Travel

California

Weekenders…are ya with me?! Or did you forget about me…

Happy 2019! Welcome back to the blog and…my life. Granted the start of the new year has been off to a busy one for me, with lots of new goals and changes, late nights at the gym, visits with family/friends and of course, work. I wanted to take a few minutes of downtime to catch up with everyone and step back a couple of months (eek!) to share a with you a wonderful trip I had gone on in December.

Have any ideas? (If you follow me on Instagram, you’re not included in his so-called guessing game..)

**drum roll, please**

If you guessed CALIFORNIA, then you win! No, I don’t actually have a prize for you but once you get to the end of this post, you will hopefully have gained some extra knowledge and be ready to take on your own West Coast adventure.

A visit to the Cali has always been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Growing up in New York and having taken tons of family vacations to spots all along the East Coast, I had often wondered what life was like on the other side of this big old country. I was always intrigued by what I’d seen on TV (reality TV is my guilty pleasure) and knew that at some point I NEEDED to experience California in all its glory.

A couple of months ago, I did just that. Only a 6 hour red-eye, deflated airplane neck pillow and a very rowdy family seated behind me separated me from my newest travel destination.

And in usual Amanda fashion, I am sparing no detail of my experience in the hopes that these tips may come in handy for your own travels! From restaurants and attractions, to some of my favorite highlights…right down to some highly overrated points and eateries (yeah, I said it!)…I’m giving you the play by play. Without further adieu, let’s dive into it..

(I stayed for 4 nights but would totally extend my next trip to a week to catch some other cities/attractions.)

Click on each attraction to be taken to its website!

Hotel:

Grafton on Sunset, West Hollywood

This little boutique hotel is absolutely perfect (and affordable) for your first trip to the Los Angeles area. The Grafton meshes California glitz with California charm, especially if you’re not going for that uppity Silicone Valley vibe. With a full-service bar/lounge, live music and courtyard pool overlooking LA, it’s a beautiful place to watch the cotton candy sunset and simply relax. Not to mention its proximity to absolutely everything on Sunset Blvd. and  surrounding attractions. Restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, you name it! This is the area you want to be in. I was definitely pleased with this choice.

Restaurant Recap: 

For me, Cali had A LOT to live up to coming from NY. Our food is some of the best (aside from Italy’s), so I was curious to see what the restaurants would bring to the table. Aside from the usual spots the general public will tell you to try, I did some research on popular restaurants that I felt would really gel the whole experience together. And I’m glad I did!

In-N-Out Burger

Guys, I’m putting this first simply because I want it out of the way first. In my humblest of opinions, McDonald’s blows In-N-Out away in every aspect. Try if you must, especially if it’s your first time in Cali. I get it because I felt the same way. But don’t expect the hamburger angels to rain down on you while your taste buds dance. I honestly didn’t derive much satisfaction from the burger or fries (they were pretty bland to be honest) but gained more from the experience of waiting on line and scratching my head when I only saw a few basic items on the menu, which I thought was odd. (apparently there’s a secret menu but I was NOT about to be that person. Come on, Cali!). Sure, the burgers looked DELICIOUS enough for a quick Instagram boomerang but on a scale of 1-10, I’m going to give it a 6 at best. Sorry, Californians! Don’t sue me.

Il Pastaio, Beverly Hills

Mama freakin’ Mia! Okay, redemption achieved. Now this place was more my speed. Authentic Italian cuisine, outdoor dining and pleasant ambiance. What more could you ask for? Il Pastaio was one of the restaurants I had researched prior to my trip simply because it was one of the first names to pop up over and over again whenever I was looking. Apparently, it’s a breeding ground for all types of celebs (Andrea Bocelli was seen waiting for some fresh parmigiano-reggiano to be grated on his pasta) while the lesser celebrities (like myself) enjoyed a gigantic antipasto board and bolognese. Surf their location on social media and you’ll see what I mean. Reservations are a must at this place but they’re pretty lenient with rearranging if you need to! Get the tiramisu!! 

The Griddle Cafè, Los Angeles

If you like specialty breakfasts (specifically pancakes that are bigger than your face) you MUST come to the Griddle when you’re in the Hollywood area. From the outside, it’s a typical store front cafè that attracts a line of people down Sunset Blvd. every morning. I suggest getting there no later than 8:30AM (especially on a weekend), as you will most likely have to wait outside since they only let a few patrons in at a time. HOWEVER, the wait is worth it! From omelettes to sandwiches to decadent pancake and french toast flavors,  there is something that appeals to everyone. Keep in mind that the portions are huge! A short stack equals 3 gigantic pancakes that practically spill over the plate…and an omelette could feed an army! I loved the vibe of this cafè…right down to their campsite-like coffee pot that’s put on each table. Talk a walk, Starbucks… because this coffee was strong! Check out the link above to see some of their dishes..

