7.21.2014

City Guide: Marrakech

Well after a long break, I AM BACK! It was nice to get away these past couple of weeks and spend them with my little brother and handsome husband.

Today I wanted to share some of my favorites from our trip to Marrakech, Morocco. What a city! We were there for 3 1/2 days and it was a feast for the senses every moment. Here is a breakdown of what we did and my recommendations of where to stay and what to eat, see and do.


Stay
Riad Turquoise 

























We stayed at Riad Turquoise  right around the corner from the Badi Palace. It was a beautiful escape from the very busy streets of Marrakech, but the best thing was the service. Everyone there was friendly and welcoming. You felt like you were staying with great friends. Plus there was a pool which is a welcome escape from the Moroccan sun.


Eat
Le Tanjia

This restaurant had moderate reviews on Trip Advisor, but it was near our hotel so we thought we would give it a shot. The food was delicious. Pictured about are what my husband called the "magic vegetables" - so good, they had to be grown from magical fields. In addition the view was right over a busy square and at the right time you get to hear the call to prayer in surround sound. 

Street Food at Jemaa el-Fnaa



The main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa is a feast for the eyes and the stomach as the sun begins to set. Street restaurants pop up everywhere and everyone wants you to eat at their stall. We were convinced by a friendly guy at stall 26 to come and have dinner and never looked back. Another couple sitting at our long table said this was their third night coming to this stall, so we knew we were in good hands. We all got the couscous and it was full of flavor and very filling. The meal was also a bargain at about $25 for all of us to eat starters, mains, desserts and of course, the traditional mint tea. 

Orange Juice Stalls




















Again, all over Jemaa el-Fnaa, these orange juice stands can be a bit intimidating at first. Everyone calls out for you to come to them. I don't think one is particularly better than the other, but the juice is delicious. Freshly squeezed in front of you, it is refreshing and sweet.


See
The Souks

The Souks are a must on every visitors list. I must admit they are a intimidating with everyone shouting to get your attention and be aware they do not like pictures being taken (this one above was one of my few stealth attempts). But everything in there is a feast for the senses. Spices, carpets, bags, shoes... anything your heart desires. It took everything in my power not to buy everything I saw. 

The Badi Palace




















The Badi Palace was a bit of a surprise for us. It was huge, like massive, but it isn't as instantly stunning as many of the other places in Marrakech. However, it was so much fun to explore. We spent quite a bit of time crawling through tunnels, climbing up walls and jumping over cracks to discover the more and more of this fascinating space.

Majorelle Gardens
























These gardens are a bit out of the city, but totally worth the journey. The gardens were built up with artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and then restored by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980s. The most stunning part of the gardens was the radiant cobalt blue painted on practically every surface. I was ready to buy a can and paint the house after this visit. They also painted a lot of the pots vibrant colors that really made the blue sing.

























Medersa Ben-Youssef

























Medersa Ben-Youssef was an Islamic College built in the 14th century and was one of the most stunning buildings we went into. The dormitories for the students were simple, but the courtyard and some of the smaller passages were breathtaking. Everything was incredibly intricate and it has some of the most beautiful tile work we saw during our whole trip.




















Dar Si Said
























Housing this Museum of Moroccan History and this beautiful courtyard, this small site was off the beaten path but was a great stop on our trip. The courtyard had stunning tiles and a beautiful painted gazebo. The inside also had beautiful tile work and painted ceilings to keep you mesmerized. We were practically the only people there which made it extra magical.

Do
Get a Hammam and Massage at Les Bains de Marrakech

















Do yourself a favor and get a massage at Les Bains de Marrakech. This place was incredible! And for about £40 you will get a 45 minute hammam and a 60 minute massage. You will also have access to their beautiful pool while you wait and be pampered along the way. I have had similar massages in London and paid well over £150 for something not half as luxurious. 


These are just the highlights - there are so many other beautiful things in this city! Have you been before? What were your favorites?

7.11.2014

June Favorites

A few days late, but here are my June favorites. The beginning of July has been busy already and I can't believe we are half way through the year!

