet to draw out and trap impurities, giving you the deepest, cleanest feel that celebs can’t stop buzzing about!

Bioré Skincare Self Heating One Minute Mask

This thermal 1-minute mask warms to open pores, and draws out and dissolves 2.5 times more dirt, oil, and surface toxins than a basic cleanse. This award winning product will melt away the stress, dirt, and oil. Infused with natural charcoal, this thermal mask opens pores and draws out dirt. Then, it finishes with a cooling sensation for tingly-smooth skin in just one minute. Mix this charcoal face mask with water to increase heating action by 2x. 

How To Use :: Wet Face. Leave face wet - the Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask is activated by water. Apply Mask. Dry hands, open single-use packette, dispense contents into hand and apply mask to face. You may add a little water to your fingers to help spread the mask and activate warming. Massage for about 1 minute. As you massage, the mask will heat up. For more heating action or for your preferred consistency, massage in a little water. The mask does not dry/harden. Rinse. After one minute has passed, thoroughly rinse with water to remove the mask.

Bioré Skincare Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

This breakthrough cleanser provides targeted deep cleansing for a smooth, clear complexion without irritating skin. Charcoal is the new secret weapon from the Bioré Skincare Experts. Draw out and trap 2x more dirt and impurities than a basic cleanser with this innovative black cleanser that foams white and rinses clean. Infused with Japanese Skin Purifying Technology, this facial cleanser gives you results after just one use!

How To Use :: Wet face. Pump cleanser into hands, gently work into a foam. Massage over entire face. Rinse thoroughly.


What I love about these products:
  • The Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser really works. It is so refreshing and I can feel a difference in my skin.
  • The Self Heating One Minute Mask feels amazing. After use, you feel refreshed and clean. Talk about quick results.
From deep cleansing to complexion clearing and even make-up removing, Bioré products help keep your skin clean and beautiful. Go from work to working out, then out for some weekend fun with skin that’s always ready.

July 24, 2014

bodycology Naughty & Nice Collection :: Review


Spark up a new romance this summer with bodycology’s alluring scents. With scents for every kind of flirt, these collections will be sure to delight, entice, captivate, and electrify the senses. bodycology offers a bouquet of beautiful fragrances half the price you’ll find at specialty bath stores in the mall. All of these products are available at Walmart for only $3.99 each.

For the innocent flirt :: bodycology Sheer Innocence Collection

The fresh scent of citrus mingled with peony petals and vanilla crème delights your senses. This light fragrance will give you feelings of heavenly desire. Top notes of Pink Grapefruit, Dewy Greens, and Honey leading into mid tones of Tender Rose, Jasmine, and Peony Petal, ending with dry notes of Sheer Musk, White Amber, and Vanilla. My favorite scent of the four, Sheer Innocence is a lovely blend with peony and vanilla standing out for me. Great for summer.

For the seductive flirt :: bodycology Sweet Seduction Collection

Sweet Seduction is an enticing scent with a succulent blend of fresh petals and apple. With both floral and fruity undertones this fragrance will captivate your senses. Top notes of Juicy Orange, Crisp Apple, Melon Water, and Red Plum open this intriguing scent, leading with mid notes of Red Currant, Muguet Petals, Rose, and Sweet Freesia, ending with dry notes of Creamy Sandalwood, and Sheer Musk. If like apple scents, you will like this one.

For the mysterious flirt :: bodycology Instant Attraction Collection

Instant Attraction will electrify your senses with its hints of dark orchid and sparkling pear. Starting off with top notes of Fresh Ozone, Watery Pear, and Pink Peppercorn leading into the heart notes of Romantic Rose, and Sensual Ylang, and ending with the overall base notes of White Amber, Blonde Woods, and Addictive Musk. This fragrance is known to captivate your senses leaving you with an everlasting scent of intriguing floral. This one has a fresh scent. It is a pretty light scent.

