5TERRE

Yep, call us spoiled, or call us lucky to have friends from the most amazing parts of the world.  Mike and I were SO happy to have an excuse to go to Italy the second summer in a row.  This time, it was for our friends, Ric and Lucia's, wedding in the beautiful Cinque Terre which is near where Lucia grew up.  Mike had the brilliant idea to make a pitstop in Sweden on our way over to visit my good friend Pia who just recently had her second baby as well as one of Mikes friends who lives in Denmark...2 birds 1 stone!

As I've said before, I'm a terrible writer, so this will mostly be pictures and the names of places we went to and recommend.

For those who don't know Italy very well, Cinque Terre (also known as 5Terre...get it?) is kind of like the Amalfi Coast of the north.  Still on the west coast and along the shore, with colorful houses built into the cliffside.  Absolutely breathtaking, all of it.  

But first...PIA!

 missing from photo: Pontus :'(

missing from photo: Pontus :'(

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I wish I had more photos of their beautiful home in Helsingborg, but this was taking the day trip before our flight to the famous houses in Nyhavn in Copenhagen!  This place was SUPER hoppin' and lively, honestly cooler than I ever expected.  Worth another (longer) trip back!

FLORENCE

A quick night and day and we're off to Florence for the grooms Bachelor party!  Mike booked our hotel on points and we had NO idea how nice it actually was until we got there and the concierge took us up to open our "balcony".  We stayed at The Westin Excelsior and it was STUNNING.  Check out our view from said balcony.

We started off exploring the day with friends who showed up early as well to see some of the below attractions and sites.

Then the boys were off to their early lunch to get the shenanigans going.  So what were the girlfriends, wives and fiances left to do? We decided to all meet at Mike and I's hotel since I had heard there was a good rooftop happy hour.  We go up asking to get a table and the gentleman tell us that its a 20 euro cover charge but it includes your first drink and unlimited access to the buffet.  I asked if maybe I could see the roof first before we make our decision and they smirked and asked me to follow them outside....

 Ummm HI, are you kidding me??

Ummm HI, are you kidding me??

 Our private table

Our private table

Needless to say we got a little camera happy

Meanwhile, our men (in theme ofcourse)

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Next we were off to where we were staying until the rest of the trip in Tellaro! But first, we had to stop in Pisa to see the famous leaning tower...you can't drive past it and not stop in.

 had to

had to

 my favorite part

my favorite part

We arrived at our house and it was BEAUtiful.  As soon as we drove down this tiny one way road and saw we needed a remote to open the gate, we knew we were in for a treat.  Apparently it used to be an old poets house which you can tell by the marble engraved with his own personal logo, outdoor wood-fire pizza oven and the elevator (which you HAD to use, there were actually no stairs to get to the second floor).

Can't forget the best part...

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We had about 20 minutes to take a tour and get ready though cause it was the girls turn to party! Lucia's bachelorette did NOT disappoint.  A sunset cruise followed by a proper Italian beach/night club that was SO MUCH FUN.  Fun story: We told the guys about the night club and the single ones got all excited about it so they made sure to make a special trip the following night to get all dressed up and go there only to find out when they showed up that it was an "under 18" night and were turned away haaa hahah.

The next day the bride and groom had planned a boat ride to take us around 3 of the 5 villages in Cinque Terre.  Unfortunately that morning we were told that the water was too choppy and they had to cancel the boat.  BUT, european trains never cease to fail.  I believe there was about 20 of us, all trying to figure out the ticket system and hopping from train to train around the coast of the Italian Riviera. First stop, the classic Manarola. This is the one where you see the iconic photo of all the colorful houses on the cliff.  We got to jump in the super crisp and refreshing blue water and then found a place outside that fit all of us for lunch called Ristorante Marina Piccola. It had one of the best squid ink pastas I have ever had (honestly that black pasta usually freaks me out) and plenty of aperol spritz' to go around (our go-to drink of the trip, as you do in Italy).

That last photo is my favorite.  #boyfriendsofinstagram ....note Mike off the right staying strong.

Next up, Vernazza. We walked around and shopped in all the tiny little stores that lined the main road and stopped for a much needed cappuccino.

Lastly Monterosso! More of an actual beach where we posted up on the rocks and jumped in for a relaxing swim followed by gelato :)

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 the groom! happy as a clam

the groom! happy as a clam

The following days before the wedding were spent exploring the towns and beaches around us, also known as the Gulf of Poets. From discovering tiny beaches, the walking along the coastline to different towns for the perfect pizza/pasta combo, there was plenty to do and see.

We learned that where theres a ladder....theres a body of water to jump into.  This was just down and around the corner from our Airbnb

 Just want to note Raech's double leg wave

Just want to note Raech's double leg wave

Another place we went to that I would hiiiiiighly recommend is La Burlanda. It's a Farm to Table restaurant where they grow almost all of their products and make their own oil and wine on the estate.  Not only was the view gorgeous but it was a 7 course meal with enough cheese and meat to put you in a coma.

*Photos courtesy of Richie and Talya <3

And the last day was saved for the wedding! They had the ceremony in the town hall in Sarzana were we sat in this beautifully decorated room as the bride walked down the aisle to Radiohead's "Reckoner". We then walked through the town together and onto a bus (wish I had a photo of the old school buses they used and decorated!) to take us up in the mountains, north-west of Sarzana where the reception was...in a castle.  We had drinks and SO many hors d'oeuvres on the grassy area with a beautiful view behind it followed by dinner inside and then dancing in what became known as the "Rave Cave".  One of the best DJ's at a wedding I've been to and the best sweaty dance party! I wish there were photos of the rave cave... but only videos, and they're slightly terrifying (looking at you Mike)

Sad to have had to leave the next day, but we'll be sure to be back! Italy means so much to Mike and I and we have so much more of it to see and explore.  Until next time!

                                                                         Cheers,

                                                                                  Kemi

Australia Part III

We fly back to Sydney and Mikes angel of a mother had decorated their living room with balloons and a huge spread of food to celebrate.  It was also his parents anniversary so there were multiple reasons to break out the champagne.  Side note:  If you get engaged, I hope you like champange, because you will be drinking that, and only that, for about a month straight. Side side note: (we don't like champagne).  His whole family was there including his two brothers and sister-in-law and we ate a gorgeous meal and hung around the table for hours.

 &lt;3

<3

After a full evening and night of celebrating, we were off to explore the city as I hadn't been back to Oz since 2009 and there were a whole bunch of new developments.  One place that they have been building on recently is Barangaroo.  It's a new inner-city suburb extending all the way from the north-western edge of the Central Business District to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They named it "Sydneys new harbour foreshore playground" and it definitely lives up to its name.  They've extended this beautiful walk way wrapping all the way around the harbour where you can be super close to the water yet surrounded by greenery.  They also built TONS of new restaurants along it, all of them in a row with huge outdoor seating areas.  I have no idea how one would pick and choose which place to settle and eat at. We started off walking through Darling Harbour all the way around to Barangaroo to get the full experience :)

We wandered all the way around to "The Rocks" which is a cool historic area in Sydneys city centre filled with pubs and stores along cobble stone roads. The Glenmore is one of said pubs that's unique there in that it has an awesome rooftop with beautiful 180 degree views of the harbour and Opera House.  

 View from the top of The Glenmore

View from the top of The Glenmore

After stopping there and a few other places, mostly to take cover from the random rainstorm that poured down, we walked through Circular Quay (had to see some didgeridoo's!) to the Opera House to meet Mikes family.  

 Ridic&nbsp;

Ridic 

Mikes mother had told us about this "open air cinema" that happens a few times a month near the Opera House.  I didn't know much about it but assumed it was an outdoor theater in a park somewhere.  I had no idea what was going on as I saw stadium seating but no screen anywhere.  Then I realized, the screen was actually IN the harbour being held up on stilts and it raises up when the movie starts! Check it out....

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After some more hanging out around Mikes parents house, wandering through the CBD (Central Business District), seeing the old bar that I used to work at that's now CLOSED (so sad Shannon!), we dedicated one full day to Bondi <3 my home away from home that I missed so dearly.  

We started off doing it right by heading straight to Bondi Iceburgs for a drink which is famous for it's ridiculous views of the beach overlooking their lap pool that spills out over into the ocean.  This place is every photographers dream. 

We then spent the day walking up and down Campbell Parade (their main drag) seeing all the new shops, new and old favorite bars and restaurants.  I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time, I swear Bondi is one of the best places in the world.

***Some favorites in Bondi are: Ravesis (go upstairs onto the balcony for lunch), Bucket List (for a drink on the beach), Beach Road Hotel (fun hang out bar), Sushi Train (SUSHI ON A CONVEYER BELT), Bondi Massive Cafe (get a chai latte from there <3), Bondi to Bronte Cliff walk (a must do! It's about a 2.5 mile walk along the coast through their main beaches with beautiful views).

Another fun thing we did one day that I hadn't done before was visit the Sydney Fish Market! It wasn't too far from where Mikes parents live so we took a walk down to check it out and have lunch.  It's huuge (as most fish markets are) and right on the water with tables along the dock to grab a heaping pile of oysters, shrimp, friend fish, etc and pig out with some white wine. Check out the fresh sushi donuts we found too.

Sadly our amazing trip to Oz was ending and it was extremely bitter sweet.  Before we even left for the trip Mike had planned months before for a one last gathering of all our friends at the Coogee Pavilion in Coogee beach as a little farewell sendoff and engagement celebration! (sneaky Mike).

 Super blurry but THE BEST

Super blurry but THE BEST

 Had to put this in here...miss you Mckell!

Had to put this in here...miss you Mckell!

We did one last drive up to Mikes beach house in Warriewood where we had the last day and night planned out with ALL of Mikes family (aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, the whole gang) but not before stopping at Mikes all time favorite meat pie place called The Upper Crust who he's dubbed "one of the better pies in the state of NSW" 

 Legit sitting on stumps on the side of the road....SO good

Legit sitting on stumps on the side of the road....SO good

Probably shouldn't have done that since Mikes mom had this waiting at their house for us.....

 Paella!!

Paella!!

We said our long goodbyes and were off back to the states for more celebrating :) So crazy going back to Australia with my now fiance (can't say that word seriously) and experiencing it with him as opposed to being 22 and there by myself not knowing which way was up or down. Such an amazing trip and for all of you who reached out for recommendations I hope this answered most of them!  Till next time...

                                               Cheers,

                                                         Kemi

Australia continued....

After we got back from Hunter and had a bit of a detox, we jumped on a plane to Byron Bay.  Mike had planned a stint in Byron for us as a surprise which I thought was because it gave us some alone time and he said it was one of his favorite places in Australia.  Little did I know he had a surprise up his sleeve.  