Elephante, Santa Monica

If you come here strictly for the sunset view, that’d be enough. I’m not saying it was the best food I had eaten on the entire trip but I felt like I had stepped into a tropical resort for the evening and the drinks were delicious! Elephante is a massively open, airy restaurant with an upscale clientele, good music, three bars and a gorgeous terrace view of the Pacific Ocean and palm trees. It is known that most people go there around 4:30-5 in the evening each day not only to catch happy hour…but one of the best sunset views from a restaurant in Santa Monica. Reservations are required, especially on a busy weekend..but if you’re spending an afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier, swing by here afterward! For those who love to document their travels like myself, keep in mind that the back terrace will be swarming with bloggers and influencers alike, aiming for that perfect photo! I didn’t get my perfect picture but hey, I actually took it all in with my own eyes 😉

Carneys, LA

Ugh. Anyone know who I can write to to get one of these built on Long Island?! At first glance, I noticed this massive yellow rail car on the side of the road and my last thought was that it could’ve been a restaurant (at least not one I’d eat at). It wasn’t until I read the sign ‘Carneys Express Limited, Hamburgers and Hot Dogs’ that I realized this was in fact an eatery and people were swarming in! I thought to myself that this could be no better than In-N-Out, therefore, I wasn’t rushing to try it. It wasn’t until the last night that I found myself sitting in a booth inside the rail car with a cheeseburger, train wreck fries (cheese, grilled onions and thousand island dressing drizzled across a pile of french fries) that I realized how amazing Carneys was. It should truly be the new In-N-Out. Known for their hamburgers, specialty hot dogs and fries, it’s the perfect place to go when you want to eat the classic cheat meal. What did I have for dessert you ask? How about a chocolate-covered frozen banana! If you head to the West Coast, do not come back before trying this place!

Attractions:

There’s lots to see and do when in Cali, specifically if you’re staying in the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills area…you’ll most likely run into some touristy hot spots. To be completely honest, tourist traps are not my thing so I made sure to balance them out with more unique attractions and activities. I visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame (which I had no idea was the Hollywood Walk of Fame until I noticed a series of large red stars at my feet). For such a prestigious walk, I couldn’t believe how tiny, unassuming and garbage-ridden this trail was! Not what I expected. You’ll walk past the Dolby and Chinese Theatres and the occasional Church of Scientology but aside from a quick photo opt and a Michael Jackson impersonator, there’s nothing spectacular here. I felt like I was in Times Square.

If you love shopping, definitely hit Rodeo Drive. It’s beautifully decorated and a little less, (how do I put this nicely)…tacky.

To gain the full experience, rent a car (convertible preferably ;)) and drive through the residential areas of Beverly Hills and Hollywood to see some gorgeous houses and mansions. Mulholland Drive is exquisite..but beware of those narrow, winding roads!

Here are my personal top favorite attractions and activities that made my trip worthwhile:

Disneyland, Anaheim

I know what you’re all thinking. “This girl just said she hates tourist traps..Disney?!” Yes, Disney. If you don’t know this about me already, I grew up frequenting Disney World with my family, it’s just in my blood. I love everything about it, the attractions, the hotels..you name it, I know it. I couldn’t come all the way to California without visiting the park that started it all, Disneyland! I’ll start off by saying that this is a pricey place as most of you know and it has only gotten increasingly more expensive over the years. They will try and get you to roll into a park-hopper pass where you can gain access to California Adventure as well, but I wasn’t interested in anything additional. On the plus side, you don’t have to worry about not having enough time to get everything done or staying in an onsite hotel, which is an added expense. Disneyland is about a quarter of the size of Walt Disney World and can be managed in one day…if you’re staying at an offsite hotel like I did, you can get to the park within an hour or less if you rent a car. With driving also comes a massive line of cars waiting to get into the multi-level parking garage (as well as a parking fee). As long as you show up before or close to opening time, you’ll be fine. Although this park is a lot smaller than the Florida location, it is packed with charm! I recommend downloading the Disneyland ap prior to your trip. It enables you to fast-pass any rides you want to go on and keeps a folder of all the professional photos that you may have taken at the park…absolutely free!

