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My Dream Vacation

As the hours of sun become longer, and summer approaches full steam, I find myself yearning for the beach – well, any beach. Who doesn’t love a good vacation (or dream and yearn for it almost daily)? But did you know that even the vacation planning process alone boosts happiness? Just the anticipation of a vacation can boost happiness for eight weeks!

A Venice Italy Honeymoon, by The Walkup, RCI Dream Vacation Sweepstakes In Venice, Italy the sunsets reflecting off of the canals created a golden bluish hue that I had never encountered. We were lucky enough to be in the city for The Regatta, a boat race and parade that only happens once every two years . The entire grand canal was closed for the amazing spectacle, as gondoliers rowed by in striped scarlet. 

I had fun planning, and received a little endorphin kick, through RCI’s “Win Your Dream Vacation Sweepstakes,” where you have the chance to win a getaway worth up to $25,000. In celebration of RCI’s 40th Anniversary, I recreated my honeymoon to Venice, Italy and throughout the Adriatic coastline of Croatia (Pula, Porec, Rovinj, Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik) and even its inland cities (Zagreb, Plitvice).

Croatia was a surprise to us because it contained the best of all worlds: beaches, boats, history, city life. We could lounge like fat lizards on hot rocks all day, and by night have delicious pasta, risotto or pizza in extremely historic locales. At one point, my husband and I were sipping cocktails next to Diocletian’s palace,  a Roman emperor from 284 to 305 CE. Totally surreal.

A Croatian Honeymoon, by The Walkup, RCI Dream Vacation Sweepstakes The best pizza I had in my life was an olive, anchovy, caper and onion pie with fresh cheeses! The Arena in Pula! Did you know that the Latin word for sand is “harena” – the floor of the arena was always made out of the stuff – hence the name!

RCI is the global leader in vacation exchanges and has created an easy vacation planner for their 40th anniversary. According to their site, I should be travelling to a spa in Brazil on the shore. Yes Please! Visit to see where you should travel next, and enter to win until June 18 – and the more you share your dream vacation through social media, the higher your chances of winning. Bon Voyage.

A Croatian Honeymoon, by The Walkup, RCI Dream Vacation Sweepstakes There are over a thousand islands in Croatia, some of which you can see above! Also, one of the most pristine lakes, and waterfalls in the entire world can be found in Plitvice National Park (I drank directly from the spring). Everywhere I turned there was an UNESCO World Heritage site!
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Where would your dream vacation be? Do you enjoy having every waking moment planned, with an exact itinerary, or you prefer a more laid back approach?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Grove and Ceremony Giveaway

Grove and Ceremony is a seller of limited-edition fine art prints for emerging collectors. Their goal is to offer reasonably priced, beautiful, and conceptually rigorous artwork.  Each edition includes a letter of authenticity signed by the artist and is printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 archival paper with ultrachrome ink. That’s some highly technical speak, but basically translates to a vibrant, quality piece. The paper above is actually the top choice by photographers and has smooth, (some would say sensual) surface texture.

Andrew Zarou Giveaway with Grove and Ceremony X The WalkupImages of past collages by the Andrew Zarou, and photographs of his studio

The online gallery is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Andrew Douglas Underwood and Tama Underwood. Andrew has helped professional artists production of prints for more than 15 years. He has co-curated exhibitions and produced artwork for museums and galleries around the country. Tama is a professional magazine editor with more than eight years of journalism, editing, and digital publishing experience.

Andrew Zarou StudioPhotography by Heidi Zarou, March, 2012 of Andrew Zarou's Studio

Last week, Grove and Ceremony introduced a new print by Brooklyn, New York-based artist Andrew Zarou who has a degree in studio arts from Hampshire College. His work has been exhibited in New York, and Reykjavik, Iceland. Zarou’s work is most often in the form of collage, sculpture, or photography—though he calls himself a painter who doesn’t paint.  In fact, much of his work looks as though it’s been preserved through a Ziploc bag.

Alternate view of Zarou's studio, windowsillAlternate view of Zarou's studio, windowsill

In Zarou’s “sibelius tree,” geometry plays against soft, organic shapes in a confusing mosaic. Like an unfinished puzzle, the purchase of this edition includes a downloadable companion print by Zarou, titled shapes, with a bag you can use to “complete” the work.  This concept, of art from rubish is exactly what Zarou endorses. He states, “Very rarely do I find the materials I need in an art-supply store, my materials come from people’s recycling piles, used bookstores, or just random things on the street.”

Andrew Zarou and th Sibelus Tree(Image Left) Andrew Zarou, "sibelius tree", 
(Image Right) The artist in his studio by Tanja Alexia Hollander.

Grove and Ceremony in collaboration with The Walkup is offering you the chance to win a free, signed 10″ x 8″ Andrew Zarou print (retail $50) and digital download for the companion piece! Love the print above on the left? Definitely enter the contest so this can hang in your bedroom, kitchen, office or sauna.

The incredible artwork can be organized, rearranged, and played with several times by toying with the companion piece. In this way, you have an ever evolving art collection from just one print! Check it out:


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Modern Flower Child Giveaway

Meet Sarah of Modern Flower Child boutique on Etsy. She creates handmade, real flower resin jewelry. She work with resin and nature to make unique flower bangles that mimic the style of the early 1970’s.

Modern Flower Child Resin Jewelry via The Walkup

In the Pacific Northwest, USA, where Sarah’s shop is based, every bit of any flower or foliage, leaf, grasses or twig that is picked is used and not wasted. Every ant or bug that accidentally comes with her flowers is saved. Even the jewelry that does not meet the criteria to be in her shop is given away as charity.


Sarah is the daughter of two hippie parents and had access to many pieces of vintage jewelry as she grew up. Inspired by her mother’s handful of flower lucite bangles from the 50’s, she began experimenting with her own creations. Each bangle at Modern Flower Child is made by hand and not a machine so tiny bubbles, bumps and slight imperfections are part of the unique characteristics of the jewelry. Don’t these golden rule inspired treats look simultaneously modern and ethereal?

MModern Flower Child Resin Jewelry via The Walkupodern Flower Child Resin Jewelry via The Walkup

Jewelry in her shop pays homage to the vast and infinite qualities of nature. No two leaves are identical, no two plants are the same, the world is unique. She uses green Cedar, purple Lilac flowers, peach Rose petals, fern, pod seeds, dried moss, tree bark, and tropical stems. The variations in hues, textures and earth-tones are stunning!

Modern Flower Child Resin Jewelry via The Walkup


GIVEAWAY: Modern Flower Child Resin Jewelry via The Walkup

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Good luck!