Book Review: Dark Secrets

Dark Secrets by: Michael Hjorth & Hans Rosenfeldt

I purchased this book on sale at ShopRite over the past summer but never got around to reading it. I love to watch ID investigates and any show that has to do with solving crime. If I could handle blood and gore I think I would have made a great detective. This book is about solving a murder mystery which takes place in Sweden full of twist and turns. Right when you think you know who the killer is, new information is found, and your looking in a new direction. Towards the end of the book I literally was at the edge of my seat reading….I was totally shocked on who the killer was and never saw it coming. I do not want to give too much away, but lets just say when I read the last line of the book I literally said out loud “no way!”

I did like that the book took place in somewhere that I have never been which sparked my imagination. This book is a little long but its nicely written and easy to follow when you pick up where you left off.  Dark Secrets was a page turner for sure!

XOXO

CC

South Africa 11.16

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It all started one night in July when I got one of the usual “There’s a cheap ticket deal wanna go for a long weekend” text from one of my best friends Chrissy. This time it was for South Africa for only $625.56 round trip nonstop. Not even realizing what I’m committing to I’m like yeaaaah!!! (16 hour plane ride and a 6 hour car ride to stay somewhere for two nights…yes I said TWO). I must say a safari was never on my bucket list. It’s not like I’m some animal hater or anything, I just don’t know that much about them, and have never thought it would be possible to save money for a safari knowing how much the airfare costs alone. Low and behold, it happened. Don’t limit your dreams by saying or thinking “never”,  you never know what life will throw at you. This seems to be one of the many lessons I come across over and over again in this fabulous life I live.

Panic attacks, Malaria Pills and many late night secret phone calls to Chrissy trying to back out, me and 4 of my crazy girlfriends boarded a flight to South Africa.  The airline itself was nice and the staff was super friendly, thank God, but once you’re on a plane for more than 10 hours, you just start to go a little nutty thinking it’s never ending. We landed early in the morning and met our driver Mr. Big, who was going to drive us to the camp. I think I literally slept the whole way because when I awoke, we were in the park with a flat tire.

We were staying at the Baobab Hill Bush House, an old rangers’ quarter, situated in the middle of Pafuri Camp equipped with our own chef and house-keeper. The house was stunning. We even had a swimming pool in our backyard in which the elephants would visit for late night refreshments.

  It sounded great in theory when we booked the house…super luxurious and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong I loved the house but when night falls, and the cook and house-keeper left, that’s where my imagination and anxiety got the best of me. Being in the middle of a park where there are deadly animals, no cell reception, just a “walkie-talkie”, which was located at the entrance of the house, bugs the size of house pets that could be poisonous, the threat of malaria, dinky screen doors for protection (sorry but an elephant could have totally barged through it if it wanted to), 5 girls staying alone, in a foreign country…yeah, I basically came up with worst case scenarios. What if someone tried to capture us? Who would make it to the walkie-talkie on time? Where would we hide? In the house or with the WILD animals outside that can eat us. I know I sound ridiculous but for someone who does not have a clue about animals and was fearful from the beginning, yes these were thoughts that ran through my head. The last night we were there the electricity blew. Well…The frantic calls coming through the walkie-talkie to the rangers must have been hysterical! I can totally laugh about it now but then it was pure utter panic.

During this trip below are just a few things that gave me anxiety:

  • Bugs
  • Animals that can eat me
  • Our screens
  • Being alone at the house
  • Our truck not having sides, a cheetah could easily climb in if they wanted to
  • Malaria
  • Being taken or held hostage for a ransom
  • Dying from Deet overload

 We had an amazing tour guide named Sarah. She was super shocked that we flew all the way to South Africa for two nights. Sarah knew everything about the animals, and their behavior. She stressed how lucky we were because we got to see the “Big Five” in just two days, something that is not common. It was so nice to see someone so passionate about what they do and I learned so much from her. She had her hands full with us for sure. We took two safaris a day, one starting at 5AM and one starting late in the afternoon coming home past sunset. We would relax at beautiful view points, enjoying BBQ snacks and wine.  All our meals were cooked for us and the food was AMAZING! During the day we had down time since it was a billion degrees and relaxed by the pool. We would be in bed by 8PM every night and would stay up to see our animal friends explore in our backyard.