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Runyon Canon Park, LA

This was one of my absolute FAVORITES! If you follow any sort of celebrity on social media, you’ve probably seen a picture of them in some trendy work out gear at the top of a large hill overlooking Los Angeles. This my friends, is Runyon Canyon. It’s also where I snapped that glorious cover photo for this post! If you’re someone that likes to mix a little bit of healthy with fun activities on your trips..you have to go for a hike at Runyon. Most people will park on the residential streets just outside of the park’s entrance (I’m not exactly sure how many entrances there are) and make their way through. Keep in mind..this isn’t some baby trail that requires no effort. I quickly realized just how steep and winding it was. *Queue heavy breathing and curse words* Runyon is ELEVATED and can actually be potentially dangerous, as there are no barriers separating you from the trail’s edge which plummets down to god knows where. I did see lots of sand bags though, which I’m assuming were a precautionary measure for the LA rain. This park is dog-friendly..in fact, these dogs could run circles around me! Runyon breaks into little landings and rest stops until you reach the top and are blessed with views overlooking LA and the Hollywood sign.

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Malibu Mansion Tour

I have mixed reviews on this tour company particularly but all in all, it was a cool experience. Would I recommend it to you? Probably not. Because I can tell you exactly how to conduct a replica of this tour…for free. When I had seen Starline Tours advertise this, I was intrigued because I was dying to get up close and personal to these celebrity homes. Granted, this was right after the devastating fires so I wasn’t exactly sure if the tour would still be running but to my surprise, it was. The tour office operates and starts on the Santa Monica Pier so it was a great way to see the pier’s attractions before heading over to Malibu which was about 30 minutes away. Make sure to double and triple confirm your reservation if you use Starline because the office mixed my tour time up..thank god I had nothing else planned for the day! A group of about 10 of us filled a small little tour car which was lead by our fearless leader (tour guide)..who did not stop talking, even for a second. For over just shy of two hours, we cruised up Pacific Coast Highway and saw the residences of Leonardo DiCaprio, Barry Manilow, Courtney Cox, Justin Bieber, Mel Brooks, Ozzy Osbourne and more. Although I feel that you could ultimately do this yourself in a rented car, the tour guide gives you great background stories and tidbits that you wouldn’t necessarily know of by just passing through. He pointed out Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite diner and a popular surf club restaurant, Moonshadows, where a drunk Mel Gibson was kicked out of. If you’re looking for a fun afternoon learning about celebrities in their natural habitat, I’d say go for it.

Tips…

A lot of people forget that LA can have temperamental weather and it’s not ALWAYS warm and sunny. I went in December and it was actually pretty cold! Pack accordingly.

Traffic. Traffic. More traffic. Are you catching my flow? LA makes New York look like a small town. Factor in that a simple 5 minute trip up the road could actually take 35 minutes or more. To this day, my mind is still blown.

Venice Beach=an absolute no from me. I’m sorry to those who liked it here but I do not recommend visiting the Venice Beach boardwalk (especially with children), unless you want to see vagrants and other things I will not make mention of.

Well friends, that’s all she wrote. I hope you enjoyed my trip recap and these tips come in handy if you ever make it out West!

With love,

Amanda

xo

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

25 Things I Learned In My 25th Year

As I sit watching a cheesy Hallmark movie on the evening of my 26th birthday, I can’t help but reflect back on my 25th year of life and all that it has brought and taught me.

Self-Confidence

  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Time spent comparing our lives to others whom we know nothing about, is often time wasted.
  2. Have an opinion of your own-conversations with opinionated people are the best, even if their views differ from yours.
  3. Constructive criticism is a blessing in disguise.
  4. Be vocal. Be your own advocate and always stand up for what is right, even when others stay silent.
  5. It’s OK to have goals and dreams that seem unattainable or are different from those around you-go after it and don’t stop until you get it.

Family & Friends

  1. If you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents, visit them. The wisdom and love they provide is immeasurable.
  2. There is no place more comforting and reassuring than the arms of your parents. As an adult, you can truly appreciate and understand the sacrifices they made for you and their influence on your life.
  3. Setting aside time to share a meal or hangout with friends is important and could always be the dose of therapy you never knew you needed.
  4. Never leave without saying I love you.
  5. You naturally get more and more like your mother every day.

Love

  1. Don’t go searching for love, love will come to you when the time is right.
  2. Love is patience and understanding.
  3. Love doesn’t mean finding someone that’s perfect, it’s accepting another’s flaws and imperfections.
  4. Healthy love should make you feel at peace and allow you to always be yourself.
  5. You can’t fully love someone until you fully love yourself.

Kindness

  1. You can never go wrong with sharing a smile or an act of kindness.
  2. Many people are facing battles you know nothing about.
  3. Always show respect and treat others how you’d expect to be treated. The janitor deserves the same respect as the CEO.
  4. Be grateful-there’s always someone who has it worse.
  5. Listen and acknowledge other people when they speak.

The Future

  1. Fate is fate and what’s meant to happen will happen-stop worrying.
  2. Dream it, believe it, achieve it. Think of why your dreams will happen for you..not the reasons they won’t.
  3. Trust in timing.
  4. Surround yourself with positive and influential people that will inspire you and guide you toward your goals.
  5. When in doubt, ask God.

