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Thursday Travels: Sandbridge (Virginia Beach, VA)

For those who don't have time to make the drive to Outer Banks, there are still some really nice beaches in Virginia Beach.  Lots of people flock to the Oceanfront, which I guess is the rough equivalent to Waikiki- high rise hotels on the shore, with nightlife within walking distance.  My personal favorite is not the Oceanfront (although the boardwalk is really nice and there's a Dairy Queen at 27th Street), it's a little off the beaten path but not too far.  Sandbridge Beach is only a few miles south, and will give you a much better escape/experience, particularly if you are going with the family and like surfing and beach combing.  From the Oceanfront, head south on Pacific (which turns into General Booth), turn left on Princess Anne, and follow the signs.  It should take roughly half an hour.

On the southern side of Sandbridge, there's a park called "Little Island," which is maintained by the City (and therefore you have to pay for parking).  It's great for beach combing (you can even find intact cowrie shells), and you can access the backbay side (where it's a little more flat) for kayaking.  Oh, yeah... and the fishing pier.  :)  Something for everyone.

On the northern side of Sandbridge is Dam Neck, which belongs to the Navy.  I also happen to like this beach a lot.  One of my co-workers said when he was stationed there (some 30 years ago), there used to be deer stands ON THE BEACH.  How crazy is that?  Just hang out on the beach in a deer stand and wait for one to decide it wanted to go for a swim.  I have never seen deer here and hunting is no longer allowed, but there is a fishing area and always someone running on the sand.

There are lots of private beach homes available to rent in the area.  For more information on activities and other amenities in the Sandbridge area, click here.

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Thursday Travels: Kailua (Oahu)

It's no secret.  If you love the beach, there are tremendous beach communities in Hawaii.  Each has its own feel.  We were lucky to call Kailua "home" for a number of years.  There's a great mix of people there, and lots of small thriving businesses.  If you ever find yourself on Oahu, GET OUT OF WAIKIKI and drive over to the Windward side of the island!

Kailua Beach is the largest beach park in the area, lots of families, dogs, swimming, and wind/water sports.  Be sure to stop by Kalapawai Market!

If you have access to military bases, Bellows AFB (which is a few more minutes east), also has a large sandy beach with fewer people.

If you like body boarding, Kalama Beach is smaller but has great wave action.

Lanikai Beach is also pretty popular for picnics, although you have to park on residential streets.  Just make sure you find public access paths and stay off of private property.

In Kailua, you will want to try Lanikai Juice for a refreshing treat.  There are also some great shops with unique, upcycled, hand made jewelry, housewares, and clothes.  My favorites are Kailua Verde and Global Village.  Lanikai Bath and Body has some really great soaps and lotions.  (Beautiful scents, not overpowering... perfect gift for someone on the Mainland who loves Hawaii.)

People who've "known" me for a while will recognize this photo... or maybe just parts of this photo.  This photo is the background for my business cards, banner, and many of my online avatars.  (It was actually taken in Waimanalo, which is a few minutes down the road from Kailua.)  I am not a photoshop guru.  This is really the color of the sand, sea, and sky.  I love it.

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Three Firsts and a Contest!

First ever trunk show, May 10th!

Simply Leilani is excited to announce our first ever trunk show at The Creative Wedge: An Artisan Market in Hilltop!  I'll be there, along with Garden of Our Dreams in Miniature.  (You have to see her adorable miniature gardens, they are incredible!)  Yes, this is the day before Mothers' Day, and perfect for PROCRASTINATORS.  *Ahem*

The Creative Wedge just celebrated its first birthday last week, and is stocked with all sorts of BEAUTIFUL items made in the United States.  Stop by and be sure to take home some of the handmade cheese dip.  Trust me- totally worth the calories.

First ever open house, May 13th!