We landed in a TORRENTIAL downpour.  We also didn't have any working cellphones without wifi so when we picked up the car rental we had to also get a map to find our way to the Airbnb.  We always say we want to start using our phones less and less for directions but this definitely pushed our navigation skills to a new level with a map that cut off some parts and rain pouring so hard it was almost impossible to see out the window.  Yolo (...I hate myself for saying that)

On the drive up Mike told me one of the best parts of Byron is that it has the most epic sunrises since it's at Australia's most Easterly point. He asked if I wanted to wake up early and hike up the hill where the lighthouse is and check it out.  I, obliged without a thought in my head of that being anything out of the ordinary (I'm probably the easiest person in the word to surprise as I'll go along with pretty much any idea).

We got to our Airbnb which was in Wategos, the beach a little further over from Byron Beach and it was the cutest place I've ever seen.  The man who owned it owned the house above it, rented out the lower level to a large family, and we were tucked away in a studio around the back.  It wasn't big by any means, but the way he designed it made it so beautiful.  A mosquito net covered bed, with buddha statues and candles everywhere and the cutest patio with tons of plants and a BBQ area.  

We quickly got changed and went to a Vietnamese restaurant called Light Years in town which was recommended to us by our good friends Garvey and Manth.  The restaurant was brightly colored with really cool decor and amazing food. Highly recommended!

We went to bed straight away knowing we'd have to get up early to watch the sunrise. We woke up at 5am and just as I'm brushing my teeth I hear Mike say he's going to bring a backpack to carry a towel to sit on since it'll probably still be wet outside from the night before and we should bring some fruit and water too since we'll just stay there and have breakfast. We walked out and it almost looked like the sun already rose cause it was full moon and it was so bright that it looked like it was daytime!

 That's the MOON

That's the MOON

We hiked up towards the lighthouse were theres a patch of land laid out lined with cobblestones and benches and the sign that shows it's the furthest east you can go in Australia. The view was absolutely beautiful, but as soon as we sat down we knew we wouldn't be alone as sure enough joggers and families started to come and sit at the other benches.  Mike suggested we go somewhere a little more private and I agreed, so we set off and found an isolated bench, surrounded by bushes and with an even closer view of the water.

I won't go into all the good details but as you can predict, once the sun came up, Mike went down on one knee, and I was so surprised I lost my sh**.  I took these photos right before it all went down.

Little did I know, Mike packed a bottle of champagne, glasses and some fruit to enjoy after he surprised me (no wonder that book-bag was so full and he was carrying it like a weirdo).  We stayed there for about an hour longer and then realised we should probably see the lighthouse (after I stopped crying of course).  The views on the other side of the cliff were just as ridiculous.

That day was perfect.  After going back and calling our closest family and friends we realized how amazing it was to not have cell phone service once we left our Airbnb so we can relax and enjoy the beach.  This is when I realized how amazing Byron Bay is.  It's has this hippie/beach culture unlike anything I've ever seen.  Everything single restaurant was unique and had THE coolest decor and amazing food.  There was tons of shopping everywhere and huge bars along the beach, all within a few blocks radius.  When walking around we'd see women in their flowy skirts and tops dancing to street performers, or little alley ways that decided to throw a concert in it.  I swear to god I could move there. Some of the places we ate were The Pass Cafe for breakfast (which was on the way from where we stayed to Byron Beach),  Combi (best Acai bowl I've ever had), Duk (chinese), The Mez Club (greek), and then other nights we just picked up some meat and veggies and BBQ'd back at ours <3

 THe Pass Beach

THe Pass Beach

 Combi

Combi

 The Mez club

The Mez club

We even happened to catch a Paddle Out Ceremony, which a memorial service for a surfer that has past away.  About a 100+ surfers started to come down to the beach one by one and make a giant circle in the water to celebrate his life.  Pretty incredible to see in real life.

There were a couple towns outside Byron that we were told to check out.  We were definitely hesitant to drive 30 minutes away without cell phone service but we made a makeshift map quest (old school), googled the directions before-hand, wrote them down AND carried a map, and surprisingly enough, we survived.  SO so glad we did it because it let us check out these amazing places.  One being this "town" called Federal.  I put town in quotations because it was actually just one dirt road with about 4 businesses on it.  One coffeeshop that was a bohemian style dream, one clothing store in what looked like a barn, a post office, a drug store and ONE amaaaazing japanese restaurant.  It's called DOMA, and it's run out of a tiny shack. You basically find a spot wherever you can, on a half weathered picnic bench outside, against a high top, or even on the street and they bring your food to the number they give you.  The food was so incredibly good, I still rave about it.

Another town we decided to check out was Nimbin.  I honestly don't even know how to begin describing this place so I googled it and it says "It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades. ... Nimbin is a strange place indeed." ...basically it's known as the "Drug Capital of Australia" and it's locals and atmosphere did not stray from this theme. Needless to say we had a pretty funny time there (no Mom, we did not do drugs....)

After the most amazing week (to say the least) in Byron it was time to go back to Sydney and celebrate with everyone! I definitely could have stayed forever but we were excited to celebrate with his family and all our friends waiting for us <3

More on what we did around Sydney and my personal favorite (and old home) BONDI coming up in the next post!

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Australia Part 1

It feels a little weird writing a blog post about my mans hometown as if I'm the professional and know all there is to know about it.  BUT, I did go over Christmas and New Years and had THE best time, and was flooded with emails and texts from friends asking for recommendations SO, alas, a blog post.

Maybe we should start with the eventful flight over.  We decided to fly through Seoul instead of the usual NYC->LA-> Sydney.  It just so happened to be a much better priced flight so we thought why not.  We flew out expecting to get to Sydney Christmas Eve morning.  The first leg of the flight was 14 hours, so we figured we stay up the whole flight, and then sleep the next 10 hour flight so that when we get in that Xmas Eve morning we won't be as jet-lagged and as close to on schedule of sleeping as possible. That plan would have been PERFECT, if it went down that way. 

Not only did Mike and I get in trouble (as usual) for talking too loud on the plane by a passenger (we we're talking about Bitcoin! C'mon) because everyone was asleep when we were trying to stay awake, but when we finally got to Seoul we saw our flight was delayed cause of fog(?) No biggie, lets get some dumplings and a beer and hang out.  Then we went back to the gate and saw the flight had been delayed AGAIN, but this time, to the FOLLOWING DAY.  That would mean, we would not only have to sleep in Seoul, but we would be spending Christmas Eve here and wouldn't get to Sydney until Christmas Day.  Ugh, fine.  Honestly, we were laid back about the whole thing cause it's not the end of the world to miss Christmas Eve, and we kinda of wanted to see Seoul anyway, so fine, we'll just hang out and see what accomodation they put us in and get out of this friggin airport.  WRONG.  They had no intention of putting us up OR telling us exactly what was going on.  People started crowding around the gate when they saw the hand written sign of the 14 hour delay and the Airline Agents wouldn't say a word.  Thaaaat's when shit started to hit the fan.  People started SCREAMING.  This was all in Korean so Mike and I just kind of sat back and watched it all go down, but the Korean locals started going nuts.  Grabbing managers and forcing them behind the desk, screaming crowds, at one point a circle was formed around a manager and everyone had their cellphones out as a man pushed and screamed at him.  The worst part of it all is they rescheduled the flight to land in Sydney during Sydneys airport curfew which is between11pm and 6am (no planes can fly in or out during that time because it's in a residential area).  All the Australians on the plane were freaking out because clearly this airline didn't know that.  Because of that, we got one more notification, this time on our phones, that the flight that was originally delayed to 2pm the next day, is delayed further to 7pm. The crowd. Went. Nuts. At this point we hear that we not only have to leave the airport, but we have to take our baggage with us. 

At this point people start to break off.  Some go to the help desk upstairs where the line was about a mile long, some still yelling at the staff, and some (including Mike and I) find a lone flight attendant and latch onto her.  We were basically like, just tell us where to get our suitcases so we can find a hotel and get the hell out of here cause it's already now 3am.  Thankfully as we were waiting for our bags, Mike convinced the flight attendant to lend him her cellphone and was able to call the LAST nearby hotel with an open room.  Not going to lie, felt a little guilty being excited about it when we're surrounded by a group of others from Sydney and London who all knew they were going to not have to sleep in the airport but spend Christmas Eve there.  We grabbed our bags, ran outside, which, mind you, we did not plan on staying in Seoul so we have nothing more than flimsy leather jackets in the middle of winter and of course, the cab line was about 6 blocks long.  WHATEVER, just get us to the damn hotel.  When we finally got a cab and arrived to the hotel. Mike and I literally (no joke) ran to our room cause we were so tired and wanted to get into bed. 

That was the most comfortable bed I think I've ever jumped into.  We woke up the next morning and since we did no research on Seoul we had no idea where to go.  We asked the front desk what's a good area for lunch and sightseeing and he point to the main square which just so happened to be a 10 minute walk from our hotel!! Finally, something went right for us.  We grabbed an umbrella (why wouldn't it be raining?) and walked to a street filled with food stations and tons of skin care stores, clothing stores and even the beautiful grounds of an ancient church.  We found a restaurant that we heard about from the front desk, sat down and saw there were only 3 things on the menu, ordered them all and enjoyed some fresh noodles and dumplings.  Walked around some more, happened to find an arcade with archery, virtual realty rides and personal karaoke pods.  Not a bad Christmas Eve at all. 

After a good chunk of time spend in the town, we headed back to the hotel, packed up, drove back to the airport and were clean and refreshed for our flight. The airline tried to right their wrongs by letting us cut every line and giving us $20 food vouchers (that didn't work on alcohol mind you), but we were just happy to have slept in a bed honestly.  We did end up emailing both Asiana Airlines AND United (they were partners) and ended up getting some money back, not all, but some, so it would definitely could have been worse!

We flew in and went straight to Mikes family house in Warriewood, a suburb in Northern Sydney.  We had the most beautiful warm Christmas (which of course, I'm not used to), enjoyed some family time and went to bed, jet-lagged, at 6:30pm.

 View from their beautiful deck!

View from their beautiful deck!

The day after Christmas there is called Boxing Day.  It's a national holiday and one thing they have is an annual sailing race called the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.  So we drove to the starting point where there's a beautiful lookout to watch the boats take off!