26, I’m ready for you.

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Beauty & Style

My Nighttime Routine Must-Haves!

Happy Sunday (soon to be Monday, since I’m typing this at 11:15 pm :P), everyone!

I hope your weekend has left you feeling recharged and ready for the busy holiday week ahead! For me, this weekend was super productive. I seemed to cross a lot off my ‘to-do’ list that I had been putting off for far too long. Including my own self-care. Sometimes when we’re constantly on the move during the week, stressed with work and other obligations, we don’t always have the time or energy to complete some of the other important tasks on our to-do lists. These tasks include the ones that are dedicated to ourselves.

Anyone else feel this way?

I always tell myself, “I’ll do it today after work.” “I’ll head to the gym.” “I’ll run that errand.” “I’ll be sure to get my nails done.” But instead, what ends up happening is…I succumb to the comfort of my couch and push off my responsibilities until “next week” or “tomorrow” when I’m up to it. The more we push it off…the less likely we’ll actually get it done! This weekend I made sure to take care of the things on my list that I had been neglecting and when I did, I felt great!

As I was winding down into my Sunday routine tonight, a blog post idea popped into my head and I hopped right on my laptop to share with you guys. Sundays for me are days of relaxation and reflection. I take time to set my goals for the week, think about what I didn’t like the previous week and how I can put a better foot forward on Monday. I also take extra time to beautify myself with some of my favorite nighttime essentials!

Even during the week, my nighttime routine is super important to me. I like to unwind at the end of a long day and I truly believe that building your own little self-care regimen is the best thing you can do for yourself, especially when life gets hectic.

Tonight’s post is a highlight of all my favorite nighttime routine must-haves that I use religiously as part of my self-care routine! I’ve been using a few of these for so long that I just want to share my love for them!

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Yes, I’m pretty sure that anyone who wears makeup bows down to these wipes. These are my go-to for taking off my makeup or even just to cleanse my skin if I don’t feel like using soap and water. Whip these out at any girls’ night get-together and it’s about to be empty. What I like most about the Neutrogena wipes is that your skin is never left feeling dry or flaky which sometimes happens with other makeup wipe brands. Neutrogena is coming out with so many spin-offs of this product, from nighttime calming wipes to micellar purifying cleansing wipes and then these hydrating ones..I try a different type each time (they’re all awesome) but I’m definitely going to test out the nighttime calming ones for my next batch!

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Currently sitting with this on my face as I type. AH-MAZING. Okay guys, we all know that fancy face masks have become super prevalent and trendy today. From coffee scrubs to those other ones that make you glow like an alien. This mask is actually my favorite of all other face masks I’ve tried. It’s not infused with unnatural colors or foods. I was recommended this while getting a facial at Hand and Stone one day and I find that it really purifies the skin. The ClarityRx Rise and Shine mask is geared specifically toward more blackhead-prone skin, which is a huge problem for me. I use this about twice a week and let it sit for 15 minutes. It really digs deep into the pores to extract any underlying dirt and dead skin..I swear when you wash it off, you’ll notice the imperfections rise to the surface of your skin to be wiped away. (sorry, TMI) But really..this mask is a MUST for cleaning your skin and getting rid of blackheads. You’ll notice an immediate glow afterward and your makeup will sit so much better on your skin after using this. (P.S.-should I have added Nair to this list?! Because uh, that hair on my hands…Italian problems.)

My friends ask me so many questions about this..I can’t stop raving about it! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m very much obsessed with dental hygiene. My teeth are super important to me and it’s my goal to keep them looking fresh and bright. I drink a lot of coffee and tea so when I started to notice that my teeth were looking duller, I was not happy. I’ve tried the whitening toothpastes and strips but because I have sensitive teeth, I found that those products would weaken my enamel horribly and after using them, I could barely feel air on my tooth without being in pain. I stumbled upon My Magic Mud while at Marshall’s one day…yes, you heard correctly. I had seen so many advertisements for activated charcoal and its benefits for teeth but I never actually tried. Now I can’t look back! This particular one comes in powder form and can be a little messy if you’re not careful..but it works wonders and naturally whitens the teeth, free of harsh chemicals. Plus, it’s $9.99..for 150 uses! I pour a little bit on my toothbrush each night before bed and brush for 2 minutes..rinse..and VOILA! You’ll notice a whiter smile in two days. You’re welcome.