For the playful flirt :: bodycology Playful Romance Collection

Turn heads with Playful Romance’s sweet blend of juicy berries and amber crème. With undertones of oriental floral this fragrance will entice anyone who lets it hit their senses. Top notes of Apple Blossom, Peach, and Blackberry give a fruity base, leading into mid notes of  Frosted Freesia, Jasmine, and Orris Butter, ending with dry notes of Whipped Amber Crème, Sandalwood, and Vanilla Musk, resulting in a scent that will be forever be desirable. This one is definitely fruity, with the blackberry really standing out.

Grand Rapids, MI :: Shopping & Dining Getaway


You might remember from my previous post that I absolutely love Grand Rapids, MI. It is not too far from Northwest Ohio and is the ultimate getaway destination. There is so much to do! On the last visit we focused on the breweries and the attractions. This time around we focused on shopping and dining, two of my favorite things!

Did you know that Grand Rapids is one of America's leading entrepreneurial cities?! It is evident when you look at the quantity and quality of shopping choices. I wanted to explore the local store owners and their one-of-a-kind finds. When you shop in Grand Rapids, you have several options. We explored the downtown Grand Rapids' shopping scene (yes there is one!) with the help of this handy to use Downtown Shopping Guide.


First stop, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. This mixed-use facility that brings together production, distribution, marketing and education about local produce. The indoor facility features a 24-vendor market hall, while dozens of farmers and artisans line our outdoor farmer's market shed. We were so impressed with the offerings at the market and we spent quite a bit of time there.


We visited on a weekday during lunchtime, and it was bustling with activity. The line at Tacos El Cuñado was especially long, which sparked our curiosity. We decided with a line that long, we had to try it! I am so glad we did. These were hands down the BEST tacos I have ever tasted. Period. You can see from the photo above that they are nothing fancy. But the flavor just explodes in your mouth. Mario Cascante and Hector Lopez are responsible for bringing Tacos El Cuñado to Grand Rapids. They source many of their ingredients from Michigan rotate dishes that are popular in Costa Rica and other Central and South American countries. They want customers to taste real Latin American food. You’ll recognize the ingredients, but the preparation will be something new. If you visit, you must try it! Keep an eye on those cupcakes for later.


We also enjoyed visiting Old World Olive Co. in the market. I am a big fan of olive oil (I think I was Italian in a past life) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find two people as passionate about olive oil as Shasta Fase and Cory DeLong. Their store, Old World Olive Co., is now in three Grand Rapids-area locations. Their motivation? Avoiding mid-life career fatigue.

After traveling the world, the couple became enamored with Italy and decided olive oil was where their hearts were. Shasta and Cory work with artisan farms from around the world who pick only at the peak of harvest in a first press, cold press, old world procedure.

What caught my eye was all of the flavors of olive oil! I couldn't believe it! You can sample them too, which was really fun and interesting. I decided on two bottles to take home: Meyer Lemon and Basil. I have had so much fun trying them in new recipes. They are so delicious!

Speaking of cooking, what has fragrant flavors, bold savory tastes, and an exotic history spanning more than 1,000 years. Curious? It’s all at Spice Merchants, Lisa Freeman’s gourmet spice and seasoning shop. She opened her first store in Saugatuck in 2003 and has expanded her business to several franchises across the country. Shopping for spices is fun, but sometimes the selection (at other places) can be boring. Not at Spice Merchants!

Lisa knows that spices can be healthy and transformative to a meal, especially when done right. She uses hand-blended ingredients and can’t wait to hear how her customers combine her spices with other products throughout the market. The shop carries over 250 spices and blends and 100 tea varieties. We took several varieties home.