Part of the fun of being an artist is making friends with other artists!  So, I've been invited to participate in an open house at a private residence in Chesapeake, VA.  (Please contact me if you'd like the address- wine and chocolate will be involved!)  It's being hosted by Christy Phelps of Christy Phelps Glass, and sure to be a great time.  Other artists are Nancy Vantassell of Draped In Jewelry, Linda Searcy of Linda Searcy Jewelry Designs, Debora Mauser of Debora Mauser Designs, Lisa Rabinow Weber of Silverine, Eva Sherman of Eva Sherman Designs and Grand River Bead Studio, Danielle Lewandowski of Bent N Twisted Creations, Danielle Beaty of Turtle Bay Jewelry, and Susan Lipp of Wrap Jewelry.

Trust me, these ladies have some incredible talent and experience.  This is not your "craft fair" variety jewelry, made by simply assembling pre-fabricated parts you buy at the bead store.  If you are looking for some really unique jewelry, this will be a gold mine!  (Ok, a silver mine.)

First ever newsletter, sometime in May!  :)  And a contest!

And finally, I'm sure you've seen them... the posts on Facebook begging for interaction so business pages don't get buried in Facebook's new algorhythm?   If you know me, you'll know that I am not really into pandering.  Not everyone likes you and not everyone who likes you will like your art.  That's ok.  But that being said, I am pretty much over Facebook for most things business.  And I am also kind of over blogging.  (Those of you who've known me a long time know I've been blogging since the days of stone tablets, and yes the irony of this statement in this platform does not escape me.)  So, I'm combining those activities and starting a newsletter.  But not a "buy this" newsletter.  A fun newsletter with useful tips and lifestyle hacks... at least, I hope it's fun to read...

So CLICK HERE to sign up for the newsletter!

Anyway, you'll notice I've sort of got crafter's ADD.  I need people to test out my designs and see if they pass the "everyday life" test.  As in, can they be worn by real people doing normal things?  (We all know jewelry is delicate and requires care, but pride in craftsmanship is also part of the equation.)  What does this have to do with the newsletter?  Well, at random intervals, I'll select someone to be my "jewelry beta tester."  How do I know where to send it if I don't know how to get in touch with you?  (Hint: sign up for the newsletter!)  Your chances of "winning" are better now since my list of subscribers is small!  

But that's not even the entire contest!  Once the new item is on its way to its secret destination, we'll give everyone a chance to receive the same or similar item.  The only thing I ask in return is that the recipients post a picture on social media and lets me know how the new design fits or holds up.  Easy, right?  If you have any questions, leave a comment!

And, as always, upcoming events:

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Thursday Travel Tips: Dubai

Now, I know the United Arab Emirates probably isn't the most common "bucket list" destination, but if you like large coastal cities, you should add Dubai to your list.  What?  Dubai is a very fun city.  Lots of high end shopping, dining, and everything is over the top.  If Disney designed a major city, it would be Dubai.  Transportation is reliable and affordable, the city is very clean and safe for a major city, and any imaginable luxury can be found.  Where else would you find a four story indoor water fountain, the world's largest single pane acrylic aquarium, and the world's tallest building- all within a 10 minute walk from each other?  Want to shop 'til you drop, hit an indoor ski slope,  lay on the beach, or enjoy high tea?  You can do that here!

Planning a visit to Dubai?  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

If you are a "go see things" type of tourist, it will take at least 3 full days to hit Ski Dubai & Mall of the Emirates, Burj Khalifa & Dubai Mall, and Burj Al Arab & Jumeirah Beach.  They are located far enough apart that it's very difficult to hit two areas in the same day.  

If you want time to relax and do nothing (or have a world class spa day), you should allocate 4-5 days at a minimum.

If you want to attend tea at Burj al Arab (the world's only 6 star resort- you know, the one shaped like a huge sail with the helipad on the roof), make reservations in advance.  

If you happen to be interested in a luxury fitness retreat in Dubai, then check out Mind Body Transformation.  One of the owners is a long time friend, and I am sure it would be a world class experience.

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