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All hail, Mario Badescu’s Rose water facial spray. As you can see, I’ve worn my bottle out. I’ve been using this religiously since the summer. I lugged it to Italy with me and it helped nurse a very itchy, painful Calabrian sunburn with its Aloe. I use this nightly after washing my face or sometimes use a spritz during the day if my skin is feeling oily. Rose water has many benefits when it comes to skin, including maintaining the skin’s pH balance, controlling excess oil, reducing redness and irritation, cleaning pores and toning the skin with its astringent like properties. If ever you want your face to feel clean and refreshed, spraying this will do the job. I sometimes even use it as a makeup setting spray! I can’t say enough about it..there’s also a lavender and chamomile spray I have not tried yet but I’ll let you know once I do!

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Does anyone else get extremely chapped lips as soon as it’s like, October? I do. One of my favorite pastimes is collecting chapsticks (and losing them). But these, I have not yet lost. I know that Burt’s Bees is a little pricier compared to the other brands but I truly feel the difference when I put it on. Not only are there so many flavor options (they just came out with Chai tea) and season-themed packs (these were from a summer flavor pack), but the product itself smooths and heals cracked, dry lips. It’s a very light consistency and what’s even better…all natural ingredients. I keep these in the draw next to my bed and use them nightly…especially as we’re approaching winter. I keep my favorite flavor of all time (coconut and pear) readily available in my handbag when I’m on the go! Team Burt’s Bees. All the way.

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Do not laugh at this because it really and truly works. I’ve gotten asked if I just came back from a tropical vacation after putting this on! Obviously, I’m sure none of us like watching our beautiful summer glow drain from our skin. If you’re like me, you’re not the type to run to a tanning bed which could have lasting negative health risks and effects on your skin….and some other options aren’t always that cheap or long-lasting. Last year, I was really wanting a fresh tan in the dead of winter but I was tired of using those orangey self-tanning body lotions. A friend recommended Quick Tan Body Drench and now I swear by it! The first time I ordered it, it was actually off Amazon. This bottle I happened to find at Harmon Face Values but you can pretty much find it anywhere when you type it in your search bar. I spray this all over my body after I shower and I definitely recommend purchasing the applying glove off Amazon when buying a bottle. The glove helps ensure that the spray goes on evenly and is not blotchy. It doesn’t spray on thick or orangey and you can even use it on your face! You will achieve a very natural sun-kissed glow in a matter of hours. It’s important to also let the spray set before wearing clothing..once you’re done, you’ll look in the mirror and be shocked! The glow generally lasts me a few days before having to apply again. Goodbye tanning beds!

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I’m a huge fan of Dove products! I was looking for a new body wash and stumbled across this (you had me at coconut). I lather it on to a loofah in the shower and it gets super sudsy and creamy which is what I personally like in a body scrub. I don’t like when a body wash is gel-like or slides off your skin making you feel greasy. This wash does the opposite. You don’t have to use too much and it still foams onto the skin and moisturizes while washing. It brings something new to your bathing routine aside from a boring old bar of soap. The smell is delightful..and there are also plenty of other scents if you’re not a coconut person. I highly recommend the purely pampering scrub! There’s nothing like a relaxing shower.

Well guys, I’ve shared my nighttime essentials with you all and now it’s time for me to get to sleep!

Let me know what you think of my favorite products, if you try or have tried any of these or if you have nighttime essentials of your own you’d like to share!

With love,

Amanda

Lifestyle

Favorite Date Spots in LI/NYC

Do you love to eat?

(Okay, what the heck kind of question is that, Amanda?) I know…keep reading.

Now that the beach days are over and my summer bod has officially gone back into hiding, I’m less conscious about choosing a salad for dinner and am much more inclined to lean towards the comfort food. I mean, life’s about enjoyment!

There’s also something to be said when you’re newly in a relationship for the first time in a while because date nights turn into contests of researching the best food spots in the area. The whole, “Let’s try a million restaurants!” thing suddenly becomes acceptable…right? My boyfriend and I have basically become self-proclaimed critics and food connoisseurs whenever we go out and I thought, why not share some of our finds with you guys! I narrowed down my list of several places to my top few favs! If you’re in the LI/NYC area, stop into these great spots, eat your heart out and let me know what you think!

1. The Good LifeMassapequa, NY 

If you’re a lover of pub-style fare, this place is for you. The Good Life is an English style pub eatery (hence the makeshift telephone booth covering the front entrance) that prides itself on its diverse menu and tap beer selection. I have to say they have one of the most eclectic and unique menus I’ve come across..you won’t find these dishes just anywhere and you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone (health freaks, I’m talking to you, too!). The vibe is casual, yet intimate and you don’t feel like you’re lost in the dark at some old dingy pub. Great place for a fun date night!

