Posts tagged joe
The big launch is finally here!!!!!
You know, starting a business is so exciting and so stressful. I think that’s why I literally lost 10 pounds; the anticipation is killing me.
I think we can best describe starting a business like getting pregnant. You conceive the idea of what you want to do, than there is several months of carrying the idea and preparing for the launch, and when your due date finally arrives, you can’t wait to show the world your pride and joy.
We always joke around that our businesses are our children. We nurture them, we invest in them and we watch them grow. Having your own business is not a 9-5 thing; its more like a seven day a week, 20 hours a day job. And while this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly is right up our ally.
The good tends to out weigh the bad. But sometimes the bad will drive you so crazy that you polish off a bottle of Malibu while hiding under your desk, hoping that your partner doesn’t walk in because you know your going to get made fun of. Or when you throw your phone across the room because your day just got that much worse. And that is when you realize how important a spouse can be. Especially when your spouse is your business partner.
I think its safe to say that I think Boutique Noir is going to be something special. You have to understand, when you dreamt of something for so long, and finally, the day has come when your ideas are no longer just on paper, but dimensional, than that’s major.
This is my passion, and when you’re passionate about what you do, than your business will be successful. A great role model for this is my husband. While so many ignorant people think that manual work is “blue-collar” and demeaning, I think it’s sexy and above all, I think its really about the artistry when it comes down to it. Not everyone can create a pattern design on a floor or revive old wood to make it look new. And that’s why Joey is so good at what he does; he is passionate! Furthermore that’s why his customers respect him and made him the success he is; Joey is every bit the expert in this field.
I remember my high school English teacher quoted a German Philosopher to me, when he read a paper I wrote about what I wanted to do in life. The quote was from Friedrich Nietzsche, and he said, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star”. At that time, if I were asked what I thought this meant, I would have said, “I have no clue and don’t care”. But as an adult, I would now say “You must have passion if you want to be successful”.
I never condone those who have dreams. Dreams are good. We should all have goals to work towards. Whether your goal is about careers, fitness or life in general, we should all generally approach it with passion. The only time I feel a dream isn’t going to happen is when that person expects it to fall on their laps and doesn’t want to work at it. Lets face it people; you have to work hard to get results. Those who are fortunate to have things handed to them, well, good for them. We go down the paths we are given for reasons. Sure, we get sidetracked, but in the end, everyone has a plan. My plan is different from your plan. As hard or shitty as it is sometimes, I don’t think I would want to have the plan of someone else. I’ll be honest with you, I’m really curious to see what the big guy has planned for me. I’m comfortable with saying, I think the path I’ve chosen is pretty damn good one.
Please join us on Friday, 2-17-12 for the launch of Boutique Noir! Currently, we are carrying Women’s apparel and accessories, plus you can subscribe to our Fashion Blog and Videos! And coming soon, the male counterpart of Boutique Noir will arrive! That’s right, you can expect Men’s apparel and accessories, plus women’s lingerie and swimwear, and so much more!
We’re back!!!! What an amazing year it’s been! We couldn’t be happier with our lives right now. There were those who doubted our relationship, and honestly, to all those people who said that we would be divorced in 6 months, we would like to inform you that that our marriage is stronger than ever. We seem to be doing something right and while there are still people who still think what they want, we don’t give a shit. There will always be people who have an opinion, but hey, that’s what happens when you were on a reality TV show.
Oh well, C’est la vie!
As promised, we proudly bring you a new installment of “Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go and What to do in…” You know, we didn’t realize how big the response was going to be for our little guide. The flattery is very welcoming. Its not like we are necessarily experts on travel, but we know what we like, and usually, it seems to be a crowd pleaser.
Hope you like this entry, because St. Lucia was a blast!
What an amazing and beautiful way to celebrate our very first Anniversary. Honestly, St. Lucia didn’t disappoint! The island is legendary. If you are looking for a vacation that provides that true “Caribbean” vibe, than you need to go to St. Lucia. For those couples who seek some extra R & R, than you should know that the best part about the island is that it screams Romance!
St. Lucia is part of the West Indies, and the languages spoken are Creole and English, so don’t worry about not being able to socialize. And in case you are curious, they drive on the left side of the road, just like the British do. Talk about blowing the minds of a couple of New Yorkers. Also, you should know that there are two sides to St. Lucia. You can either stay on the Caribbean side, where the water is much calmer than the Atlantic Side. Lets just say the Atlantic side is Joey (fierce), and the Caribbean side is Sandra (laid back). Wherever you stay, however, the energy of the island translates all over.
Vieux Fort, St. Lucia
Hotel- Coconut Bay Resort and Spa http://www.coconutbayresortandspa.com/
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go and What to Do in St. Lucia
1) On a private boat tour of the island, we witnessed first hand the extreme difference between the Atlantic and Caribbean sides of St. Lucia. Tip: You really need to take a private boat tour of the island. Here’s why; the coastline is insanely breath taking. It reminded us of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai. Imagine a coastline that is lush with rainforests, mango, coconut, breadfruit trees and cactus. (Yes, Cactus.), with the added bonus of sporadic beach towns that seem to pop up along the coast. What made it even better was Captain Ricky, and how we got to experience a rainstorm in the middle of the ocean. Joey- this was my favorite part of this trip. Check out the video! St. Lucia Rain Storm Its calm one minute and than suddenly, BAM! We are in the middle of an intense rainstorm. And I loved every second. I’m proud of my wife by the way. She didn’t scream, puke or cry once. Than again, she was probably praying that we wouldn’t die. Typical Sandra…
2) Number 2 is for those thrill seekers out there who want to enjoy a new sport. Joey- If you are like me and are looking for serious thrills, than you need to try Kite Surfing. http://www.2elements.co.uk/ Now you maybe asking yourself what the hell Kite Surfing is. Well, imagine wind surfing, but your holding onto a kite. Talk about a serious workout, (Your working all your muscles, all at once.) The Atlantic Side of St. Lucia is windy, so kite surfing is generally popular over on this side of the island. You need to learn how to kite surf before you can even think about doing it however. It’s a dangerous sport, and proper training is a MUST. Sandra and I had the chance to speak to Chris, the owner of 2Elements, about Kite Surfing. He says you need about 10 hours of lessons to even be let out into the water. It’s that intense! Your using both Air and Water to control your board and yourself. Tip: Get your Kite Surfing Certification before going to St. Lucia. Good news though for my fellow New Yorkers! Kite Surfing is NOW available on Long Island! I’m probably going to have to find a class and learn how to do it. I’m really pumped about this sport! Its sick to watch and probably even better to do!
