Tiny Horse

Fashion, beauty, food, art…pleasing to the senses


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UK Sights

What a whirlwind month of May I’ve had! I spent my babymoon in the United Kingdom on an action-packed adventure! It was also my hubby’s annual company trip but I’m mostly going to refer to it as my babymoon ;). Four whole days definitely didn’t feel like enough time, and we caught ourselves already planning a follow up trip to do all the stuff that we couldn’t do this time around–Roman baths, high tea, Globe Theatre, London Museum, etc.

Here I am at Oxford University, standing in front of where the Great Hall in Harry Potter was filmed…also, where the best minds of British literature went to school.

We even caught a theater production in London’s arts district! I’ve always loved the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and seeing it live was just intense and magical. Recognizing Varys from GoT, Umbridge from Harry Potter and Imogen Poots from 28 Weeks Later was quite satisfying! They are great stage actors!

Right outside William Shakespeare’s childhood home in Stratford upon Avon! This was the only place we got to shop a little. The little stores were oh-so cute here.

Love the Venetian style bridge in the background! This is the area Oxford students celebrated their graduation!

Christ Church–most famous college within Oxford!

Windsor Castle–the queen was here the day of our tour! She did not offer us tea and biscuits but we were also in a bit of a rush. Feeling rushed became the theme of all 4 days here with such limited times and long commutes from our Hilton hotel.

Ah, Stonehenge doesn’t look quite so big, does it? I can pinch the little stones from this angle!

We didn’t go across Tower Bridge but seeing it is still impressive. I didn’t realize the bridge was blue!

This raven got up close and personal with me. Legend has it that the day the ravens fly away, London will fall. To prevent this, these ravens have their wings clipped.

Okay, I had to take this picture :). I didn’t get a chance at Buckingham Palace but the Tower of London had a good view of this guy.

Entrance to the Tower of London. This is the extra thing we did apart from the city tour. We saw the crowned jewels and learned all about the Cullian Diamond! It is the biggest diamond ever found and it’s actually split into 9 diamonds! One is in the scepter and another is in the crown.

The Shard skyscraper–I love the mix of the modern and the ancient in this view.

MI6 Building–James Bond’s headquarters :).

Big Ben and parliament in the back!

Westminster Abbey! We didn’t get to go in–see what I mean about feeling rushed? To be continued for next trip.

Buckingham Palace changing of the guards!

On our first night here, we ate at Giraffe, a world kitchen with interesting international cuisine. I got a Thai dish and hubby got a Turkish dish. I’m sipping my yummy mango lassi. The only real British food we tried was what they served on the tours and I have to say that it’s the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had. That was sorely disappointing!

Current mani = seafoam green + gold champagne accent nail with a thin layer of Mermaid Blush.

I’m modeling on top of the book I’m reading now: Under the Tuscan Sun by France Mayes. It’s the non fiction memoir of this middle aged lady’s housing renovation in Italy. It’s slow reading but I have a fascination with housing stuff so it might yet impress me.

My sweet Pangur Ban is cuddling with the baby :). 28 weeks along now! *Sigh still 2 more months to go…

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End of Year 2016 Wrap Up

2016 was a big year. So much happened in the world and also in my own life. From my own experiences, I can say I had a pretty good year and there is much to be thankful for and proud of.

This is the most recent picture on my phone! Last weekend, I made a fun trip to my local St. Vincent’s thrift shop and it became candle-themed very quickly. I bought close to 40 votive and tealight candles, 3 candle holders, 2 napkin holders and an old pot for my candle-making tool! I made the mistake of previously using my super nice, Teflon-coated, non-stick pot before; I have learned my lesson, you guys.