Must-tries: 

  • Pesto Spaghetti Squash (with chicken!)
  • Quinoa Salad Wrap 
  • The Mac Attack Burger
  • Mashed Potato Wontons 

2. Snaps American Bistro Wantagh, NY 

My mouth waters just thinking about this place! Snaps is a little on the pricier side but you’re definitely getting what you pay for. They also offer price fix menus on select nights during the week and brunch every Sunday from 12pm-3pm! If you’re looking for an interesting date night menu that will get you talking, you have to stop here. The food is fresh, the options are plenty and the cuisine is different. With a variety of 16 different types of burgers and unique gourmet entree options ranging from short rib Wellington and a lobster crusted fillet, there is no limit for your taste buds. If you have a more generic palate, don’t fear..there are plenty of generic options as well.

Must-tries:

  • Pumpkin Ravioli 
  • Mac Truck Burger
  • Truffle Parm Fries
  • DIY S’mores for dessert! (so cool!)

3. Grand Banks Hudson River ParkNYC

Before I went to Italy, my boyfriend set up a surprise daytime date for us in the city and took me to this gorg restaurant. It’s a great summer spot (I’m pretty certain they’re now closed for the off-season) but jot it down for future reference! A full service oyster bar and top-notch restaurant situated on an wooden Schooner from the 1940’s, Grand Banks makes for a very romantic and picturesque date idea. You’ll enjoy views of the New York Harbor, Hudson River and Freedom tower right from your table. Word of the wise-they are known for their seafood and lobster rolls, so if that’s not your thing..keep this in mind!However, if you’d like to go just for cocktails, you’ll still get the full experience and enjoy an awesome drink selection with an even better atmosphere.

Must-tries: 

  • Lobster Roll
  • French Fries (with spiced ketchup!)
  • Burrata
  • Revolucion Cocktail

4. BobbiquePatchogue, NY

If you know me, you know my allegiance to all things country and southern BBQ. I’ve been to Nashville twice and love a good spare rib 😉 Bobbique brings Tennessee comfort food right to Long Island and I’m so here for it. From their country fried chicken and steaks, to BBQ smothered ribs and baked cornbread, the cuisine is perfect for the times you’re in the mood for something other than just burgers or Italian. I especially like the ambiance…it’s as if you’ve stepped into a southern saloon with its rustic look and meals that are served on metal trays..super cute! Every time I’ve been there, there’s been a live band playing which at times can be a little loud if you’re trying to talk to someone across the table..but nonetheless, the food rises to the occasion and does not disappoint.

Must-tries:

  • St. Louis-style ribs
  • Half BBQ chicken
  • Fried Pickle Chips
  • Collard greens (this was my first time ever having these..amazing!)

5. STKNYC

So you’re feeling fancy, huh? If you’re looking for an actual night out (club/lounge vibes) coupled with an upscale steakhouse, STK is always the answer. (I’m a social butterfly/city-lover so this place is a favorite of mine) There are locations in both Midtown and Downtown, depending on where you feel like hanging out. I’d recommend making reservations beforehand because it does tend to get crowded, especially at night. STK offers the complete NYC nightlife experience and vibe, as well as an intimate setting for a date or couples’ night out. I enjoyed the rooftop view just as much as I enjoyed the food and would always recommend this spot to someone visiting the city from out of town! After dinner, you can hang out and enjoy drinks and music…and maybe dance if you’re like me!

Must-tries: 

  • Creamy Yukon Potatoes
  • NY Strip Steak
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts
  • #thecloud (if you don’t know this dessert, take a look at my ‘Fun’ highlight on Instagram a few clicks in! Mind-blowing.) 

6. San Marzano’s Brick Oven Pizza – Merrick, NY

It seems they don’t have their own website as of yet..but let me tell you guys, San Marzano’s is not strictly just pizza. As a matter of fact, the restaurant took an extra piece of my heart because it was the most authentic Italian food (since I’ve been in Italy) that I’ve had since being home. The homemade pasta and signature touches on traditional dishes are things I have not commonly found when out to eat. I’d like to think a lot of their inspiration came straight from Italy….right down to the Pesca Te that they import !! If you read my post about my trip to Italy, you know that these novelties are only found across the sea!

Must-tries: 

  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Fried Calamari
  • Homemade Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash
  • Tiramisu 

I hope you enjoyed my little rendition of a restaurant review & the places I enjoy frequenting! If you stop by any of these spots, please give me a shout out and tell em’ who sent ya!

For even more food-inspired date ideas and awesome LI eats, check out my friends over on @nassau_bites!

With love,

Amanda

xo

Beauty & Style

Beauty Q & A & Contest Collab with Makeup By Vic!

Hello my beautiful readers! (the old and hopefully..some new 😉 )

How’s everyone?