Most used phrases:

  • Where is the DEET?
  • BRI THERE’S A SPIDER COME GET IT!
  • OMG
  • I’m scared
  • Can we go back in the Jeep? (me)
  • Do you have white wine?
  • Should we open wine?
  • Is there gonna be wine?
  • Is there more white wine?
  • Guys calm down
  • Can I sleep with you? (no one wanted to sleep alone except Les, LOL)
  • This heat is brutal
  • WTF was that?
  • Is this safe?
  • I thought we were going to be in the Jeep

Despite all my fears it was one of the best decisions of my life to go on this trip. I learned so much about animals and myself and what I’m really capable of. I met amazing people and saw amazing things that most people never get to see in real life. I am so grateful for this adventure. Looking back on this trip I can see that my fears were silly, as most are. If your looking to go on a Safari trip I highly suggest visiting this park and ask for Sarah to be your guide! https://www.returnafrica.com
Total cost of the trip: $1725.56  which included food, drinks, accommodations, hotel transfer, flight, tipping and souvenirs.

Link to Video: https://youtu.be/otHysraXRBM

Packing Tips: With our frequent long weekend getaways I’m use to cramming all my stuff in a carry-on. I overpacked on this trip because I didn’t know what I would need and didn’t want to feel like I needed something. Its not like I could run down the street to the store if I did! All my medicine took up most of my bag, lol. Below are a few things I would say are necessary for this trip, and things you can leave at home.

  • Workout leggings and tops, the kind that absorb sweat because thats all you will be doing is sweating. (may vary depending on time of year you go, I went in November)
  • A scarf you can wrap around your mouth and nose…it can get quite dusty at times
  • Cough drops, throat can get scratchy from the dust
  • SPF!!!! I can’t express that enough…like the highest number you can get your hands on
  • Hat if needed and sunglasses
  • Sneakers
  • DEET
  • Don’t bother with makeup none of us touched it…you sweat it off in two seconds
  • Don’t bother with doing your hair totally not worth it and the animals could care less
  • Light long sleeve top for sunset because when the sun goes down it can get cool
  • Adapter for charging all of your cameras
  • Mini notebook to carry so you can take notes on all the amazing animals you will see

 Some random info I took away from this trip:

  • SA has some of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed
  • Elephants are the most amazing creatures
  • My spirit animal is the “Heart Attack Bird”
  • Just because you see a lion or cheetah it does not mean it is going to come maul you
  • Buffalo have a crazy stare down tactic used to intimidate…and it works
  • Zebra are hard to spot because they blend in with everything
  • The Lion King is real…I swear the camp looks just like the movie
  • Your risk at this specific camp of getting malaria is quite low, calm down
  • Elephants sense fear like dogs so try and stay calm
  • At 5 AM it is already super bright
  • Deet melts your nail polish off
  • Animals are amazing creatures
  • I have the best adventure buddies in the world ❤ (well I already knew that)





XOXO

CC

 

 

 

 

Why You Should be Eating Turmeric Everyday ….

Turmeric is like the super god spice, it’s super healthy for you. It’s organge in color with a peppery taste. To me it tastes like Indian food mixed with old spice. I like to put it on my eggs in the morning, whether they are scrambled, hard boiled etc. You can put this powder on anything really…chicken,steak, in your salad or soup. Below are a few reasons to get on the Turmeric kick:

1. Turmeric has been shown to have effects on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. (Research is still going on)

2. Tumeric is an anti-inflammatory agent so it can help reduce joint and muscle pain even  relieving arthritis pain.

3. Tumeric is known to fight bowel disease.

4. Lowers cholesterol and blood presssure and is also good for your heart and liver.

5. Fights prostate cancer and reduces your chances of getting leukemia and colon cancer.

So yeah Tumeric can vastly improve your health and it is super easy to incorporate it into your diet.

XOXO

CC

4 Beauty Products I’m Obsessed with Right Now  

Winter blues? Dry skin? In the need of some sunshine? Below are 4 products that are staples in life and are keeping my skin happy this winter.