Interior
Cupcakes & Cashmere Living Room Reveal 
























Warning: You will see Cupcakes & Cashmere on this list again, but this living room is too darling not to share. I love the color coded bookshelf, the bright cushions by the fireplace and the gorgeous photo above the living room. It all comes together to be a comfortable yet chic living space.


Food
Homemade Pesto
























My basil plant has been growing like its nobodies business so we have had pesto galore in our house. I will post my super simple recipe soon!


Pin
Quote from Amy Poehler



















This quote comes from the blog Tesori Belle and I was luck enough to stumble across this on Pinterest this month. Two things I love about this 1) Amy Poehler - who doesn't love her 2) I like that it has made silliness empowering. I am all for that.


Fashion Statement
ASOS Salon Embellished Dress

























If this dress does not make you smile, I don't think we could be friends. The dress was featured on Atlantic-Pacific (pictured here) and Gal Meets Glam. Each time my eyes lit up! Such a fun dress with a personality of its own. Bright colors are something I am wholeheartedly embarrassing at the moment and this dress delivers little pops of color in such a sweet way.


Blog
Cupcakes and Cashmere
























This blog has been so inspiring this last month. Emily has a really approachable way of writing and covers everything from recipes to outfits, links to home decor. Definitely check her out if you aren't one of her loyal followers already.

7.01.2014

Party Planning: 4th of July

In the states the 4th of July has to be my favorite holiday (other than Christmas). BBQs, fireworks, days at the beach... doesn't get much better than that. Blogs and pinterest have been on fire lately with great ideas for the 4th.  We will be in Marrakech this year, but it doesn't mean a girl can't dream of the party she would like to host. Here are some of my favorite inspirations for a fantastic 4th of July party.

Food

Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Tzatziki
from Smitten Kitchen 

















Mixing it up a little bit, with this Greek delight via Smitten Kitchen. Kebabs were a staple for us when we lit up the BBQ in the summer, but this seems particularly delicious.  The original recipe comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, so you know it will be a hit! Easy to prep ahead of time, this is a great party food for a crowd.

Watermelon Lemonade Pops
from Oh My Creative 



















How easy and cute are these?! Perfect for adults and kids alike, these popsicles will keep everyone cool throughout the day and nigh. It is also a great way to introduce a bit more of delicious summer fruit into the menu.


Decor

USA Flowers
Source Unknown



















These mugs from Anthropologie are one of my faves already and I love how they are styled here. Super simple, but with such a great impact.


Table Settings with Mixed Patterns
from HGTV

























A great way to go red, white and blue without overdosing on the stars and stripes, these mixed patterns make the table look contemporary and inviting. I particularly love the bold print on the table cloth!


Outfit for the Hostess

Stylishly Spangled
from Gal Meets Glam 
























I follow Julia religiously and this outfit makes it clear why. Very stylish with adorable details, this outfit is a great patriotic not, without incorporating any stars and stripes. You could easily wear this to any number of parties without feeling out of place.


Entertainment

Balloon Fireworks
from Martha Stewart 
























Too dangerous to light fireworks in your own back yard? Just try this brilliant idea from the mother of all brilliant ideas, Martha Stewart.  Fill up red, white and blue balloons with confetti and let the kids pop them and be showered.

Snap, Crackle, Pop
from Uncommon Designs

























Of course, everyone loves a good sparkler so if you do decide to go down the firework route how about displaying them this way? Such a cute idea to get people excited about the fun to come.

6.23.2014

Feelin' Green




















I'm not a natural when it comes to taming mother nature. My Mom allotted us kids a small plot in the back yard when we were kids. My little sister grew pumpkins the size of a small elephant.  They quickly overtook my pathetic tomato plants and struggling zucchini. But I felt it was time to turn over a new leaf (pun intended).

I was given a tomato plant that went through a really rough and tumble ride home with me on the tube. Then I bought small parsley and basil plants from the local supermarket. At first I was haunted by the plants of the past - these poor guys looked rough.  But I moved them to the back windowsill so they could get more sun and voila! The looked alive and healthy. I have even had to trim them a couple of times.

Small, but mighty.  I need to get some bigger pots so these bad boys can keep growing.  Get ready for a summer filled with pesto and caprese salads!