I’m feeling pretty excited because this week I’m shifting gears a bit and shining the blog spotlight on my fellow friend and hard-working girl boss, Victoria Elizabeth, better known in the social media world as @makeupbyvic_ and to those that know her personally…a very talented makeup artist and beauty professional!

Victoria has been my coworker and friend going on 4 years. We both work in the same office, in different areas of the mortgage business but since the onset, Victoria’s passion has always resided in her expression through makeup and all things beauty and glam. Victoria has pursued this passion (and talent) with her heart and soul, essentially growing her business from the ground up, all while establishing a great reputation amongst her vast clientele. Victoria is always striving to learn more and do more, delivering the best of what she knows to all women. Her drive and hustle are inspirational to those around her and you can tell how much she loves what she does, simply through her attention to detail and the value she places on her work. I’ve witnessed firsthand the experience Victoria gives her clients and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.

I’ve always been astounded by people who take their passions and turn them into flourishing businesses simply by being authentic and true to who they are. That was my reasoning behind wanting to interview Victoria; to see just how she got to where she is today. When I created The Weekend Wave, my intent was to stress the significance of pursuing your passions through life and working hard toward whatever it is that makes you happy. So, let’s show some love to the people who do that..and better yet, let’s get inspired to do the same.

Okay, okay. Without further ado, let’s learn more about Vic!

When did your makeup journey begin? Did you self-teach/were you inspired by someone/something in particular?

“Is is bad to say my makeup journey started at like, 8 years old? Being a competitive dancer my whole life and having to get “performance ready” multiple times throughout the years, I would say my inspiration and journey for makeup began at a very young age. I had plenty of practice doing makeup for competitions and recitals. I would always be the designated makeup girl and do all my friends and put their lashes on. As I got older, I dabbled in makeup on the weekends, whenever I was going out with friends…I did my own makeup for my prom. Being a senior in high school and having to choose a college to attend and a set career, I was so lost and felt like I had absolutely no direction. Being in the beauty industry never even came up as a serious option. Becoming a makeup artist felt so far-fetched and unrealistic. I had no idea where to start.”

When was the ‘ah-ha’ moment for you? How did you know you wanted to make this your career?

“I’m not sure I knew it was an “ah-ha” moment at the time, but looking back, I can see when my career began to blossom. I started working in a salon in the north shore of Long Island shortly after high school. I was there for about a year and I didn’t take it too seriously. I didn’t grow any type of clientele and sadly, I was getting bored of it. I was feeling unaccomplished and worthless..and I hated that. I don’t remember the exact ‘ah-ha’ moment, but when I decided I was ready to take this seriously and see where this could take me it kind of just.. happened. I would wake up super early every morning and practice a different makeup look before work and wear it for the day. After a few weeks of doing myself up everyday, women in the salon started noticing and complimenting me on how my makeup looked. They wanted me to do the same thing on them that I had on me. They pre-booked me for their own parties months in advance and even cancelled their appointments with other MUAs to book with me. I don’t know if it was my confidence or different attitude, but the moment I set my mind to it, it happened. I was passionate about it again.”

Where did you become certified? Would you recommend this training to aspiring makeup artists?

“In the fall of 2011, I attended Nassau Community College and at night I took a 50 hour makeup certification program at the Lia Schorr Spa in the NYC. The class was good, but we covered more sanitation and cleaning (which is important as well) but it wasn’t the fun, creative stuff I hoped for. We didn’t learn techniques or styles. After completing the program, I realized that I was going to have to really work on this by myself. No one could teach me. It had to be hands on and I had to really practice. Mornings and nights, I grabbed a friend or my mom and just played with products and styles of makeup.”

In this competitive field, what separates you from other MUAs and what they have to offer?

“I try and make my clients look and feel like the best version of themselves. I want them to wear the makeup, not the other way around. I can’t tell you how many times I have a new client in my chair telling me they don’t want to look ‘cakey’.  Most women are hesitant to get their makeup done because they’ve gotten it done in the past and it looked that way. That doesn’t happen when you sit in my chair. I’m trying to change that reputation that makeup artists have.”

What was the biggest accomplishment of your career thus far?

“I have two!

I was featured in an episode of the Bravo show “Summer House” doing makeup on the cast. It aired in January 2017.. seeing yourself on TV is weird, but so cool— and my hair looked good so that made it even better!

Also, at the age of 25 I can proudly say I have a home base for ‘Makeup by Vic’ in Port Washington at Wash Salon and Color Lounge.  Although I do a lot of freelance and weddings, it’s SO nice to have a place to have my clients come for their maintenance appointments like brows, waxing, lash lifts, and trials. To boot, the salon is absolutely beautiful, so choosing that location as a home base was a no brainer. The staff is amazing, they offer a variety of services-from color, to cuts, to extensions and they give the best blowouts in town. You have to come in to experience it!”