3) We have a full on understanding that Rum is the choice drink of the Caribbean (Sandra’s Tip- avoid a drink called “Bob Marley”. You will be rendered unconscious). However, make it a point to enjoy this country’s specialty, and which is Piton Beer with squeezed lime. Named after the Gros Piton and Petit Piton (formed by volcanic eruptions, which if you have the opportunity, consider visiting this site), this beer is similar in taste to Corona, but better. Which, plain and simply put, it’s friggin’ delicious.
4) If you love Volcano’s, than you should make it a point to visit Mount Soufriere. They say you smell it before you see it. Our boat captain described the smell as “rotten eggs…” You can bathe in the mud; supposedly it has amazing healing properties. Speaking of visiting Mother Nature’s exotic places, check out Diamond Falls, which has a variety of different waterfalls (There’s a waterfall for everyone! One is hot, one is freezing, and one is just right lol).
5) So, there is a lot of talk that St. Lucia is becoming the next big “It” place to visit for honeymooning. We whole heartily AGREE. As we mentioned, we went here for our first anniversary. As mentioned, it is Romantic in every sense of the word. On our actually night of our Anniversary, we had a romantic dinner in Gazebo that sat on a bluff with the ocean at its peak. (Sandra- this, by the way, was all Joey! How sweet is he! He certainly has a thing for Gazebos, Mr. Adventure can be Mr. Romance if he wants) and if that wasn’t romantic enough, Coconut Bay offers Oceanside Couple Massages. (Sandra- The sound of the ocean was by far the most relaxing sound to hear when you are trying to relax. It’s very organic and literally puts you in the zone.) Tip: St. Lucia loves couples, so take advantage of their couples activities! Honeymoon ATV-ing, Private Boat Tours, Private Dinners, and so much more…
6) Did you know that coconut is probably one of the most resourceful fruits in the Caribbean? Our good friend, Captain Ricky, broke down the properties of the coconut, and how they use it to cure everything from skin rashes to hangovers. The oils and water from the coconut are considered medicinal. Drink coconut water when you have a hangover and your ailments will be cured, cook your food in Coconut oil and enhance the flavors and save your cholesterol. How about just slather yourself in coconut and not only get a great tan, but cure eczema and get rid of severe dry skin. Tip: Make your own coconut oil (thanks Captain Ricky for this tip). Grate the inside of a coconut as if you were grating cheese. Squeeze the shavings to retrieve the access water and oil. Than boil the shavings in water for an hour or so. Skim the oil from the top, tada… coconut oil. As for the shavings? Eat it! The sugar caramelizes the shavings, therefore making it super tasty.
7) St. Lucian’s LOVE country music as much as they love Reggae. In fact, they love country music so much that when they sing it they sound like country stars. We aren’t big into the Country Music scene, but we could appreciate their attempts to sing Rascal Flats and Brad Paisley. Which is good news for all you country folk!
We can genuinely say that Creole food (which is the food of St. Lucia) is friggin’ DELICIOUS! Tip: Creole is flavorful, and spicy. Sometimes really spicy. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Or those with ulcers. Expect fresh fish everyday, especially Red Snapper, Conch and King Fish, and you should really try Breadfruit. Breadfruit, a staple in the St. Lucian diet, has a texture similar to bread (hence its name), and is often cooked with other ingredients to help soften the consistency and give it flavor. Some other foods common in the St. Lucian diet include Mango, Coconut, Fish, and spices like turmeric. Regardless, it’s all very good and very appetizing. Tip: Bring home some Baron’s Hot Pepper Sauce. (Or order it http://www.baronfoods.com/list.asp?cat_ID=5) Its an electric yellow color with red flakes make the sauce look hot… and for the record, that sauce is friggin’ HOT.
9) So, Long Islanders, thought we were known for our lighthouses? Well, we just got beat for the title. St. Lucia is home to the world’s second tallest Light House. It’s light can be seen for miles, and it’s so bright that illuminates the sky.
10) We feel obliged to share with you a tip that may affect your trip to St. Lucia, or any island for that matter. We traveled to St. Lucia in their off season. Their off season is May through October, or best known as Hurricane Season. Thanks to Global Warming, it is a big deal. We encountered a tropical storm for the duration of our trip, and while it was only for a 2 and ½ days, it was a bit of a downer. November to February is their prime tourist season. Tip: Research where you are going. If you prefer peace and quiet (like we were looking for, minus the storm) than go in the off-season to a destination. But if you are looking for a party, than the prime tourist season is the way to go.
We had the chance to meet some seriously awesome people, especially the wonderful staff at the Coconut Bay Resort and Spa. They always were smiling, and they really enjoy doing their job. Small J, Mac Lee, Vino, Vishal, Robert, Ed, EVERYONE, really go above and beyond to make your trip memorable.
Joey and Sandra’s Top 5 Things To Eat and Drink In St. Lucia
1) Coconut (Oil, Water, Cocktails…a Caribbean Staple…)
2) Bread Fruit
3) Piton Beer
4) Anything Creole
5) Barons Blazing Hot Pepper Sauce
Ok, well that does it for this trip. We hope we have convinced you enough to consider visiting this amazing country. It was definitely a much needed trip, and it was nice to just the 2 of us for our anniversary. Leaving all the chaos of work and life in general just to focus on “us” was nice and refreshing. We have the most fun when we travel.
Now we are off to train for a Warrior Dash, and we may plan another impromptu trip, some place in driving distance. Summer 2011 is looking pretty good so far; hope you’re enjoying it!
It feels like we JUST got married. We just can’t believe we survived one whole year! When you think about it, its very surreal. Time has definitely flown by, and while there were times that were bad, there were times that were really good. A lot can happen in a year; and it makes the year zoom by before you can blink!
So, apparently, there are certain “gifts” that are suppose to be given to each other on anniversaries. While we tend to shy from tradition, we thought it would be rather amusing to see what “tradition” says. For the record, Tradition doesn’t make sense!
