Everything I Bought for Our Trip to South Africa

Everything I Bought for Our Trip to South Africa

Mr. Lyons and I are headed to South Africa next week and I cannot wait to share all the details. Those who know me know this is a dream come true! We will begin in Cape Town and then head to a Safari Camp in the hopes of seeing the Big Five and then some!  And yes, this is Mr. Lyons and I stitched onto my favorite couple of all time… *wink!

As a wedding planner of over 20 years, you *know* I have been busy researching and planning for months regarding what to bring and how best to optimize the limited space we will have. Apart from a few key items, my focus was on finding products from brands with an ethical and sustainable ethos.

Flight Essentials

Read on for my top ten flight essentials that I bought in preparation for our 18-hour trip.

1. Air Tags and Air Tag Luggage Clips

With all the reports of lost luggage during this hectic travel season, I was not taking any chances! I bought a pack of four air tags and four luggage clips so that I can watch our luggage like a hawk!

 

2. Comfortable Walking Shoes

Not only for traversing the airport but for exploring Cape Town and the city region whilst there. I tested these Birdies on a 36-hour trip to Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago and they did not disappoint! I had always heard how comfortable this brand is and I now understand why!

 

3. Noise-Cancelling Headphones 

For undisturbed quiet, these are a travel must. Plus, I love this colorway.

 

4. The Two-Yard Wrap

The name says it all: two yards of luxuriously soft fabric designed for wrapping up however you like. Perfect for mid-flight chills! This brand‘s products are all made in the United States and this wrap is created from sustainable wood Tencel.

 

5. Cable Organizer

Oh. My. Goodness. Where has this cable organizer been all my life? It has dedicated pockets for chargers and cables in a convenient pouch. No more tangles and no more wasteful Ziploc bags!

 

6. Washable Silk Eye Mask

This is my first mention of Quince but it will not be the last– I purchased a whole cart from them! This washable silk eye mask is ideal for getting some sleep on the flight. I love that it is washable for easy care.

 

7. Travel Trousers

Among my biggest pet peeves is seeing sweatpants or pajamas at the airport. The desire to be comfortable while traveling is universal, but wearing sleepwear in public is where I draw the line. Plus, truthfully you’ll never catch me in a pair of leggings outside my own home. These sustainably-made trousers with an elastic waist make for a comfortable travel outfit that still looks put together. Win-win!

 

8. Trtl Travel “Pillow”

I use quotes because this looks nothing like any pillow I have ever seen! And I believe that’s a very good thing. It is likely we can all agree that travel pillows are anything but comfortable. They really just get in the way. This “pillow” has a built-in frame to support the neck while sitting up and is wrapped in a plush fabric. It also clips onto luggage which was a yes for me!

 

9. Homeopathic Jetlag Remedy

Missing out on precious time during our trip due to jetlag is simply not an option in my book! I will be doing my best to avoid it and am hoping this homeopathic jetlag remedy helps.

 

10. The World’s Thinnest Charger by Clutch

Because having some backup battery protection gives me peace of mind that I will not miss out on capturing a single moment! I can hardly believe how thin and lightweight this charger is.

 

Fashion Selections

1. Mongolian Cashmere Tees

These Quince cashmere tees are sustainably-made, ethically produced, and ultra-soft. I chose the Heather Grey and Light Blue shades. 

 

2. Classic Crew Neck Tees

Simple, classic, cotton and modal blend tees, sustainably and ethically made. Ticks all my boxes! I went for one in classic White and one in Dusty Pink. Available here

 

3. Linen Shirt Dress

Another fabulous Quince find: a chic, 100% European Linen Shirt Dress. 

 

4. White Linen Button-Down

You simply cannot go wrong with a classic, white linen button-down shirt! Available here.

 

5. Mongolian Cashmere Sweaters

I love these cashmere sweaters from Quince. I bought one in the Oatmeal shade and one in Minimal Pink.

 

6. Loungewear for the Tent

For those chilly nights on Safari, I bought this adorable lounge set. Each is sold separately but matches beautifully: Cardigan, Knit Tank, Knit Pants.