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The northern beaches are absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite ones just so happens to be where Mikes mom grew up, Manly Beach.  It was just a quick bus ride away so we got to go there the next day :)  Manly kind of reminds me of a California beach town with it's main walkway, called The Corso, is filled with shops and restaurants and street performers.  We of course ended up getting a much overdue meat pie from Hamlet Pies (good but not the best, according to Mike) but before that got a drink at The Styne, a bar right on the corner closets to the beach.  They re-did their rooftop bar and named it Glass House and it's perfect for a quick beer and some snackings.

mmmm meat pies :P

After some QFT (quality family time..just made that up), we were headed even further north to Hunter Valley which is best described as their version of Napa Valley, aka wine country. But before that, Mikes mother was kind enough to show me old tapes of him on in air talking about the FX market :)  Enjoy! (Sorry Mike <3 ) 

On the way to Hunter we decided to spend the day and night in Newcastle, an up and coming town on the way where Mikes brother as well as a few of our friends live.  Absolutely beautiful beaches and chill pubs and restaurants.

 Redhead Beach, Newcastle

Redhead Beach, Newcastle

We arrived the next day at the Airbnb that we rented called Vinden Estate Wines, and it. was. gorgeous.  A huge mansion with every big room beautifully decorated, equipped with a huge kitchen, multiple patios, a pool and a tennis court.  AND..and, it's attached to a winery.  I honestly don't have any photos of the house as we were too busy drinking, eating and setting up a massive Slip N' Slide on the lawn, but do yourself a favor and google the estate...and then stay there when you visit.

 Roo's!!

Roo's!!

New Years Eve at Hunter!

After an amazing long weekend we all parted ways knowing we'd see each other again at Mike and I's farewell before we leave to go back home so the goodbyes weren't so painful.  Mike and I were on our way back to his family house before flying out to Byron Bay!

continued on the next blog post.....

 

Eurotrip Final Part

Aaaaaand it's January and I'm FINALLY finishing the blog posts from our trip back in May ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Can't skip the last part as it's pretttty much the reason we went to Italy in the first place....to see Mikes family house in Usago!

As we left Molfetta we geared up for a cheeky 9 hours drive up north.  Mike, being the planner that he is, found a beach in Sirolo half way there that looked like the perfect spot to take a break from driving, grab some good food and go for a quick dip.  This place did NOT disappoint with its bright blue water and pin-striped umbrellas giving you all the Italian fragrance ad feels.  See photos below...

Once we got to Mikes house we arrived at the same exact time as our good friends Dee and Dougie who previously left their apartment in NYC to move to Australia and took a 5 month hiatus to travel the world inbetween moves. They had already been traveling for a few weeks before meeting up with us so needless to say they were happy to see a house and some friendly faces.  Two of Mikes other friends, Guy and Emily had arrived a few hours before us as they were in Venice for part of their honeymoon and found a bar nearby to hang out at until we got there.  I really don't think theres anything better than meeting new friends for the first time after they've had a few to drink.  Guy is one of Mikes oldest friends from childhood and Emily, his wife, was the biggest ball of energy I had ever met.  She met Dee and I both with a huge smiles and hugs and she was already wearing a pair of my earrings she bought a while back, so yea, we love her.

Mikes house was the most perfect little Italian home you can imagine.  It smelled just like my Grandmas house growing up and had the same sort of frosted glass on the sides of the doors (DJ, Coli, Erick, you guys know what I'm talking about).  We opened all the windows to air it out took a little tour, caught up and then went on an adventure to see the town and find some wine and cheese.  When in...Usago. 

We headed to the town of Spilimbergo which was a short drive from Mikes and had all the cute churches and cobblestone streets with outdoor restaurants and frescos dated as far back as 500 years ago.  After walking around and snapping 100-500 pics we stopped into Al Bachero where Mike was determined to make us eat their famous Baccala.  Baccala for those who don't know is a mashed up dried and salted cod fish that you put on some toast and "enjoy".  We had a few bites each, told Mike we loved it, secretly spit some in our napkins and continued to order gnocchi by the pound and paired it with some wine.  

After that, it was time for the "Mattiussi Tradition".  Now, typically in past years it's only been the men that have done it, but Dee, Emily and I were prepare to take on the challenge.  Theres a small lake in the backwoods near Mikes house that is the most beautiful clear blue, but also THE most freezing water.  The tradition is simply to jump in, swim to the rock across the lake, touch it, and swim back.  Sounds simple until you get there and touch your toes to the water.  Knowing we had to-go cups of wine with us as a prize made it a little easier.  

We then made our way to the town to buy some wine for the house.  Mike knew of this place that sold wine by the GALLON so, obviously we went straight there.  While there we bumped into the store owner which has been a family friend of theirs for years and as soon as Mike reminded him he's the son of Adrian the man lit up, spoke a million miles a minute in Italian and gave us samples of about 4 different kinds of cheese he had on deck.  Dee was amazing enough to catch this all on camera as we all chewed and stared in amazement as Mike spoke back and forth with this legendary wine and cheese man.

After that, we decided to go to Mikes neighbors house, Adolfo or "The Dolf" as they appropriately refer to him, to say hi and introduce ourselves.  We had met him for a minute earlier in the day when we saw a man on Mikes property trimming the lawn.  This man, mind you, is about 80 years old, and looks like a complete boss.  The day he stops mowing his own lawn (and everyone else' on the block) is honestly the day he dies.  If his secret recipe is eating prosciutto and cheese everyday for the rest of your life then count me in.  I wish so bad we had taken a photo with him to show what I mean, but alas, we were too busy being ushered into his basement to see his workshop.  His workshop was filled with meat cutting machinery, lawn tools and calendars of hot, exotic women all on different months, probably the ones with his favorite girls.  He brought us into an adjacent room with a big dining room table were we all took a seat. Despite telling him we were off to dinner after this, he proceeded to bring us plate, after plate, after plate, of his home-made prosciutto, cheese AND wine.  We didn't eat or drink a single thing this man didn't make.  For about 2 hours we sat around, laughing, smiling and eating even though 90% of the time it was Mike and The Dolf speaking as we watched amazement.  I couldn't tell you why that was so much fun whilst not understanding a word being said, but it was.  

The next day, unfortunately Guy and Em had to leave so we said our goodbyes and continued our unspoken determination to eat all the prosciutto in Itay and headed to San Daniele Del Friuli.  That's right, where the San Daniele prosciutto comes from.  Unfortunately at this point I had fallen ill from GOD KNOWS WHAT (every damn time I travel) and I was unable to fully enjoy the bountiful plates of meat in front of us.  Here's a photo so you can feel just as tortured as I was.

 ::drool::

::drool::

The rest of the day we continued to explore as Mike wanted us to see the beautiful views of Tarvisio where he and his family would frequent to ski.   We bought a chairlift ticket to the top of the ski resort, Monte Lussari, to this ridiculously picturesque town (see instagram @air_dnd to see what I mean).  The cobblestone streets and blue mountains were absolutely breathtaking. We took a stupid amount of photos and proceeded to head back down to get happy hour and some spaghetti ice cream (that's right, vanilla ice cream pushed out like spaghetti with strawberry sauce on top, I'm a cheesy American and friggin loved it).  

The next day was filled with more eating, playing Briscola (a classic Italian card game Mike taught us) and relaxing on this beautiful dock we found on a lake.  Dougie even pulled out a travel fishing pole he had packed and fished while we swam and enjoyed the sun.  A super casual day followed by making a home cooked (way too spicy) spaghetti dinner with the four of us and two of Mikes neighbors Enrico and Phillippo who came over later to talk about Italian politics and to make fun of Mike.  Knowing it was the last few days of our trip we tried to make the most of it and our time with Dee and Doug who we knew we wouldn't see until Christmas in Oz.

After saying our sad goodbyes the next day, we all departed Usago :(  Dee and Doug were off to Modena and Mike and I to Venice where we would stay for a day and night and fly home from there.  

When we got to Venice it was JUST as I remembered as a kid.  There is something so magical about this city, it's like a disney world to me.  The moat-like streets, tiny hotels and ornate wooden taxi boats put me into sensory overload.  To be honest though, we dropped our things off in our beautiful hotel, walked around the streets and through the square, had an aperol spritz, and could not WAIT to jump back into our room to put on some giant white robes and relax.  Maybe it was because we had been so non-stop, maybe it was all the asian tourists in Venice, or maybe we just loved our pillowy hotel bed, I don't know, but I couldn't have been happier.  We wandered around later that evening to a random restaurant we found that had the perfect people watching outside street-facing table, ate some pesto pasta and called it a night.  

It's been extremely difficult to put into writing one of the most memoral trips I've ever had, but I'm glad I did so I can always look back on it and see the photos to remember it.  I highly suggest you go to some of these places if you're over that way, it's too hard to say which was my favorite.  To all the friends we met up with and then went our separate ways, we'll always have this overseas rendezvous in the books to remember. Until next time!

                                                   Cheers,

                                                              Kemi

 

Eurotrip Part 3

It only makes sense that the best part of the trip was the LAST part.  Traveling from Dublin, Marrakesh, Sorrento, Capri, Ravello, Amalfi etc. it was time to get back to our roots and visit where our families are from in Italy.  While I thought it was super neat that despite being from opposite parts of the world, Mike and I were both Italian, he was quick to inform me that southern and northern Italians are VERY different and do not necessarily like each other. A house divided once again... (go Jets). 

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Our first stop was a 3.5 hour drive straight from Ravello to Molfetta, or, the City of Gadaletas as I like to call it.  My father had always told us where my Grandfather grew up and spoke of a few family members that we are related to and still live there, Pasquale, Legia and their son Aldo. When planning out our Eurotrip Mike thought it was VERY important that we go see Molfetta as I should "know where my roots are" and see this distant family.   I found Aldo on facebook (as you do) and reached out to him. He was extremely quick to respond and, in true Italian fashion, tell us we were more than welcome to stay with them when we came there.   We drove our Wicked Van straight to their apartment and were told to follow them to their "country house" which was about 15 minutes outside of the city.  Meeting them was a incredible experience to say the least.  Legia is the one who I'm related to.  Her father and my grandfather were first cousins, so, I have no idea what that makes us, and my head hurts trying to figure it out, but theres blood in there somewhere.  When I got out of the car to meet Legia it was amazing.  She came forward, perfectly well kept, dressed to the nines, and all in blue.  She gave me a kiss on each cheek and then kept her hands on my shoulders and pulled back to look at me.  She had this huge smile on her face of pure amazement that it almost brought tears to my eyes.  It was like we had this instant connection and love for each other but neither of us could speak in each others language.  It's hard to describe that feeling.  Pasquale on the other hand, her husband, is the most outgoing, lively character we've ever met.  Immediately throwing his arms open to welcome us and speaking in very slow, very loud Italian so that we could try to understand.  Thankfully, Mike, unbeknownst to me, spoke perfect Italian and was able to be our translator. They told us that we could have their country house to stay in (giving us their master bedroom!) and Aldo would stay with us to help lock up and so that we don't set off the alarm every night (even though we did anyway and Aldo had to crawl through the kitchen window to turn it off ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  ).  Aldo, who's 32 and just recently engaged to his girlfriend (now wife!) Daniela of 9 years was the one who spoke the best english.  He and Mike immediately hit it off and looked and acted as if they've been friends for years. He told us that Legia and her 3 sisters all bought country houses right next to each other in a row.  All exactly alike.  I love it.