Allow us to explain:
They say you should give Paper for the 1st anniversary. So, does paper mean MONEY? Because money is always good! We purchased airline tickets for each other, does that count? Or is it literal, like stationary (Sandra- does anyone actually use Stationary anymore? Maybe teachers do, but I normally just email or text message or send a hallmark card…)?
Modern one-year anniversary gifts include Clocks. Now why the hell would we want to give each other a clock? It would be an insult, almost to say that one of us is always late (Joey- Cough, Cough Sandra that means you. You are never ready on time! Two hours to get ready for anything!) Perhaps a watch… than that would be something we would understand (Joey- I would like a Movado please.) But give each other a clock? Who comes up with this shit?
Apparently, Henry Van Dyke did. He wrote “For those who love, time is eternity.” Now that’s sweet! That would be something to inscribe on the back of a WATCH. Not a clock.
What about Jewelry? Well, Gold Jewelry is traditional, as well as Pearls and Peridot.
Sandra- What, no diamonds?! Ok, being that I am all about things big and shiny, I would like to openly discuss this.
I think that Peridot is actually kind of pretty depending on the shade. Most of time the stones are emerald-ish hue, but not to be confused with an Emerald. Think more of an olive green color. Regardless, it’s still really stunning.
As for pearls, one name comes to my mind: Mikimoto. I just love the way that name slides off my tongue; “Mikimoto! Mikimoto!” If I were to do pearls, I would probably prefer colored pearls, like Black or I would do Pearls and gemstones together.
As for gold, being that Gold is so valuable right now, it would be an investment that’s for sure. However, I really prefer white gold (and platinum over white gold) to yellow gold. Plus, not to mention, there has been a new Rose Gold trend in the gold industry.
So, I got an idea; what if you combined Peridot and Pearl together to make a pendant or ring in a white gold setting! There, now that’s a nice one-year anniversary gift lol. Well, if this isn’t a hint for a special piece of jewelry, I don’t know what is. And Joey is going to read this and laugh. Whatever, I can dream.
Oh, and did you know that there are anniversary colors? Neither did we! Gold and yellow are the traditional anniversary colors. (Joey- all I can think about is that Austin Powers Movie, the 3rd one, where the Gold Member character kept saying, “I love GOLD.” I’ll just paint myself Gold and give myself to Sandra. That solves everything!)
And finally, if you want to give flowers on your 1st anniversary, they suggest Orange Blossom or Pansy. Pansy comes from the French world pensée, which means thought or remembrance. An Orange Blossom is symbolic of marriage, eternal love and fertility.
Announcement: Do not give us Orange Blossom. We are not ready for children yet. Thank you. We have some traveling to do first. Vegas? Yes please. Ibiza? Sure, why not!?
So some of things we are suppose to do on our 1st anniversary include eating the top layer from our wedding cake. We saved the top layer, and we plan on attempting to eat a fork full of it. And thats it. It probably has freezer burn and to be honest with you, we fear the after affects of eating something a year old that contains dairy. Whoever came up with that obviously was looking for an excuse to get sick. (Joey- Babe, there’s the traditional color yellow! From the freezer burnt butter cream icing! HAHAHAHAHA!)
We may just take the suggestion of some very awesome friends of ours and watch our wedding video. Whenever we watch it, we always have a good laugh, especially towards the end when our guests are beyond their sober points. Yes, you know whom you are and you were VERY lucky they cut that out of the show. You must have a suburb Guardian Angel. Regardless, piss us off and the whole world will see the “Pulp Fiction” dance. Insert evil laugh here: “Mwah ha ha ha!”
Well, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US! Thank you to all of our fans and readers for reading our blogs and watching the show. We hope you have enjoyed our antics, and we will have plenty more where that came from. Now if you will excuse us, we have some celebrating to do in St.Lucia!
Check back in a 3 weeks for a BRAND NEW “Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go and What to Do in…” It’s going to be a good one!
Check out what we recently discovered and why we definitely think they will become your obsession as well…
1) Joey- I am obsessed with my Vibram 5 Toe Sneakers. They may not be the nicest-looking things in the world to look at, but they should be the official sneaker of Warrior Dash. These sneakers look like Toe Gloves. I actually discovered them in Hawaii last year, and currently purchased a pair for the dash. What’s great about them is that they can be worn pretty much on any terrain-concrete, sand, water, grass, and gravel (although they may not be the most comfortable gravel). Your foot is naturally made to run barefoot, so these mimic the feeling. Warrior Dash involves multiple terrain scenarios, so these sneakers should definitely help with my performance. Check them out at www.facebook.com/VibramFiveFinger
2) Sandra-While shopping at a Lacrosse store (Joey use to play lacrosse and still is obsessed with the shorts), we stumbled upon these really amazing bracelets called Power Balance Bands. Believe the hype; they work. I run everyday, and I was able to maintain my speed above my usually time average, and I was even able to increase my flexibility during my routine Yoga session. This holistic product is used by athletics to help them improve their performance and stability. While it has definitely improved my workout, we noticed a change in several of our loved ones as well. We bought one for Joey’s mother, who has had several surgeries for her knees and hips, and we noticed an improvement in how she walks. And how she is in less pain. While this could be psychosomatic, it’s great to see how much better she feels with it on. Joey will be wearing his band with his Vibrams for the dash, and you can trust me, I will be wearing mine whenever I train from now on. www.facebook.com/powerbalance
3) Sandra-I am truly obsessed with my Reebok Run Tone sneakers by the way. I didn’t believe any of that crap how wearing sneakers can tone your ass up, but what I do believe is that they do make my knees feel better when I hit pavement. There is less impact and that makes my knees feel fantastic (I have horrible knees). And they don’t look like orthopedic sneakers either. I still feel strongly that if you want to get toned, than do squats and lunges.
