AFRICA / MOROCCO

Morocco is home to beautiful nature, exotic ancient cities and some and the world’s best food. If you haven’t been there yet maybe this little list of amazing things to do in Morocco will convince you to plan that trip!

IMG_1135

Medinas of Fez, Morocco

One of the first things I see as I walk down the main street of the old medina here in the Moroccan city of Fez is this feathery fellow.  Quite an introduction! Moments later, he’s getting his head chopped off….The other birds in the shop seem not to have noticed the death of their friend, or perhaps they just don’t understand. There’s no fuss from them even though their lives can surely be counted only in minutes.

FullSizeRender 20

It feels rough and raw – but I guess that’s because I’m comparing the Fez medina to the cities where I grew up. Outside the walls of this old part of town, things are a bit more relatable. But when you’re inside them – in the crooked alleyways with just glimpses of sunlight, smoke billowing up from stoves, the glow of lamps reaching out from stalls – you lose perspective of time.

FullSizeRender 17

Not just the amount of time you have been wandering through the enormous labyrinth – and it’s certainly easy to lose track of that. But also the medina’s position in the timeline of Morocco’s culture. It may be 2017 as I wander through the souks and residential areas but, in many ways, it could be any century from the past millennium.

FullSizeRender 18

The Medina of Fez was founded in the 9th century at around the same time that Islam arrived in Morocco and the imperial rule that would create this country.  It grew in the 12th and 13th centuries to about the size that it is today.

FullSizeRender 42

Fez was the capital of Morocco until 1912 and, although political power may have moved to Rabat, this still feels like the cultural and spiritual centre of the country. It has an energy that is inescapable that comes as much from the buildings as it does the people.

FullSizeRender 27

I wonder how different the behaviour is here these days compared to hundreds of years ago. I suspect not too much. It’s one of the reasons I find it so hard to place the medina of Fez in a particular place in time. The donkeys that walk up the steps carrying goods to shops have probably always done that; the men sitting and smoking on wooden stools in front of their carpet shops would never have look out of place; the markets full of fruits and vegetables on the outer edge of the city wall has probably always been just as busy.

FullSizeRender 34
The Moroccan Hybrid

In one small square, men sit on stools outside banging copper into place as they make pots in front of the crowds rushing past.

FullSizeRender 7

I peek through a wooden door that I’m passing and see workers with large looms creating beautiful scarves and rugs.

FullSizeRender 26
Loom weaver operating a horizontal wooden hand loom in a cloth shop in Fez, Morocco

Follow the right little alleyways and you’ll come across the infamous tanneries where the animal skins are treated in the open air and plain view.  The smell is horrible so when someone offers you a mint leaf to shove up your nose, take it!

IMG_1079

This is Chouara, an 11th-century tannery that still operates as it did a thousand years ago.  Tannery workers plunge the skins into the colored wells, leaving them there for a few more days to absorb each hue. The dyes all come from natural substances, such as indigo, henna, saffron, poppies, and pomegranates.

FullSizeRender 40
This is where the process begins. The raw skins are being soaked in a mixture of cow urine, pigeon feces (yup, shit) quicklime, salt and water.  This loosens the hair from the hides and makes them softer.
FullSizeRender 35
Cow, sheep, goat and camel hides are brought here to be preserved, dyed and turned into handbags, jackets and wallets.
FullSizeRender 41
We were shown around by Mohammad, a guide arranged through the owner of our Riad.

On to Casablanca, Morocco

The number one attraction in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque.

FullSizeRender 36

Completed in 1993, the 210 meters (689 feet) mosque rises above the Atlantic Ocean which you can also see through the glass floor inside the magnificent building. It welcomes 105,000 worshippers for prayers at once. The walls are made from hand-crafted marbles with the minaret at 60 stories in height.

IMG_0005IMG_0007

Shop ’til you drop at Marche Central

As Casablanca’s main market, you can find everything at Marche Central: rare spices, olives for days, colorful decor and gorgeous fabrics. This is the perfect place for you to show off mad bargaining skills and bring home loads of souvenir for loved ones.

IMG_1061

FullSizeRender 43
Morocco is the fifth largest producer and exporter of Olive oil worldwide.  It is also among the top three countries with the lowest cost to produce.

FullSizeRender 6

Grab lunch at Rick’s Cafe

An ex-American diplomat in Morocco, Kathy Kriger, established Rick’s Cafe back in 2004 for travelers who yearn to relive the beloved Hollywood film: Casablanca. The restaurant/bar/cafe is inside a traditional Moroccan mansion with an interior mainly displaying photographs, and memorabilia from the film. Every decor placement inside the establishment is a tribute to the film.

