Friday, August 16, 2019

Peru Recap :: Day 1 :: Cusco

First post of our Peru recap! Wow, this trip exceeded our expectations. The planning did take awhile but the effort has paid off. I can honestly say this trip was the most memorable trip I have ever had in my life. I will share my experiences throughout the recap. 16 hours and 3 flights later, we landed in Cusco. Truthfully, Cusco isn't my favorite city. It's very crowded and has become very commercialized. However, it's important to spend a day in Cusco to get acclimated before continuing your journey to Machu Picchu.
What to do: After a long day of travel, we wanted to take it easy. There wasn't much on the agenda for Cusco. Tips: Be sure to take it very easy on your first day. You need time to acclimate. Even walking you may notice feeling out of breath. Drink plenty of bottled or properly boiled/treated water as it's easy to get dehydrated and that contributes to altitude sickness.
1. Plaza De Armas: The most popular spot in Cusco is the main square (Plaza De Armas). This is where everyone ends up in Cusco. It's a beautiful area where you can relax and people watch. Surrounded by plenty of restaurants, bars and shops. The cathedral is definitely worth a visit.
2. Cristo Blanco: Another spot that's worth visiting is Cristo Blanco (statue of Christ). You can see the statue from the main square. It's a 15-minute ride from the main square ($5 ~ 16 soles). Cristo Blanco offers incredible views over Cusco
3. San Pedro market: It's a really cool market! San Pedro market is huge and well sectioned. You can find anything and everything here from fresh fruits, raw meats, dried fruits, food and Peruvian textiles. This is a great place to buy souvenirs. Buy some snacks here to take with you to Machu Picchu. I highly recommend nuts and dried fruits. We had a chance to visit Pisac market on the last day and I prefer Pisac market over San Pedro market. I will talk more about Pisac market in a later post.
Where to eat: There is no shortage of restaurants around the Plaza De Armas. Some of our favorites are: Inka Grill (recommended by most people), Chicha por Gaston Acurio (food was excellent and the ambiance was nice), Inka Wasi (a must try). Important note: Do not drink tap water in Peru. It will make you sick. Only drink bottled or treated water. We packed 15 (1 liter) bottles of water and they lasted us the entire week. I used bottled water for brushing as well. While tempting, I wouldn't recommend drink the juices/smoothies from the market. It can sadly make you sick because the water/ice isn't usually treated.
Where to stay: We spent our first night and last night in Cusco at Torre Dorada hotel. The hotel only has 17 rooms and is extremely well kept. Everything is clean and well-maintained. Coincidentally, the owner was an exchange student in Ohio 50 years ago. The staff was so kind and friendly! They picked us up from the airport and did everything they can to make our stay comfortable and memorable. They even provided a cell phone to us so we could contact them to pick us up or help us with whatever we needed. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Random notes: 
- If you're heading to Machu Picchu from the U.S, more than likely you're going to have a connection in Lima before landing in Cusco. After going through immigration, it's important to know that you would have to collect your luggage, then go through customs and re-check your luggage before heading to Cusco. Your luggage will NOT be checked all the way to Cusco
- Lima airport is huge. Shops and restaurants are opened around the clock. My favorite spot to eat is Tanta. We ate here twice and everything was excellent. There is also a Starbucks not too far from Tanta.
- There are several currency exchange booths at Lima airport but the rate is low. You really don't need cash until you're in Cusco. Once in the city, there are many currency exchange booths at the main square. They offer a much better exchange rate
- If you'd like to have some photos taken with the native women and their alpacas, make sure you tip them. They absolutely expect something from you (usually between 3-5 soles)
- The elevation of Cusco is 11152 ft above sea level so it's common for tourists to experience symptoms of altitude sickness while in Cusco. I took Acetazolamide twice a day and I was perfectly fine. I did get a bit of headaches on the first day but nothing too severe. I would highly recommend you get it from your doctor beforehand. If medication isn't your thing, drink coca tea (widely available) will help you cope with the change in altitude. I just didn't want to drink tea all day long =). I hope you find this post helpful. Next stop, the Scared Valley!SanPedroMarketCusco_SydneysFashionDiary