 

Since we got there in the early evening we were told to take a minute to relax from the drive, shower and then get ready for dinner which would be at a pizza place (yesssssss) and we'd be "presented to the cousins" (no joke, they actually said that, it was terrifying).  Once we got to dinner we were greeted with even more giant smiles and open arms.  My favorite part was sitting down to dinner and for once being on the other side of the language barrier.  Everyone was speaking fast in Italian and then once and a while would slow it down for us to try to understand and then Mike would respond back and somehow make everyone laugh.  8 years of Italian and I could understand almost every word but couldn't respond.  I knew certain words but I felt stupid for some reason speaking half english and then throwing out random words in Italian so I decided to just not speak at all.  Mike told me though, that thats just how you have to go about it.  It's scary at first but you have to just try and speak as much as you can to get the hang of it.  Funny thing is, when someone else spoke Italian and then added random english words in the middle of the sentence, it actually did help me understand, so why not try it back??  

 

At one point Aldo and Daniela asked if there was anything we didn't like on pizza. We obviously answered no, so they went ahead and ordered for us.  The two big pies came to the table a few minutes later and were places right in front of Mike and I.  We thought it was a mistake and that we were all obviously going to share the huge pies so we pushed them towards the middle of the table.  Immediately everyone goes "nonono" and gave it back to us.  We quickly realized everyone ordered huge pies for themselves. Then, everyone proceeded to eat their ENTIRE pie.  Every, single, bite. Not a crust was left.  This was probably my biggest culture shock.  You couldn't leave anything on your plate or they would think something was wrong.  I started sweating. But we obviously ate it all.  At one point at dinner we mentioned how we wanted to check out this village called Alberobello about an hour away (google it...) the next day and Pasquale looked heart broken.  He told us he had plans to drive us to this castle that Molfetta is famous for and that it's even on the 1 cent coin, but if we'd rather go to Alberobello of course that was fine.  Immediately we were like "No! Just kidding, we'd MUCH rather do that" and he looked relieved and as happy as ever as he continued to tell us more about the history of Molfetta.  Legia had asked Aldo to ask me if I brought a hair dryer and I told her I didn't but not to worry I didn't need one.  She insisted she get me one to bring to the house but ASSURED her it was completely unnecessary. We finished the dinner, headed back to our new home and were well rested for the next day.

The next morning we woke up to a energetic Pasquale upstairs making espresso and with plates of croissants, fruit and yogurt.  We quickly "chatted" as best we could and made our way to Castel Del Monte.  Eager to give us a tour, Pasquale secretly bought two headsets without us knowing and shoved us inside the castle to get an audio tour in english and said he and Legia would wait outside for us saying that they've done it too many times before.  It really was beautiful. After snapping a pic outside the castle they told us we're going to head to Aldo's favorite restaurant and meet him for his lunch break.  This restaurant was exactly what you wanted from an Italian city along the sea.  All white, breezy outdoors, and the smell of fresh seafood everywhere.  We sat down and soon enough our table was FILLED with raw fish.  I had always heard stories of my Grandfather being captured in the war and escaping a refugee camp by making a raft and sailing out to sea and the only way he survived was by eating raw fish.  This is all where it came from.  Raw shrimp, raw calamari, raw sea urchin, and raw octupus. All of it, felt like it was legit plucked from the sea, rinsed off a little, and slapped on a plate. And....it was delicious (I don't understand).  Just when we thought our lunch was over, they came out with huge plates of Spaghetti Vongole for each of us.  I thought I couldn't possibly eat anymore food and then I had a bite and couldn't put my fork down.  I'm almost mad at how good it was because now I can never eat it again as it will NEVER be as good as it was at that restaurant.  I don't even like Spaghetti Vongole.  

 

After that we finally got to walk around Molfetta.  I can't tell you how connected I felt to this city.  All of the buildings were a white-washed, clay color, ALL will the exact same green shutters.  That particular green is so famous to them it's actually called "Molfetta Verde".  Fun fact! My favorite color is green. I couldn't stop taking photos to the point where Aldo kept making fun of me and calling me green.  Cobblestone streets, cats EVERYwhere, and those green shutters, I was in heaven.  Pasquale is the type of guy where we'd walk around and he'd see that a museum or a church was closed, and Legia would be yelling at him not to try to go in and he would just say something loud in italian, throw his hands up in the air and continue walking in. Just when I thought it could get any better, Pasquale told us it was time for a siesta. Ahhhh yes. This is where I belong.

 

After a beautiful nap, the night continued and we were taken to Trani, an incredible city nearby to get some aperol spritz' near the water and talk about life and our families.  By the way, in all of this walking around and on cobblestone streets, Legia NEVER wore anything but heels, and we quickly noticed that all the women in Molfetta did as well.  You can't teach this type of class.  They drove us back and dropped us off before they went home to a burger place where we met up with Aldo and Daniela to grab a beer and sit and eat burgers at their favorite local spot.  After dinner Aldo kept getting a phone call from Legia. We didn't know what was going on but he drove the opposite way and we ended up outside Legia and Pasquales apartment.  We kept hearing Aldo say something about a foam, or a phone, we couldn't figure it out or why we were stopping at their place so late at night.  Aldo runs up and comes back down minutes later with a big bag.  He hands it to me and I open it up to find...a hairdryer.  Even though we were leaving the next morning, Legia had absolutely insisted, and I couldn't stop laughing <3

 

We woke up the next morning to the spread of croissants and fruit again and a sad Pasquale.  It was very hard to say goodbye but we promised to keep in touch and that if they came to NY that they would have a place to stay.  After Pasquale took about 20 photos in front of our wicked van, we embarked on our way knowing that we would see Aldo and Daniela soon as their honeymoon was in NY in a few short weeks.   Molfetta will forever have a huge place in my heart, but the show must continue and....onto the North!

                                     cheers,

                                             Kemi

 

 

 

 

Eurotrip Part 2

Welp, It's been a sufficient amount of time since I wrote my last blog post about our Eurotrip.  Now on to the Italy part!

Side note, I hated english class, but the only thing I remember is that you should never begin a sentence with "and". WHY. Why not?? Would you rather a run-on sentence? Cause that's what I'm gonna do then.  Probably shouldn't start a sentence with "cause" either....ugh. Anyway :)

From Marrakesh we flew straight into Rome.  Knowing we only had a few hours there we asked my Dad (who went to Med School there!) what was a good place to go to for a quick bite to eat and still get some sight-seeing in. He suggested the Piazza Navona.  There are a TON of restaurants along the Via Del Corso nearby but we ended up going to one in the center of the Piazza facing the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.  While people watching, we quickly chowed down pizza, spaghetti and beer before running back to the train station to get to where our "Wicked Van" was waiting for us.

Some of you might wonder what this Wicked Van is.  Well, let me tell you, as I had no idea what it was until Mike explained.  In a nutshell, its a van, that you sleep in.  I'm not talking about an RV, it's legit a soccer mom van, with a "kitchen" in the trunk and cushions that fold out across the whole back to sleep on.  Each one of them come with different graffiti on the sides so you don't know what you have until you show up.  Ours came with Bart and Milhouse smoking a joint on one side with the words "Dune Rats", and on the other side was a muscular fish quoting "Only dead fish follow the stream" (see photos below).  It took a few hours to realize why people were staring at us when we drove by.  Also, it's a UK company, so the steering wheel is on the right-hand side, while you still drive on the right side in Italy, so you're really mixed up. 

We drove our way to Sorrento and straight into our camp to park our van just in time for sundown.  The camps are filled with RV's and other cars who packed tents and tables, each with their own space.  Needless to say there were no other Wicked Vans so we definitely stood out.  We parked our car (sorry, I mean our home) between two trees and headed to town for dinner.

We didn't stay out late because we knew we wanted to wake up early to get to Capri the next day even though Sorrento was SUCH a cool town.  The streets and restaurants were so lively with such a positive vibe from all the people around and in the streets, we were in awe! I highly highly recommend you go to Sorrento if you're in southern Italy.  Oh, and get the gelato from Gelateria Primavera.

We woke up early, brushed our teeth out the back of the van like the true hillbillies we became and were on our way to get ferry tickets to Capri!  This, I have to say, mayyyy be one of my favorite days of the trip.  We had heard that you can actually rent your own boat and ride around Capri by yourself. As soon as we got there we found the rumors were true! The company is called Banana Boat and they legit teach you the rules and how to drive it with a toy wooden boat on their desk and send you off on your way (thankfully Mike already knew how to drive one).  We didn't realize we were in Capri not only on a Saturday, but on an Italian holiday weekend, so it was PACKED.  We had to wait until 3pm for our boat but it was actually perfect timing wise to just walk around and get lost in Capri.  We took the slanted trolly-car up to the top where the views were incredible and found a cozy spot for lunch. Isabelle's I think it was called?? It was some chicks name, damn, can't remember, sorry, bad blogger (I'm not really a blogger).

I will not post pictures of all the cats I saw, I will not post pictures of all the cats I saw, I will not post... 

We ventured back down and got our boat as planned.  We decided to head counter clockwise around the island as we heard the Blue Grotto closes at 5 so we wanted to hit that first.  I had been once before as a kid but the only thing I remembered was how blue the water was and that may have only been because of a picture saved from my disposable camera (those were the days).  We drove up and found a buoy to tie our boat onto.  The rule is to wait there until a man standing in a tiny row boat comes up to you and tells you to get in.  With all the boats bobbing up and down in the water and the commotion from people yelling in Italian you think that they don't see you but OH they do.  They know exactly when you rolled up and what number in line you are.  Our guy finally came to us and told us we were the last boat to get in and that we juuuuust made it.  Once you're in the boat, he rows you over to the grotto entrance which is about the size of the row boat itself and tells you to duck.  Actually not just duck, but lay almost completely flat down in the boat as he grabs a rope attached to the top of the grotto and literally pulls you in.  Once inside, it's completely dark except for the brightest blue water you have EVER seen.  Everyone in there is rowing around in circles in awe, listening to the guides singing loudly in Italian as it echoes around you.  Our guide, the angel that he is, turns to us and goes "do you want to jump in?" PRO TIP: if you go late to the Blue Grotto when it closes and you're the last one in they let you SWIM IN IT.  Without him having to ask twice we jumped straight in and swam around laughing our asses off.  Absolutely surreal.  