 

7. Columbia Puffer Vest

This Floridian was careful to include plenty of options for keeping warm out in the game reserve! This Columbia Puffer Vest in the color “Chalk” fit the bill.

 

8. My Safari Boots

Outdoorsy but make it fashion. These Canvas Desert boots seem perfect for the adventure.

 

9. Cropped Wrap Blouse

This top feels elevated but still easy to wear, perfect for mixing and matching during our trip.

 

Beauty & Accessories

1. The Ultimate Travel Beauty System: Cadence Travel Containers

This entire set of 12 fits in the quart-sized allowance for your carry-on. Each magnetic interlocking container holds 100mls and saves so much space. And the lids are fully customizable! Available here

2. Merit Beauty Essentials Set


This streamlined, minimalist, clean makeup set is perfect for travel. Plus, the packaging had me at hello! I bought The Skin Set.

 

3. Earthling Starter Set

Never, not once, have I been on a long trip and been able to survive on 3oz of shampoo and conditioner alone. These shampoo and conditioner bars seemed like a great option. Since they are solid, they do not count toward your liquid allotment and there is no risk of leaks and spills inside of checked luggage. This brand uses natural ingredients, is sustainably made, and the set is entirely plastic free. Comes with a cute mesh soap saver bag, too!

 

4. Walking Hat

Sun damage? No thank you! SPF plus a wide-brimmed hat are my protections of choice. This walking hat is foldable for easy packing with mesh venting for breathability, has UPF50 sun protection, and there is even a space for ponytails!

 

5. Straw Visor

This is my go-to visor for walks around the neighborhood (and the Disney parks!) Available here on Amazon.

Quick Tip: It sells out quite often. When I really wanted to get it for my Mother-in-law, I managed to find it on Etsy, too.

 

6. Athletic Greens Travel Pack

Pre-portioned, vegan, with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, and adaptogens. I think I will survive the trip without my usual supplement routine. *wink! Available here

 

7. Reversible Seamless Bra

This bra from Spanx is a travel no-brainer! It is so comfortable I bought two!

 

8. Travel Vanity Mirror

This travel mirror is perfect for unreliable airport and hotel lighting. I love that it folds completely flat for easy transport!

 

9. iPhone Gimbal

Ok, this one takes a little practice to get used to. But the ability to stabilize shaky shots will be a lifesaver out in the game reserve! It also comes with a tripod for multi-purpose usage. Available here.

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

25 Tips to Be More Elegant Each Day

25 Tips to Be More Elegant Each Day

How to be More Elegant - 25 Tips

In our bustling world, we regularly encounter people who are not using their manners, being mindful of others, or even putting an effort into the way they have presented themselves to the world. As a result, when someone shows us a common courtesy or is pulled together, we really notice! I believe we should all strive to be that little bit more polished, that little bit more courteous, and be the change we wish to see. Read on for 25 quick tips to be more elegant, polished, and poised each day! 

1. Maintain good posture. 

Stand with your shoulders back and keep your eye line high. If you are looking down at your feet, your head inevitably follows. Pull your stomach in and place your weight primarily on the balls of your feet. 

2. Smile and offer a firm handshake when meeting someone new. 

First impressions matter. A warm smile and a firm handshake show confidence and a welcoming demeanor. 

3. Remove your sunglasses when introducing yourself. 

Eye contact is important, especially when first meeting someone. By removing our sunglasses, we show respect for the other person. Furthermore, consider this: if you only met someone with sunglasses on, then saw them without on the street, would you remember their face? Removing your sunglasses helps the other person form a mental picture by showing them your face. 

4. Greet people with an uplifting, “good morning!” 

Or depending on the time of day, “good afternoon” or “good evening.” There is something so inviting and polite about these greetings. Offering a stranger a warm, “good morning” while walking the dogs simply makes for a more polite society. 

5. Opt for more formal forms of speech.

Instead of, “thanks,” say “thank you.” In place of “sure,” try “certainly.” Swap “hi” for “hello” (or “good morning!” as above). These small changes can make a significant difference in how you are perceived. 

6. Use the correct response to someone asking, “how are you?”

The correct response to “how are you?” is “I am well, thank you. How are you?” 