4) Joey-We invested in a new camera for our vacation (Thanks Vickie and Jacquie for the recommendation…) The Olympus Tough TG 810 is so friggin’ cool! You can drop it and it won’t break. You can drown it, and it won’t fill with water. You can freeze it, and it won’t get frozen. You can put it in extreme hit, and it won’t melt. Simply meaning it’s Sandra Proof lol! It also has GPS, so when we hook it up to the Mac, the camera knows where we were for easier uploading. The commercial for it is pretty funny, however, the real test will be when we use it next week. This thing is going to take a beating. And probably keep on working… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxVP2Suy9Ko&feature=related
5) TV has pretty much stunk as of lately. No Entourage, No Broadwalk Empire, all the other shows we were watching had season finales, and no more My Big Friggin’ Wedding (that’s bitter sweet). So in a desperate attempt to find entertainment, we discovered Franklin and Bash. And we LOVE IT! Number one, hellooooooo! Its ZACH MORRIS people. He was every guys idol when were kids, and every girls crush. Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar are probably the best duo on TV right now since Two & Half Men (Damn you Charlie Sheen! Come Back!). We have a tendency to watch a show’s premier and than lose interest because most the time, new shows suck. But this show is genuinely funny. Malcolm McDowell is also probably everyone’s dream boss. If we all had bosses like that we probably wouldn’t hate having to go to work as much. Although, not going to lie, he is an incredible actor, considering he was the lead in A Clockwork Orange (Highly recommend that movie, although it still scares the shit out of Sandra…). Anyway, please watch this show, enjoy it and trust us, you will be heavily entertained with the comedic one-liners and jargon between Franklin and Bash.
Holy Shit. We are less than one month away from our 1st Anniversary! This year has certainly flown by.
This time last year, we were in complete wedding mode, going crazy over last minute details and what not. It was the start of our 30-day count down. And you all got to witness the sheer chaos.
Now we are in full out vacation mode! We have decided to get the hell out of NY for our anniversary, considering we want some damn peace and quiet, and need an excuse to bask in the sun.
So where are we going? After researching and talking to our travel agent, St.Lucia better get ready. Joey and Sandra are coming for a visit lol.
We are staying at a resort made famous by “The Bachelor”, and we cannot wait! We have every intention of making our first anniversary completely memorable. We may go zip lining (much to Sandra’s dismay) and we heard about this volcanic mud bath excursion. But we heard the locals are seriously fun and St.Lucia just sounds wonderful. We’ll definitely share our experience with you when we get back. Be on the look out for a NEW “Joey and Sandra’s Guide to what to do and where to go in…”
If you have ever been to St.Lucia, comment and share your experience. We have a ton of questions about the island and would love to hear from someone who’s been there.
Oh yeah, we hear that the show is airing in Australia! Well “hello” to all of you Australians out there. Hope you are enjoying the show. We posted blogs for each episode previously, just check out the archives. Sorry for any spoilers and what not. Glad to hear that you like it though. By the way, we are dying to come and visit Australia to check out your beaches. We heard the beaches are to die for.
Ok, so I got the new Lady Gaga Album last week, and I am OBSESSED with it. She literally brings me back to those crazy nights spent in NYC when I was younger and getting twisted. That girl has a serious talent.
I am a big Gaga fan. Joey took me for my birthday to see her (brave man) when her first Monster Ball was at Radio City Music Hall (that was last year) and the show was a unlike anything I ever been to. Joey got me so close to the stage, and we were right in the middle of the action. I never danced so much at a concert in my entire life. Plus, I got free champagne from the lead singer of Semi Precious Weapons because it was my birthday “Sticky with Champagne, its ok, it’s her birthday!” Damn right! Lol .
So she has literally consumed my workout play list, and thank God the album is incredible because it pushes me through my gym sessions. We are in serious crunch time with the whole working out thing. Like clockwork, for about 1-2 months before a vacation or event, Joey and I train hard and eat clean. AND IT SUCKS. I swear I am not eating a morsel of chicken when I am on that trip.
I really can’t believe its 11 months since the wedding! Since the wedding, we have had so many things happen, both good and bad, that I didn’t even realize the year was slipping by. In fact, last night, we were eating dinner (CHICKEN! UGH…) and we were talking about how it feels like we just got back from Hawaii.
I’m just excited to be traveling with my husband and experiencing a new place together. What better way to celebrate our very first year married than being on a beach? Its funny but when you think about it, the beach has played a major roll in our lives together. Joey proposed on a beach, we got married on a beach, we honeymooned on a beach (2 beaches if you want to be technical) and now we will celebrate one year on a beach. We live near a beach for Pete’s sake. The beach is a big part of our life. It’s Sanctuary.
Ok, so, for the record, I am not happy about the whole Zip Lining thing. If humans were meant to fly, we would have wings. Joey is “Mr. Adventure” and has to defy the laws of gravity whenever he can. Right before we got married, he came very close to going Skydiving, but I think the scheduling got messed up or something and he never got the chance. Mr. Joey Adventure has been race car driving (I’m taking credit for that one. I got it as a gift for him one year), climbed Mayan Temples and this summer he is competing in Warrior Dash, but when I get dragged into the “action” I kind of cringe a little.
Things we do for love I guess. All I know is, if I want to do something “Sandra-esqe”, he better just do it, after all I am zip lining. And he will. Because he’s a good husband lol.
Going to Italy was the best trip we ever took. It was a trip that changed our lives, and by going, we discovered more than just where our families came from. Italy certainly has changed our perspective of a lot of things. We hope we make the Italian Americans out there proud of this blog, and we apologies if we ever insulted any of you with the clichés that were directed our way. We think you will appreciate this blog, and maybe encourage those who never been to Italy, to plan a trip.
My father is my hero.
He came to America in the 1960’s, as a young boy, with my Grandparents and his twin sister. Prior to coming to this country, my grandpa Giuseppe (who I miss SEVERELY) came here to build an American life for his wife and children. He established a life here, got a job and became an American Citizen. He than brought his family here, so they can become American citizens too.
My father grew up in a small village in Frosinone, which is located on the outskirts of Rome. While in Italy, we visited his old house, on a hillside lined with Olive trees. This is where he spent many of his days on the farm, sitting under his favorite fig tree and playing with his donkey. The house is small and a little run down, yet you can still feel a huge presence of love.
It was one of the most memorable times in my life. My father took us through his childhood, being a boy growing up in rural Italy. It was vividly clear, although the house was run down, how much he appreciated where he came from. I was lucky to have Joey with me when we went to see the property, because it was the encouragement we needed to know that one day, good things do come.
I think it’s important to know where you come from. My father is now a successful man, and while his assets are abundant and plenty, he makes it clear that family is more important to him than material things. When he was in Italy, his family, which included 4 sisters and my grandparents, gave him all he needed. They didn’t need the lavish things so many of us claim we can’t live without.