The wick is twain coated with a thin layer of wax and tied to a metal nut. I melted down the remains of a Prize Candle, Yankee votive, BBWorks votive, 3 tealights and another previously melted down candle. It yielded 5.3oz. Not bad, y’all! I wish I could say it smelled good but it smells bizarre. The Prize Candle was a clean, fresh spring flowers scent but the other waxes was a mix of winter spice or vanilla (which I absolutely DESPISE the smell) so it’s a rather weird concoction! Pouring and grasping the hot hot candle holders is the most difficult part. I got smarter this time and used one of those strong office binder clips but my technique could use some work. Good thing I burn a bajillion candles every year so I can get lots of practice :).

I am packing for Christmas and this time, it’s totally appropriate that Pangur Ban is preparing too–I am bringing her to my parents’ house! I will have a whole lovely week at home and my babycat gets to enjoy it with me! I hope she becomes best friends with Muffy while she’s there. There’s a whole cycle of hating each other, turning into tolerating each other and then when they are about to separate, become friends with each other. #travelcat

How adorable is she?! Look in awe at her lovely, shiny, long gray hair! Look at that luscious, full tail!

My wrapping job might not be the best, but my coordination skills definitely are! Even the random winter bag I chose has a matching snowman! What are the odds?! So excited to give these out to my friends and family.

My current mani is 2 coats of Formula X in a deep watermelon and an alternating topcoat of VS gold glitter. I’m modeling the most recent book I finished called Little Bee by Chris Cleave. It’s a quick and interesting read but lacking facts and real conviction because it’s completely fiction. I wish the author would have wrote about a real Nigerian refugee’s experience in England instead of making it up. I thrive to educate myself when I read for pleasure and the author’s level of research was so half-assed that it’s a bit disconcerting.


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Punta Cana! 

I’m loving my oh-so-feminine mani right now. I used Sinful Colors shimmery burnt pink alternating with Essie’s pastel To Buy or Not to Buy (palest lilac). I have on The One Ring and modeling it atop of an amazing book called Honolulu by Alan Brennert. I picked this up cold because I enjoyed Moloka’i soooo much. That book taught me so much about Leprosy/Hansen’s disease and that particular part of Hawaiian history. This author should have taught in school because he effortlessly engages you in a topic you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.

Hubby and I just came back from a 6-day, 5-night all inclusive resort vacation from the Dominican Republic. It was basically just unlimited food, drinks, shows and pool/beach time. The biggest decision we had to make everyday was where to pick our dinner reservation.

It did rain for 2.5 days while we were there but duh–it was their hurricane season so we chose this year knowing the risks. We ate at 4/7 of their specialty restaurants and sampled every bar. There were nightly shows that definitely impressed us with its scope and talented cast! We did archery, mini golf, ping pong and pool and even made some friends. Our one regret is that since the waters were so choppy, no water activities were available. I wanted to snorkel or kayak or go on the catamaran but nope! Instead I lost my only pair of aviators to this evil bigass wave.

I couldn’t help but compare this trip experience to my only other Caribbean resort experience which was in Jamaica and found it lacking. We stayed at the Caribe Club Princess Resort and I would probably rate it a 2.5 stars out of 5. October is the off-season but it was still swarming with people :(. At Jamaica, there were only a few other U.S. honeymooners and some locals but at this Punta Cana resort, there were so many babies, families and entire European and Latin American tour groups. The resort was so big in area that we had to wait 15 min at a time just to board the “train” to get to the lobby/theatre area. The buffet food selection was very meh and most of the dishes were bland and overcooked. A nasty surprise was that about 85% of the clientele smoked. I was trying to waft away second hand smoke the WHOLE vacation. People tossed their cigarette butts on the beach, in the beach, at the buffet and even in the pool! There was no escape. Our Jamaican resort was no-smoking. Also, I wasn’t prepared for 95% of the staff and other resort goers to only speak Spanish. Even the couple of Spanish words I used weren’t understood by anyone. Sad news bears. Would I come back to this resort? Hellz no. Would I come back to DR? Probably not. My next beach resort vacation will be an upscale one at Turks & Caicos or Saint Kitts & Nevis ‘cuz you pretty much get what you pay for, mis amigos. Going lower in price this time matched the kind of quality you get and the type of masses of people you go with…


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San Diego Trip

San Diego shimmer mani! I used Sinful Colors in a mauvey taupe metallic shade and Sally Hansen chrome pink for the accent nail. My fingers were finally slim enough for me to fit my rightful wedding ring again, haha. By the way, I have gained that weight right after this vacation :(. 

