Ultimate Weekend Getaway Bag

What better way to celebrate the weekend than with the classic [b]LL Bean Open Top Boat and Tote Bag[/b]? It’s the same canvas workhouse of our parents’ childhood (yes, it’s over 60years old!), but, these days, it has been updated in a wide variety of bright and beautiful colors, in all sorts of styles (long strap, short strap, zip, exterior pockets), sizes, and shapes. Mix and match to your heart’s content, or coordinate! And from mini (7″) evening bag (okay, casual beachy evening bag…) to extra large (20″) laundry or beach toy-worthy sizes, there is truly a bag for every need! An added benefit – in case you spill your morning iced coffee on your bag, or leave that bag of M+Ms open while the bag sits in the sun at beach (oops!), these durable 100% 24 oz. cotton canvas bags can be thrown right into the laundry – reappearing like new!

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Prices range from $17 to $49, depending on style and options. Monogramming available. Available online at [url=http://www.llbean.com]www.llbean.com[/url].

For that worldly traveler, your bag would not be complete without the [b]Smythson of Bond Street Fuchsia Strawgrain Calfskin Passport Cover[/b]. Solid sterling silver riveted corners, and matching silk lining with ribbon to secure your passport, and a little pocket you’re your boarding pass (!!) make this holder the best present you could ever give your widely traveled passport (I love it simply because it makes my beyond boring blue book stand out). It’s available in two colors – fuchsia and pale blue – and can be personalized with name and/or initials in silver. Such a stylish addition to your carry-on bag – I mean, you need a little excitement waiting in those endless customs lines, right?

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Passport Holder, $177. Available at [url=http://www.Smythson.com]www.Smythson.com[/url] and Smythson of Bond Street stores worldwide.

Now, many of you reading this are New Yorkers – and, even if you’re not, you still probably spend a LOT of time walking around, and on your feet! And what signals summer more than sandals (I think I just felt my feet cringe)…and the sore arches, cramped toes, and blisters galore that accompany? This season, give your feet a break – with [b]Chaco’s Z/rivative[/b] line of sandals. Our favorite? The [b]Zong[/b] – it provides the comfort and support of Chaco sandals, while providing the convenience of a slip-on style (firmly anchoring your feet in the sandals at the same time – you can’t shake these babies off!). Chaco sandals feature “BioCentric” support, a biomechanically correct contoured foot bed (special attention paid to heel cushioning, arch support, and pronation stabilization) that has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Chaco’s also feature washable nylon straps and Vibram soles (that can be re-soled!) that will help prevent you from slipping, in case you get stuck in a freak storm this summer, and new, softer foot beds to cushion your steps. And Chaco’s would not be Chaco’s without their signature continuous strap that passes through the foot bed as it wraps around your fit. All of this, and a lifetime guarantee. So, whether you’re pounding the Manhattan pavement, the beaches of Long Island, or the waters off New England (or anywhere else, for that matter), bring along a pair of Chacos. They’re up for ANY adventure – and your feet will certainly thank you!

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Chaco Z/rivative Zong Sandals, $75. Women’s whole sizes US 5-11, Medium width, in Amethyst, Black, Marmalade, and Sapphire. Available online at [url=http://www.rei.com]www.rei.com[/url], [url=http://www.zappos.com]www.zappos.com[/url], [url=http://www.thetannery.com]www.thetannery.com[/url] or many other online retailers. See [url=http://www.chacousa.com]www.chacousa.com[/url] for details.

This summer, for your trip to the beach, or for lounging by the pool, bring along [b]Restoration Hardware[/b]’s luxe [b]Beach Towels[/b]! These plush 100% pre-shrunk cotton, generously sized (70″ x 40″) beach towels come in a wide variety of colors – Cornflower, Grass, Persimmon, Silver Sage, and Topaz – and patterns – Harbor Stripe, Solid Reversible, or Terrace Tile – sure to provide the perfect combination for any body! The towels are sheared smooth on one side, and looped on the other, and soak water right up, without becoming too bulky or heavy. Plus, they’re uber-soft, perfect for cuddling up with on the couch with, god forbid, if it rains one weekend!