IMG_0008IMG_0009

Although we know that Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman weren’t actually in Casablanca during filming (the movie was completely shot in Burbank, California,) there’s no harm in bringing out the tourist in all of us once in awhile and soak in the greatest love story ever told.

IMG_0011IMG_0012IMG_0013IMG_0010

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is one of the most evocative places in the world. Just the name is sexy!

FullSizeRender 11
Probably one of my favorite shot from Marrakech.

I don’t like to be bored, and neither does Marrakech.  Of all the things to do in Marrakech, I recommend the infamous market place. The souqs of Marrakech are vibrant color and noise.  Crowds of people weave through the alleys of the medina and its hundreds of stalls displaying brightly colored wares. If this is your first visit to Morocco, you’ll no doubt want to experience the souqs at least once. They’re not for everyone though, the hustle is real and can make it stressful or annoying since you’ll receive plenty of attention from stallholders competing for your money. If you’ve never been to a souq before be prepared to negotiate with everyone selling something.

FullSizeRender 38
The chicken reaper of Marrakech
FullSizeRender 37
Its not as easy as I thought it would be. Much respect to these beautiful women.
FullSizeRender 32
The women who embroider all day do not use templates.  Its all free hand.

Marrakesh is a modern mix of Moroccan and international culture with the most diversity of delicious international food and beautiful architecture in the medina.  The chaotic pace exposed a city and people always on the go. The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square is truly the mess everyone describes: tens of thousands of people at night eating, shopping, getting henna tattoos, listening to bands and storytellers, and watching magicians (and snake charmers during the day). It’s one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country. It still blows my mind how big and full it was!

FullSizeRender 28
Bread on bread.  Even their bread has bread.

FullSizeRender 24

3F7D1EB5-9BD9-4EF4-B1C7-DDF3623582FF
Pastilla at the Argana Cafe, Marrakech

Ride a Camel

FullSizeRender 10
Meet Victoria

Camel trekking may not be the most comfortable means of travelling for some, but it is undoubtedly a ‘must’ for every traveller as a way to experience the mode of transport of the Berber nomads of the Sahara.

Imlil, Morocco

The Ourika Valley is a short drive from Marrakech in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

FullSizeRender 19FullSizeRender 14FullSizeRender 16

FullSizeRender 15
The making of Argan Oil

IMG_1431IMG_1429FullSizeRender 13

High Atlas Mountains

8719F98B-DBDC-4AFF-81E8-E37AEC704314

The Atlas Mountains are an easy one-hour drive from Marrakech, offering secluded tranquility and breathtaking natural surroundings.  A mile hike up the mountains and you’ll get to experience the beautiful waterfalls.

FullSizeRender 46

67B3A50C-202F-40A3-AB25-17C497612DD1
Half way up the mountain you can stop and enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.

74843C72-4C53-4B86-98FC-4E7C314CE53B

Well folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Morocco.  Thanks for following me on all my adventures.

 

All photos used for this blog post are mine and are not to be used without my permission.

How to weather the entrepreneurial storm.

Dreams don’t always become reality, at least not on your timeline.

That’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a business owner. Too bad it took attending the school of hard knocks and letting life, the most valuable teacher, impart this wisdom into my stubborn brain.

Taking the plunge into the entrepreneurial ocean has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’d always had a grand vision of running a business where everything would just work itself out, but man was I sadly mistaken. The first two years were inundated with storm after storm that seemed practically impossible to weather. Each time I took one step forward, I took two steps back.

Fortunately, I made up in my mind that it was all or nothing, and figured out ways to endure through the tough times. And guess what? I’m still standing.

Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, especially during the startup years, you will face storms. But it’s how you react that determines the outcome.

I’ve met tons of aspiring entrepreneurs who had brilliant ideas, but I didn’t quite realize that mega success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication. And most of those who went on to pursue their passions quickly threw in the towel once they realized the path ahead was filled with roadblocks, and it would take some time to start generating income.

I wish someone would have warned me to control my thoughts before I opened up shop. During the initial months, when things weren’t going my way, I’d sit and have a pity party because I knew I had the tools to get what so and so had, but luck simply wasn’t on my side. But what I failed to realize is that looks can be deceiving; that the individual or company I was comparing myself to was seasoned, had been in the game for several years, and once traveled the same road I was currently on.

The point I’m trying to make is that in order to survive the tough times, you really have to adopt a mind-over-matter outlook. Stay focused and determined, and be willing to do whatever it takes to power through and reach the prize. Most importantly, don’t spend time letting your thoughts paralyze you.