These delightful Mandarin ducks lived on the grounds of my hotel! I attended the Lean Kanban conference for 3 full days and it was hosted at the Catamaran Resort and Spa. I give the hotel lobby a 4-star rating and the rooms a 1-star rating. My living quarters were dismal! However, it was a good thing I spent most of my time at the conference or exploring San Diego with my coworkers. 

These bright macaws talked, mimicked other animal sounds and blew kisses to the guests! So cute. 

Overall, loved the Polynesian theme of the hotel but would never recommend anyone to stay here because of the exorbitant prices and low, outdated quality of the rooms. No mini fridge or even any desk room! The wifi was horrible and spotty for a conference! We were billed $235/night at the discounted corporate rate and it didn’t even include breakfast! Avoid this place!

At one of the lunches during the week, we ate at Humphrey’s and it had a tranquil and beautiful view of the marina. I loaded up on steak and frites :). 

This is one of the yummiest cupcakes ever–not too sweet, creamy and even had a bit of crunch with the rice cracker topping!

Mmmm…when in California, you must try the sushi! This is my hotel’s house roll featuring crab, eel, tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber and nageri sauce. It was da bomb. 

San Diego Zoo time! This peacock wasn’t even in his exhibit! 

You can say I dressed for the occasion! My favorite exhibits were the Polar Bear Plunge and the gorilla family. The panda exhibit setup sucked but of course, the pandas themselves are cute. We spent a total of 8 hrs here. Let me tell you though–$100 for admission is no joke. You bet we saw every animal, took the skyfari cable cars and the double decker bus. 

This is my venture to Seaport Village as soon as I switched hotels to be in the Bayfront downtown area. I loved the location of my second hotel a lot better and I loved exploring all the sights. 

I absolutely LOVED all the vegetation of San Diego. It was a feast for the eyes! There were blooming purple trees everywhere called jacaranda and they were just gorgeous. 

This is the magical town of La Jolla. What a pretty and fun little jewel of a place! Getting up close and personal with those sea lions at the cove was my fave! It took everything in me to not hug all these adorable sea sausages! 


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New England Vacay

What a week for me! It was splendid to be able to be with my hubs even while he was working. I have the flexibility to work remotely as needed and did so last week at Hartford, CT. I started the trip off with a new mani, of course.

I brushed on Ulta’s Tinseltown, H&M’s metallic seafoam and a top coat of VS gold glitter. Lasting power of these colors were crap compared to my other nail polishes, but I liked the contrast and slightly Barney-retro look. 

The night we got into Hartford, hubs took me to J. Timothy’s Taverne for their nation’s 2nd best wings! They are done up in “dirty style” meaning = sauced, fried, then sauced again. They weren’t very crunchy or meaty but they were well seasoned and definitely packed a punch in the zest department. The sauce selection was limited but the sauces themselves were incredibly tasty. I had the Gold BBQ and hubs had the Thai Sweet Chili. Expensive place for wings but hey, vacay time!

The next night, he took me to chic West Hartford where we enjoyed a nice Thai meal at the Silk Elephant. For dessert, I got to visit Noah Webster! Check out that gorgeous blue sky!

I dragged hubby to the Elizabeth Rose Garden and we gawked, smelled and took pictures of pretty flowers. He has been working in this area for 6 months and never even heard of this place. I’m a garden hunter so I will smell out these places! It was truly a delight to be able to walk around the flowers and watch the ducks in the pond in the middle of the work week!
  