These kept cropping weird so I had to upload them in a "carousel" format (?) still does the trick though.

After that we got back on our boat (after generously tipping our guide of course) and headed to more places around the island.  There was a green grotto, a white grotto, a lighthouse, and a few beaches and arches to pass through.  Having the freedom to just anchor our boat whenever we wanted and swim around was a dream.  We returned the boat after the 2 hours was up with a huge high from being out on the water all day.  Capri, ti amo.

After that we drove to our next camp so we could see more of the Amalfi Coast.  This one was in Agerola (which we pronounced horribly wrong for the first few days) which was a few hours away. This camp was a biiiit different than the one in Sorrento.  Plenty of space to park which was amazing, but with added rules.  First, there was no toilet paper in the bathrooms, only a toilet and a shower head (no, not a bidet, a shower head) next to it to wash you off.  Also, you used coins for the shower.  You put the coin in that you got from the manager, and the shower starts for a fullllllllllll 4 minutes.  Never thought I could shower so quickly (no lollygagging in this camp Annie!).  

Anywho, that next morning, it was game time.  Time to walk.....the Path Of Gods.  Mike had done some research and found that another way, instead of just boring driving, to Positano is to hike from Agerola along said Path Of Gods.  It's a 3 hour hike, approximately 9 km (5.5 miles) with picturesque, panoramic views of the entire Gulf of Salerno.  Legend tells that the gods came down to this pathway to reach the sea where the sirens that tried to seduce Ulysses with their singing had lived . Apparently to believe the legend, one must walk the path. Challenge accepted. 

This was absolutely the most beautiful hike.  We went early in the morning when the fog was still along the cliffs and it was super quiet.  After an hour or so though we still seemed to be  super high from sea level and kept wondering when it was going to start to dip down.  Well, it didn't.  You get down by walking down SEVENTEEN HUNDRED STEPS.  In a row.  Seventeen hundred  That's 1-7-0-0.  That's 700 more than 1,000 steps.  When I tell you we coudn't walk for 4 days after that I'm dead serious.  Our calves were killing us. No other part of our legs, just our calves.  I bet the gods at least had Pegasus to bring them down. We looked like idiots trying to get up and walk down stairs, constantly trying to explain in Italian like "le gambe sono irritate" (which is not the right way to say it by the way).  But well well worth it.

I can't write every minute about Positano as much as I want to otherwise this post will be forever long. Just trust me when I say it is absolutely beautiful.  We ate at Buca Di Bacco where I had quite possibly the best pesto pasta I've ever had.  Both the beach views and cold Peronis were well deserved after that hike. From Positano there are ferrys that take you to other parts, so we took one that afternoon after hanging at the beach to Amalfi (of course).  Amalfi was equally as beautiful with a bit of a Capri feeling with its small maze-like streets.  In the center of it is the Duomo which we splurged to actually go inside this time (even though I almost got kicked out for being topless.  Just kidding I wasn't topless.  But my top was definitely less than what you would wear to church.  I WAS ON VACATION. Leave me alone gremlin lady).

The first photo is from a beach we stopped at along the way to Positano called Arienzo :)

That next morning we hit up one more beauuuutiful beach that was suggested by the camp owner called Il Duoglio.  He declined to tell us though that it was another 500 steps to get down to. Exerciiiiise those calves. So last on the Amalfi Coast for us, but most DEFINITELY not least, was Ravello.  We kept hearing about this magical place that everyone spoke about and wondered, honestly, how much better could it be than what we've already seen?? Well we definitely knew once we got there. It's nicknamed the most romantic city for a reason as it legit looked like Romeo and Juliet threw up all over it.  Every single street/alleyway/building/castle had a million vines and flowers climbing over every inch.  Peeking in between each building you could see vast views of the coast with all the houses built into the mountains.  Lunch with a view took a whoooole different meaning here (see pic below).

Warning: there's about to be a lot of the backs of Mikes head in the next photo group.  Cute head tho.

Aaaaand that concludes our part on the Amalfi Coast! Little did we know this would be the last time we could speak english to each other (or I could speak at all).  We were on our way to Molfetta, where my Grandfather was from :)

TBC.....

 

Eurotrip part 1

People have been asking recommendations for things to see and do in Europe after my trip, so I thought why not write a blog post.  Please enjoy below the tales of us trying to navigate planes, trains and automobiles, sleeping in a van and injecting tagines and prosciutto into our veins. Will be doing this is two parts cause the trip was super long and my attention span for writing isn't.

NOTE: The words in bold are our recommendations 

Ireland

 Guinness Brewery

Guinness Brewery

We were only in Dublin for a day, BUT we tried to fit in as much as humanly possible while ignoring the jet lag.  Immediately when landed we found a parking garage and went straight to a pub.  A friend of a friend told us about P.Mac's on Stephen Street Lower. It was PERFECT.  Huge burgers, cold Guinness and funky decor with mismatched furniture, dark wood and red candles dripping everywhere.  

We decided to walk to the Guinness Brewery (of course) and it just so happens that the St. Patricks Cathedral was along the way.  Obvvviously you gotta see that. We didn't go in, cause there was a line and we're lazy, but it was cool to see Irelands oldest (founded in 1191!), tallest and largest church.

The brewery was way more modern than we expected, which we actually loved! There were about 7 floors, filled with either the history of the brand, teaching you what's in it, how to make it, and even interactive technology which gave us all the Minority Report feels. The best part was the top floor which had 360 views of the city :)

We then drove across to Ballina (pronounces Bal-in-AHHH, seriously you have to basically scream the "ah") which is west of Dublin.  Since we didn't get a chance to see the Cliffs of Moher, we found another good site seeing spot called the Downpatrick Head which was an unbelievableeee cliff and apparently less touristy which is always better.

Morocco

 Riad Idra

Riad Idra

Getting to Morocco was SO rewarding to say the least.  After waking up at 5AM (the day after a wedding..) driving 3 hours to the airport, flying to London, MISSING THE CHECK-IN FOR OUR NEXT FLIGHT BY 3 MINUTES, having to re-book another 2 flights from the other London airport which was an hour bus ride away, layover in Casablanca where we took a van to our plane which was apparently 15 minutes away on the tarmac and the guy didn't speak english and we thought we were getting kidnapped...........................

We stayed at the Riad Idra which when the woman opened the most beautiful ornate door, perfume and air conditioning slapped us in the face I almost cried.  Oh and they had a house cat named Happy, if so facto, Kemi was happy.  Your Riad should be your saving grace in Morocco, cause let me tell you, the rest is pretttty shady.  I absolutely loved every second of it as it looked like a dream or something out of Aladdin but you are ALWAYS guarded.  Guys will come up to you left and right screaming and throwing things at you and then snatching your phone to take a pic and then charging you for said pic.

The first night we landed we went straight to dinner at Comptoir Darna.  This place was huuuuge. Red couches and walls with such extravagance that it gave off a bit of a Vegas feel.  We sat in our dark little corner and ate Tagines and veggies and 20 different types of hummus while watching belly dancers and men swinging their hats around while clamping little symbols on their fingers.  Definitely a tourist spot but it has to be done.

The next morning we woke up and remembered they said breakfast was included and will be served on the roof.  So after forcing myself to change out of my luxurious robe and tasseled pink slippers we wandered upstairs.  After roaming around past daybeds and tiny nooks we stumbled upon a big round table with two chairs and place settings.  There was not a single other soul up there.  So after staring at it, waiting for it to talk back to us and tell us it is in fact for us, a man came up dress all in blue and told us to have a seat.  No menu, no questions asked, he just started bringing out trays and trays of drinks and food.  First fruit smoothies, then coffee, then orange juice, then a bread basket with jams, egg tagine (I think it was?), fruit cup, yogurt and another basket filled with dessert bread.  Even their butter came perfectly wrapped up in twine in one of those things the rose is held in Beauty and The Beast. Heaven.

 Look closely for the butter...

Look closely for the butter...

A must do is the Souks.  These are the crazy markets you hear about where they sell everything from lanterns to rugs to slippers.  If you're buying stuff for your apartment THIS is the place to go.  Really wish we had more room in our luggage but made away with two leather bags, couple bracelets, dishes, a leather pouf and some slip on shoes.  The trick here is to negotiate EVERYthing.  Never pay the first price they tell you. Oh...and there were cats everywhere <3 (don't worry, I won't post the 5,6789 photos I took of them)

After we got lost in that maze for a few hours, we headed to the main square where all the snake charmers, monkeys and dancers were.  We saw the Koutoubia Mosque which was the tallest Mosque in Marrakesh and then booked it to lunch.  We kept hearing about the Nomad which wasn't the easiest to find (as we quickly realized nothing is in Morocco) but once we did it was well worth it.  We went all the way up to the rooftop and were the only ones up there overlooking the spice markets. While we were there we finally heard the infamous prayer that they do once (twice? three times?) a day over loud speakers for everyone to hear.  

 Nomad

Nomad

After we were pleasantly full and had some H20 in us we went back to our Riad where a van was waiting for us to bring us to the desert!! We found this camp called Scarabeo Camp which was about 45 minutes from Marrakesh.  The camp provides a driver to pick you up and you pick your tent size and day time activities ahead of time.  As soon as we got there we were greeted by a sweet yet semi-spacey woman named Mary who grabbed our luggage and showed us to some lounge chairs while we waited for our tent to be prepared.  Morocco is very unique in which everytime you ask for something, or are greeted somewhere, or do basically anything, they go over the top.  For example, she asked us if we wanted anything, we said water, she came back with water, mint tea (which is everywhere, and delicious) and a plate of mini desserts.  This happened to us again later in the afternoon when we asked for wine glasses (it's BYO!) and the gentleman came back with two glasses, a jug of water and multiple dishes of nuts and prunes. You really start to get used to it and it's amazing.

 Scarabeo Camp &nbsp;(Mike not included)

Scarabeo Camp  (Mike not included)

Lets take a moment to talk about the bathrooms in the tent.  It's connected by a tent flap, and the toilet looks like one of those you used when potty training.  After you "go" you then pull a drawer out from the bottom of it where the water falls into somewhere else I don't care to think about.  The sink was the best part.  It was legit just a lantern (sorry, genie lamp) filled with water which you poured over your hands onto a dish.  The shower was a couple of poles holding up sheets with a shower nozzle hanging loose on the side that you have to hold the whole time. Not making this stuff up.