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Restoration Hardware Beach Towels, $29 each. Available in a variety of colors and patterns at [url=http://www.restorationhardware.com]www.restorationhardware.com[/url].

It’s summer – and that means heat, having fun outside, and sunset cocktails. To stay properly hydrated, whether you’re lounging around the rooftop pool, hiking, biking, or playing in the waves, bring along some [b]SmartWater[/b]. [b]Glaceau[/b] (who brought you Vitamin and FruitWater) has ingeniously taken notes from clouds – nature’s purest source of water – and upped the ante, adding electrolytes (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate) to their vapor distilled water, to make the ultimate hydrating beverage – rapidly hydrating you without flavors, calories or sodium. I personally swear by SmartWater for fending off hangovers from drinking too many sangrias or margaritas in the summer heat – or as a remedy for those post-run foot cramps that I’m susceptible to. Plus, their supercool bottles – both their labels and unique sizes – are just plain sweet. You’ll never look at bottled water the same way again!

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Available in 1/2 liter, 25.3 oz. sports cap, 1 liter, and 1/5 liter sizes, ranging from $.99 to $4 each, or by the case. Available at Whole Foods, or check out [url=http://www.Glaceau.com]www.Glaceau.com[/url] for stores near you.

Between the sun, city grime, heat, ocean salt, or pool chemicals, the summer takes a serious toll on your locks. This summer, with the help from products from the famed New York salon [b]Warren-Tricomi[/b], guard and strengthen your hair against these environmental stresses. Their [b]PureStrength Three-C System[/b] is an innovative, 3-step approach to perfectly beautiful hair – cleanse, close, and condition. The middle step – close – is the star ingredient of this system, as it is a safe, non-synthetic heptahydrate formula that closes and seals hair cuticles, healing the hair, making it more resilient, stronger, and instantly shinier. The system is made in three formulations, each with natural botanicals: fine hair, with wheat proteins to boost volume, and geranium, rosemary, and bitter cherry to eliminate buildup and impurities; dry/damaged hair, with Montana Flower to soothe, lappa root, avocado, hops, and nettle to hydrate and give shine, yucca to eliminate buildup, and henna to add luster; all hair types, with arnica to stimulate growth, nettle and hops for moisture and sheen, and yucca to eliminate buildup.

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This summer, try Warren-Tricomi’s [b]Cabana Collection[/b] along with their PureStrength cleansing system for the ultimate in hair protection. This series of seven products all contain Betaine, an amino acid derivative that protects and strengthens hair, along with other organic ingredients, such as Sea Algae, Cactus, Chamomile, Comfrey, Lavender, and Nettle, and SPF protection against sun damage. A summer must this year is the [b]Hair Shield[/b]. This lightweight, oil-free spray can be used on both damp and dry hair, and on all hair types. This sunscreen-for-the-hair not only shields against the sun with an SPF, but also against the wind, salt, and chlorine, and helps strengthen the hair. One of my favorites is the [b]Daily Hair Masque[/b], a daily, deep conditioning treatment that also provides an Organic Protective Shield against the elements. My hair has never been so silky smooth, and strong, EVER (!), after using this product. My other favorite bring-to-the-pool-or-beach product is the [b]Leave-In Conditioner[/b]. It does more than just detangle, soften, and treat split ends – it also removes static, helps prevent color fading, and restores health to hair after a long, drying day in the water. I put this product to the test, applying it to my straw-like, parched hair after a day of swimming laps, sunbathing, and playing in the waves. That night, my hair was lustrous, wavy, silky smooth – like strands of gold! For the ultimate in hair indulgence, comb the Leave-In Conditioner into your hair, then spray with the Hair Shield, allowing your hair to soak in the organic extracts and emollients all day. After your day outside, wash your hair with the PureStrength Three-C System, then apply the Daily Hair Masque for full repair and conditioning. Your hair will thank you!