Our visit to Italy was filled with family. I love them so much, and it was the perfect vacation in which to have Joey meet my entire family. We arrived in Rome, on a warm afternoon, and we were instantly greeted with hugs, tears and an overwhelming sense of worth.
Food and Beverage in Italy:
After a long flight, I must say, my family (who we stayed with), really out did themselves with the food! What I love about Italy was that everything we ate was fresh. To help clear up a cliché, not everything is spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, there’s more to the cuisine than you may think. Now, depending on what region your in, there are traditional foods served. In my family’s case, we were served bread and prosciutto, home grown vegetables, and pasta from scratch. And everything is from the family farm; they dried their own prosciutto, they harvest their own blood oranges and tomatoes, and they collect the eggs used to make the homemade pasta. There is nothing artificial about what they eat.
Hence why when we came home, thinking I gained weight, I actually lost weight. We did a lot of walking, eating healthy, well-rounded food, and adapted a lifestyle I can only wish we could do here.
Joey’s favorite foods were prosciutto, cheese and homemade sausage, and he snacked on it everyday, all day. Is your mouth watering yet? Also, Joey and I are breakfast eaters, however, a simple espresso and a piece of toast with Nutella was considered breakfast there. Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day in Italy. Lunch is, which technically, is dinner. Dinner is light, similar to our lunches. It’s this kind of lifestyle that helps someone maintain their weight.
Homemade food and drink is very common in Italy. Joey had the chance to experience homemade Grappa at a party we went to at my Aunts house. Grappa is Italian vodka, and like the Polish Spiritus, it is very strong and has a bit of a bite. My Uncle, who was feeling rather celebratory, gave Joey a shot, which we all warned him of the Grappa. I don’t think Joey was expecting the four-alarm fire that engulfed his throat. However, the homemade Lemoncello made up for the unwelcoming taste, which is refreshing and cooling. Than, of course, there was the wine. There is nothing like homemade wine from Italy. I am a wine drinker, and I savored every glass like I would never have it again.
Coffee, especially Espresso, is very popular in Italy. In fact, I noticed a sort of pride when it comes to making Espresso. My cousin, Anna, makes an excellent espresso. Her secret is to sweeten the grinds before she brews it. Starbucks would never be able to come close to the amazing taste and aroma of her espresso. It never tasted bitter or burnt.
I may be talking a lot about the food, but the truth is, I wanted to help break you out of that food cliché. Fresh meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit from the farm were what we ate. Not to mention, Pizza in Rome differs from New York Pizza. Panini’s are even different. I prefer the Italian version any day, maybe with the exception with pizza, because, lets face it, NY pizza is delicious! I’ll call it a tie.
I think the best example of Italian cooking in the states is probably demonstrated by Giada De Laurentiis. Her cooking is very similar to the way my family prepares food. I have a true appreciation for her style of cooking, and for the simple fact that she really touches base with using fresh ingredients. I may not be one to talk about cooking (as we all know)…but she is as authentic as they come.
What to do in Italy:
Italy has some of the most beautiful churches in the world, in my opinion. The architecture is breathe-taking. The paintings, the statues and the colors are so vivid, and realistic. There is a ton of history in these churches. They have survived wars, nature and 100’s of years without necessarily showing it. Even if you are not a religious, I think any person could appreciate the beauty in these churches. Ladies, please remember that when visiting churches, do not wear anything that shows your shoulders or an over abundance of leg, and men should wear pants or jeans, not shorts.
My favorite church was The Pantheon, which is the Roman temple of all Gods. This particular church doesn’t even look like it was touched by time. There are tombs of the Italian Monarchs inside the church, as well as having an opening atop its dome that only lets light in.
Churches we loved and suggest to you:
1) St. Peter’s Basilica, San Pietro in Vaticano (Vatican City)
2) Santa Maria Maggiore
3) The Pantheon
4) San Clemente
5) Santa Maria in Cosmedi
Rome is not only known for the Vatican, although, I feel you should make it a point to go. There are many other sites that are almost rewarding to visit. Here are a few of our absolute favorites.
Sites of Rome, Italy that we loved:
Joey and my absolute favorite place to visit (we went twice) was the Colosseum. Imagine sitting within the amphitheater, watching gladiators battle lions, and each other. It must have been an insane sporting event to attend. I think it’s the main reason why Italians are so passionate about soccer; it’s in their nature. When we were there, it was being restored, and the chambers below the battlefield were exposed. Perhaps this is where they kept the lions and warriors before battle. Like many attractions in New York City, this place is crawling with tourist, and if you want, you can take pictures with the “gladiators” outside of the grounds. However, for us, it was being inside the magnificent structure that really astounded us.
The Roman Forum:
This is a must see. Why? If you remember anything from history class in school, like the Constantine Empire, this should ring a bell. This is history at its finest. And not only that, but the architectural details will blow your mind.
The Trevi Fountain:
First and foremost, for those who appreciate good black and white movies, please watch “La Dolce Vita” and than lets talk about the Trevi Fountain; its one of the sexiest, most romantic scenes in Italian cinema. And yet so illegal! If you actually swim in the Trevi Fountain, the police will give you a hefty fine. However, that is one of the most famous scenes from a movie. Visiting the Trevi Fountain is a “must do”, even though it is tourist infested for the most part. Be a little less dramatic than the characters in “La Dolce Vita” by just throwing a coin in the water and make a wish.
The Spanish Steps and the Piazza di Spagna
One of my fondest memories of visiting this site is sharing gelato with Joey and admiring how many people can fit on the steps! There is a wonderful gelato place across the way, which has 2 floors, and a large assortment of seriously mouth-watering gelato. It really is pretty cool, and you kind of forget you are in a big city.
There are some things you should keep in mind when visiting a city like Rome or any city: Watch out for pickpockets. They come in every shape and size; children do most of the dirty work believe or not. It’s sad, but true. Keep you bags zipped and wallets close to you. The police in Italy are very attentive to the situation, and will help you God forbid. But by taking precautions, you can prevent a serious nightmare. Also, traffic is as bad as New York City. If anything, take the train when you can (its similar to the Long Island Rail Road actually) and walk. And most people do speak English in Italy; so if you are lost, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
See a Soccer Game:
I’ve never really been a sports fan, maybe a little UFC and Boxing here and there, but I never got into any particular sport. I played lacrosse in high school. That’s my extent. And I like hockey although I never necessarily followed it. So when Sandra’s cousins took us to a soccer game, I wasn’t expecting the insanity that goes along with it. Allow me to do a comparison: Sports fans here paint their bodies, wear their team logos and skip work to watch a sporting event. Sport fans in Italy go to war.
