Thursday, April 30, 2015

Local Treats Worth Seeking Out: Nashville's Goo Goo Clusters

Whenever I'm traveling, I make a point of seeking out local foods and treats whenever possible. After all, I love Reese's, but I can get 'em at any gas station in the country. And if you're in Nashville, you must (like it should be a law) try a Goo Goo Cluster.

The holy grail of Nashville candy: The Goo Goo Cluster.

I had never heard of these before I visited Music City last summer, but they're candies you'll fall in love with. The original of the three varieties is made with "real milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat." In short, it's chewy, texture-rich and all-around delicious. That combination is an undeniable winner. Each and every one I had melted in my mouth, and now I'd count these among my favorite candies. They're tough to find outside of Nashville, but they're always worth the trip.

 This is what heaven looks like in food form.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stand-Out Activewear Piece: Athleta's Relay Capri

Confession: I have plenty of black leggings. I have more black stretchy pants than regular ones, and that's the way I like it. But it also means that it's hard for me to find a pair that truly wows. But that's where items like Athleta's Relay Capri come into play.

Behold: the amazing run capris.

This story starts like most activewear solutions do. I went for a short run in my neighborhood and had to keep pulling up my capris. So I headed off to Athleta to find a great fit. And although I had my doubts about these (I don't usually go for cuffed capris), these were just what I was looking for.

Cuffs with the mesh.

They hit about mid-calf, which is ideal for running capris. I don't like shorts since they tend to ride up and knee-length capris can get all sweaty in the crease. But these are the perfect length. And the cuff helps the pants stay on. The sheer panel attached to the bottom of the pant leg helps the pants breathe well.

My favorite feature is the high waist. It will hold you in without feeling constrictive. I'd suggest buying a size down if you want an even tighter fit. The back of the pant features a handy zip pocket so you can store your keys. The store employee even showed me how to tie an adorable little bow with the drawstring waist to help them stay on. As if these couldn't get better, each pair is UPF 50+--so you're protected from the sun. 

You'll want this waistband. Trust me. 

 The rip cord.
 The handy pocket that you'll love.

These offer compression too. I always need some help smoothing out my trouble spots, and these do the job perfectly.

The only downside is that there's just a touch of sheerness. That doesn't bother me since these aren't meant for yoga/Pilates/other bend-centric classes. If you're searching for an all-around great pair of running capris, I'd suggest you give these a test run. If you're unhappy, you can always return them since this brand's return policy is phenomenal. Thank you for another great product, Athleta!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hotels I Love: The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida

All this warm weather makes it easy to day dream about spending a day at the beach. Dipping your toes in the sand and curling up with a good book while the sun's rays keep you toasty warm is heavenly. And I can't think of a beach I've loved more in the past few years than Naples, Florida. 

The sand is bright white. The water is blue and just as calm and warm as bathwater. And The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, resort is where you'll want to stay. Enjoy beach views, truly stellar service and tasty cuisine at this impressive property. 

My room was beyond plush. It featured modern, beach chic decor. Look forward to light blue walls, cream-colored decor, a shell-framed mirror and an all-white bathroom. The beds are beyond comfortable.

 Look at the comfy, beautiful bed.

The view from the balcony.

I was invited her on a culinary press trip, and I must say that the food was amazing. Head to Dusk for a cool atmosphere and great sushi. Try a classic spicy tuna roll or opt for creative plate Volcano that comes with spicy tuna, warm crab, lava sauce and tobiko. For a great view and good food, head to Gumbo Limbo. This beachside eatery features classic entrees like coconut shrimp, grilled mahi mahi sandwiches, and my favorite, fish tacos.

The view from Gumbo Limbo.

 Fish tacos, anyone?

The little details here are what really make the Ritz-Carlton stand out. Head up to the club level at the very top level of the resort and enjoy one of the best jumbo cookies you'll ever have. Turndown service features chocolates by the bed and a small gift every night. One evening it was cookies in a glass jar. The other feature chocolate shaped in an orange. One thing's for sure: No detail is too small for the Ritz-Carlton. If you ever visit one, get ready to be wowed.

Eating cookies before bedtime is always a good idea. Always.