Embrace your fears.  Fear is a dangerous emotion that only heightens with procrastination, so the longer you spend contemplating whether or not to move forward, the more you’ll talk yourself out of doing something that can change the course of your business. And don’t expect everyone around you to be supportive; some may be hoping you fail, whether it’s out of a selfish desire to prove a point or pure jealousy.

Having the courage to embrace your fears may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end. Besides, most of those traumatizing visions you’ve had about failure won’t come to pass — unless, of course, you quit.  Ok, moving on.

Speak to your market!  The famous phrase “features tell, but benefits sell” is spot on. With any of your promotional content or copy, your primary goal should be to captivate the attention of your target market so you’re their first and only choice.

Once you’ve earned their business, be sure to solicit feedback so you can continue to produce offerings tailored to their lifestyle. Besides, what better and more cost-efficient way is there to learn about your target market than from their own mouths?

Remember, it’s not about you: It’s all about your customers, and what you can do to meet their needs. Miss this point and you could quickly find yourself out of business.

Here’s my favorite…Balance.

When my oldest daughter was born, my life was centered upon her, at least for the first year or so. I took her everywhere I went and her mood affected my actions for the day. (That eventually got old when major fatigue set in; I had to learn to relinquish control).

Anyhow, your new business can seem like a newborn baby in your eyes, but don’t get so strapped to it that it becomes the epitome of your existence or you will burn out. The last thing you should be doing when you’re about to lose your shit! (yup, I said it) is making critical decisions or snapping at employeesfullsizerender-4 or clients. I’m totally guilty of this.

Instead, set aside some time to engage in activities that make you happy and don’t forget to get out and explore the world. You only have one life to live, and the business will be waiting for you when you return. This is one of the reasons I started this blog, which should be filled with more travel and fashion stuff but Ive decided to incorporate my knowledge with my readers (upon request).

Lastly, entrepreneurship is like a roller-coaster ride. In the first few years, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to stay relevant. And once you’re established, never stop putting yourself out there or things could go downhill rather quickly.

Now, take a moment and breathe! The first months, even years, of running your own business are often the very hardest. But you will get through this rough patch. I’ve been there on several occasions, but it’s in those weakest moments that I have to remember why I started. You may cry now, but you’ll laugh later as your business grows and you’re able to sit back and reflect on just how far you’ve come on your entrepreneurial journey.

Cheers!

Crys

 

Hustlerpreneur

fullsizerender-2

I know that most of my blog posts are about fashion but just to be clear, while I hope my blog posts bring you value, these posts are truly to get my thoughts put on “paper” and to tell myself things I need to hear.

My focus has been on massive action. I don’t feel like I’ve produced the amount of action that I possibly can, so I always feel like I need to work harder. I need to produce this action because I have goals that I can’t describe with words. But if you have ever described yourself as entrepreneurial, you probably know what I’m talking about.

There is a voice in me that tells me I’m not average and I’m meant for more.

This “voice” has created an obsessive drive that energizes me to a point that I operate on 4-5 hours of sleep every day unless I drug myself to death with horse tranquilizers (no joke, just ask my boyfriend). As I typed that, I understand it might not be healthy but I have no other choice. My soul isn’t satisfied unless I do as much as I can, with the time I have, to get to the next level.

When I’m out, maybe at the grocery store or something, everyone seems like they are satisfied with working at their 9-5 Monday through Friday. They look forward to the weekend and a case of their favorite beer. Not me.  ( I only drink tequila)

I don’t like taking time off from working, there is so much to do. I don’t look forward to Friday, I look forward to Mondays because “business people” are finally back to work and available to communicate. I don’t even like using the word “work” because I’m not working. I’m doing something else, I’m striving, building, growing, hustling, grinding, or pushing, not working. I know it’s work but not in the sense that average people use the word.  I was recently at dinner with some new folks and was explaining this very point, I love what I do so therefore its not “work”.

fullsizerender-3

Whatever it is in your life, find something you feel so strongly about that you will do anything it takes to achieve the next level of greatness. Then strive for the next level. If you don’t, what are you living for? What will you be known for? Will you be known for being average, predictable, or something else that’s insulting?

Average sucks! Make a decision not to be average. Do something that the universe will notice.