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Warren-Tricomi PureStrength Three-C System, Cleanse, $22, Close, $28, and Condition, $25. Cabana Collection Hair Shield, $30. Cabana Collection Hair Masque, $28. Cabana Collection Leave-In Conditioner, $25. Warren-Tricomi hair products are available online at [url=http://www.warrentricomi.com]www.warrentricomi.com[/url], Flagship Bath and Body Works stores, and C. O. Bigelow Flagship Stores.

Summer means short sleeves, shorts, sundresses, bared shoulders, days by the pool or at the beach, and lots and lots of sun. Be prepared this year with [b]DDF[/b]’s ([b]Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula[/b]) [b]Organic Sun Protection SPF 30[/b]. Now, I know my sunscreens, as I am allergic to chemical SPF enhancers like oxybenzone as opposed to a physical barrier, like Titanium Dioxide), and am in constant quest on one that will protect my skin, without making it feel greasy or clogged. DDF’s formula is for perfect for people like me, with sensitive skin, as it uses physical barrier protection, with Zinc and Titanium Dioxide refracting both UVA and UVB rays. It also contains DDF Redox Antioxidant Complex for enhanced free radical protection (free radicals are a byproduct of exposure to UV light and other environmental factors like pollution. They break down the skin’s fibrous support structures, like collagen and elastin, which then causes premature aging and even skin cancer). After sun exposure, liberally apply DDF’s [b]Body Renewal[/b], a post-sun soother with Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Glycerin, and Sodium PCA, that helps restore skin’s protective ability to prevent moisture loss and dehydration. The formula also contains re-mineralizing seaweed, and nourishing Sunflower petal extract to help reduce redness and soothe irritation, restoring comfort to your skin. After spending a little TOO much time in the sun one past weekend, I applied this cream (umm, carefully…my shoulders were a little crisp) after showering, and before bed, and I awoke to no more redness – just soft, smooth, happy skin. These two products will be permanent residents in my weekend bag this summer!

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DDF Organic Sun Protection SPF 30, $25. Body Renewal, $28. Available at [url=http://www.ddfskincare.com]www.ddfskincare.com[/url], [url=http://www.sephora.com]www.sephora.com[/url], [url=http://www.bathandbodyworks.com]www.bathandbodyworks.com[/url], and [url=http://www.nordstrom.com]www.nordstrom.com[/url].

One of my all-time favorites when if comes to my lips has been [b]Bobbi Brown[/b]’s lip glosses, sticks, and shines. So, I was thrilled to find out that this season, she has come out with hot new colors in both her Lip Shine sticks and Lip Tint tubes!! [b]Lip Shine SPF 15[/b] (perfect for that day at the beach, then evening at the beach bar…!) is a sheer, high-shine formula that hydrates lips with emollients like Shea Butter and Beeswax. It also contains the antioxidants Vitamin C and E to help protect the lips against sun, pollution, and other environmental stressors. Plus, it’s fragranced with peppermint extract, sure to give you a little energetic oomph in your step! The new colors, Sun Kissed and Suntan Pink, are the perfect warm, bronzy shades to complement that healthy glow we’ll all sport this summer. The slim, sleek tubes are also perfect for slipping into your evening bag for a night on out on the town!

Bobbi Brown also introduced new colors – with shimmer – in the [b]Lip Tint SPF 15[/b] this season – Bare Shimmer, Twilight Shimmer, Posey, Brown Sugar, and Burnt Sugar. These tubes combine the slightest tint of color with sun-protection for the ultimate multi-tasker in lip care (I wear mine at the beach or pool, have worn it hiking in Europe, and it always comes with me when I go out at night!). the wax-free, gel-based formula provides translucent and lightweight coverage that is not usually found in other products. Plus, like the Lip Shine, it’s scented with peppermint extract for a little oomph (and tingle on the lips).

To complete your beach bag this summer, don’t forget bring along Bobbi Brown’s perfect (and best-selling!!!) summer fragrance, [b]beach[/b]. This signature scent of summer features notes of Sand Jasmine, Sea Spray, and Mandarin. Wearable anytime, anywhere, it isn’t too strong for the heat of summer. Even just wearing it, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, images of summer are conjured in my head. It works best layered with other beach-scented items, like the new shower gel, body lotion, or sunscreen gel.

