Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five Purses That Work Within the NFL's New Bag/Purse Policy

The NFL's new handbag and purse policy is a bitch.  It limits what anyone can bring into any NFL stadium for a game.

Having said that, if you're simply going to any game (NFL, NBA, MLB, etc.) and not bringing a gaggle of kids, I ALWAYS suggest a small cross body bag.  These allow you to keep your hands free to clap, cheer, drink, flirt, text and more.  It's just easier.

AT&T Stadium's policy dictates that bags be no bigger than 5.5" high and 8.5" wide which is slightly larger than what the NFL rules allow. 

"The goal is to operate within reason," according to Cowboys corporate communications spokesman Brett Daniels.

Here are some cute purses that all fit within AT&T Stadium's policy:
Coach Madison Cross Body Bag.  This is a great bag that costs $198 and comes in four colors.

It's professional enough for work and perfect for the game.  You can keep this forever.

Kate Spade New York Brightspot Avenue Sally Crossbody Peony Pink for $158.00.  Tiny but packs an adorable punch.

Target has a stylish selection of cross body bags and clutches but the sizes are deceiving.  Make sure the bag fits within the 5.5 x 8.5 restrictions.   This Limited Edition Small Saddle Bag with Studs is biker-cool and perfect for a Cowboys game.  A steal at $22.99.

Looking for something a little more luxe to fit the scene at AT&T Stadium?  My friends at Bella Bag, an online luxury consignment reseller, have an entire blog dedicated to helping you find something that works.

I love any and all forms of a Chanel Wallet on a Chain bag.  This is a true investment purchase at $1589. 
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How To Rent A Great Apartment In Paris

How to rent a paris apartment, paris apartment rental
Image via Guest Apartment Servies

Renting an apartment in Paris is a smart if you will be there for an extended period of time or want the flexibility of cooking your own meals and doing laundry. You can usually get more space for a better price than you would pay for a hotel room.

Finding a vacation rental apartment in Paris is not easy. I have stayed in gorgeous ones and ones that are great in photos, awful in person. Here are a few questions you should ask an apartment service before committing to a rental:
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Do you charge for electricity? 
  • Do you offer maid services? 
  • Do you have air conditioning?  Many don't.  If it's a hot summer, you will suffer.
  • What time can I get into the apartment?
  • What happens if I lose the keys? 
  • Do you have an emergency service if something breaks?
  • Do you allow children?  Some don't.
  • Will you offer an apartment walk thru to show me how to use the unfamiliar Parisian appliances?
  • Will you provide concierge services: help with side trips, reservations, etc?
  • Are the photos online a fair representation of the apartment? (During our November 2014 stay the photos did not accurately represent the apartment. It was awful).
  • When were the photos taken. 
We decided to go the rental route for our 10-day Paris trip in June 2013.  I am an avowed hotel lover.  I love the romance, nostalgia and luxury of a classic hotel.  That luxury doesn't come cheaply, particularly in Paris, so we opted for the space and practicality of an apartment.

I ask friends who had rented apartments in Paris.  They suggested all the usual suspects: VRBO, AirBNB, Homeaway, Haven in Paris, etc.  I consulted Travel and Leisure magazine's awards issue and saw they suggested Guest Apartment Services for Paris apartments.

After much research, wrangling and debate, we decided to go with Guest Apartment Services. I like the gorgeous and hip options Haven in Paris offered but Guest Apartment Services fit our location and pricing needs better.

We settled on their Narcisse apartment, a classic 700-square foot beauty on the Ile St. Louis. A great location, a gorgeous space at about $250, give or take, a night for a 10-day trip.  Done!

Approximately two weeks before our trip, we received an email from Christophe, one of Guest Apartment Services owners, who informed us that there would be renovation work on the building during our stay.  There would be scaffolding surrounding the structure and noise from 8am until 5pm every day.  Not great if you have a baby.