1. Ponds Correcting Cream: I love love love this cream. I use it all year round. I use to battle with putting makeup on in the winter because my skin was so dry and would flake throughout the day. This moisturizer fixed this problem and I have been obsessed with it ever since! I also love the smell 🙂

2. Carmex Lip Balm: Brings me back to my middle school days. No explanation needed…love this stuff.

3. Essie Altitude Attitude: The most perfect shade of red.

4. Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum: Found this gem after the summer to refresh my skin from the sun.  Super lightweight and corrects uneven skin tone. I noticed a difference in just three weeks.

XOXO

CC

I Joined a Book Club!

Seriously beyond excited right now. So as most of you know I am a huge lover of books. On my 2017 bucket list was to join a book club, something I have wanted to do for some time now. I did a little research…I wanted something convenient and reasonably priced. I came across Book of the Month Club and immediately  signed up. The company has been around since 1926 so that sparked my interest even more. You set up a profile advising what kind of books you like and basically they pour through new books for you to read. Each month you select one of the five they offer and they ship it to you. If your not interested in any of the books you have to choose from you can skip that month. I like the idea of someone else picking a book for me. The price was great….I believe I paid 143.00 for the year which gets you a book a month and it also came with a free tote!

I am all about packaging….when my book arrived yesterday it came in the cutest box with a hand written note that can be used as a book mark, and they also sent me an extra book they thought I would like as well! Let’s just say I’m in love! I’m already half way through my first book “Lucky You” by Erika Carter.

XO

CC

6 Week Yin Series

img_5316I am beyond excited to kick this series off this weekend! What to expect? Detox the body, feel more energized, healthy, flexible and less stressed. Sign up for my 6 week Yin series- a holistic approach for proper organ function. You can sign up for one or all the classes.  In each class we will be working on 2 of the 12 meridian channels. I incorporate the use of oils and mediation and will give you the tools you need to start or strengthen your meditation practice….how to calm the mind, leaving the to do lists at the door, focusing on yourself and only yourself. Remember when we feel great others around us will feel your vibes. The series begins on Saturday January 7th at 9:30 am at Breathe Life Sangha in Toms River NJ. Hope to see you on the mat! http://www.breathelifesangha.com/

2017

What are some of your goals this year? Have you accomplished what you wanted to accomplish in 2016? Remember be easy with yourself in setting your goals, sometimes the little steps wind up being the biggest of our lives.  Hope you all have a lovely and safe night full of lots of laughter and love dancing into the New Year on a positive note.  Show gratitude everyday, challenge yourself, be excited, be brave, learn as much as you can, travel as often and far as you can, create positive routines for yourself that only YOU do…ME time is so important, smile, let shit go, forgive and allow yourself to love fiercely because at the end of the day not everyone is here for forever.  Below is my list for 2017…I think I can accomplish it all in 365 days 🙂

  • Put my Italian Language skills to the test…continue studying
  • Master the art of making homemade Ravioli
  • Combine my yoga teaching with travel
  • Learn something new
  • Read as much as I can
  • Travel obvi
  • Love Love Love
  • Go fishing
  • Eat my Turmeric powder everyday
  • Save my pennies for the beautiful new MacBook in Rose Gold… of course… for more blogging and my short story I’m working on
  • Find new ways to give back, donating my time or teaching donation yoga
  • Learn how to cook three ethnic dishes, and cook them well
  • Travel to one place in the United States for once, something cool
  • Swim with piggies
  • Learn how to drive and park the Pineapple Express (our boat)
  • Plant something that does not die in a week
  • Join a book club…any suggestions?
  • Get my boyfriend to like chick peas 😉

XO CC

 

 

 

My Best Kept Secret…

One of the most common questions I am asked is “How do I get to travel so much”?  Well, that my friends is where the Chase United Card comes in. My travel partner-in-crime Chrissy introduced me to the card after my very first Italian adventure.  Currently I have 90,000 points from strategically using the system which is a round trip flight to Europe and than some! Below is a little bit about the card and my tips on how to use it to get the most points.

