The MTV Music Awards was this past Sunday and the looks on the red carpet as usual were HIT or MISS.

Here’s a peek at my favorite looks:

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Jennifer Lopez in a Versace suit.

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Scarlett Johansson in Zuhair Murad.

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Rebel Wilson in a gorgeous cape dress with a fuchsia interior.

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Holland Roden in a Caterina Gatta mini. How fabulous is that pop of color in the heels?!

Here is a peek at my MISSES:

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Just no Bai Ling, no.

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Charli XCX in a Jeremy Scott coast dress.

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This one hurt to post because I absolutely adore Shailene Woodley. I think individually the top, pants and shoes could work paired with other pieces but together – I’m just not feeling it.

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays because it’s when all of my family gets together & nothing is better than good food, good laughs & good company. But for this past Christmas we decided to switch our plans up a bit. Since it was our first holiday as husband & wife – we decided to skip the cold NJ winter and head south for some relaxation in the sun.

We decided on KEY WEST, FLORIDA.

My husband did a short stop there once on a cruise but I have never been and I heard such great things about it that I had to experience it for myself.

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Flying into Key West during the week of Christmas was super pricey so we booked a flight to Miami, rented a car (same day pick up/drop off both ways) and drove the 3 hours. I highly recommend this! The drive is not bad at all and the scenery is incredible. This also gives you the option to stop at some of the other keys along the way for lunch or just to explore.

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We stopped at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo.

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We split the “Konk” Chowder to start. It was real conch in a rich spicy tomato base. We absolutely loved it. Ryan went for the Captains Caesar with Blackened Fish and I had the Crab Cakes. Both were good. We are huge seafood lovers so while the food was good, it wasn’t the best we’ve had but none the less, it was a very satisfying lunch. I also checked into Yelp while there so I got a free Key Lime Freeze. To say it was delicious is an understatement – this is a must when at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen.

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Upon arriving in Key West, we checked into our hotel: Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa

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What drew me to this hotel was its location and how beautiful the grounds were. I felt like we could have the quiet & relaxing vacation we were looking for but all the fun of Duval Street within a 1 minute walk. It was truly the best of both worlds. Being from New Jersey when you think Christmas you think of the cold but the Hyatt Key West had their lobby decorated with a gorgeous tree and even incorporated a fun Elf on the Shelf themed game for their guests which kept us in the holiday spirit.

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Here are a few shots of our room.

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The room was spacious, super clean and we even had a partial ocean view. You could literally melt into their beds which made getting up in the morning a little difficult, but a comfy bed gets extra points from me. Walking into our room to this wine & cheese/fruit platter was very sweet as well.

Jala Spa is on location at the Hyatt. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to visit it but I suggest booking all services in advance.

Here are some shots I got from around the resort.

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SHOR American Seafood Grill is the Hyatt’s on location restaurant. We dined here twice during our stay and the food was delicious.

Breakfast:

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Dinner:

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Over all we had an amazing stay at the Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa. Everything was perfect and they have the best staff.

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While in Key West, we had the pleasure of being invited by Casa Marina to experience their Toes in the Sand dinner. Casa Marina is a Waldorf Astoria Resort and upon walking in you see beautiful wood floors and exposed beams and every corner you turn someone is holding a door for you or asking if you need any assistance. Customer Service at this location is certainly not lacking. We were escorted to Sun Sun where we were greeted by the restaurant manager, Sarah, and introduced to our lovely waiter Tony. I knew we would be seated on the sand (hence: toes in the sand dinner) but I was taken back by how beautifully set up the dining area on the beach was.

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We looked over the menu and each had a drink while taking in the scenery before the first course was served. I went with my favorite drink, a Cosmopolitan, and my husband had the White Sangria.

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Our starter was a Seared Scallop with Corn Polenta in a Tomato Lime Vinaigrette. The flavors were executed perfectly! As a seafood lover I’m surprised I never really got into scallops, but this dish has changed my mind.

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For the appetizer, I chose the Mixed Green Salad and Ryan had the Island Conch Chowder. The chowder was very tasty. It was hearty and had some nice size pieces of conch. I really enjoyed the salad. It was light and had a slight tang which complimented the roasted red peppers.

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How incredible is this view from dinner?

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For the entrée, I went with the Beef Tenderloin and Key West Pink Shrimp and Ryan had the Lobster Brandy Smoked Garganelli Pasta. Both of these were cooked to perfection. The tenderloin was moist and the red wine sauce was delicious. The lobster pasta was by far one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever had. I have mentioned on more than one occasion to my husband that I need that pasta in my life again soon!