“It’s better to be ridiculous than absolutely boring”

The Perfect Moto Jacket

BLANK NYC Easy Rider’ Faux Leather Moto Jacket

img_0092

Finding the perfect moto jacket for fall can be a bit of a challenge. With the variety of options available now you don’t have to settle anymore. You can find the one I’m wearing here at Nordstrom  for $98.  It comes in 4 different colors so you can even be like me and get all 4 (no self control).

b4e3ffdf-27e5-4a0c-b885-2176e312090e

The motorcycle jacket (moto for short) is a classic piece that will never go out of style, this is the reason it gets reinvented every year. But no matter the fabric, color, or shape when buying a moto jacket make sure it stills has the essence of a motorcycle jacket and fits your figure perfectly.

fullsizerender

One of the things you need to consider when shopping for a moto jacket is the front closure. A jacket with a diagonal zipper is great for slimming your waist. A jacket with a straight up and down zipper is perfect for bustier women it’ll streamline your figure. If you want to create the illusion of curves then you need to find one with a cascade front. I’m petite so all three of these styles work for my small frame.

a8c8a571-b30c-4498-9888-afa84bd68cc8

You can wear a moto jacket an endless amount of ways; this is the reason you should invest in one that will last you years. I’m wearing mine with a Cascade Cardi from Free People for $128.

916285c2-3cf4-4c30-92e9-741c1a90b5e4

However you decide to wear your moto jacket, just be sure to wear it with a smile.

8b9277c0-e017-4a2a-a686-fd64bd214996

 

 

Date night details

datenight

Date nights are some of my favorite nights. Although my boyfriend and I eat dinner together most nights, it is always fun to ditch the work out clothes or sweats and get dressed up and go to dinner.

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly at a loss for new and interesting date ideas. Seriously, we love dinner and a movie as much as the next girl but every now and then you need something a little more exciting. Which is why date night is always a big deal for us women.  Whether you’re going on a first date or 100th date with your boyfriend or husband, what you wear is always big deal.

dn3

Since winter nights tend to be freezing I always opt for Ponte pants from White house Black Market.  This is one of those pairs of pants that you can pair so many different ways and wear on so many different occasions.

dn2
Tutulle Silky Satin by Christian Louboutin
dn4
Soir N 79 Mesh

This Nicole Vienna Soir N79 Mesh watch is now on sale for 30% off the entire month of December. No discount code needed.

dn1
Chanel Chevron Lambskin Double Flap Shoulder Bag

 

 

All I need is a red jacket with some zippers…

img_0006
BLANK NYC Morning Suede Moto Jacket

An iconic piece made famous, the motorcycle jacket, aka “the moto” has added a chic edge to our wardrobes for as long as I can remember. Favored by the most stylish fashionistas in the industry, moto jackets add instant style to any ensemble. Warning: instant bad-ass appeal is more than likely to come with the territory.

Shop my entire look with the link at the bottom of this post.

img_0007
1. STATE Lacquered Twill Leggings
img_0015
Free People Bombay Tank
img_0014
Stella McCartney Falabella Fringe Mini Tote Bag 
img_0009
BCBGeneration Caspian Heeled Sandal

img_0010

img_0008

img_0018
Nicole Vienna Soir N 79 Mesh Watch

Here’s some exciting news about this gorgeous watch by Nicole Vienna, they are offering 30% their entire website for the month of December. No discount code required

img_0011

img_0019

img_0017

NYC BLANK Morning Suede Moto Jacket

Free People Bombay Tank

1.STATE Lacquered Twill Leggings

Stella McCartney Falabella Tote

BCBGeneration Caspienn Heeled Sandal

Nicole Vienna Soir N 79 Mesh Watch

Boss Lady

There’s that great adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” but that’s totally easier said than done. Who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada? Do you remember  when Andy changed her entire wardrobe so that she got taken a lot more seriously, but unlike Andy, most of us don’t have access to the Vogue fashion closet (I would die if I did).

img_3899

We also don’t usually have the budget to dress for the job we want, even though looking like a million bucks is a big deal. Dressing in a similar style as your boss also shows that you’re looking ahead in your career and are attempting to have more executive presence, a new term defined as the “wow” factor that makes great leaders stand out. As Sylvia Ann Hewlett would say “ Appearance is an extraordinarily powerful first filtering. It can get you knocked off the list in a second.”

img_3895

So how can you dress for the job you want without going totally negative in your bank account?

Invest in a classic, wardrobe staple that can give you a lot of mileage. This includes a season-neutral trouser, a blazer, or pencil skirt. Stick to black, navy, and gray so that you can wear it with everything.

img_3901

Look for statement jewelry pieces but remember that people want to see you, not hear you.  So kill the clanky brackets and earrings.  Save those babies for your best friends bachelorette party in Vegas.

img_3898

Wear heels!  Now I’m a flats girl all the way, but when I want to make an impact, it’s heels baby. It’s unfortunate, but there’s just something about heels that convey power. Research has suggested that a tall woman is considered more assertive, confident, richer, capable, successful, independent, and even more intelligent than their shorter peers. Now tall is not better than short (I’m a petite woman and proud of it), but the illusion of tall can be a benefit. You want to buy shoes and clothing that support that illusion. So break out that AMEX.

img_3897

Last….Dont forget to wear a smile.