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Bobbi Brown Lip Shine SPF 15, $19 for .08 fl. oz. Bobbi Brown Lip Tint SPF 15, $16 for .5 fl. oz. Bobbi Brown beach Fragrance, $55 for 1.7 fl. oz. Bobbi Brown products are available at [url=http://www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com]www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com[/url], and at many fine department stores (check her website for one near you).

One of [b]Hearst Publications[/b] (publishers for hot magazines like [i]Cosmopolitan, Town and Country, and Marie Claire[/i]) newest additions this year is [b][i]Weekend[/i][/b] Magazine. In a day in age where job responsibilities and home life meld together during the week, more than ever, people are living for the weekend. This new magazine from Editor-in-Chief Susan Wyland (formerly at [i]Lifetime, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living[/i]), celebrates weekend living, with sections on food and entertaining, travel, decorating, organizing, and ideas on how to spend that precious personal time, whether home or away. It’s designed to be a one-stop resource for people looking for great ideas on how to spend their weekends.

When I first saw the cover of the May/June issue, of a woman lounging on a chaise, complete with a summery sun umbrella, and a drink by her side, I was immediately transported to that “weekend” state of mind: relaxation, a chance to sit and ponder what was around me, a chance to catch my breath and do something for me. Inside, the magazine is laid out in a clear, clean, and user-friendly layout (I was particularly appealing about the balance between gorgeous photography, clean type, and empty margins – not too much to overwhelm the eyes!). The magazine is divided into two sections: Weekend at Home, with stories on what to do this weekend (smell the lilacs, fly a kite, kick back with a mint julep), and Weekend Away, with day trip ideas, food festivals, or lighthouse weekend getaways. There is truly something for everyone – wherever they are, and what ever they want to do – in this magazine. I’m already hooked – and have subscribed – and will certainly put my next issue in my weekend bag!

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Check out your local newsstand for the most current issue of Weekend. Visit [url=http://www.weekendmag.com]www.weekendmag.com[/url] to subscribe for 1 year – 10 issues for only $9.95.

[b]Built NY[/b] first burst onto the hot products scene in 2003, with its Two-Bottle tote, a modern looking neoprene tote that conveniently and comfortably carries two wine bottles. It is designed to not only prevent the bottles from clinking, but to also insulate the bottles, as well. No wonder Built NY was awarded the Best New Product of the Year in 2003.

Since then, Built NY has continued to build smarter and better looking products – bags, totes, and other lifestyle accessories – for a variety of purposes. One of my favorites is the [b]BYO Lunch Bag[/b], a two compartment neoprene “bag” that insulates food and/or drink, whether it’s hot or cold. On one side, there is room for chips and a sandwich, or a salad, and on the other, a cozy spot for a can of soda, a bottle of water, or a juice box. Unzip the bag (it’s a heavy duty zipper that knows no enemy), and it conveniently opens to a placemat, for fine dining wherever you may be. Furthermore, it stores flat, or rolled, and can be machine-washed (in case you spill that chocolate milk all over the place!).

As someone who still always carries one of her (umm, many…) Nalgene water bottles wherever she goes (hey! It’s a good, healthy habit that I took with me after graduating from college!), I am obsessed with Built NY’s new [b]32-Ounce[/b](meaning it fits Nalgene bottles) [b]Tote[/b]. Whenever I brought my Nalgene to the beach (or pool) last summer, the cold, perspiring exterior would always attract sand (and then sand would stick to my hands, and then make its way into my food…), and the water would never stay cold for long. Well, this summer, I have already put (one of) my (many) Nalgenes in my new Built NY tote, and it kept my water cold for over 3 hours in the blazing 90 degree sun a couple of weekends ago while sitting by the pool. I can’t wait to take it to the beach in Rhode Island later this summer! Hot, sandy water no more!