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By this time we were absolutely stuffed but dinner is never complete without dessert and a little champagne on the side. We got to try the Key Lime Pie & Pineapple Upside Down Cake. By this point in the meal I knew the desserts would be good but “good” doesn’t even begin to describe them. The Key Lime Pie was tart yet sweet and that graham crust was perfect! I never thought of myself to be a Pineapple Upside Down dessert lover but this right here is hands down the BEST dessert I have ever had.

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Everything about this experience was 5 stars.

From this view…

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to Tony, our waiter, who was super knowledgeable about the whole menu and extremely friendly to Alex, the Executive Chef. I loved that Alex made it a point to stop at our table to see how we were enjoying the food. You can tell that he, as well as his staff, cook with love and they really put 100% in the dishes they serve. The next time I am in Key West, I will be dining here again and I highly suggest you do the same when in the area.

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Even though we were not able to stay at Casa Marina we did explore the grounds a little and it’s a magnificent property. They have a private beach and 2 heated pools and the rooms are known to be spacious and comfortable. Casa Marina is also home to the al Mare spa which has recently gone through an expansion as well as an upgrade in services.

Here’s some photos of the grounds and rooms:

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When in Key West, Duval Street is a MUST. There are bars, restaurants, shopping and even more bars spread throughout the mile. I loved Fat Tuesdays and anytime I wanted a quick drink to go – this was my spot. Don’t limit yourself to just 1 spot though, bar hopping is a favorite in this area.

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My favorite coffee & breakfast place has to be the Cuban Coffee Queen. I promise you – you will not be disappointed! I had the most amazing breakfast sandwich on Cuban bread with a Vanilla Cafe con Leche on the side.

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Another super popular place for Breakfast or Brunch is Blue Heaven. We only made it for Lunch but it was absolutely delicious. The bar has strong, tasty drinks and I love that they have live music.

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Since we wanted this vacation to be all about relaxation, we only did a few activities. We went to the Butterfly Conservatory. Being surrounded  by the beautiful butterflies was an amazing experience. I did find it a little on the pricey side but it takes money to be able to up keep the environment for the butterflies so it wasn’t too bad.

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My favorite activity of the trip was fishing with Tortuga Charters! We had the absolute best time and caught so many fish. The staff is really helpful and at the end of the trip they prepare your fish so you can bring it to any local restaurant to have it cooked. It was a great feeling to be able to sit down for dinner and eat what you just caught a few hours before. Across from the Tortuga boat on Conch Harbor Marina is Dante’s. This is where we went and they prepared our fish 3 types of ways and included sides. It was so delicious and really affordable.

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I absolutely LOVED Key West. It’s truly the Caribbean of the US.

Have you been before? What are your must do activities or restaurants in the area?

Click HERE to see what Trip Advisor recommends.

If you have any questions or need more suggestions when planning your own Key West trip, do not hesitate to contact me! E: pearlsandparis@yahoo.com

February 14th – to some this is just another day but for others this day is all about LOVE & spoiling your significant other. Since Valentine’s Day is just a few short days away, I wanted to give you some great gift ideas for the special lady in your life.

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Let’s start off with the basics…. Roses & Chocolate. This is your traditional go-to gift when it comes to woo’ing your lady. Roses will never be out of style and who can say no to chocolate? Go with a bouquet of roses in her favorite color or change it up with a mixed bouquet that includes Lilys (my fav), Tulips or Orchids. As for chocolate, anything goes – boxed chocolate, truffles or any dipped fruit is sure to get her smiling.

Beauty Gifts: This is a personal favorite of mine. I have always had the mind frame that a floral arrangement will eventually dry up but a floral scented perfume is the gift that keeps giving. Here are a few beauty items you cannot go wrong with this Valentine’s Day.

Ralph Lauren Midnight Romance – With notes of pink peony, black vanilla and raspberry; this scent is deep & rich while being very sophisticated. The floral tone makes it ultra romantic and its lasting ability is an absolute plus.

Clinique Hello Cheekbones Collection – Us women LOVE to contour. Clinique has some amazing products that makes this beauty technique super easy. My two favorites are the Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour & Highlight. Creamy contouring stick creates the illusion of depth; makes areas appear to recede while the luminous cream highlighting stick with light-reflecting optics brings your best features forward. They also have some amazing Sculptionary Cheek Contouring Palettes that have natural-looking shades that blend and build beautifully. Use each separately to colour, contour, highlight. Or swirl them together for a quick easy glow. Use mid-toned shade as a blush, deep-toned shade to contour, lightest shade to highlight. For a quick, easy glow swirl brush over entire palette and dust over apples of cheeks.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Lipcolor – As a beauty junkie, these types of gifts basically make me have butterflies. I can never have too many lipsticks. I really love this one because of its pigmentation and because it is long-lasting. It also moisturizes. Pick up the shade: Red Infallible and she will be leaving you rose colored kisses!