7. The words “please” and “thank you” will always be important.

Add to this, “you’re welcome” and “excuse me.” There is a reason these are among the first manners we teach our children. They are foundational!

8. Take care with your body language. 

Often our body language will be believed over our words. For example, if you say “I am so happy to be here” with slumped shoulders and a frown, your body language is speaking louder than your words. 

9. Give your full attention. 

If you are in conversation with someone, be present with them. Do not look around the room, check your phone, or run through your to-do list in your head. Being in the moment and asking thoughtful questions is how we make true connections.

10. Respect the privacy of others. 

Never pry into someone’s personal life. Ask yourself, am I asking because I truly need to know, or is it just to satisfy my own curiosity? If it is the latter (and it usually is) do not ask further questions. 

11. Learn the difference between “can I” and “may I?” 

“Can I” is about ability whereas “may I” is about permission. You can borrow my pen but do I want you to? “May I” is the correct way to ask permission, i.e. “may I borrow your pen?” 

12. Be punctual. 

Elegant people are not late nor are they in a rush. Arriving on time show you are respectful of another person’s time. Leave the house a little early wherever possible to allow for unforeseen circumstances. 

13. Address others with the correct pronouns. 

The pronouns “they” and “them” might be new to many but they are simply a matter of respect. Do your very best to address a person with the pronouns they identify with. If a person corrects you on their pronouns it is polite to apologize, thank them for the correction, and use the correct pronoun thereafter. If you say the wrong pronoun and catch yourself, take a moment to correct yourself, i.e. “I’m sorry, I meant ‘they,’” and continue with what you were saying. 

14. Limit your use of chewing gum.

Did you know it is not permissible to chew gum in the presence of the Royal Family? Chewing gum certainly is not the most elegant practice. It is similar to chewing food, if you must chew gum it should only be done with the mouth closed, never smacked, and one should never talk at the same time. 

Truthfully, gum should not be chewed or disposed of in public, and on the whole, it is preferable to use mints for breath refreshment. 

15. Do not gossip. 

The adage “what Suzy says of Sally says more of Suzy than of Sally,” will forever hold true. It is simply not polite to speak ill of others or speculate on another person’s circumstances. 

16. Send thank-you notes. 

A handwritten thank-you note will always be elegant. Send them in response to gifts, dinner parties, or when someone has simply done something nice for you. Choose chic stationery and always handwrite them. 

17. Dress up.

Dress for the occasion, my darlings! Even if that occasion is simply going to the grocery store. You will always feel good knowing you pulled yourself together.

18. Apply perfume with care. 

One of the easiest ways to tell if you are wearing too much perfume is if you can smell it on yourself after a few minutes. Furthermore, if you leave a room and your scent lingers, you may have too much on. Ask a friend or partner so you can adjust accordingly in the future. 

19. Be mindful of cell phone usage around others.

Oh, the cell phone. This is an article in and of itself (more on that here). In short: avoid using your cell phone around others, i.e. step away from others to take calls; Do not use speakerphone or scroll with the volume on in public spaces; And take care with your ring volume in quiet zones such as theaters, yoga studios, and spas or nail salons. 

20. Smile. 

Did you know the tone of the human voice changes when we are smiling? In fact, humans can recognize that a person is smiling by the tone of their voice alone. A smile puts others at ease and helps to make a great first impression.

21. Tip generously. 

Tip a minimum of 20% in service-based transactions, including restaurants and spa services. 

22. Mind your temper.  

We must always aim to respond rather than react. If tensions run high, you may want to excuse yourself. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, consider the issue from the other person’s point of view, and pause for some deep breaths. When you return, try starting with: “hat I am hearing is you feel this. That was not my intention.”

This goes for digital correspondence, too. Do not write an email while angry and never use all caps (also known as yelling in digital speak). 

23. Learn the art of the apology.

There are few things less elegant than being unable to acknowledge a mistake. Learning to take accountability and apologize for wrongdoing, however small, is a sign of emotional maturity. Remember, if your choices, words, or behavior hurts a person’s feelings, those feelings are valid. Regardless of whether you feel they are overreacting or out of line, their feelings matter and an apology is necessary. 