What’s your favorite aspect of working in the beauty industry?

“The constant drive for bettering yourself. It’s such a satisfying feeling making someone’s day better with something as simple as makeup application. Not saying makeup is easy, it’s definitely very intricate, but I love how concealer and false lashes make you feel more confident. I know for myself, if I’m having an off day and I apply makeup, I look and feel better and can accomplish so much more. I also just love meeting and interacting with a variety of personalities. It’s basically constant girl time and who doesn’t love that!”

Five year plan-where do you see yourself down the road or hope to be career-wise?

“I’m more of a short-term planner, so I never really put much thought into where I could be in five years..but I’d love to get into the education portion of the beauty industry, host workshops or seminars and share with the world my style of work. It has also been a huge goal of mine to work on set for TV and film. I’m loving the bridal/event/salon makeup scene right now, but being on set would be the ultimate goal..or the makeup artist for Wicked on Broadway. If anyone has any connects, let me know ;)”

How long did it take you to build a solid client base and how did you maintain and push yourself forward?

“Well, I’ve been doing makeup for 6-7 years and I’m still not at the level I want to be at. I’m my own worst critic so I’m always just striving for more and working on perfecting my craft. I do right by every single client in hopes that they refer me to their friends and family and they have–the majority of my clientele are referrals! I’m very dedicated to my career and am so happy that I’m in the beauty industry. The key to being successful, I think, is to never say “no” to your clients- whether they are requesting a 5am makeup appointment at their house an hour and a half away or they ask you to do something completely out of the norm, do it with a smile. There will always be someone else to say “yes” to them if you say no. That’s what pushes me forward.”

Advice to aspiring makeup artists or anyone pursuing a career in the beauty industry?

“For any aspiring MUA’s, I think the best way to practice is on yourself. Make a night out of it-multiple nights out of it-light a candle, play your favorite music, sit down with all of your products and just play. Re-create pictures you see on Pinterest and Instagram-go on Youtube and watch videos of peoples’ techniques-anything to challenge yourself. Also, take pictures of your progress. It still amazes me to this day how many people thought my 2014 smokey eye was sooo good when looking back, it was sooo bad. Connect with your local salons and ask if they need a makeup artist, you can freelance and just come in when they book appointments for you. Connect with your local MUAs and ask to shadow them or get a makeup lesson from them if they offer any of those options-I do!”

Random fun fact about yourself that you don’t mind sharing with us…

“I’m overly obsessed with Cèline Dion. Power of love. That’s the way it is. A new day has come. She’s like my girl empowerment music. So embarrassing but on any long exhausting day after work, I play, mmm, scratch that-BLAST her on the way home and it’s like a reset button for me-my mood takes a total turn for the better. Ultimate goal in life-DO CÈLINE DION’S MAKEUP. Again, any connections will be greatly appreciated!”

How awesome is Vic?! 

I not only feel inspired by her passion and strategy for success..BUT SHE LOVES CÈLINE DION, too?! I may or may not be guilty of belting “It’s all coming back to me now” on many of my road trips and travels…but we’ll save that for another day.

A big THANK YOU to Vic for answering my questions and giving us insight on how to be our own girl-boss. To follow what we love and put a plan into action. I know I was left with many ideas myself and definitely feel motivated and ready to take charge.

BUT GUYS, WE’RE NOT DONE.

Vic and I went back and forth wondering what we could bring to the table for our clients and readers as a thank you for supporting us and as a way for us to do a little collaboration ourselves. So here’s what we came up with….

WE ARE DOING A CONTEST.

*queue claps and roaring cheers*

We have decided to offer a complete makeup makeover done by Vic, FREE OF CHARGE for any event of your choosing. In addition, the winner will be gifted a glam goodie bag of assorted makeup and personal logo items for both The Weekend Wave and Makeup By Vic brands.

**You have until November 2nd to enter, let’s do it!**

To Enter, you must do the following:

  • Subscribe to my blog at www.theweekendwave.com and make sure to hit ‘confirm’ once you receive the email. (come on guys, you know you love The Weekend Wave!)
  • You must follow both mine and Victoria’s Instagram handles:
  • Comment that you’d like to enter and tag two of your friends/family members on Vic’s most recent Instagram post!

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The winner will have their photos taken and be given the opportunity to share their feedback!

We are so excited and hope you are too. Share with friends, family or anyone who has a big event coming up and needs a fresh face of makeup! Give someone the gift of glam, done by the best AND keep up with my crazy adventures over a cup of coffee here on The Weekend Wave.

It’s my goal to keep inspiring and to bring you more creativity, collabs and giveaways in the future!

Join me 🙂

With love,

Amanda