Remember those cupcakes from earlier? Look above for the reminder. Sweetie-licious Bake Shoppe owner Linda Hundt is changing the world, one pie (or cupcake) at a time. Sweetie-licious focuses on simply fresh, completely homemade, and seasonal ingredients to make their pies and other baked goods, and the team often refers to old cookbooks to improve recipes. Sweetie-licious specializes in creating a vintage ambience, from the aprons to the décor to the treats that hearken back to Grandma's kitchen. I tried the Cherry Chip Angel Food Cupcake - so delish!

Wanting to preserve the abundance of produce in what has been dubbed the “Fruit Belt” of Southwest Michigan, Ryan and Julie Thornburg began packaging preserves, jams and jellies, honey, and syrups in 2011. Now, they've opened their first retail shop, Thornburg and Company, at the Downtown Market.

Trying is believing, and we sampled several preserves and the most amazing maple syrup. Ryan uses old-fashioned techniques to make his products, but the flavors are hardly outdated. This is quite evident when you try their whiskey-barrel aged maple syrup. Wow is that stuff good. We also purchased the raspberry jalapeño jelly which we were told was amazing on crackers with cream cheese. Oh yea, it is.


Also downtown, you will find the Ferris Coffee & Nut Company. They offer the very best in coffee, nuts, and other gourmet treats made right in West Michigan. Ferris has been a local roaster and regional distributor of specialty coffees and gourmet nuts since 1924. They even offer educational tours showing the growing and processing of coffee and nuts. The store has so many choices, so we decided to try several, as you can see above. Some of our favorites were the caramel corn and the cherry nut mix. What a treat!


Just a short walk from our hotel, we strolled down Monroe Center for some downtown exploration. We came across MoDiv, a retail incubator in downtown Grand Rapids that houses unique retailers under one roof! I was quite curious as to how this would work. You can see in the photo above (top right) that the retailers are separated by glass walls. What cool concept!


We had several shopping options right at our hotel, the Amway Grand Plaza. Whether you forgot to pack something, are looking for that perfect gift to take back home, you'll find everything right inside the hotel. We stopped in the Plaza Essentials Gift Shop and noticed a great selection of merchandise - lots of fun Grand Rapids items. Also in the hotel, the Plaza Men's Shop for a wide range of business and casual attire and accessories. You can also explore several boutiques, shops, and art galleries!

6.25 Paper Studio is a locally owned stationery company located right next to MoDiv. This small business strives to promote and support the local community while working towards a healthier planet. You will find many cute stationary gift items including cards, candles and books. Weddings is their specialty, and all-things-paper is their passion. 

Although we didn't visit the GRAM on this visit, we did stop by the Grand Rapids Art Museum Store. I love exploring art museum shops. You never know what you will find! We did find unique gifts, jewelry designed by local and international artists, decorative accessories, great children’s toys, art books, and fair trade items from around the globe. Such a fun store to play and browse!


Whew! Are you sick of shopping yet? Onto the dining! We chose to have dinner at Leo's Restaurant on our first night. Leo's offers fresh-off-the-boat ocean cuisine that is served in a casually elegant atmosphere. Choose from more than a dozen fresh catch selections, classic New England treasures, specialty pastas or fine beef. The decision was tough, but we decided on Walleye Amandine and Halibut Oscar Style. They take much care in preparing their fish dishes, and this was quite apparent. Both of the meals were divine. The fish was fresh and flavorful. The atmosphere is quiet and elegant. Yet, it doesn't feel too stuffy. I would definitely recommend Leo's.


My husband is such a burger guy. So when he heard that Stella's Lounge serves the "Best Burger in America" according to GQ magazine, he absolutely had to try one! I was happy to see that they carried a great selection of local craft beers. While you are waiting for your food, they have all of these awesome vintage arcade games that make you reminisce back to those good old days of Atari and Coleco.