24. Take care of your wardrobe. 

Choose pieces that suit you and take great care of them. An iron, a steamer, a reliable dry cleaner, and an excellent tailor will make all the difference. 

25. Be YOU. 

Elegance is not about putting on airs or a phony persona, it is about being the best possible version of yourself. Learn what you love, what flatters your very essence, and what makes your heart sing so that you can better honor yourself and your unique personality. 

Lisa’s Kitchen | Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas and Quinoa Salad

Lisa’s Kitchen | Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas and Quinoa Salad


Lisa's Kitchen | Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas and Quinoa Salad

We all have those go-to ingredients in our pantry or refrigerator that always seems to deliver our tried and true recipes or dishes, but every now and then you want to mix it up a little!

To know me is to know that I have absolutely ZERO desire or need for sweets in my life, and that included sweet potatoes! (I even have an aversion to the smell of sweets, just ask the Mister!) Admittedly, since shifting to a plant-based diet earlier this year, I have a new and profound respect for sweet potatoes, but always looking for ways to make them more palatable for my savory taste buds.

You can make this recipe in about 50 minutes, but I’ll also give you some time-saving tips so you can enjoy this sooner than later!


Vegan Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes | Lisa Stoner Events

Combining two recipes, I was inspired by A Saucy Kitchen along with a tried and true quinoa salad which I made with ingrediets in my fridge, but you can purchase pre-made here


Lisa's Kitchen | Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

SWEET POTATOES WITH CHICKPEAS & AVOCADO TAHINI

INGREDIENTS

  • 4  sweet potatoes 

Marinated Chickpeas

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable broth in lieu of olive/vegetable oil as oils can be highly processed 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley (I happened to have cilantro on hand, and it worked great!)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Camp Mix

Avocado Tahini Sauce

  • 1 medium sized ripe avocado (or 1 cup pre-made, organic guacamole)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (to thin the consistency and add flavor)
  • 3 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F

  2. Bake pierced sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes.

  3. Mix chickpeas and the remaining ingredients needed for marinating, and set aside.

Avocado Tahini Sauce

  1. To make the sauce, add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender (I used an immersion blender and it worked out perfectly!) and process until smooth. You can manipulate the consistency of the sauce by either not adding as much broth if you like it thicker or more broth for a thinner consistency 

Plating

  1. Easy-peasy! When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, simply cut them open, and spoon the chickpeas and quinoa salad inside. Top with the avocado tahini and sprinkle your topping of choice. If you don’t manage to gobble these up all in one sitting, they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 2 days.


Vegan Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes | Lisa Stoner Events


Lisa's Kitchen | Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

QUINOA SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
  • ½ Cup Uncooked Lentils**
  • ½ Medium Bell Pepper (Diced)
  • ½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes (Diced)
  • ½ Medium Cucumber (Diced)
  • 1 Cup Kale (Finely Chopped)
  • ½ Bunch of Cilantro (Finely Chopped)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 3 Tbs. White Wine Vinegar (Or More to Taste)
  • Salt + Pepper (To Taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook quinoa & lentils according to package instructions; chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. While quinoa and lentils are chilling, I like to chop my vegetables.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Serve chilled.

*Preparation is key, but if you have a hankering and need this on your plate sooner, you can microwave your sweet potato for 8-10 minutes while you marinate your chickpeas and get that quinoa salad out of the fridge!

I made this for Abby to enjoy after this shoot who was under the weather that day, and this perked her right up!


Vegan Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potato | Lisa Stoner Events

 

Will you let me know how you like it? Would love to hear from you!

With a wink and a smile-

xx, LS

All Images: Abby Liga

Fall Cocktails | Apple Cider Prosecco Punch

Fall Cocktails | Apple Cider Prosecco Punch


Fall Cocktails | Lisa Stoner Events

It’s time to say goodbye to the Rosé and get ready to enjoy a fall-inspired libation!