The game was Frosinone versus Rome. Those there for Frosinone sat on one side of the arena, Rome’s followers on the other. Those there for fun or those who respectively stayed neutral stuck to the middle. I instantly noticed how high the fences were, and how many security guards there were. Once the game was set to begin, that’s when it was a scene straight out of “Brave Heart”. Fans were scaling the fence, lighting flairs in their team’s colors, chanting obscenities and going crazy. You would have thought they were playing.
The teams came out and the crowd went wild. The girls, I noticed were head over heels for particular Roman, Francesco Totti, who is the David Beckham of Italy. So between the crazy fans and the fanatics for Totti, I found soccer to be a very entertaining sport… the fans are friggin’ hilarious! The game itself was ok, but I found the energy that came from the fans the best experience ever! When you go to Italy, I recommend you go to a game. You will never see anything like this in America. Italians are passionate, like Sandra said, and they show it. That’s why you need to go to a game.
Other Towns to consider visiting that we went to and loved:
We were fortunate to have a family not afraid to take us places. Here are a few places to consider visiting if you have the chance.
This town belongs to the providence of Frosinone, and since it was so close to where we were staying, we spent time visiting this little yet amazing town. Veroli is something out of a movie, with its cobblestone streets, beautiful archways, and amazing views. There is something very special about this little town. It’s very romantic. There is a particular church there that will probably interest you. The Basilica of Santa Salome contains the holy stairs. It is believe that these are the actual steps that Jesus climbed the day he was sentenced to death.
Of course, wherever we go, we make it a point to find a beach. The Coast of Italy, from Latina to Gaeta, has amazing beaches. Our favorite beach is the one in Terracina. The views are worth the trip, the quant little beach town is comparable to the beach towns of Long Island, only better because it Italy! There is a great café on the strip to the beach, as well as clothing shops. Sandra- my fondest memory was watching some Italian women swoon over Joey’s “body builder” physic lol. It was flattering and funny at the same time. They knew he was American right away.
The history behind this particular monastery is that the Germans used it as a fort during World War 2, primarily during “the battle for Rome”. With such history, this historic site is worth visiting if not for its past but for its art. The monastery has seen its fair share of war, sadly, and has been redone several times since it was built originally. If history isn’t really your thing, perhaps the views will captivate you.
We could go on for days. We didn’t even touch base about all the shopping there, because most of you are fully aware that Italy has the best designers. And we weren’t going to talk about the cars because you know that whatever they have there we can get here. We did want to take you a little beyond the ordinary. And we did want to do right by Italian Americans and really share a piece of the culture that so many people never get to experience.
So we are going to wrap up our “Joey and Sandra’s Guide to …” series with a little advice… it pays to be adventurous, and to take risks. See the world. And above all, enjoy your life. We have been many places, but when certain places stick out for certain reasons, tell your friends, family and even strangers to go there. We plan on seeing a whole lot more islands and countries; we really just like to travel.
So what’s next? We do have some news that we’ve been sitting on. Get ready for some good old’ fashion Joey and Sandra. Because the whole “being a Newly-wed” thing is turning out to be an interesting experience…
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go and What to Do in Riviera Maya, Mexico PLUS Joey’s Advice for Proposing on Vacation *Exclusive*
We need to apologies for the late blog. Let’s just say this year is really stressing us the hell out! Ok, so its not a bad stress, its actually a good stress, but when we said that 2011 was going to be a big year for us, we didn’t realize how BIG it was going to be. We aren’t quite ready to spill the beans, but lets just say, good things do come eventually, and you just really need to hold on for the ride because its exciting, bumpy, scary and nerve wrecking. “Good stress” has consumed our lives, and apparently, its only going to get better from here. So we continue to wake up everyday and say “holy shit” and are grateful for the wonderful chaos that has been bestowed upon us. Its not everyday we get good fortune, that’s for sure. We may be taking our time with our risks, but the end result will be worth the wait. By weeding out the bad energy that surrounded us for so long, we think we may have found a path that works for us. Winning? Yup, you betcha…
OK, well this blog is about our vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico, but the truth is, it’s also about the vacation where I did the inevitable and lost a bet; I proposed to Sandra. Yes, I lost a bet (I gave in, what can I say…) and I did what every single guy out there dreads and what every girl fantasizes about: I asked Sandra to marry me. I planned this vacation knowing that I was doing this. I mean, I didn’t go into this blind sided or whatever, I knew that she was obsessed with the same things I am: Beach, Sand, and relaxing, so I wanted to “do the right thing” and propose where she would feel most comfortable. We went to our travel agent, Carmen, whom I have known for a long time, and we decided that we wanted to go there. What Sandra didn’t know was I was in cahoots with Carmen planning the biggest moment of Sandra’s life and it was a serious secret operation to carry out the surprise. Sandra is like a friggin’ detective; she figures everything out and you can never surprise her because for some reason she puts things together very quickly, and of course there are “rats”. That’s why no one but Carmen and Sandra’s father knew what my intentions were.
Ok, which brings up a side note: I asked Sandra’s father for “her hand in marriage”. It’s a respect thing. I respect her father very much, and I think that it’s absolutely necessary to do this. Why? Because, Sandra is very close with her dad (or as she calls him Daddy) and I think it was not only out of respect, but also in my opinion, I was looking for his approval with taking care of his “princess” for the rest of my life (why me?). When I told him what I planned on doing on a ride to Home Depot, he simply turned around asked “Are you sure? She didn’t pressure you did she” (I love the brutal honesty). The truth was she didn’t pressure me. A number of factors did affect this decision 1) I do love her. 2) I was turning 30 3) She really is my best friend 4) She tolerates my antics, and gives it right back. So while I thought only Carmen the travel agent and her father only knew, I was wrong. Because the minute we got on that plane, her whole family knew (her daddy is a rat, LoL). Excited much? You better believe it. Now back to the story.