Paris Apartment Rental, guest apartment services review
View of Snowdrops entry and dining room. It REALLY does look like this!/Image via Guest Apartment Services

He offered us an "upgrade" to Snowdrop, a sleek, contemporary 754-square foot unit right across from Notre Dame, located in an apartment building at 19 Quai de Montebello. We hemmed and hawed.  We didn't know the neighborhood as well and, according to the map, it looked to be right on a busy street overlooking the Seine River.  We worried about the noise keeping us awake at night.

We stuck with it because, as I learned, summertime apartments in Paris are a tough get.

So how was it?

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Get Started With Your Hula Hoop

Hula hooping is great exercise.  Really.  The folks in the 50's were on to something.

Hula hooping is not just a retro 50's phenomenon.  It can change your ab game.  It strengthens your abdominal muscles, particularly your obliques, creating a natural corset effect that can create your slimmest stomach ever.  It also works your legs and can be a decent cardiovascular workout if you do it a high intensity for an extended period of time.

I came out of the hula hoop closet last month with my Empower Cardio Core Fitness Hoop but some of you are still struggling to get the hang of it.  Admittedly trying to learn how to hoop isn't automatically easy.  It takes practice.

Here's how to start hooping using a weighted hula hoop:
  • Don't gyrate your hips in the direction of the hoop.  That is mistake #1. 
  • Stand with one foot in front of the other, maybe your "dominant" foot when beginning. 
  • Once you give the hoop that first "turn" around your waist, start rocking your weight from one foot to the other.  No jumping, just think of a pumping & rocking motion.
  • Keep it going.  That's it! 
  • Still need help?  Here's a video. 
Again, practice.  One direction will be easier than the other.  Clockwise was initially easier for me but I focused on getting stronger going counter clockwise and now I'm pretty good both directions.

The great thing about hooping is that you can do it any time of day.  I do it while brushing my teeth for two minutes with my electronic toothbrush (kinda weird but whatever).  Or if I can't get to the gym, I hoop for 30 minutes for a cardio/core workout.  I probably do it for at least five minutes six days a week.

I'm obsessed. 

*Remember: flat abs start in the kitchen.  No amount of hooping, cardio, ab work or spinning will give you a flat stomach if you're eating too much crap every day.  A quality, balanced diet is key.  I'm a huge fan of the Mediterranean diet approach to eating.

Get Your Weighted Hoop Here: 
Thursday, August 22, 2013

How the NFL's New Bag Policy Will Affect You

Once upon time you couldn't attend a game at Cowboys AT&T Stadium without seeing a bombshell bagsnob rocking a Birkin.   

hermes, birkin, green
Hermes Birkin

Attending a Thursday night affair at MetLife Stadium to watch the Giants?  Then you would see the entire Fall handbag line from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Celine and more.

No more, my fancy NFL-loving friends! (of which there are many, btw).

The league has instituted a new policy limiting the size of handbags and purses you can bring into ANY NFL stadium in effort make the games a safer experience.   

When going to a Cowboys game in Arlington, you can bring a clutch purse that is 5.5" "tall" by 8.5" "wide".  TIP: Use a folded piece of copy paper as a guide.  You can also bring a clear plastic tote bag or 1-gallon resealable bag.  Ugh. 

The Cowboys website offers a good infographic explaining what can be brought into AT&T Stadium.  The league has an extensive FAQ page on its site, as well

AT&T Stadium Purse/Bag Guidelines, AT&T Stadium Purse Policy, AT&T Stadium Bag Policy
AT&T Stadium Handbag & Purse Policy
The policy is already drawing the ire of loyal fans.  

Jeannette DeVader told me on Facebook that her first run-in with the policy wasn't so great. 
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Paris With Toddlers: Tips For Parents and Kids To Enjoy Their Trip

Paris with Toddlers, Things to do in Paris with Toddlers

When anyone asks why I would take my 20-month old daughter to Paris, I counter with "Why not?"

Paris is an outstanding city for babies and kids.  We went for the first time with Jordan when she was 13 months old in November 2012 and again this past June when she was 20-months.

Visiting the city with a child is magical.  The pictures alone make it worthwhile.