Perks: 

  • Get 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 dollars the first three months your account is open- Perfect for Christmas season arriving
  • Earn 5,000 bonus miles when you add the first authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your Card during the first 3 months your account is open. – I put my mom on my account and had her purchase a coffee…
  • $0 dollars for the first year then a annual fee of $95.00
  • Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent
  • 10,000 bonus miles each year after $25,000 in purchases on your card
  • MILES DO NOT EXPIRE
  • Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 2 FREE United Club passes each year
  • FREE first checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • Room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles for up to 5 friends that you refer to the card ( refer me – wink wink)

It is worth it for me to pay the annual $95.00 a year because I usually go out of network with my bank more then a few times a year and save a ton in foreign transaction fees. I also get some of my airline tickets…cough cough…for free.

I put EVERYTHING on my card even if its just a coffee! I hustle my parents to see if they have to make any big purchases so I can put it on my card… Thanks Mom and Dad! 😉 Every dollar adds up. Some bills will allow you to pay with your credit card…so I’m all about that!

Mileage Plus X app: Get paid to shop…literally. Below are the ones I use the most.  I am accustomed to shopping only where I get reward points…now if Target and Wawa would jump aboard the Mileage Plus X program I would be set for life…but sadly they are not part of it…yet!

Kohl’s 3 miles for every dollar

Marshalls 3 miles for every dollar

HomeGoods 3 miles for every dollar

Barnes and Noble 4 miles for every dollar

Harmon Face Values 4 miles for every dollar

Christmas Tree Shops 4 miles for every dollar

AMC Theaters 5 miles for every dollar

Old Navy/ Gap 5 miles for every dollar

So if you are looking to travel abroad in the near future, I highly suggest getting this card and setting yourself up with some points for your plane ticket. Travel with ease not carrying a ton of cash because you can use your card anytime, anywhere with no fees. After your free year is up, You can always close the card if you feel like you will not be traveling out of the United States after your adventure abroad….but for some reason I feel like that won’t be happening because you will be hooked as I am.

XO

C.

 

 

 

 

 

A Magical Island Called Ischia…

Traditionally, every year my friend Chrissy and I go on a short weekend getaway to the southern part of Italy. This year she surprised me by taking me to a tiny little island off the  Amalfi Coast called Ischia. We flew into Naples via Meridiana. Meridiana usually has great deals for direct flights. One bus ride later and a scenic ferry ride brought us to paradise.

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First on the list… Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle that connects to Ischia, which was built in 474BC.  The views from the top were just stunning. Chrissy knows my obsession with castles so of course she picked a B&B that was directly across from it so we could have endless views of the castle, and see all its beauty it had to offer morning, noon and night. Villa Lieta was the name of the B&B which was super cozy and the staff was amazing.

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After seeing the castle, and getting settled in, we walked around the charming town, shopped, and even saw the cutest wedding ceremony set up. We relaxed on the beach before indulging in coconut gelato (the best ever), and the first of many before getting ready for our romantic dinner date.

picmonkey-collagepicmonkey-collage3We took a tiny fishing boat from the dock across the street from our B&B at dusk that takes you over to this restaurant Gardenia Mare, which is attached to the most beautiful hotel. It was breathtakingly beautiful.  Everything we ate was delicious … even the shrimp staring me in the eye (LOL).  I would come back to the island just to eat here. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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The next day we took advantage of free breakfast with our stunning view from the roof top of the B&B. We then took the bus over to Sant’ Angelo, walked around the town and relaxed on Banana Beach. We finished the day off with the perfect lunch consisting of my favorite thing on the Amalfi Coast…mussels!! They are super fresh and only seasoned with pepper. Even if you do not like mussels you have to try them. You will not regret it, I promise. We then moseyed on back to our B&B stopping for gelato, of course, and got ready for a relaxing dinner with a view of the stunning castle.

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Travel Tip: When you book B&B’s in Italy, most places include free breakfast consisting of coffee, water, juice, and pastries. I am not one to eat a lot in the morning but to keep traveling expenses down so I definitely take advantage of this – plus the Cornettos (breakfast pastry usually filled with jam, nutella or chocolate) are TO DIE FOR! 