Riviera Maya, Mexico (Playa Del Carmen) is a gorgeous place with luxury resorts compacted into a touristy and Americanize vacation spot. We decided to go here because it wasn’t Cancun (nothing wrong with Cancun but I wanted a spot not party infested. I was proposing, so you need to be romantic. Ugh nauseas again), and it was really appealing with the whole luxury thing. My philosophy is this: if I’m going to do something big, it’s going to be done right or not done at all. So we booked a weeks vacation, and I began planning the big surprise. Now here’s my tip for all you unfortunate suckers (myself included) looking to do what I did; Get a replica of the engagement ring made. Sandra’s ring is not small and not cheap. And I wasn’t about to bring something that costly to a foreign place and have her lose the stone or worse, have it stolen. So what was suggested to me by Carmen was to have a replica made (which was CZ in a white gold setting) and bring the fake with me. This way, now when we travel, she wears the replica and the real one stays home locked up in a safe. I also made the replica a little smaller too. It was an evil trick. I wish you could have seen her when we got home and I gave her the real one. Priceless. Gentleman, its not a joke, Diamonds are a girls best friend. Clutching her heart as I told her the Diamonds characteristics still makes me laugh to this day.
So when planning a proposal on a vacation, I recommend you book through an agent. For one, you have a confidant. Secondly, it’s someone who will help you with the preparations for the trip, and they help with making sure the hotel executes the plan perfectly. The day after the big night, we returned to our room to champagne, strawberries and a towel baby. Yes, a towel baby. I guess they were being funny. Everyday we had towel animals, that Thursday we had a towel baby. Good times. But that’s why you should book through an agent. She knew my plan, she shared it with the hotel and the hotel made the event that more special. All I had to do was pay and be there. That’s another thing with the travel agent. When Sandra and I booked we booked another type of room, the next day, Carmen and I changed and upgraded everything. I know; I went behind her back and spent more money. But I wanted this vacation to be memorable. I didn’t mind spending the money because it had a real purpose behind it. It’s ok to go all out with the intention of something like a proposal. By the way, the hotel was in on it. They said they upgraded us for free, (bullshit) and it threw Sandra off completely.
Sandra can tell you the date and time I proposed. She tells me it was Wednesday, July 23rd, at 11PM in the evening. See that. I did it right. She remembers the event perfectly. Oh and she also remembers the fight I had to fake with her 4 hours prior to that. I had to fake a fight in order to get the ring out of my suitcase, so don’t be mad at me and I better not get emails about how typical that is. We had just gotten back from the beach, and I know she hates when I pull the whole “jealous boyfriend” act, so I pulled a fast one and started an argument. She really hates that shit. To the point that she tends to storm out of the room to get away from me before she turns into Sandrazilla. She locked herself in the bathroom to get ready for like an hour. Which was perfect because it took me that long to get the ring box out of the suitcase. By the time I got it open and hidden away in my pocket, she showered, did her hair, makeup and cooled down. And yes I said sorry. After I proposed and I told her it was a fake fight, she said she wanted to kill me for doing something so stupid. But it was the only thing I knew to do that wasn’t obvious.
We will tell you all about the resort in a bit, but after having a Mexican dinner and downing a few Mojitos, we went for a walk. Tradition for us is to take a picture at the typical gazebo that usually is stationed on or near the beach, and sure enough, that was where I planned on having it go down. So I tell her to go stand in the Gazebo so I can take a picture, and she does. Now here comes my slick moment; I remove the box from my pocket and I say “I think you should put this on and than take a picture”. Well everyone, Sandra is a girlie girl who can’t catch to save her life. The box bounces off her face, and drops to the ground. I can see her face expression change too “ Joe! I told you not to buy me jewelry! What the hell is wrong with you?!” She thought I bought her earrings. I tend to buy her jewelry, and since we were going on this trip she said no extras. Well if you saw her face when she realized for the 1st time in her life that she was actually surprised and that in fact it was an engagement ring, than I’m sure the “awwwwsss” would be over abundant. The best part was she wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise; “Ohmigod,” laughter ”Ohmigod” crying ”Shut up” laughter “shut up” crying. Before I could even ask she said Yes. My job here is done. Bring on the 2 years of wedding planning, a reality TV show and tons of headaches.
So here are my tips for Proposals On Vacations. Trust me, if she is anything like Sandra, you need to plan this out and be sneaky about it.
1) Work with a trustworthy travel agent. That person will take care of the hotel for you while you plan the rest
2) Take her to a place that she will love and remember forever
3) Make a replica of the actual engagement ring. Your spending enough on the real one, so be smart and bring the fake
4) Make sure you have a camera. Because Sandra’s face was priceless. But I wish I videoed it instead so I can show you how funny it was.
5) When in doubt, fake a fight lol
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Hotel- Hotel Riu Palace Riviera Maya http://www.riu.com/en/Paises/mexico/playa-del-carmen/hotel-riu-palace-riviera-maya/index.jsp
Joey and Guide to Where to Go and What to Do in Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico
1) We mentioned this when we wrote about Jamaica, but we really want to mention it again: Book a room at an all-inclusive hotel. The benefits are endless. Spend the extra money and book the Riu Palace while you’re at it. The room was beautiful, spacious and there is a mini bar with premium liquor at your fingertips. And if that’s not enough, check out the Riu’s gorgeous hotel. You feel like your staying in an actual palace. The landscape is exquisite; tropical, lush and worth every penny. Ok, there are a few things to know. The entertainment at a place like this is a little cheesy, with lip-synching performances and over theatrical dances, but you have to hand it to them, those people bust their asses every night with there over the top stage shows. So you just drink and enjoy it.
2) Ok here is one our favorite tips: You must take an excursion and Swim with the Dolphins! We can’t begin to tell you what an amazing and awe inspiring experience that was. Dolphins are one of the creatures in the world that somehow relate to humans. They are kind, sweet and so incredible. We went to a great place where there were seals, walruses, dolphins, string rays, and sharks. No we didn’t swim with sharks. That would be stupid of us. When you go, they put you in a group of 6 (9 is the max) and put a life jacket on you. Than the dolphins are introduced to you. You learn about them, and like dogs and cats, they warm up to you. Than the fun starts. Besides the dolphin kiss (Sandra- Yes, they peck you on the cheek. So cute!) they perform tricks with you. They lift you out of the water (ladies, bikini tops better be tight) and they toss you and it’s an experience! They sing to you too! For all those animal activist out there, they are treated better than most humans we know (Sandra- ok I’m going to clarify this now too. I personally do not believe in animal abuse. I think it’s disgusting what some people do to animals. So I spoke to the trainers and they told me that these animals are literally their children. They are loved, treated with love and affection, and if that’s not enough, they habitat for which they live in resembles their actual home. They rescue sea animals too. Its very humane, and if it weren’t, trust me, I wouldn’t be telling you about how great this place was. Joey and I are animal people. We would have hurt someone if we saw anything we didn’t like.)
