Tag: Blog

Manhattan Dinner Cruise

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Every year Kyle comes up with the most creative and meaningful birthday gifts, but this year he totally outdid himself. For my gift this year he booked a sunset dinner cruise around Manhattan. I had never seen the city from the water before, so I was extremely excited for my birthday adventure.

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Our cruise was through Hornblower and they did a wonderful job planning the trip. There was an hor d’oeuvres and cocktail hour on the boat, followed by a three-course meal and after-dinner dancing. The boat cruised around the Hudson and the East River and had great photo-ops near the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

There was a beautiful deck on the boat where you could stand or sit outside before or after dinner, or between courses. The weather was beautiful, so we enjoyed sipping on our drinks outside while taking in the breathtaking views.

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As far as our meal, the different courses were pretty tasty. I ordered the Tamarind and Orange Glazed Duck Breast for my appetizer, and the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast for my entree. Both were extremely well-prepared and had great flavor. The sweet potato puree with my appetizer was so well-seasoned I could have eaten a whole bowl of just that.  Kyle ordered the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake as his appetizer, and the Pan Seared Filet of Beef for his entree and they were pretty amazing too.. I had bites of course.  For dessert, I ordered the cheesecake, my absolute favorite NYC specialty.

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The DJ played great music, mixing in the old with the new, and got everyone on the boat in a great mood. He played some top pop hits, some salsa music, and even some Frank Sinatra.

The Manhattan skyline lit up against the night sky is unlike anything else you will see in your life. We stood outside for almost half an hour just taking in the view.

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For anyone living in, or visiting, NYC looking for a fun night out with friends or a romantic dinner date, I would definitely suggest booking a boat cruise through Hornblower. It was one of the most memorable nights in NYC I have had yet.

Venice, Italy

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I was always very excited to visit Venice, Italy, but this town completely blew my expectations out of the water (literally!). The town was colorful and charming, full of amazing little shops, and the narrow canals throughout the city made it very unique and beautiful.

It was very easy to travel to Venice for a day trip from Florence. We hopped on a train for about two hours and arrived at the station right on the water. From the station, we could take a ferry to the center of the city, San Marco. Once arriving at San Marco, I enjoyed touring the church, wandering through the charming shops, and grabbing lunch at a local restaurant.

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After spending some time touring the beautiful area, we enjoyed a gondola ride along the canals through the city. Gondola rides in Venice are a bit expensive (plan for about 80E for a 25 minute ride), but they are 100% worth the money. The ride gave me an entirely new perspective on the town, and the views from the water are so different from the little roads and bridges. Riding the gondola in Venice is one of my favorite activities so far that I have done in all of Europe. Budget the money ahead of time and do it!

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While shopping around Venice, you will notice a lot of two things, murano glass and a lot of Venetian masquerade masks. Both of these items are very unique to the area and I would highly suggest buying a little something to take home. Murano glass is a specialty of Venice’s Murano island. In Venice, you will find the colorful glass in the form of beautiful, unique, beads for jewelry, adorable little figurines, chandeliers, and a lot of elegant glassware for the home. I chose to buy a few different glass pendants that I could later hang from a chain of my own. An easy, lightweight, (and cheap!), way to bring that unique piece of Venice home with me.

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Now, before I get into the nitty gritty of these masks, you’re probably wondering what these are all about right? Well each year, Venice holds a festival called the ‘Carnival of Venice’. This festival is about ten days long and ends with the Christian celebration of Lent the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival was started all the way back in the 11th century and today has become a world famous event. Masks have always been an important feature of the Venetian carnival, along with costumes, and each year there is even a contest for the most beautiful and elaborate mask.

As far as masks in Venice go, I chose to buy two different styles with the intention of using them as decor when I return home. So many stores in Venice sell these amazing masks that it is hard to pick the best place to get them from. Overall, if you are really into the story behind the masks, and you want to get an authentic piece, spend a little more and make sure to buy a mask that is made of the paper mache/plaster material versus the cheap plastic kind. I found that this type of mask is more authentic and often painted by a local artist. The type of masks that I bought are said to each be unique in their own way by the artist. I love that the inside of each is signed and dated too!

(Below is a picture of my two new Venetian masquerade masks)

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A Transitional Fall Look

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It is officially October and I have been anxiously waiting for some cooler weather here in Florence. By this time of year in the midwest I would already be in full sweater mode, but Italy continues to surprise me with 75 degree afternoons. Don’t get me wrong, I love warm weather, but there is something magical about fall fashion that I have been just too impatient for this year. With rain storms this week came some brisk temperatures though, so I decided to break out some of my favorite fall fashion pieces for the season. This outfit was created as a transitional look; I focused on layering some of my summer pieces with a few fall trends to make them more appropriate for the season.

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For this look, I paired my favorite high-waisted jean shorts with a cropped tank, two very basic summer pieces I packed with me for my trip. I have been obsessed with the tall sock trend this year, so I was excited to finally incorporate a pair into my first fall outfit post. I added a cozy oversized knit cape to my look, along with my favorite black boots. A few key jewelry pieces were added for an extra pop of color and glam.