The next day we were up at dawn, traveling back to Naples to catch our flight home and got to see the city at the most beautiful time.  The local fisherman just came back with their catch, and locals were starting to line up to purchase their fish for the day. This tiny island truly was paradise and full of charm.  It reminded me of the setting from “The Little Mermaid”.  I am sure this is where Arielle is from 😉

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I totally recommend visiting this Ischia. Food was fantastic, people were friendly, and the views were just stunning. Thank you Chrissy for planning another fabulous Italian adventure. Cheers to the best days of our lives! To see my full photo album and video you can visit my Facebook page. Don’t forget to follow my travel adventures on my Instagram as well! – ChrissyKimmy.

Airline Ticket $663.09

B&B, Ferry, Bus Tickets $250.00

Food and shopping $140.00

Total: $1,053.09 (Best thousand dollars I ever spent)

 

xoxo

C.

Pasta Pasta Pasta

Buongiorno!  I have strong traditional Italian values and grew up in the kitchen. The kitchen is where you played laughed and bonded with your family even if you were not the cook. I was recently reading “The Shoemakers Wife” which I highly recommend reading and they kept talking about how they would make homemade pasta. This sparked my interest and lucky me my boyfriend surprised me with a pasta maker imported from Italy and my very own drying rack! (he’s the cutest)

My family and I decided this will be a great end of the summer project. I come from a line of great cooks….grandma was the bomb.com and passed her cooking skills down to my mom which my sister graciously inherited all of the cooking skills leaving me zero. I am quite challenged in the kitchen…I can make like three things. But what I can cook comes out delicious. Some are natural in the kitchen….others like myself are hazardous to themselves and others around. My sister spearheaded this project with me and I must say it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. The machine I used was a Marcato Atlas 180 roller. It was easy to assemble and work with and it says “The original” so of corse I had to have it. We decided to make Tagliatelle which is a traditional type os pasta from Emilia-Romagna and Marche, regions of Italy.  Below are the steps that worked best for us. If I can do it trust me anyone can do it!

Ingredients: Flour, Eggs (room temp) and Semolina flour

Step 1. Making the dough:  Measure out 3 cups of flour and make a fort like shape. Place 4 eggs in the center of the flour. Begin to beat eggs with a fork adding a little bit of flour as needed. The dough will start to thicken with each bit of flour. When the dough is no longer liquid began to knead for 6-8 minutes or until “confident”. (the directions kept saying “until confident” so we got a chuckle out of that trying to be “confident” when we had no clue what we were doing) You want to make sure that the dough is not sticky…if it is add more flour. Wrap in Cling Wrap and refrigerate for 30 min. FullSizeRender-17

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IMG_9564Elle wanted to help too 🙂

Step 2. The dough and machine meet:  Flour your work area. Unwrap ball and cut into a small piece. Start with the machine at notch 1. Roll dough through. Fold in half slice edges and roll through. Fold over and roll 4-6 times (folding in half each time) until confident. Move machine to notch 2 and roll through a few times until confident w/o folding this time. Move machine up two more notches and roll dough through 2 times. Move notch up to 6 and roll dough through a final time. Place dough on counter and sprinkle with Semolina flour. Fold in half. Sprinkle more Semolina and fold in half. Repeat the process. When your dough is folded begin to cut. Make sure you cut into the dough and push knife away from the body. This prevents dough from mushing together. Keep in mind the pasta does not have to have a perfect shape its homemade after all….don’t stress. Unravel each piece of dough and set individually on a wet paper towel. Repeat this process until you use all of the dough. Don’t forget to cover the pasta with a wet paper towel as you are working with the dough. IMG_9690

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Step 3. Cooking the pasta: Boil water. When water comes to a boil add salt. Begin to add your pasta. Make sure you individually add the pasta so they do not clump together. The pasta cooks super fast…about two minutes so do not leave the stove area. Place cooked pasta in sauce and mangia!

IMG_9693.JPGThis was well worth the time, effort and money for my machine. You can definitely taste the difference. I can see myself using this machine a lot in the next upcoming months and can’t wait to try all different types of macaroni!  I guess my boyfriend will be getting his money’s worth by getting paid back in lots of pasta!

Xo

C