Sunday, August 4, 2019

What I bought and packed for a week in Peru

Sharing what I bought and packed for our Peru trip. There was a lot to take into consideration when it comes to packing for this trip. The key is to pack for a variety of weather conditions. The weather ranges from the intense sun during the day, the cold mountain nights, and the heat and humidity of the Amazon Basin. Dressing in layers in the way to deal with the extremes that Peruvian weather is known for. Below are what I packed in my suitcase:
WhatToPackForPeru_SydneysFashionDiary (1)
Clothing and accessories: I linked the exact ones I bought/packed below. Will show you how they look on once I am back from the trip
- One t-shirt, one tank top and one bodysuit
- One sweatshirt
- One sweater
- 2 pairs of leggings (pair # 1 and pair # 2)
- One pair of jeans
- Hiking pants
- Heavy duty jacket
- Rain jacket
- One pair of slip-on sneakers
- Bathing suits
- Water proof hiking shoes and hiking socks
- Water proof backpack
- Hat for the sun
- Sunglasses
- A scarf with hidden pocket
- Refillable water bottles

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Summer Fun :: Grayson Lake, Kentucky

We're savoring the last 2 weeks of summer before the kids go back to school. Last weekend, we took the boat to Grayson Lake, Kentucky for a fun weekend. It was our first time taking the boat to an out-of-state lake. We had a blast exploring new places and beautiful scenery. The water was so calm, smooth and perfect for tubing/water-skiing. I put together a short video below. We enjoyed it so much that we're thinking about coming back in the Fall. I mentioned a few times in the past that my husband loves water activities. It warms my heart to see him in his element. I picked up this new swimsuit for the weekend and I love it so much. The material is thick and really holds you in. I especially love the belt. It adds a modern flair to a rather plain swimsuit. I can't believe this swimsuit is currently on sale for only $15 (was $68). I was happy to pay double the price for it. I went ahead and ordered the other 2 colors as well. Now, I have this exact swimsuit in 3 different colors =) So many amazing pieces are up to 70% here. Outfit details: A&F swimsuit *size XS* | Amazon cover-up | Designer heart sunglasses | Affordable heart sunglasses | 2-rider tube

Monday, July 29, 2019

A Zimmermann dress dupe

I love Zimmermann dresses but they're way over my budget when it comes to an article of clothing. I am always on the lookout for affordable options. I stumped this dress on Misguided and had to give it a try. The floral pattern is so pretty. Since it's pretty affordable, the quality isn't anywhere near the real thing but I don't mind. For under $30, it satisfies my Zimmermann craving =) This dress would be perfect to wear to a summer wedding. This dress is available in 2 different floral patterns. Outfit details: Misguided dress *size 2 - 50% off* | Similar sandalsDesigner heart sunglasses | Affordable heart sunglasses

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The best trousers for petite women

I am so excited to share these pants with you today. As you may have noticed, I rarely wear pants. It's been years since I purchased a pair of trousers. Finding a pair of fitted work pants is a serious task. They're either too big in the waist, too long or would require some sort of alteration (which I am unwilling to do). I stumbled upon these pants from Express and I was blown away. Where have they been all my life? They fit and feel amazing. I am wearing a size 00 petite here and could not have asked for a better fit. The best part? They're available in regular length, short length, long and petite. I plan to order a few more colors/patterns. They are seriously the perfect trousers for work. I love the mustard color. This outfit is very simple a.k.a basic but I feel amazing in it. For me, this is one of those outfits that I can put on anytime and feel like a million bucks. If you're my size (5'2", 105 lbs), give these trousers a try. I promise you won't be disappointed. Outfit details: Express columnist ankle pants *size 00P* | Gap linen shirt | similar mules *40% off* | AE sunglasses *a Celine dupe*

Monday, July 22, 2019

Seafood Boil Recipe

Sharing my crawfish/seafood boil recipe today. My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures. We had friends and family over for a BBQ on Fourth of July. We cooked 25 lbs of crawfish and crabs. You can add shrimp, clams, mussels or any other seafood you like. Sometimes, I add sausages as well. It was delicious and such a fun experience!
Preparation: Thoroughly wash the crawfish in a large tub by rinsing and draining. Repeat the process until water is reasonably clean. Fill the tub with 1/2 lb of salt and leave the crawfish in salted water for 5 minutes The salt is used to purge the crawfish prior to eating. After 5 minutes, wash and drain the crawfish a few more times. Inspect and discard any dead ones.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Petite-friendly rompers