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Looking forward to styling more fall ensembles!

The Amalfi Coast

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I had a lovely time visiting the Amalfi Coast. The sites were absolutely breathtaking, the beaches were gorgeous, and the weather was amazing. For my weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast of Italy I focused to visit the island of Capri, Positano, Sorrento, and Pompeii. Because these locations are very beach focused, I was worried about making the trip in October, but the temperature remained in the 80s for the entire duration of my stay. I even got a nice bronze glow after my visit!

I spent my first full day in the Amalfi Coast visiting the island of Capri. I stayed in Sorrento for the weekend, so to arrive in Capri I took ferry transportation. When I arrived in Capri my group took a private boat tour of the island, where we got to see the perimeter of the gorgeous area full of rocky cliffs and grottos. Unfortunately we were unable to enter the Blu Grotto since the sea level was too high, but if you’re planning on making the trip to Capri put that on your list of things to do!

After the boat tour, I walked a slightly steep hike up to Anacapri. Anacapri is an area of the island located on a higher elevation. Here, there are some amazing views of the island, some great restaurants to grab lunch, and some awesome shopping. While touring Capri, you will notice a lot of sandal shops. The shop pictured above located in Anacapri will make you custom designed sandals to your foot on the spot {how neat right?} Not to mention that the man that makes them is adorable!

To finish up my day in Capri, I took a chairlift up 589 meters above sea level to see the best view of the Island. The chairlift was slow and relaxing, and the view at the top was one of a kind.

I had an amazing day in Capri, I was a little bummed that I didn’t run into George Clooney there, but maybe next time!

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After my ferry ride back to Sorrento I caught this beautiful sunset along the docks.

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On day 2 of my trip I spent the day in Positano. Positano is only about a 30 minute drive from Sorrento, and it is a beautiful, cliff hugging, coastal drive the entire ride. Upon our arrival, we made the hike down to the beach through the town. The entire walk had some gorgeous sites, but I held out on my pictures until the very bottom… I knew that location would take the cake. The coast was green and vibrant, and was filled with colorful houses and shops sitting on the cliffs.

The beaches were full of small pebbles and black sand, and the water was as clear and blue as you could imagine. I spent my entire day relaxing on the shore and taking in some rays. I grabbed a panini for lunch and enjoyed walking around the shops for a while.

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For my last day in the Amalfi Coast I paid a visit to Pompeii. Pompeii was one of the coolest sites I have seen yet in Italy. The story behind the location is so interesting and it was amazing to see the architecture and other artifacts that lasted through time. I would suggest getting a guided tour of Pompeii if paying a visit to make sure that you see all of the important areas of the site.

‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’ Exhibit & The MET

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This past weekend a friend and I visited The MET for the first time and it was a trip that will never be forgotten. Being from Chicago, I have visited some amazing museums and art galleries before, but never have I visited a museum where I could gaze at egyptian tomb findings, famous Van Gogh paintings, and a fashion exhibit all in one place. As a creative individual, it was an inspiring day to say the least!

For anyone who hasn’t visited The MET before, aside from visiting the new Charles James exhibit (my favorite) make sure to take plenty of time to experience the sculptures on the first floor and the amazing paintings on the 2nd floor. Both sections are beautiful and worth every bit of your time! Taking a moment to see the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Seurat in person will change your life, I promise! And if you need a mental break from all of the beautiful art during your day, head up to the roof for a breathtaking view.

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Now, about this Charles James exhibit that I have been raving about…

I had heard wonderful things about the Charles James exhibit before visiting The MET, but I couldn’t have predicted just how much of an impact it would have on me as a young aspiring fashion designer. The atmosphere and display of the exhibit is so simple, yet so dramatic and perfect. James’ most notable designs are truly a work of art, and the way that each was displayed made it very apparent to each visitor just that. Not only could you view every angle of each piece up close, but video animations and live-feed cameras throughout the exhibit made it possible to see every detail of construction that went into it.

As a designer, I found it so intriguing to be able to learn about how the garment was patterned and constructed to create the silhouette and drape of the finished product. I loved watching the animations display each garment on a form, and then unwrap and pick apart each area piece by piece by what the pattern looked like. I can proudly say that I read every single description of each garment and watched every animation of their construction. The added effects really allowed visitors to gain a greater appreciation for the mathematics that go into drafting a garment pattern, and allowed them to understand the work that was spent on each exquisite piece.

Not only did the exhibit let you see Charles James’ work, but it also let you into the mind of the designer. The exhibit was coated in James’ quotes and what he thought about fashion. Too often today, designers create garments with the simple intention of pleasing the public, I loved that Charles James looked to create new, innovative, designs that would inspire the public to go outside of their comfort zone.

I am inspired after seeing this exhibit to continue to challenge myself and my ability to create truly innovative work. I want to continually analyze what I am doing, and always work to reinvent my designs and perfect my visions.

Words from the man himself –

“A great designer does not seek acceptance. He challenges popularity.” – Charles James