 Mike showering

Mike showering

Our one and only activity we decided to do was the camel ride (duh).  About an hour before our ride was scheduled and we were laying in our tent trying to nap, we could hear the camels (or actually it was just one camel) yelling out into the desert for about 20 minutes.  It sounded like chewbacca using an Auto-tune.  Needless to say we did not nap, but I was too excited to get on that damn camel hump I didn't care. Not much to say about the camel ride besides it being a complete and utter surreal experience.  They are SO much higher than horses and definitely don't spit like everyone says they do all the time.  There were about 6 of us all tied together with our main man (never got his name) towing us along, speaking in camel.  I highly highly recommend doing this.

Our dinner was very similar to our breakfast at the Riad.  Walked up to the main tent area and found one table with two chairs side by side perfectly set.  Mary came out of no where (as she does) and told us to have a seat where they continued to bring out tagines upon tagines.  Bellies full and bodies exhausted we crashed out in our tent straight after that.

 This happened on the reg

This happened on the reg

The next day we waited for our car to come and pick us up to bring us back to Marrakesh where we were DETERMINED to find a pool.  We kept hearing about this place called El Fenn and after wandering aimlessly for a bit, then finding it, then being told they don't have a pool, then lying and saying we're having lunch, then them changing their mind and telling us they do have a pool, we walked right in.

 El Fenn

El Fenn

We had one of those moments again where we ordered two beers and they came out with two beers, two pool towels, a giant plate of assorted nuts, and a platter of freshly sliced fruit.

After cooling off with some fake swans we decided to go to lunch at Dar Moha which was apparently an old mans mansion that they turned into a restaurant.  To say it was beautiful was an understatement.  Not only was there a swimming pool surrounded by blue walls and giant lush trees but they even had a tiny turtle crawling around for "decoration".  Seriously epic meal, another strong recommendation.

After battling through the Souks one last time we headed back to our salvation and showered up before heading to dinner.  I have to say, I'm a big meat lover, but after having tagines for breakfast lunch and dinner I was craaaving any type of fish.  We found a place not too far from our Riad called Le Jardin that couldn't have satisfied that craving better. We literally climbed through a tiny door and past through a turquoise hallway filled with hanging mirrors to get into the restaurant.  The hostess told us it was very busy and we'd have to wait, so we said fine, sat for about 5 minutes, maybe less, and our table was ready (apparently this is not New York where a wait means 2 hours).  

We stumbled back to our lantern lit Riad, finished our bottle of wine in the courtyard, went to bed and were up before the sun to head to Italy.

To be continued....

12 gift ideas for Mothers Day

Mother

     [muhth-er] - noun

      1. One person who does the work of twenty.  For Free.

      (See also: 'masochist', 'loony', 'saint'.)

 

Mothers day is 3 weeks away and it's time to get crackin on that present! I've curated a list of the pieces that sell the BEST when it comes to mothers.  Click on the pictures to be directed to the link to buy :)

The Mor-Rockin Necklace

Honestly, I never would have thought this would be a great pic for mothers until I noticed how many women of that age range were buying it.  For the eclectic mom, the weekend warrior, and the "I survivied the 70's" kind of woman.

The *Custom* Gold-plated Necklace

This guy is a no-brainer.  By far the best seller, probably because it can relate to anything.  Add a birthdate, kids initials, a heart, anything that would be relatable and completely make her heart explode when she opens it (that's the aim anyway, right?)

The Achey Breaky Heart Bracelet

What mom isn't a sucker for hearts.  The love that a mother gives is unlimited, and something that should never be taken for granted.   Best part about this piece is you can leave it plain or add tiny initials to it.  Custom jewelry for the win.

The Tomahawk Ring With Diamonds

If your mom is anything like mine, they looooove sparkly things.  I think that starts the second they get a wedding band on their finger, and they just can't go back to regular rings.  This dainty ring is perfect to pair or stack on any finger.  Also available in silver or white-gold upon request (to match her other rings of course).

New Mother Agate Bracelet

We can't forget about all the new moms, or even moms to be! Agate crystals promote inner stability and composure.  They are great to use during pregnancy in which they help new mothers avoid the "baby blues" sometimes experienced after giving birth.  Crystals, as I'm told, harness energy, so keeping this on your body will emit these undeniable positive vibes. 

Tiny Elephant with Diamond Eye Bracelet

Going with the theme with new moms, this bracelet is another crowd pleaser.  Elephants are a symbol of happiness, longevity and good luck. No wonder they're a popular pattern for baby rooms.  Buy one for the mother and a tiny size one for the baby.  ::::heart melting::::

*Custom* Coordinates Necklace

Another best seller.  This guy (also available in a bracelet under the 'bracelets' tab) is perfect to keep your home close or remembering a special place.  Reversible coordinates also available, or if you wanted to add initials to the back side.  Double Wammy.

Love Is Blind Braille Bracelet

There are few things cooler than hidden messages.  This bracelet (also available in all silver minus the stones) is perfect for expressing your love.  With diamonds creating the braille message on one side and the word "LOVE" engraved on the back, she'll never forget you'll always be there.

Love Is Blind Ring

Couldn't not put the original Love Is Blind ring on this list.  Moms just love it.

Smaller Breed Studs

Give your mother a way to keep her flock close with these simple, tiny feather studs.  Birds of a feather....

Robot Tears Earrings

Can't afford diamonds? Why not get the next best thing, earrings that LOOK like diamonds.  This geometric shape is a popular favorite among mothers.  Dipping just a little below the ear lobe, these sterling silver earrings are also available in gold vermeil. 

Heart to Heart Bracelet

Last but not least, love overload.  This bracelet sits perfectly on the wrist and is a constant reminder of the love that surrounds her.  Add initials anywhere, create a word or phrase, or leave as is.

 

Hope this makes your mothers day shopping a little bit easier!  Just consider me your personal jewelry designer :)  Much love to the moms out there...we wouldn't be here without you <3

                                                            Cheers,

                                                                     Kemi

 ***email me at kemidesigns@gmail.com with any custom ideas that you have as well!

People keep asking about my skin, and here's why...

Our bodies are amazing.  I'm 4 months away from turning 30 and like clockwork suddenly I'm super aware of my skin.  Dark spots, wrinkles, you name it. I hate to, haaaate to say it, but my mother was right all those times she yelled at me for baking in the sun for hours at a time when we would go on vacation.  I have read though, that our skin is constantly shedding and replacing cells and that it's not impossible to reverse the damage, so I started a new skin routine....and I love it.

****click on any of the pictures to be directed to the link to buy!

FACE WASH

      I used to buy every acne clearing product there was on the shelf.  Then I read somewhere that not EVERYone has acne, and that's not always the problem with your skin.  In fact, a lot of times you could be causing acne from those products.  So I found this face wash at Sephora and it's a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I bought the 5 oz, and yes, it's a little pricey, but its huge and you only need a small drop once a day and it'll last you a long time.  Worth it for good skin!

 GlamGlow SuperCleanse

GlamGlow SuperCleanse

SPIN BRUSH

I bought a Clarisonic brush ages ago when it was all the rage, and I remember loving it, and then it breaking, and forgetting about it.  It really is a great product though, and it forces you not only to scrub deep but to wash your face longer than 2 seconds.  Only thing is, you don't NEED the Clarisonic brand.  Personally, I think they're a rip off (they all do the same thing!).  So I bought this one from Amazon instead to use with the facewash.  $23.57 :) :)

SPOT TREATMENT

Finally bit the bullet and bought this guy that I've been hearing so much about.  It is liiiiiving up to its name.  You just take a q-tip, stick it in until it hits the pink solution at the bottom, and dab it onto a pimple or cyst you see about to form. It completely dries it out over night....magic

ROSE WATER

Sticking with amazing Mario Badescu products.  This one is a game changer.  I thought it was total bullshit at first.  Even the name "rose water" sounds like a scam. BUT, it is not, my friends, it is truly incredible.  You'd be amazed at how dry skin can affect it's appearance.  You just spray this guy on your face after applying your makeup to help set it, or just spray it on after you've come home from being out for a while and it completely revitalizes your skin.  You can actually feel it moisterizing and working minutes after you use it.  Best part? Its only $7 and you can find it (and the one above!) at Urban Outfitters.  Another good reason to go into that damn addicting store.

FACE MASK

I got a facial not too long ago and when the lady asked when was the last time I had my last one and I told her 4 years ago she almost threw up.  Apparently you're supposed to get them every month?? Ya, ok Mariah Carey.  BUT, these face masks are like mini facials, and you can do them at home 2-3 times a week, and in my head, thats pretty good.  This one is still a favorite and when you use it, it looks like you did one of those cool mud baths you see in the Caribbean. Thank you Bobbi.

SERUM

Ah...serums.  I'm still trying to fully figure out what they do.  All I know is basically your moisturizer doesn't fully work unless you put this on first. It protects your skin, and balances it, reverses signs of ages, it does it all.  Took me a while to use one regularly, but I'm glad I do now.  This one in particular is superb, but it's definitely pricey and the only reason I got it was from a sample in my Birchbox.  If you don't want to spend this much on a serum then just buy any old one from the drugstore or sephora and I'm sure it all does the same thing.

MOISTURIZER

I've full blown skipped buying moisturizers and just use coconut oil instead.  For everything.  I eat it, drink it, wear it, make love to it.  The BEST one I've found (it smells so good!) is this one from Trader Joes.  Just use a tiny bit all over your face after you use your serum and it does wonders.  If you can't get yourself to a Trader Joes click on the picture above and it will direct you to Amazon where they also sell it. God I love Amazon.

Alright well, hope this was a tiny bit helpful and you can find and love at least one of these products to bring into your routine! Sorry I've been MIA on doing blogs...was busy making jewelry :)

                                                                     Cheers,

                                                                             Kemi

Creative ways to donate your belongings

If you're like me, you have way too many clothes and shoes and make-up to handle.  A lot of times I realized I actually wear LESS of what I own when my closet is crowded because I'll be too lazy to look through it and just end up wearing the same things over and over. I try to clean out my apartment 2-3 times a year and donate as much as I can.  Here's a list of some different ways you can donate, some of which even give you rewards in return!

THRED UP

This is absolutely my new favorite way to donate.  My neighbor Paige (hi Paige!) told me about it a while back and I'm addicted.  Basically it's easy, you sign up online (click on picture to be directed to their website) and ask to receive one of their Thred Up bags.  Once it comes in the mail, you fill it up with as much clothes (and even shoes!) as possible and drop it off at your nearest FedEx.  It's that simple! Once it's recieved they go through your clothes and you actually get MONEY back on anything they're able to re-sell! They can either send you the money via paypal, send you a visa pre-paid card or you can use the money direct from you account to shop through their site! Best. Idea. Ever.