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Old Navy is killing it as of late. I found so many cute and affordable pieces. I bought this rompers last month. I love it so much that I went and got the exact one in a different print (which I rarely do). This is one of those easy weekend outfits for running around with my kids. Hope you're having a great week so far. Outfit details: Old Navy rompers *size XS* | Target slides |  Designer heart sunglasses | Affordable heart sunglasses | Forever 21 earrings | Hermes belt

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Travel Bucket List :: Our Peru Itinerary

We're heading to Peru in a few short weeks to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. I am so excited! Our anniversary is in September but we're taking the trip before school starts to make it easier for my parents. This is the 6th destination on our travel bucket list (Hawaii, France, Italy, Alaska, Banff and now Peru). This trip took a lot of planning so I thought I'd break it down to several small posts. Today, I am sharing the itinerary. I will do several recap posts once I am back from the trip. Thanks to a couple of friends who have helped us tremendously when it comes to planning. We started planning in March (will tell you why in a bit). The itinerary below took us almost 4 months to plan (and to save) but regardless, we enjoyed doing it and can't wait to experience Peru.

Day 1: Getting there
  • Travel day - 3 flights (CMH - ATL, ATL- LIM, LIM - CUZ). Total travel time: 16 hours. We'll be arrived in Cusco, Peru approximately 6:00 a.m the next day
  • The hotel offers a free pick up from the airport. You can get a random cab from the airport for approximately 30 soles ~ $9.
Day 2: Spending the day in Cusco
Day 3: Heading to Ollantaytambo from Cusco
  • Natura Vive will pick us up from the hotel but if you don't want to book a tour, you can get to Ollantaytambo by bus. From the hotel, walk to "Calle Pavitos" to take a small bus from Pavitos St of Cusco. The bus will arrive at the main plaza in Ollantaytambo. Cost per person: 10 soles ~ $3. This trip takes approximately 1.5 hour via the Chinchero route.
  • Zip-lining in Sacred Valley: We booked a zip-lining tour with Natura Vive. I'll talk more about the zip lining tour once I get back. 
  • After the zip-lining, Natura Vive will drop us off at the Ollantaytambo train station so that we can continue our journey to Machu Picchu. 
  • Take VistaDome 603 to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town). It's a 2 hour train ride via PeruRail. Departs at 3:37 p.m. and arrives at 5:02 p.m (must be at the train station 30 minutes prior to start the boarding process). Cost per person: $86
  • Spend the night in Aguas Calientes. The hotel we'll be staying is 3-minute walk to the bus station heading to Machu Picchu. Still need to buy tickets for the bus at the Consettur bus ticket office in Aguas Calientes. This costs $24 each for round trip tickets. We plan to buy the tickets after we check in to the hotel so that we don't have to do it in the morning heading to Machu Picchu

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Recipe :: Mango Sticky Rice

Sharing a quick, easy and delicious recipe today - mango sticky rice. It's probably one of my favorite desserts. I used my trusty multi-cooker to cook the rice. It's mango season and I can't get enough of them. If you end up trying the recipe, let me know how it goes. I have an exciting post coming next Monday. Check back if you're interested. No, it's not about the Nordstrom anniversary sale. I am tired to hear about the sale before it even started. I am sure there is no shortage of sales coverage. Your feed will be filled with picks and recommendations. There are a few things on my list but I am not in any hurry. I don't have a Nordstrom card and I am not planning to open one either. I will shop the sale once it opens to the public on the 19th.

- 2 cups of sweet rice
- 1 can of coconut milk
- Sugar, dash of salt
- Ripe mangoes
- Sesame seeds
- Cornstarch

- Wash and rinse the rice until water runs clear
- Add 2.5 cups of water and set to high pressure for 10 minutes (my cooker)
- Heat the can of coconut milk in a saucepan, add sugar to taste with a dash of salt
- Make a slur of thickener with 1 tsp of cornstarch and one tsp of water
- Stir into the coconut cream to desired thickness

- Scoop of sweet rice, coconut milk, sliced mangoes
- Garnish with sesame seeds


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Botanical Print Dress

Sharing another winner from Old Navy today. I've gotten so many great pieces from Old Navy and this dress was of them (other pieces I love here and here). The fabric is breezy and comfy. Great for those hot summer days. I got a size XS petite and the length is perfect on me. What first attracted me to this dress was the print. It's summery but not overwhelming. If midi length isn't your cup of thing, this exact print is also available in a shorter version. Outfit details: Old Navy dress *size XS petite* | Other women's floral dresses Steve Madden wedges | Le Specs sunglasses | Forever 21 earrings