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    10 Tips for Vacationing in Bora Bora

    Matt and I have been on the move this past month. Over the last 26 days we’ve only spent 9 of them in our lovely state of Michigan.  While we enjoyed a 5 day trip to Tuscan, the biggest portion of our travels were spent abroad in the French Polynesian islands for our honeymoon. Even though we’re getting ready to celebrate our 5 month anniversary of marriage (and still going strong!), with the weather only being nice in Michigan for a few short summer months, we thought a delayed honeymoon was a great idea.

    Between the two of us, Matt and I are pretty well traveled. We’ve both been to Europe and down south to the Florida Keyes and Bahamas, Belize, Grand Cayman, and Mexico. Anywho, for our honeymoon we really wanted to go somewhere unlike any of the places either of us have ever experienced before. We knew we wanted to stay in one of the iconic overwater bungalows, have mountain views, turquoise waters, and plenty of activities. On the list? Fiji, Maldives, and Bora Bora. Of the three, Bora Bora is the closest, and since Matt has a big boy job that doesn’t allow him to take three consecutive weeks off, and neither of us wanted to spend 48 hours just in travel time, Bora Bora it was.

    While we wouldn’t have changed much if we could go back for a repeat (and we will because it was freakin’ awesome), here are a few tips for all you when it comes time check this one off your bucket list.

    10 TIPS FOR VACATIONING IN BORA BORA

    1). Wear. Bloody. Sunscreen. – My mother has probably died and gone to heaven hearing these words out of my mouth. The sun is much more intense in French Polynesia than anywhere in the U.S. Don’t ruin your vacation because of a bad burn. Plus, looking like a lobster is never in style unless it’s Halloween.

    2). Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees – Most cards that don’t have foreign transaction fees are travel-incentive cards too. Chances are if you open one, you’ll get other perks for your trip like double points on hotel and travel purchases, trip insurance, and maybe even a free checked bag or two. Typically these cards also have an annual fee, however it’s normally waived the first year. Book your trip, take your trip, rack up points, redeem, close your card!

    3). Bring an underwater camera & fish guide – The snorkeling is unreal. Don’t miss the opportunity to photograph Nemo in his natural habitat. Not to mention it’s always a good idea to get a picture of your travel companion in goggles and a snorkel in the event you ever need it for blackmail.

    4). Book excursions through the company, not your hotel – No matter what island you’re on, the economy thrives on tourism. French Polynesia is a hot spot for honeymooners, cruises, and families. The hotel will provide you with a list of different activities. If you book directly with the company you can save yourself at least 10% that would’ve been paid to the hotel as a commission.

    5). Go grocery shopping – One of the first days on your trip head into the local market and pick up some groceries. On average, meals cost $100, cut a big expense by eating lunch on your own so you can spend your bucks on making memories.

    6). Bring something to do in case it rains – The TV is limited on the islands. Even if you’re fluent in French it’s slim pickin’. Some hotels have movies and games you can “check out”, but it’ll cost ya. About $18 per rental! Stash a few DVDs and a deck of cards in your carry-on. Even if your weather is beautiful, it’ll give you something to do in the evenings.

    7). Book direct flights when possible – Coming from Michigan it’s quite the travel schedule to fly to French Polynesia. We flew from Michigan to North Carolina to Los Angeles to Tahiti. Total travel time: 27 hours. No thanks. It’s worth the extra $200 bucks to fly direct when you can.

    8). Don’t be afraid to splurge – There are some things that are worth every penny of the hefty price tag. When you’re flying halfway around the world take the opportunity to do things you may never have the chance to experience again. Snorkel with sharks, feed the stingrays, swim with the dolphins. If it means eating PB & Js for lunch a few days,  it’s worth it!

    9). When in Rome…- The French Polynesian isn’t known for it’s culinary art. The food is really mediocre, which is hard to swallow (no pun intended) when you’re forking over around $100 bucks a meal. The best entrees are the ones with fish. Even those of you who aren’t big on seafood, try it.  The shellfish are delicious, and there are so many fish options you’ll be able to find one mild enough to please even the pickiest pescé eater.

    10). Go for at least 7 days – When the travel time is so long, you have to stay for at least a week to truly feel like you’ve had a vacation.

    Hopefully these few tips help you experience Bora Bora and the other French Polynesian  islands at their finest (regardless, it’s really hard to go wrong), and make sure to check back with me soon!  I’m in full Christmas mode now that we’ve returned to 30 degree weather and can’t wait to share some holiday cheer with you!

    X’s & O’s

    -Annie

    DIY Gold Vases & Frames

    Like most crazy normal people, there are a few things in life with which I have a small obsession. Let me provide you a few examples.

    1).  Our couch barely has room for people because of the absurd number of throw pillows. 2).  Matt will probably divorce me if I buy one more bottle of nail polish.
    3).  There is enough spray paint in our house to cover a small country.  Twice.
    So I have a tendency to load up on items when I find a great deal.  So what!  That being said, my love affair with spray paint has been going on for a while.  I’ll spray paint anything.  Furniture, hardware…your dog.  Ok, I’m kidding about the dog.

    Therefore, when Matt and I tied the knot I was looking for any and every excuse to indulge in my not-so-secret spray paint obsession.  Even though I created these vases and frames specifically for our wedding, you can use any color spray paint your little heart desires, making this the ultimate DIY decor project. The best part? It’s super cheap and super easy (like it would be anything else).  Salvation Army/Goodwill always has tons of vases and picture frames, and most of them are around the $1 mark.

    Now, if you are planning on using these for a wedding, shower, etc. I get it, I get it, for some people using mismatched vases/frames would create a complex.  In those cases, have no fear IKEA is here!  I actually bought a portion of my vases from here for $1.99 & $4.99.  In addition, my frames also came from IKEA.  I love the little dot detail around the inside.  It makes them look so dainty and classy.  If you’re not up for spending more than a dollar or two another alternative is to make your way down to your local dollar store.  In my experience, they always have a ton of options that will do the trick.

    I started by washing and drying all the vases. Then used two different width painter’s tapes to create the patterns.  When I say the sky is the limit, the sky is the limit.  Here are a few tips from my experience.

    1).  Make sure the tape is sealed tightly to the vase at the edges.  I had a few vases where a  little bit of the paint snuck its way under the tape and created a bubble like effect.  (That good for nothing sneaky paint!!!)
    2).  Peel the tape off while the paint is still wet.  This allows you to get rid of those little bubbles I mentioned above (just in case you’re like me and not perfect)
    3).  Make sure to cover the opening of the vase with tape.  If you leave the opening uncovered some of the paint will make its way in there essentially ruining your pattern.
    4).  These vases are HAND WASH ONLY.  My dear little mother Pearl doesn’t have the same experience with spray paint as I do.

    The picture frames are pretty self-explanatory.  For all you blondes out there, just make sure you remove the glass. Anyway, I’m tickled…gold(?) with the results!  Now go forth my friends and let your creative animal spirit flare!

    X’s & O’s

    - Annie