Vacations and Lessons...


This year's family trip was supposed to be a land based vacation. London, Aruba, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos were all on the table, yet a unanimous decision was hard to come by. After almost a week of discussion, every one was suddenly in favor of a cruise. Since Bermuda was an original thought, we decided a 5 night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas (which I sailed on last summer on the 9 night itinerary) would be the  perfect choice.

Since this cruise was shorter than past trips, it was imperative that we get in as much as possible in a short amount of time. We had two days at sea and two days in Bermuda with an overnight, which was a first, but really nice. The two days at sea were spent taking in all the ship had to offer: lounging by the pool and reading, taking in the ice and production shows, relaxing, eating, and yes, drinking. My favorite bartender from last year was on this year, so I had a bit of help with that last...activity. If you are ever on the Explorer of the Seas, Melvin in the Aquarium Bar is phenomenal at what he does. We are kind of best friends.

Our first day in Bermuda, we took the ferry to Hamilton, to walk around the city for a few hours. Using the ferry was not just fast but inexpensive as well. Using the ferry, we saved over $200, than if we had gone on the cruise excursion for the same destination/amount of time. In Hamilton, we stayed mostly around Front Street, walking (and shopping, at Marks and Spencer specifically) on Reid Street over to the park and to city hall. What I loved most about Hamilton was observing the men in their famous Bermuda shorts and knee socks. Even though its a uniform, based on some of the combinations I saw, some of them really have fun with it and make it their own. Love that.

(Yes, everything leads back to fashion and style somehow.)

After Hamilton, it was back to the ship for our excursion to the one and only Horseshoe Bay Beach. The overnight was nice because you really get to be at your leisure. At night, we opted for dinner at the specialty restaurant on board, and later walked over to the Dockyard where they had "Dockyard Nights" which was an outdoor concert with local crafts and foods.

Day two in Hamilton, we were off to the beach bright and early. Horseshoe was nice and quiet at that time, and perfect for a morning stroll. Our departure that day was around 4, so we left the beach at around noon to walk around the Dockyard and go to the Glassworks an Bermuda Rum Cake Company. The cakes are delicious (the chocolate rum was my particular favorite,) but boy are they strong. Eating the sample bite they give in the shop wasn't bad, but eating a slice back home, I felt like I had taken a shot of rum...or two. Maybe I'm a lightweight as they say, but regardless, the cakes are a local specialty, and worth trying. While I was sad to leave, we had an absolutely picture perfect sail away.

Not to be forgotten/not mentioned, the cruise director, Richard Spacey. One of the best CD's I have had on a cruise yet. I've never (slight exaggeration) laughed or been so entertained by a single person (other than myself, of course.) And yes, these are the only pictures I have of him...

I am all for honesty, so being honest, this was one of the hardest vacations I have ever been on. Don't get me wrong, I did have fun and am beyond grateful to have even taken such a trip, but golly, there was some drama. Too much for me to comprehend. But life is full of lessons, and if I took away anything from this trip, it was this: be very careful who you invite with you to travel. 

Also, rosé, shots, Long Island Iced Teas, and seasickness do not mix in any way, shape, or form.  

"I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them."
 -Tom Sawyer Abroad

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bark


Am I alone in saying that I never really see chocolate bark outside of the holiday season? Maybe it's because I have only ever noticed it at Starbucks when they have their peppermint bark during the holidays. Sure, I love indulging in a bit of chocolate, but making truffles is labor intensive (a labor of love no less,) and best saved for a special occasion. Chocolate bark is easy, quick, and completely adaptable. Plus, dark chocolate is good for you. You need to be eating more of it anyway.

1 10 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (preferably Ghirardelli, 60%cacao)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (add more to your liking)

For a truly decadent treat, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Nutella when melting the chocolate chips. 

In addition:
Baking tray
Parchment paper
Stainless steel bowl

First start by covering your baking tray with a piece of parchment paper. Set aside.

Add the chocolate chips to your stainless steel bowl and place over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl and the water do not touch.) Stir until melted and glossy. Remove the bowl once the chocolate is completely melted, to prevent it from burning.

Using an oven mitt to hold the bowl, carefully pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet and smooth with a spatula. (The more you smooth it out, the thinner the bark will be.) 

Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the chocolate.* 

Place the baking tray in the fridge for approximately an hour, or until the chocolate has completely hardened. Break apart and enjoy! 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

*If you would prefer, you can add the hazelnuts to the chocolate after it has melted, then spread on the baking sheet. 

Printable recipe available HERE.

Pre-Fall Runway Inspiration


Even though "embrace the season in its entirety" was on my to do list for summer, I can't help but be excited for fall. It never fails that around the middle of August I become slightly over summer, and dream of crisper days, chunky knits, and all the fun that comes with the best time of year. 

Since fall shopping is a bit impractical right now (it was 85 today...), I did the next best thing: I browsed the Pre-Fall looks on Harper's Bazaar. While I may not be shopping right this moment, its nice to get an idea of what I want to shop for when the season actually rolls around and new ways to transition some of my favorite summer pieces. 
Looks by: Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, Chloé, Versace, Giorgio Armani, DVF, Rag&Bone.

*Images via Harper's Bazaar. See more Pre-Fall looks here.

Celebrating Julia.


Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday, and what better way to get back into blogging then by celebrating of my early influencers? Growing up, PBS was my greatest source of entertainment, and even though the children programming in the afternoons started at three, I always tuned in an hour earlier to watch Julia Child (followed by none other than Bob Ross).

I always enjoyed watching Julia Child cook. Her sing-songy voice, her comical antics, and her obvious passion for what she was doing made her so entertaining to watch and also made me eager to get into the kitchen at such a young age. Earlier this summer, I read My Life in France (highly recommend), where Julia recounts her life in the US (pre and post France), how she fell in love with France and French cuisine, and how she was not a good cook when she started out. I found myself not just admiring Julia's skill as I had all these years, but being inspired by this women who let absolutely nothing deter her from accomplishing what she set out to do, all while remaining completely true to herself, and completely in love with her husband, her family, her life and of course, France.
Happy Birthday Julia!