Fast forward to Wallis Sands beach in New Hampshire while visiting his sister and seeing her new house. I’m merely showing off my retro bikini; it stays dry the whole time because I’m not crazy enough to dip myself in the frigid Atlantic waters at twilight.

Onto the Boston Public Park! I simply loved these weeping willows that provided some sort of shade in the 92 degree scorching day. This was taken right before embarking on the Freedom Trail, which made me a hot mess afterwards ;). 

Found this gem in the Commons and couldn’t resist takin’ off my shoes and cooling off in this majorly accessible water feature! I love cities that have this for all the children/tourists to enjoy!  

Last day of my New England trip: Salem, MA. I was here for a hot 1.5 hrs but we made the most of it! I HAD to visit the Witch Memorial. My favorite play in the world is The Crucible and I am astonished that most of his characters were real life people. RIP Giles Corey and his infamous last words “more weight.”

Crossed off a bucket list item! Slurped raw oysters at the Sea Level oyster bar–I used a combination of lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce and this pickled mango and pepper concoction. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I tried 5 different types of oysters and the salty sea water brine really helps to flavor that plump piece of oyster. 

I only had time to snap a picture of the House of 7 Gables before getting on my horrible AA flight back to Pittsburgh. I was joking that the gods must have been too jelly of my wonderful week and just had to throw a wrench on my travel plans the last day. The hubs thinks it’s just the entire inadequacy of American Airlines. That at least is definitely true.

What a wonderful week! What joyous eats and flavors! What fun seeing friends and family!


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N’awlins Adventure!

It’s somewhat of our family’s tradition now to spend Christmas in a much hotter vacation spot than where we live! This Christmas, we opted for New Orleans! Our roadtrip took 2 days across 5 states and absolutely NO TOLLS! Take that, PA roads! With gas rolling in at $1.99 in the southern states, our transportation cost for 4 people was quite reasonable!

I enjoyed the trip and the food, but mainly, I was underwhelmed by N’awlins. The parts right outside the French Quarter were completely run-down and abandoned-looking. True, I saw plenty of other tourists but where they were going when every single shop, museum and attraction was closed, I have no idea! A better time to come here would definitely be Mardi Gras, haha!

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Jackson Square at sunset on first day there. Beautiful view of where the action was!

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Now, this is the most memorable part of New Orleans to me. The first thing I bought after arriving at the French Quarter was to purchase a generous helping of beignets at Cafe Beignet. That night after a classic and hearty cajun dinner, I made sure to order bananas foster caramel beignet fries smothered in a light chocolate sauce. Oh my jibbers, that was heavenly. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b30/56563797/files/2015/01/img_2154.jpg

 

St. Louis cemetery at Marie Laveau’s tomb. It’s unmarked but otherwise marked by all sorts of X’s. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b30/56563797/files/2015/01/img_2197.jpg

 

Everything was closed on Christmas day so we traipsed to City Park, which was amazing. Spanish moss trees, swamps, cranes, swans–it was filled with all the good Bayou-type flora and fauna! Later that night, we went there again to attend the biggest holiday lights festival in the country! Celebration in the Oaks spanned across the botanical gardens, Storyland and more park grounds!/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b30/56563797/files/2015/01/img_2217.jpg

 

Getting to my favorite destination of the trip…gator catching time! This spot was an hour outside New Orleans, but the trip was well worth it because we got to learn a lot about these swamp chickens! This picture features the gator catchin’ pool. Exciting and exotic; I wasn’t scared at all!/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b30/56563797/files/2015/01/img_2228.jpgWillie Mae’s Scotch House–never have I waited this long with fried chicken. Travel Channel, Food Network and celebrity testimonials made me do it! The chicken was crispy, hot and very well seasoned. I loved it. The corn muffins were buttery, sweet and slightly crispy on the outside. 10/10 would try again :).

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Adult gators in their shallow pools. We fed them marshmallows!/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b30/56563797/files/2015/01/img_2171.jpgI fell in love with these strange palm trees!