Did I mention that they also have over 200 whiskies? What? I didn't even know that many existed. But there they were, right on the menu. Speaking of the menu, there is something for everyone. If you don't want to try that award winning. giant, juicy stuffed burger, they even offer vegetarian selections. So how was that burger? Big, juicy and quite delicious. They offer it many ways. My husband had the Queso Burger and I had the Government Cheese Stuffed Burger. The Queso Burger is stuffed with jalapenos and pepper jack and served with super hot mustard on the side. To make it queso, they also add the house made spicy queso cheese dip and pickled jalapenos. He loves all things spicy and this was no exception. My Government Cheese Stuffed Burger was stuffed with aged white cheddar cheese. Yum. Very good. Try it.


Finally, we were in the mood for some authentic Italian food. So after exploring downtown, we chose Tre Cugini, the recipient of several dining awards, including a four-time winner of Grand Rapids Magazine’s Award of Excellence. The authentic Italian cuisine is inspired by Executive Chef Daniel Chudik. In its fourteenth year of business, Tre Cugini has been able to transform the small urban space in downtown Grand Rapids into a stylish and tasteful establishment. The dining philosophy is to utilize the freshest products on the market to create home made dishes. We both started with a Cesar Salad, so delicious! The dressing was perfect. My husband ordered The Tuscan, a thinly sliced steak meat sandwich served with sautéed onions and gorgonzola cheese. I ordered the Gnocci di Patate alla Genovese, which is house made potato gnocchi served with a light pesto sauce. I was not expecting so much pesto, so I am not sure I would order it again. However, my husband quite enjoyed The Tuscan. I could definitely tell everything was very fresh, right down to the bread. So good!


We once again stayed at the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. It perfectly blends the elegant history of the 1920s Pantlind Hotel with the modern amenities of today. With 682 attractive guest rooms and suites, you'll experience the timeless beauty of the early 20th century. Last time we stayed in the Glass Tower, offering a more modern décor and incredible views.

This time, we stayed in a classic guest room. The Pantlind rooms come complete with restored moldings and fixtures, beautiful wood furnishings, and period artwork. Each room communicates the quiet elegance of a more relaxed era. Just look at the photos! So beautiful. It is like stepping back in time! From the moment you walk through the door, you feel as if you've been transported - by the elegance, the details, and the gracious service. Literally every expectation of what a hotel can be is exceeded. No matter which room you choose, it’s sure to be a visit you’ll always remember.


Just a stroll through the Pantlind Lobby experiencing the classical architecture is a treat. Take a look at the photo above and you will see the gold-leaf ceilings, breathtaking chandeliers and a tranquil fountain. That is just the lobby! The Amway Grand Plaza has been making history since the original hotel - The Pantlind - opened in 1913. Fashioned after English Adams architecture by designers Warren & Wetmore, the hotel's special details included one of the world's largest gold-leaf ceilings in the Pantlind lobby. By 1925, The Pantlind was rightfully ranked "One of the Ten Finest Hotels in America." That distinguished history paved the way for the new Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Don't forget about the amenities! Take the fitness facilities, for example. The Amway Grand Plaza offers much more than a treadmill and few weight machines. You'll find a fully outfitted fitness center that will help you stay true to your active lifestyle even when you're on the road. The fitness center sits on the fourth floor of the Glass Tower and offers spectacular views of the city. The amenities will surprise you. How about and indoor pool with two hot tubs, lighted outdoor tennis and basketball courts, a sundeck, a racquetball court, a women's locker room with sauna, and a men's locker room with steam room!? Oh and by the way, there is also a refreshment bar with personal training is available. Wow. We loved the pool and hot tubs. My husband really enjoyed shooting hoops on the rooftop overlooking the city! What a view!

It was another home run for the perfect getaway! We can't wait to return. Grand Rapids has this great vibe, is thriving with cultural activity, and is just plain fun. Whether you want to shop till you drop or dine divine, you can do it in Grand Rapids. It has a big city feel with small city friendliness. Begin planning your trip by visiting Experience Grand Rapids. You will find everything you need to plan your visit. You can also find Experience Grand Rapids on Facebook and Twitter.


 
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