While we may be out of the sweltering days of summer, for us here in sunny Florida, it’s still pretty warm and so this refreshing cocktail is the perfect choice for ushering in the Autumn season with some “spirit.” (see what I did there?!)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 oz- Apple Cider
  • 2 oz- Bénédectine liqueur (for that delicious honey-spice flavor)
  • 2 apples sliced for garnish
  • Fresh sprigs of thyme 
  • 1 bottle chilled Prosecco 


Apple Cider Prosecco Punch | Lisa Stoner Events


Fall Cocktails | Lisa Stoner Events


Apple Cider Prosecco Punch | Lisa Stoner Events

This really is a quick, 5-minute cocktail that can also be quickly fashioned into a punch bowl and served for brunch. As a stand alone cocktail, however, this suits me just fine!


Fall Cocktails | Lisa Stoner Events


Apple Cider Prosecco Punch | Lisa Stoner Events


My favorite part! *wink

My favorite part! *wink

Grab your sweater, some friends and think of all the great reasons to mix your new favorite autumn cocktail!


Apple Cider Prosecco Punch | Lisa Stoner Events

With a wink and a smile–

xx, LS

Images: Abby Liga

Halloween Entertaining | Spooky Sips

Halloween Entertaining | Spooky Sips

Halloween is one of the most celebrated and party-hosted holidays of the year, which means it’s time to don that hostess hat!

Of course, preparation and presentation are key, and this recipe will yield plenty of deathly delicious cocktails that are sure to bite back!


Halloween Cocktail | Lisa Stoner Events

Butcher’s Blood:

  • 375ml Vones Gin

  • 125ml Dry Vermouth

  • 500ml fresh blood orange juice

  • 125ml Campari

I am always a proponent for greeting your guests at the door with a cocktail to set that proper party tone, and since you’ll have plenty on hand, pouring some in a lovely decanter will most certainly amp up your sinister presentation!


Halloween Cocktail | Lisa Stoner Events

Don’t forget a saucy song-set! This Halloween playlist from Popsugar will keep your toes tapping and fancy tickled all night long! (Also available on Spotify!)


Halloween Playlist + Lisa Stoner.jpg

Cocktail Images: Abby Liga

Mirror Tray and Candelabra: Target

Martini Glasses, Decanter, and Skulls: Home Goods

Fourth of July Fun & Fashion

Fourth of July Fun & Fashion


Lisa Stoner + Abby Liga +Fourth of July+Alfond Inn

What is it about red, white and blue that makes us want to get outside, cook and grill, sip some wine and cocktails and most importantly, celebrate our big and beautiful country , the good ole’ USA?!

The way I see it is that if I am going to celebrate like it’s 1776, I am going to be comfortable, stylish and have make sure my surroundings speak to the occasion! *wink

Celebrating the 4th can be as casual as it is dressed up, inside our outside, but since our most patriotic holiday is just a week away, I wanted to share and easy-breezy outdoor affair.

I gathered a star-spangled blanket so that the Mister and I could have a picnic with our beloved senior-rescue beagle Andy (isn’t he so cuuuute?!) along with some other fun red, white and blue décor pieces, including a navy blue pouf for the pooch to designate a spot on the lawn of a nearby boutique hotel where many other locals and travelers will be boasting their blankets and spirits to share in the Independence Day festivities.

I kept it classic and cool with white jeans, a navy silk top ,tried-and-true sunnies and my jewelry is just as much practical (a life-saver, really!) as it is stylish. We are in Orlando, so it is HOT, (Rosé to the rescue!) and we have also had a very soggy month of June which has welcomed a new breed of mosquitos. My bracelets have mixed stones and beads where you can apply essential oils to them for aromatherapy but in this case, and thanks to peppermint oil, they warded off those pesky insects. Brilliant!

Are you feeling inspired to kick it up a notch this 4th of July?

Come on baby, you’re a firework! (couldn’t resist!)

xx, LS










*Post in collaboration with The Alfond Inn*

Images: Abby Liga Photography

Jeans & Blouse: J. Crew

Jewelry: Quest Stones

Sunnies: Rayban

Purse: Cult Gaia

Shoes: Kate Spade

Blanket & Pouf: Home Goods

Pinwheel: A Girl and Her Glitter