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  (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

Swingin' into the 60's

The "group text" went off the other day with a friend asking if flared jeans are back in.  I, personally, feel like they should have never gone out of style, but yes, they're making a come back.  Now that they're in, I'm showing you 5 ways to wear your high waisted flares.

First up:

>>>>Denim on denim<<<<

......the classic Canadian tuxedo, tucked in of course.

>>>>The Crop Top<<<< 

...... Show off some midriff to deviate them from coming off as "mom jeans"

>>>>Lace Details<<<<

....this could be lace or any mock turtle neck, a little Steve Jobs action, if you will.

>>>>The Graphic Tee<<<<

 ......For the concert go-er

>>>>Stripes<<<<

     ....The classic look that always goes well with jeans.  Match with an oversized hat and you're ready for #brunch.

                                                                     Jeans: H&M 

Not gonna lie, it was definitely an adventure taking these pics.  Luckily I had my blogger friend Steph from Lets Talk Twenties walk me through it and make me feel a little less awkward posing as people walk by and pretend like what we're doing is completely normal.  

   Hope this post can boost your sixties creativity as spring is fast approaching! Fingers crossed this warm weather stays...

                                                        Cheers,

                                                                   Kemi

How to make the most of your tiny apartment

     If you're like me, you love NYC, every single bit of it.  Even if that means spending 60% of your earnings on rent for an apartment that would fit inside a dorm room bathroom.  Living in the city for 6 years, I've come across some tricks and pointers to make your space seem bigger and overall more pleasant to live in.

   First, go bright and white.  Neutral colors go a long way in a small apartment to make it look open and spacious.  Adding pops of color here and there keeps things looking clean, simple and minimalistic

    Next, cleverly clutter. Dedicate a space to your apartment where you put your favorite findings.  It's such a simple way to bring your personal aesthetic into a space.

       Opt for long curtains that go all the way to the floor.  Nailing the curtain rods above the window frame creates an illusion your room looks taller and windows bigger (and blinds crooked, whoops).

     Hang up shelves.  One great way to store things without cluttering your space is on the walls!  Adding floating shelves is a perfect way to keep all your items in place while adding character and color.  Shelves can be expensive, don't try to overdo it.  I bought mine for an awesome price at Home Depot more saving. more doing. #ad

  Use discrete storage.  I found this mirror at Hayneedle.com and it's the PERFECT way to keep all my jewelry organized and hidden away.

     Have a favorite statement piece. Whether its a blown up photo, a sculpture, or a decorated cow head like mine, have something that you love be the center of attention in your apartment.

     Finally, plants.  I can't stress this enough. Plants, plants, plants and more plants.  It not only creates an oasis vibe in your apartment, but they bring a liveliness to the indoors as well as clean the what can often be stagnant air in a 4 floor walk up apartment.  Hang them from the ceiling, line your windowsill, cover the floor, fill the bathroom, everywhere and anywhere.  No such thing as too many plants (in my book).  If you're scared of killing them, then buy cacti.  If you kill the cacti too, reconsider reproducing in life.

........kidding

     Hope this post helps brighten your day and your apartment.  I work out of my studio so having a place that I love to be 24/7 is extremely important.  Happy hump day and thanks for reading!

                                                        Cheers,

                                                                 Kemi

"I Think I Can"

       Although I love my collection, and it's my bread and butter, it's the custom orders that I live for.  To make a piece that means SO much to a person, and have it be something they can wear forever is such an incredible/indescribable feeling.

   I recently recieved a custom order request from a girl Stacie and her mother. This is their story:  

       "The phrase "I think I can" comes from the children's book called "The little engine that could". My mom used to read to me when I was little as a bedtime story.  The book is about thinking positive. "If there is a will there is a way" type of lesson. When ever I was upset my mom always said you need to be positive about the situation. If you think you can than you will. 

      So I wanted to wear the words that my mom taught me to whisper to myself whenever I had a problem. My mom will appreciate that it was her positivity in life that gave me the same outlook." 

        Now here's a very detailed description of how I made the pieces, step by step:

First, I find the perfect train silhouette image with good old trusty Google.

train.jpg

Yep, I like that one on the left.

Then I print it out teeeeny tiny on a piece of paper to cut out (2 trains for 2 necklaces).

Shitty printer...

Next, I cut it out and use rubber cement to glue it to a sheet of sterling silver

Next, I saw it out!

Boom...beautiful

Crap, there's a teeny tiny little window I need to get.  

First I drill a hole...

There we go, now I can fit the saw blade through it to cut it from the inside

Hey little guys!

Now, we stamp the main plate 

IMG_8287.JPG

Lets saw these bad boys out...

Cute! But we gotta clean it up a bit..

MUCH better

Now for the tricky part.  Attaching the train to the chain (I'm a goddamn poet)

I need to attach reaaaally small jumprings (the round pieces) to either side of the train while attaching the chain through it.  

 

This is REALLY hard cause the chain could A) melt or B) attached altogether in one big blob

Here goes nothing...

I DID IT!! AND I DID IT TWICE! I AM THE SOLDERING CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!

Now off to the gold platers to get dipped in goooooldddd

The finished product!

    Really glad I'm able to post about this. Not only for the story, but for my customers to see how much work goes into each and every one of my pieces.  Jewelry making is my passion, and I hope it shows through in my work and for all of you to see.  

    Thanks so much for reading guys.  'Till next time...

                                                           Cheers,

                                                                    Kemi

This is Kemi.

Hello world,  the time has come for me to start a blog.  I knowww I knowwww, whyyyyy?? Becaaaaause, apparently some people care. Now that I think about it, I do have some things I'd like to share once and a while....

I'll be sharing my work, my stories, my travels, my life hacks, my passions, and everything in-between.  There's even a cute little comment section where you can let me know how I'm doing and what you'd like to hear about.

So enjoy kiddos, I hope my blog brings some joy to your lives, or maybe just some light reading for when you're bored or procrastinating at work :)

Cheers,

                    Kemi