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BYO Lunch Tote, $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Available in black, hot pink, navy blue, cranberry red, and leaf green. 32-Ounce Tote, $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Available in cranberry red, leaf green, black, and Real Tree camouflage. Buy online at [url=http://www.builtny.com]www.builtny.com[/url], or check their website to find retailers nearest you.

Now, for your outdoor retreat where alcohol is permitted, bring along a mini bottle of champagne to elevate the experience, and celebrate the weekend! Introduced in 1999 by the House of [b]Pommery, POP[/b] (Product of Pommery) is a convenient and very chic mini bottle of real champagne from Pommery’s vineyards in Reims, France. The palate is a little less fizzy, and a tad sweeter than the traditional Brut style. It has a flatteringly fruity taste, with an extra-dry finish. Its palate is surprisingly adaptable, allowing you to pair it with girls’ night Chinese takeout on the couch, a beach barbeque, or foie gras and fine cheeses under the pergola. It is meant to be enjoyed anywhere, thanks to the glamorous cobalt-blue glass bottle (that truly looks like a mini-champagne bottle!) that is exactly one-quarter the size of the standard 750 ml bottle, ensuring a fresh and vivacious experience every time you pop the cork. I know this will be coming along with me to this year’s Fourth of July celebration – and appearing (often) poolside at my monthly girls’ weekends in the ‘burbs!

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Pommery POP is available in single bottles, $10.99 for 187 ml, or in four-packs, $43 for four 187 ml bottles. Available online at [url=http://www.costco.com]www.costco.com[/url] and [url=http://www.finewinewarehouse.com]www.finewinewarehouse.com[/url]. Visit your local wine shop to see if it’s available there, as well. Imported exclusively by W. J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., White Plains, NY.

Now, for the most important addition: a book! Now, this summer, #1 book on my summer reading list is [b]Curtis Sittenfeld[/b]’s latest book, [b][u]The Man of My Dreams[/u][/b], from [b]Random House[/b]. I loved her last book, [u]Prep[/u] (partially because I knew the setting of the book very well), and couldn’t wait to pick up this new one. [u]The Man of My Dreams[/u] starts off in the summer of 1991, when Hannah Gavener, the main character, is fourteen. She reads magazines where celebs like Julia Roberts are planning elaborate weddings, when, in real life, her parents’ marriage is crumbling. The book follows her over the next decade and a half as she travels from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, and through different relationships, and finds that questions of love become more rather than less confusing. By the end of the book, Hannah is in her later twenties, she finally figures out what she wants most – but doesn’t know whether she will find the courage to go after it. Alice Munro feels that “[u]The Man of My Dreams[/u] is so free of tricks, the honesty is so startling, you feel there’s a writer here who isn’t trying to beguile you but to lay out some plain, raw truth about emotions and sex. This is a courageous, refreshing novel.” USA Today said that “In [u]The Man of My Dreams[/u], Sittenfeld gets inside the man-obsessed motives that strike some women in their late teens and 20s. The result: “Dreams” could be the women’s novel of the summer, the one they talk about, dissect, analyze and compare with their own experiences. In this insightful book, Sittenfeld asks: Does every woman deserve a soul mate? Modern women might cringe at a story about a young woman who, for most of this novel, is looking for the perfect man. Despite the title, “Dreams” is no frothy tale of looking for love. Hannah Gavener, Sittenfeld’s protagonist, is no chick-lit chick.” This is a book that is all about love, and will have women around the nation comparing their own experiences. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore, or online. Also, download an audiobook of this book – it’s read by Anne Heche – at Random House Audio. Perfect for uploading onto your iPod and listening to while on the beach, or while driving in a car.

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Have you, like me, already devoured this book? Here are some other recommendations from Random House for the ultimate in summer reading!

– [u]Elements of Style[/u], by Wendy Wasserstein
– [u]My Life in France[/u], by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme
– [u]A Year in the World[/u], by Frances Mayes
– [u]Charmed Thirds[/u], by Megan McCafferty

The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Hardcover, $22.95; Audiobook (CD), $29.95; Audiobook (download), $14.98. All available at Random House, [url=http://www.randomhouse.com]www.randomhouse.com[/url].

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