For the gentleman in you that really wants to step out of the box this Valentine’s Day, how about the gift of a LBD? Women can never have too many ‘Little Black Dresses‘ and I think this type of gift really stands out and is not only unique but thoughtful. If you have dinner plans, hand her the box in the morning and let her know you want her to wear it out that night. DO make sure that you purchase a dress for her body type and one that is her style. I promise, this is a gift she will not forget!

I hope these gift ideas helped out & I hope you have a fabulous Valentine’s Day filled with love!

I’ve been wanting to launch the Travel Series of my blog for quite a while now. Between purchasing my home, to getting engaged & married, to balancing 2 jobs while blogging – it’s been a struggle to keep everything in order. Creating deadlines and sticking to them hasn’t been my strong point in the last 12 months or so. I decided that in 2015 I would get more organized and make a big push to launch this feature.

If you know me personally or just follow along with Pearls & Paris, you already know that traveling is a passion of mine. As a kid growing up, my father brought me to Puerto Rico numerous times. We would stay with my aunt in Salinas and every trip we would explore the island from 1 end to the other. From visiting my mothers (now late) Grandfather and watching him climb his Guenepa tree in Aguada all the way to El Moro in Old San Juan and every beautiful spot in between. We even got to experience El Dia De Reyes (Three Kings Day) there. I left the camels a box of grass under my bed & I woke up to a present…Sally Secret! (Don’t act like you 80/90’s babies don’t remember that doll lol) It has now been 11 years since I lost my dad but that thrill to want to explore and the thirst for knowledge and love of culture runs through me, just like it did him.

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 Later on in my teens, I got to go on a few cruises with some of my family thanks to my mother. On those cruises I got to visit multiple Caribbean Islands. Some of my favorites would have to be St. Thomas, Aruba & Grand Cayman. We were beach bums, swam with stingrays and parasailed. After those experiences I realized that there was so much more to see than good ol’ NJ.

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From a girls only Spring Break Trip to Acapulco, to beautiful Curaçao to now traveling to many parts of the US &  Europe with the love of my life – traveling is a permanent staple in my life.

When someone finds out I have booked my next trip, I always get the same few responses. Some people tell me how amazing it is that we travel so much and say they can’t wait to see the pictures but then I get some of the responses that rub me the wrong way like “How do YOU afford to travel so much” or “I WISH I could travel.”

Traveling: If I can do it, so can you.

I will be sharing my secrets for traveling on a budget and getting the most for your money when away from home. I will also be highlighting some of my own personal trips and giving you tips on where to sleep, eat & explore while there.

Stay tuned & if there are any specific questions you have or a particular location you would like me to post about – email me at: pearlsandparis@yahoo.com

I love adding curls to my hair, so when I was chosen to test & review the KISS InstaWave I was super excited.

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My first impression was what a super cool & easy to use product BUT there is noooo way this will work… boy, was I wrong!

So… what is the KISS InstaWave?

The revolutionary KISS InstaWave is a fully automatic tangle-free curler that instantly creates beautiful, long-lasting curls with ease (No Need to be a Pro). The KISS InstaWave uses Ceramic Ionic Technology to help protect your hair while giving you tight curls and shiny hair. It features two heat setting (low and high) with the hottest setting reaching a maximum temperature of 420° F. It also has a 90 minute auto shut-off safety feature in case it’s left on by accident.

To use it is super easy as well… only 4 steps!

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Hold InstaWave up-right and place 1 to 2 inches of hair onto curler.

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Press button to instantly catch hair and rotate curl barrel. Hold button until hair is fully around barrel, then release.

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Allow barrel to heat hair for 3 to 10 seconds

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Pull InstaWave gently downward to release a beautiful curl.

Seems easy enough right? I have to say, it took me a few times to get the hang of having my hair catch on but eventually I got it. I think this is one of those products where practice makes perfect.

Here are my results with the KISS InstaWave:

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I absolutely loved the curls it created. Long, bouncy with volume & best of all… natural looking. It also cut the amount of time it takes to curl my hair in half. I can’t wait to recreate more looks with the InstaWave as well as different types of curls.

It really is such a cool product and only $59.99! To purchase the Kiss InstaWave, please visit their site: KISSinstawave.com.

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