H&M

Who would have thought?? Bring your clothes to the cash register at H&M to donate and you'll receive a 15% off voucher from them immediately! It's as easy as that. (**the clothes do not have to be from H&M)

Womens Shelter

I personally have collected so much makeup either from buying cheap ones that I never end up using, or from my birchbox that I just hoard and they pile up.  Make-up can be donated to nearly any womens shelter to give to victims of domestic abuse, human trafficking or mental illness.  To donate to this specific one click on the picture and it will bring you to the contact info for Nora Tarr who is absolutely lovelyyy and will tell you how and where to send it to!

The Beauty Bus Foundation

Speaking of donating make-up, this charity enlists beauty professionals to visit homes and hospitals to spruce up the lives (and appearances) of the terminally ill as well as their caregivers. Beauty bus also compiles gift bags of goodies for the sick! Click on the photo above or simple mail your items to

Beauty Bus Foundation
2716 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 1062
Santa Monica, CA 90405  

Dress for Success

This non-profit organization prepares less-fortunate ladies for job interviews by providing professional attire and career training courses. The group accepts unopened products, business suits, shoes, AND jewelry.  Head over to:

32 East 31st Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10016
on the third saturday of each month between 11am and 2pm

GOODWILL

When all else fails, go to Goodwill.  Easy, effective, and tax deductible (so don't forget your receipt!) Click on the above link to find locations on the map or see below for locations near you.

Hope this article was helpful! Happy friday and cheers to the weekend :)

                                                    Cheers,

                                                           Kemi

Six new trends for Fall 2016

The first day of fall is LITERALLY tomorrow, and I know it's sad summers over, but unfortunately it's time to move on.  

Believe me, no one is more sad to see summer go but me (go Leos) but I do definitely look forward to the cozy weather. I also love finding out the new trends that hit every season and see what kind of crazy looks that will have us at first saying "hell no, I am never wearing that".... to owning it in three different colors.

There are a bunch of new trends that hit the runway this past NYFW (some completely nuts) but these are definitely 6 of my favorites.  Click the photo below the runway shots to see where to buy the look without breaking the bank!

Pin-Stripes

Not just for the preppy anymore

Runway: Alexander Wang 

Store: Zara

Metal Details

Bring out the bedazzler

Runway: J.Mendel

Store: forloveandlemons.com

Orange

Cliche for fall, I know

Runway: Karen Walker

 e

e

Store: Urban Outfitters

Modest Sheer

    Ok maybe It's not that modest... I see nip

Runway: Givency

Store: Top Shop

Velvet

Was afraid this was going to happen

Runway: Ralph Lauren

Store: Forever21

Ruffles

::heart emoji::

Runway: Zimmerman

Store: Asos.com

Now go out and enjoy this crisp weather before it jumps straight into winter! Gotta love NYC

                                                       Cheers,

                                                               Kemi

All About TED

A while back I recieved a text from a good friend of mine suggesting I apply to be a TED speaker for the high school she worked at.  Apparently the students have been working on this project for 2 years and finally approached TED to make it a TEDx event. As soon as they got it approved they created an application process to find speakers for the theme "TrailBlazers".

To be honest when I was first told about this I previously had a trip planned to visit my friend in Chicago and didn't really know what a Ted Talk was so I ignored it.  After doing some research and talking to friends and family I realised this was actually a HUGE opportunity and well, kind of a big deal.

So I applied.  

3 weeks later I was accepted, and was freaaaking out.  I loved the idea of it but when I got the acceptance email with all of the details, the information on how many people would see the video (tens of thousands!) , and the pages and pages of release forms and guidelines I nearly sh*t my pants.

For those of you who still don't know, here's a little background on what a Ted Talk is:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we're building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long. Everything we do is driven by this goal: How can we best spread great ideas?

TED is owned by a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation. Our agenda is to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.

So there I was, stuck with an extremely vague topic and told I have 8-15 minutes to speak with no notecards.  I knew my goal was to motivate people to pursue their dream and give an inside look at the life and path of an entrepreneur.  My biggest challenge would be, how do I speak to these people and motivate them without it being boring (just speaking about me the whole time) and/or cheesy ("you can do it! Reach for the stars!").  So what I did was create an outline and a goal.  My goal was to motivate using the past experiences I went through that were bad that eventually lead me to better things and my own business. The outline actually was a requirement from the team, I had due dates for rough drafts and slide previews months leading up to the event.  

What I didn't know was that the Tedx requires 100 people maximum to attend the event.  These people are actually specifically chosen through an application THEY fill out to be selected.  Each of them with the desire to learn, discuss and engage throughout the whole night.  I was one of 5 speakers for that night, all of whom were "trailblazers" in their own way.

I didn't finish writing my speech until about 2 weeks prior (even though I knew about the event for about 4 months).  I always seem to do my best work in a crunch.  My father had given me the advice to "practice the sh*t out of it", so, I did.  I printed it out and kept it in my purse EVERYwhere I went. On the subway I would practice it in my head, in my apartment facing the window to building across the street, at the gym on the treadmill, lying in bed at night...everywhere.  Maybe it was playing piano my entire adolescence that helped me with this, but after a week of non stop praciticing after a while it just became (brain)muscle memory. I wish I took a picture of my speech as it was so worn in from folding it up a million times.  A week before the show I felt ready, still extremely nervous (and losing sleep) but I couldn't have been prepared more.

The day of I took the 2 hour drive to Randolph, NJ where the event was held at the high school.  I show up and the place was filled with balloons, a step and repeat and tables set up for food during intermission. As soon as I got there the girl in charge tells me I'm not only the closing speaker, but that there's a Q & A afterwards.  I think they were trying to kill me.  

My sister, younger brother and boyfriend took a separate car (so they didn't have to come super early) and met me there and I couldn't be happier to have them there to support me.  Everyone received a name badge and a gift bag with goodies.  Printed Tedx bracelets, a pamphlet, and a pad and pen to write down notes and "discuss" with others around them in-between speakers.  Prior to that I had a quick run-through on the stage where they gave me a remote to click through my slides and a microphone to test out...which made me feel like Britney Spears.

The first half of the show I was able to sit in the audience with them, which actually helped calm my nerves.  It started off with a guitar player warming everyone up and welcoming them, and then a short film about the construction and deconstruction of a psychiatric hospital. Following that, there was a Charity Organizer, a High School Principle, a visually impaired Paralympian, a Director of Communications for LEAD public schools, and me.

I cannot tell you the extreme high I felt after speaking. I semi-blacked out on stage but I didn't studder or forget a single word. Best. feeling. ever.  As soon as I got off stage and the audience was let out I was flooded with a crowd of people complimenting my story and gushing over my ambition and jewelry line.  Nothing like a bunch of strangers surrounding you with positivity to boost your confidence. I believe perhaps this was because my story is so relatable.  I didn't have a chance of luck or a rich background to launch my career. I had a dream and determination and started from scratch which I think was able to help motivate others to do the same. I personally would have loved advice like this when I was younger, which is what I kind of tried to keep in mind while writing my speech.

At the end of the day, I'll always have this video to look back on and be proud of.  As my dad says, it's a major "feather in my cap" and I couldn't be happier for how it went.  I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to speak at an event with such an inspiring organization and meet the intelligent individuals who put it together. Also, I'm able to sleep at night again :) 

If you haven't seen it yet, check it out below! I'd love to hear your comments or feedback or any other questions which you can leave at the bottom of this post.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read all about my Ted Talk experience (and watching my video!).  You guys are the best.

                                                           Cheers,

                                                                  Kemi

Your Summer Go-To Places

        Summer is around the corner and it's time to eat drink and repeat.  Here's a list of some awesome rooftop/outdoor bars worth checking out. (Click on images below to be brought to their website!)

The Mulberry Project-

        Not only does this Little Italy speakeasy have a sick backyard with truffle fries and "bespoke cocktails" but they just opened up a beachside location in Tulum! Reason #538 to go back there.

Mr Purple-

    Located on the 15th Floor of Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side, this rooftop not only has a sick indoor AND outdoor setup, but comes with a swimming pool! Bonussssss

Tiki Tabu-

Popping up exclusively for summer months on the roof of Sixty LES.  Complete with tropically themed wallpaper and hand blown lava lamps.

The Gallow Green-

        Seriously, this place is adorable.  Just google image and see how this place looks like someones garden threw up all over it.  Plant obsessed, Kemi approved :)

Catch Rooftop-

My friend Kathleens favorite go-to happy hour spot.  Located atop the building at 21 Ninth Avenue with panoramic views of the citys skyline

Roof at Park South-

On top of the Park South hotel on 27th street, this rooftop has great cockails and tapas as well as a view.  Also their website is pretty cool...

Pod 39 Hotel-

    Hopefully you all already know this one, but I couldn't NOT put it on the list.  Also known as Salvation Taco, this "funky budget hotel" turned its rooftop into a margarita lovers dream.

Alright, well hopefully I was able to show you some places that you haven't already heard of, and gave you ideas of new spots to try out to kick off the start of summer!  No go eat, drink and be merry.

                                                          Cheers,

                                                                  Kemi

7 Reasons We Love Ellie Kemper

           These facts about the star of the incredibly funny and addicting Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will make you fall in love with her even more (if that's even possible).  We knew we were crazy about her when she first entered our favorite sitcom in season 5 of The Office.  From Bridesmaids to 21 Jump Street she captured our hearts one bright yellow sweater at a time. Here's some fun facts about this ray of sunshine trapped in a human body.

Her old high school drama teacher was Jon Hamm

She's a smarty pants and went to Princeton (undergrad) AND Oxford (post grad)....most adorable pic ever?

She shares her birthday with baby royalty (non other that Princess Charlotte of course)

Her boss is way cooler than yours...

She's not afraid to dance (and has killer moves)

She has her own language

And best for last.....she rocks Kemi Designs!!

Oh Ellie, how we love you.  Keep doing your thing and we'll keep watching (and laughing).

Click on the earrings below to purchase and be just like her! 

Behind The Scenes- simple stone ring

        Turquoise is perhaps the oldest stone in man's history. The name Turquoise is derived from the French, pierre turquoise, meaning “Turkish stone,” because the trade routes that brought Turquoise to Europe from the mines in central Asia went through Turkey, and Venetian merchants often purchased the stone in Turkish bazaars. It is also one of the oldest protection amulets.  If given by a friend, that stone would protect the wearer from negative energy and bring good fortune.  It also bring peace to the home as well as having numerous detoxifying effects.