My green thumb is courtesy of Revlon nail polish in Posh

6.21.2014

Visit: The Glamour of Italian Fashion

The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is one of my favorite museums in London. Though I am more of a contemporary art girl at heart, the museum is filled with such incredible pieces throughout history and they put on some of the best exhibitions in town. 

Last week I was blown away when I went to visit the exhibition The Glamour of Italian Fashion. Overflowing with Bottega Veneta, Dolce and Gabbana and Valentino, each room is filled with enough fashion and history to spend hours examining.  The exhibition tells the story of Italian fashion after World War II and examines key designers and influencers that helped it become the powerhouse it is today. 



The entrance of the exhibition
















There were quite a few highlights, but my personal favorite was the part of the exhibition that examined the crossroads of Italian fashion and Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s.  This part of the exhibition showed the famous outfits alongside archival footage which really helped the clothes come to life. 


The Hollywood and Fashion room  

















You couldn't be in this section and walk past Elizabeth Taylor's emerald Bulgari necklace, ring and broach. This impressive set of jewels literally took your breath away.  Below is a picture of these jewels in action. Doesn't get more glamorous than this. 


Elizabeth Taylor wears Bulgari jewellery at the masked ball, Venice, 1967

























  
You have one month left to check out this beautiful exhibition, so if you are in London this summer be sure this is on your to do list. Trust me, you won't regret it. 

*Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures. All images are from the V&A. 

6.14.2014

Splish Splash

It is officially bathing suit weather. Growing up in California I practically lived in my bathing suit during the summer.  Now it is more of a special occasion to put one on so I am super excited to get to wear them on our upcoming summer vacations (check out the post here).

I have been undertaking some serious fantasy shopping for bathing suits the last couple of weeks.  Here are the top contenders at the moment.


























I am a sucker for a well fitted one piece. I love being able to run around and jump in the water without the fear of losing my bottoms.  This one is particularly lovely with its gorgeous pattern and nice pop of well placed color.  I think this would suit our Moroccan vacation perfectly.


Monaki Large Spot Bikini 
from Asos

























A high-wasted bikini is something I am missing. They have become super popular in the last couple of years and I am ready to get on board. They remind me of those lovely vintage pictures of Grace Kelly on the beach.  I particularly love the polka dots on this one keeping it preppy and fun.


Mix and Match
from J. Crew

























I challenge you to find a more patriotic swim suit than this. Perfect for the Forth of July, these mix and match pieces from J. Crew could be mixed and matched again throughout the summer to keep them looking fresh.  I particularly love the star bottoms. Doesn't get much cuter than that.


6.02.2014

May Favorites

Here comes the second edition of my monthly favorites! May has flown by, but I have enjoyed gearing up for summer the summer this month. The blogs have been buzzing with excitement for the change of season and I am joining the bandwagon.

Here are my favorites for the month of May. 


Interior 

























Apartment Therapy has been running a Small Cool Contest where they showcase stylish small spaces. This colorful Chicago apartment caught my eye because of its bright and airy feel. You would never guess the apartment is only 500 square feet. 

To see more of this apartment and more of the contest you can visit their website here 


Food
























As you may have seen from this post a few days ago, I love making smoothies as the weather gets warmer. Filling, easy to throw together and easy to adapt I have been having a smoothie almost every day this month. A few of my favorite ingredients to include are berries (all kinds), bananas, passion fruit, spinach and kale. 


Pin
























From Kelly Golightly this is one of the cutest ideas floating around on Pinterest. I am dying to host my first summer fiesta and when I do, this will be a must. It is such a simple idea, but feels so original and fun for guests to play. Doesn't hurt that pineapples are trending with bloggers at the moment as well. 


Fashion Statement
























I saw this dress on Cupcakes and Cashmere at the end of April and it has stayed on my mind all month. Seeing this outfit really kicked off summer for me - it looks comfortable and chic, perfect for the beach and or a picnic in the park. I am dying to buy one of my own and have fallen in love with this one, this one and this one


Blog

























A powerhouse of blogging, Camille and her team are constantly creating fresh and fun content about a range of topics. This month has been particularly fun as they are gearing up for summer. Some of my favorite posts have included 10 Things I Want To Do In My Thirties, Style in Spades: Pool Party in Rio , and Packing for St. Tropez