 

 

Friday I’m in Love

img_3740

My absolute favorite purchase as of late are these dark gray Catherine Malandrino Socha over the knee (OTK) boots. Not only are they trendy, but they are actually comfortable. They are amazing quality, which can sometimes be hard to come across when buying non leather. You can dress these boots up or down depending on how you style them.  I chose a black vegan leather skirt from Blank NYC and cashmere sweater from Harlowe and Graham V-Neck soft knit fleece sweater

 

 

img_3756

Ok, now lets talk about this handbag.  I’ve recently partnered with the new label Oliver Bilou to style the “MIA” bag from its latest collection. The MIA is a trendy and sophisticated handbag with just right amount of detail. Not only did I love the packaging in which I received it but I also love the details to include an inner inspirational quote: “Nothing is ever as it seems, find your magic”.  Here are some more great details on this beauty.

  • inner key hook for easy to find keys
  • inner zipper pocket
  • inner phone pocket
  • inner open pocket
  • main metal zipper closure
  • hanging rose gold metal tassel
  • rose gold metal corners
  • quilted contrasting panels

Overall the quality great and at a decent price ($99). Plus, this 100% cruelty free vegan bag really looks like leather!

img_3750

Visit Oliverbilou.com and use code: travelsforchocolate and receive 10% off your purchase.  Oh yeah and guess what? Shipping is FREE!!!

 

img_3757

Lets finish off with details and accessories, shall we?  Allow me introduce you to the New Classic Black Sheffield by Daniel Wellington watch and Bracelet Cuff. Even though a small watch face would be more ideal for my small wrist, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the classic look and the lightness of the watch. The watch is very simple to read and the face isn’t busy. Reading the time should be easy and straightforward, which is exactly what the Classic Sheffield watch offers. Even though the watch comes in men’s and women’s versions, I’d pretty much consider it unisex as, besides the sizing, they look nearly identical. I love that Daniel Wellington offers a variety of watch straps so you can’t ever get tired of wearing it. The elegant Classic Cuff is the perfect match to compliment this or any DW watch.

img_3758

Get yours now at Danielwellington.com and use code: TRAVELCHOCOLATE and receive 15% off your purchase.

img_3759

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

This post was sponsored by Oliver Bilou and Daniel Wellington

JORD Watch Giveaway

Whats the one thing you never leave the house without? Well, for me it’s the basics: Keys, wallet, cellphone, chapstick and of course a watch.

So what if I told you that you could win not only a watch but a bad ass JORD wood watch?

img_3611

When JORD Wood Watches reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out one of their watches. I was excited because I’m a huge fan. To be honest, I’ve looked up their watches several times. I love their style and uniqueness their watches bring because really, have you ever seen a watch anything like this? They really are one of a kind.

Click here to enter the giveaway:  https://www.woodwatches.com/g/travelsforchocolate

One of you will win $75 to use on our website and everyone else who enters will receive $20 to use on the site.The contest will close 11/13 at 11:59pm, so don’t delay….CLICK NOW!

img_3613

When I received my watch I was very impressed by the cute custom box it came in.  The presentation alone is stunning!  As far as the watch, well just look at it…its absolutely gorgeous and extremely light weight.

Here are some interesting facts about the materials used to craft these beautiful time pieces.

Sapphire Glass

Movements

Kia Wood (used on the watch I selected)

 img_3607

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches.


Wooden Wristwatch
//www.woodwatches.com/widget-article/travelsforchocolate

Flexing in Faux Fur by UrbanCode London

When I saw this Faux fur knee-length scarf I absolutely had to have it!  Its unique pattern screams elegance with a splash of sexy.  Shop one similar on Urbancode.co.uk

img_9977

Did you know that faux fur was first introduced in 1929s and has been commercially available since the 1950s?  Fake fur, also called fun fur or faux fur, is an animal friendly material made of synthetic fibers designed to resemble fur, normally as part of a piece of clothing, but it’s increasing popularity has been credited to its promotion by animal rights organizations which claim that it is an animal-friendly alternative to traditional fur.

img_3628

Faux fur is a great way to keep warm during cold winter months. Faux fur can be used for many garments and home furnishings.. Whether you are ethically minded, fashion conscious or practical, Faux fur has a number of benefits over real fur.

img_3369