         When I was asked to make this ring I was especially excited because not only have I not made a ring like this in years but turquoise is by far my favorite stone.  I wanted to write this post to show you step by step how I made this ring from scratch using real turquoise and sterling silver.

        First, you have your stone, make sure it's completely flat on the bottom otherwise it will wiggle around in the bezel (major no-no)

Here are the main supplies: The stone, a sheet of .925 silver, bezel wire, and half round wire (for the band)

First order of business is measuring the bezel wire around the stone so it fits perfectly, cutting it to that measurement and matching up the ends to create the circle and prepare to solder

For this step you use what's called "hard solder".  There are three types; hard, medium and soft.  You start with the hard because it requires a higher temperature melting point.  This way, when you're soldering the other parts, you use a medium and then soft solder so that every time you do it doesn't melt the first part that you did since it will gradually need lower temperatures to work.  A little hard to explain, I hope that makes sense, just keep reading and you'll see!

Sealed shut! Next is fitting it around the stone so re-shape it

After that you need to place it on the silver sheet to see if it lays flat, which, in most cases it doesn't, soooo....

...you need to sand the bottom of the bezel so that it does! This takes some time, and caution as you have to be careful not to press too hard and bend the bezel out of shape.

There we go, much better. Now to cut out a square so you can solder it together.

This part will require the medium solder (as mentioned before) so that when you're working, the previous solder on the bezel doesn't re-melt and come apart.

Set up your solder evenly around the inside of the bezel!

Here we gooooo

Perfect! Threw it in the pickle (shown later), sawed around the bezel to make a circle and now it's ready to add the band!

To make the band I used half round wire.  It's easy because you can buy it as is and it fits comfortably on the finger.  

The customer is a size 6 1/2 so you have to bend the wire around the ring mandrel to get the right measurement.

Awesome. Now you have to file the ends so that they lay flat against the bottom of the ring (see how they are rounded here)

File away and (excuse the nails) you have your flattened edges!

See??

IMG_0029.jpg

Now you balance it in your soldering pliers and make sure it's flush against the bottom of the ring so the solder can flow on every end.

Forgot to mention, every time before you solder you must add flux! Flux is a chemical that cleans the surface you solder because solder doesn't adhere to dirty surfaces :)

Just paint a little bit on and it will bubble when heat is added and disappear allowing the solder to begin working

Since this is the last step with the torch we use the easy solder (sheer solder looks different than the wire solder but it's all the same just cut with scissors instead of pliers)

Ta-da! Worked perfectly and gave it an extra tug to make sure all sides are secure.  After you torch metal it turns these colors but thats when you put it in the pickle to clean it

THIS is the pickle.  It's basically a mini crockpot and you add a chemical called sparex to water and plug it in till it gets hot

Once that's done, take it out and re-measure.  Of course it's not a 6 1/2 anymore, so I put it on my big ring sizer which uses a lever to crank the ring bigger

Slow and steady and make sure the rotate the ring while doing it so the band doesn't pop off!

Now that the size is correct, time to the put the stone in!

Next, you have to burnish the edges so it closes the bezel around the stone and sets it in

Wish I had taken an action shot, but here it is! That stones not goin anywhere.  Time to polish!

To polish this guy I throw it in my tumbler, which is basically a rock tumbler (remember those as a kid?) which is filled with steel shot that bounce around the ring as it tumbles to work harden and shine up the metal

Just add dish soap...

and water!

Let that tumble for 45 min to an hour andddd.....

vuola!

        Hope you guys enjoyed seeing how I made this ring. Tune in for my next post which will hopefully be about my TED Talk on being self-employed which I'm hoping will be up on the site by then! Have a good rest of the weeeeeeek.

                                                                    Cheers,

                                                                            Kemi

Giveaway!

     This week I'm holding a giveaway for one of my favorite pieces which also happens to be one of the best sellers! All you need to do is follow me on instagram at @kemidesigns and tag two friends who you think would rock this necklace best! And the winner at the end of the week will receive...drumroll please.....

 

 

++++Behold, the Mor-Rockin Metal Necklace++++ 

 

 

 

          Enjoy and good luck!

                                                    Cheers,

                                                            Kemi

 

Beauty Secrets And Tips

    I never get sick of hearing about peoples beauty tricks.  From celebrities, to friends, to your own mother, you can learn a lot about new ways to keep you looking and feeling more healthy.  Here's a few tricks of the trade I've come to love and a couple products that are among my favorite as well!

Coconut Oil -

          I'm sure you've heard time and time again that coconut oil is good for you.  But if you look up the benefits you'll be amazed at how it can improve every part of your body from your hair down to your digestive system.  I use Crisco's brand which can be found at any local supermarket.  I've started adding it to my tea in the morning, which I thought would taste gross but it doesn't at all! In fact if anything it mutes the strength of the tea taste and goes down smoother.  A quick and easy way to add coconut oil into your diet.

Add Eye drops to your Mascara -

            I feel like my mascara has a pretty quick shelf life, or can get dried out before I know it's really done.  Adding 1 or 2 drops of eye drops to the bottle and shaking it up will get it right back to being good as new.  Don't substitute eye drops for water though, as that will cause your mascara to flake or smudge.

Eat more Almonds -  

              While almonds are commonly known for being high in protein, fiber, calcium and Vitamin E, it's also amazing for your skin! Whenever I feel a break out coming on or my skin is acting up, I make sure to eat a handful of almonds more often.  I keep a jar of whole, all natural almonds in my kitchen and dip into it a couple times a day.

Wash Your Pillow Cases More Often -

              Washing your sheets as much as you want to (or should) can be a complete pain.  Especially in NYC where most likely you don't have your own washer and dryer.  But I make SURE whenever I do a load of laundry to at least include my pillow cases every time. They house tons of dirt and oil which transfers to your skin when you sleep. 

Use Thickening Balm For Thin Hair -

             Everybody wants more volume in their hair (well, most, unless you were born super lucky).  Along with buying volumizing shampoo I love to use a good thickening balm.  I recently got a Dear Clark sample in my BirchBox and it's been my favorite.  Work generously into your towel-dried hair, starting at your roots and making your way toward the ends for a fuller looking head of hair.

Ditch Waxing for Threading -

               If you're like me and you have sensative skin, threading is your new best friend.  Most salons that offer eyebrow waxing will offer threading now.  It's a more precise control in shaping your brows and is gentler on the skin.

Make Time For A Face Mask -

             I don't usually have the time OR the money for a facial.  Face masks are a quick and affordable way to keep your skin in check. Make sure to buy a tube for an area you need the most help with (clogged pores, dry skin, brightening, etc.) and make a routine to apply it once a week when you know you'll have some time before bed.

      Hope I got to teach you some tricks you haven't heard of before! Who knows, maybe you won't even need to use them cause in the future they'll be a pill you can pop and you'll look and feel 20 again.  Until then, enjoy these tips, and thanks for reading!

                                                        Cheers,

                                                                 Kemi

      

A day in Paris

         There are many perks of being the daughter of a flight attendant, I thank my lucky stars my mom decided to go with the hippie movement and join American Airlines 38 years ago.  This time though, I was able to be on the plane while she worked, which was a new treat for me.  She called last minute to say she had a trip to Paris with a long lay-over that looked wide open...noooo brainer.

        There are so many amazing cities overseas, but if you had only 24 hours, Paris is the way to go.  With so many things to see, do and eat (of course) and the easiest metro system to navigate, I tried to pack in as much as I possibly could and completely ignore the possibility of  jet lag. 

         Here's our perfect day in Paris :)

Cute pa-tootie mom

First class babyyyy #spoiled

....there were only 3 of us in the whole first class (all relatives to flight attendants)

Early morning stroll

Palais Royal - my favorite place in Paris to date.  Got there super early so no one was there yet and they had these fun black and white stumps sectioned all across this beautiful courtyard.

The Louvre! RIGHT across the street from the Palais Royal...two birds, one stone on a tight schedule.

Since it was still early there was no line to get in! 15 euros at the door, and I zipped straight to the most famous painting in history.....

not quite sure that's allowed

Cliche croissant 

Happiest french pups I ever did see

Spotted the Ferris Wheel when I exited the museum! Just a football field away, and perfect because my mom was still napping :D

There she is!

After I rudely woke her up, we kept saying Crepes and Coffee, Crepes and Coffee, we need to find french crepes and coffee.  The concierge suggested this little cafe called La Belle Ronde  (located in the 13th arrondissement) which was tucked away down an alley that just served those two things, and it did NOT disappoint. 

Walking along Rue Daguerre after the crepe cafe

you crazy

Cathedrale Notre Dame

Hi Mike!

Cliche Macaroons

Didn't go here, but it was pretty

My mom and her "crew" absolutely love this restaurant.  Its called le "Relais de l'Entrecote" and it legitimately only serves steak and fries. Only menu we saw was for wine which was dirt cheap and all they ask is how you would like your steak cooked and they serve it with this amazing sauce and the best fries you'll ever have. Best part? It's unlimited!!

Left straight from dinner to go to see the Eiffel Tour at night.  I had seen it once before but I wanted to see it when it sparkles which apparently is the first 5 minutes of every hour (after it's dark out).  I had no idea what time it was when I left but when I got out of the metro it was exactly 2 minutes to 9, and just when I walked up to it, the lights started flashing! Such an amazing site to see.

Decided to make a mini music video to show our amazing 24 hours in the city of lights! Enjoy!

                                                              Cheers,

                                                                        Kemi  

Six new trends for Spring 2016

          I know I spoke about my favorite trend coming out in my last post about high-wasted flares, but I wanted to show you more of whats coming up and what to get excited about. 

      There are some really crazy pieces coming into play this spring (i.e. grandma slip on shoes) and not all of them are for everyone, and thats ok!! It's all about finding the pieces that work for you and create your style.  After all "Fashion is what you buy, Style is what you do with it". Here are my favorite new trends to look out for and where to buy them without exactly breaking the bank. (click on the photos to get re-directed to the link!)

Off The Shoulder

Runway: Michael Kors

Store: Kivari.com

Long Waist Coats

Runway: Stella Mccartney

Store: Zara

Shoulder Cut-Outs

Runway: Rebecca Minkoff

Store: H&M

Culottes

Runway: Erin Featherston

Store: TopShop

Bell Sleeves

Runway: Herve Leger

Store: ASOS.com

Ear Crawlers

Runway: Luv AJ

Store: Kemi Designs (shameless plug)

         God I love being a girl.... enjoy and rock out my little KDesign readers!                                          

                                           Cheers,

                                                        Kemi