More than anything, a well-behaved child speaks a universal language.  That baby's smile can melt any cold-hearted Parisian's heart like butter on a warm baguette.  The French LOVE babies and kids.

Here are a few tips for enjoying the city with your little one:

Paris with Kids Itinerary, Paris with kids blog
Jordan with a new friend at Luxembourg Gardens

Parks parks parks galore. 

The Parisian parks are wonderful.  Families don't have huge yards, so the parks are a big deal. Between 3-4pm is the witching hour when the parks fill up with either families or nannies and their charges.  The parks will be packed.

Luxembourg Gardens, Parc Monceau, the park next to Les Halles, Places des Vosges, the Palais Royal promenade, Parc de Bercy.  Any of them are great. They are also opportunities for your little one to connect with other French kiddos. You will find the language barrier to be nonexistent. Kids have their own language - fun.

The Tuileries is the park in front of the Louvre.  We didn't hit any museums while we were there. Instead, we opted to take in the city itself as one big museum.  The green space in front of the Louvre is outstanding.  It fills with people who like to enjoy the extended summer daylight hours well into the evenings. We ended up running into people we had met a few times.  Be careful, though, some of those street vendors use the labyrinth hedges as urinals.  Keep to the open space.


You must take your little one for a carousel ride while you're in Paris. We ride carousel at the Trocadero (in front of the Eiffel Tower) & Parc Monceau. Here is a complete guide to Paris carousels.

Palais Royal

Palais Royal is a great spot to visit for both parents and kids.  Located in the 1st, it offers a slew of restaurants (we visited Muscade a few times).  It not only has long shopping corridors where you can stroll and let your kids can run, there is also a huge green space.  While you are eating (and drinking) lunch, your kids, again, can play and burn off some energy.


Paris with Kids, Paris With Kids Blog, Paris With Kids Itinerary
Jordan at Maxim's
Make sure they eat well - a breeze in Paris.  Restaurant owners and chefs delight in watching a child eat.  At Maxim's they treated Jordan like a queen.   Sure, we paid the price for it but it was an experience we'll never forget.

Get that bread!  We broke a few of our diet rules while on the trip.  We let Jordan snack and eat a lot of bread.  It worked for us if she was hungry and cranky and couldn't find anything on a menu to eat.

We love Le Poilane and Eric Kayser.  Although, the worst bread in Paris is better than many of the best bakeries in Texas.

RELATED: 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant Review

Visit the farmers markets.  Every neighborhood has one.  Stock up on produce.  You won't be disappointed.

Our standby, kid-approved dining options: Cafe Breizh, L'Eboulliant, the bar at La Duree on the Champs Elysèes and  the food hall at Le Bon Marche (good for picnics items). 

A Few Other Details

The view from our apartment across from Notre Dame!

Consider renting an apartment.  We had a spot across from Notre Dame and it was perfect.  It was less expensive and much larger than any hotel option we could find.  We could eat a quality breakfast in the morning.  Jordan could watch Dora before we went out the door for the day.  We had space for all of our stuff.  It was perfect.  We used Guest Apartment ServicesThey were wonderful.

RELATED: How To Rent A Great Apartment In Paris

The Paris zoo.  My husband took Jordan here while I was exploring Bercy Village.  She loved it. 

If your child is young enough, use that stroller!  We took Jordan everywhere in our stroller.  She was able to sleep in it while we were walking.  It was compact enough to fit in restaurants and nestle under tables.  We would typically arrive to lunch around 1pm while she was sleeping.  We would slip the stroller under the table just like a chair.  It worked in just about every spot.

RELATED: The stroller that saved our lives in Paris.

Practice circus contortionist-like flexibility.  Your itineraries will probably change based on your little one's temperament.  Embrace it.  It's part of the adventure.  You never know who you might meet or where a day in Paris will take you. 

The New York Times recently offered some suggestions for Paris with Kids.  It has solid, highbrow ideas like kid-friendly museums to visit.  It's a good read.

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