3) The hotel allowed the locals to come on special nights to sell artwork, jewelry and other amazing things. Tip: Support the locals! We met a sweet man who sold us the most beautiful paintings, made of paint, wax and fire. We told his son how we collect beach paintings, and we wanted him to paint us images of the beaches from Mexico. With that, the son told his father and we received, within 15 minutes, the most detailed, romantic paintings we ever got. We spent twenty dollars American Money. Twenty dollars American money can go so far in a foreign country.
4) The staff at the Riu was wonderful. We had a great time hanging out with the staff and we made a friend for life from there (we aren’t going to say his name because he may get in trouble for us saying this but he knows who he is). He made sure we were never thirsty lol. And he would always, one way or another; make it a point to do a shot of tequila with us. Between the tequila and Mexican beer (coronas!!) we learnt that we could never out drink him. And he breaks records by the way, for drinking beer the fastest we have ever seen. We would like to see someone down a pint in less than 15 seconds like he can. Without choking. The staff is usually amazing at these places. Tip: Ask them for their drink recommendations and get out of that Pina Colada Mindset. When in Mexico, drink the Mexican beer (which is so refreshing, and its not just Corona’s people) and drink tequila. “Una cerveza por favor!”
5) Sandra- ohohoh this is my FAVORITE excursion EVER!!! Ok so Joey and I decided to go on an adventure and visit a Mayan temple. I have a sick obsession with that kind of stuff. Anyway, you travel about into the jungle to an ancient Mayan village, and yes, you learn about their “doomsday” calendar (I am not getting into that by the way. Don’t really believe it) and you learn about their culture. They use to have these great warrior sports (Joey is doing a warrior run this summer, and its nothing compared to what they once did) and they had all these rituals and sacrifices. But the real kicker, the big “what the hell were we smoking” moment was when we climbed one the temples. Stupidest thing we have ever done, hands down. First you have to go deep into the jungle, and this man on a bike with a wagon takes you. Than you see the signs “Climb at your own risk…” Yeah… did I mention how stupid we are? We arrive, and there it is, this huge Mayan temple. Joey and I thought we had this, being that we are gym goers and pride ourselves on doing things that push our limits. Going up was the easy part. We made it up there no problem. We just didn’t realize how far up we were. We sat at the very top and looked down. Dumb move on our part. We realized that it was steep and that this was the dumbest thing we ever did lol. Eventually, we started the climb down, on our butts, one steep step at a time. Was it worth it? I would say yes. Was it dumb? I would say yes. But sometimes you need to do dumb things to get over fears in your life. And it was an adventure. So my tip: Embrace the adventure! Because you have one life. So live it.
6) While in Mexico we were able to sample some of the finer imports, and one being Cigars. Joey- well not Sandra, but I did. I normally don’t smoke cigars, just on a rare occasion. This was the night after I proposed and I decided that since I did “the right thing” I deserved one. From what I can remember, it was pretty good, and I really enjoyed it. Just enjoy what they have in Mexico.
7) Our resort was located in a touristy part of Playa Del Carmen. So were able to enjoy Carlos & Charlie’s and Senior Frogs one night. Sandra- Ok ladies, listen very carefully. Senior Frogs has some great drinks, but there is a nasty drink that I think I should warn you about. A shot girl was coming around offering shots, and I figured “why not?” Yeah, well after I got my shot, which was strong to begin with, she blew a whistle, grabbed my boobs and shook them. I don’t have very large breast, I’m known for my ass. Joey thought it was the funniest thing he ever seen. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was kind of funny because I’m tipsy, a chick just grabbed my chest and if that’s not enough, Joey is laughing so hard he’s crying. But I’m a good sport. I told her she should have grabbed my butt; at least I have that. And I tipped her lol. Tip: Go to Carlos & Charlie’s and Senor Frogs. And let your inhibitions go.
8) Legends and Myths are everywhere. So when we landed in Mexico, we were determined to find “el chupacabra”. No, just kidding, we would never want to find that thing. We saw this large rat/dog/ant eater creature one night. The employee was laughing at us because we ran from it. He said it’s their version of a mouse/squirrel and its harmless. Well, sorry, we grew up in NY and we run from rats (because usually they are the size of cats.) But in all do seriousness; make it a point to listen to the stories. It’s actually really interesting (Um, hello, the Mayans had a Doomsday Calendar. That caught my attention!)
9) Lets set the record straight. Mexican Food is different than the American Mexican food we get here. In fact, it’s so different; we prefer the authentic version to the American. And don’t expect it to be anything like Taco Bell. Think cornmeal, rice, beans, seafood, spices, and fresh vegetables and fruit. If you can, get your hands on fresh avocado, coconut and homemade cooking. You will be pleasantly surprised by how different the flavors are. And it’s not a bad thing. We worked out and ate clean for 3 months prior to this trip and any vacation. It’s nice to enjoy a meal and not worry about the calories. You don’t feel bad eating it because it’s so fresh, and overall, it’s healthy. So trick your mind and succumb to the foods the Mexico produces.
10) Ok so as of lately, Mexico has gotten a bad reputation, and it really has made some people shy away from going there. Well, can we suggest something? Respect the land and their people and the laws of the country. And above all travel where it’s safe! Places like Riviera Maya strive off of the tourism. So if you want to be technical, its Americanized and safe. If you are told to avoid certain areas, why bother going there? Stay where they advise you to stay. It’s that simple.
Joey and Sandra’s Top 5 Things to Experience in Mexico
1) Swim with the Dolphins
2) Visit the Mayan Temples
3) Go to Carlos & Charlie’s (http://www.carlosandcharlies.com/playadelcarmen/index.htm ) and Senor Frogs (http://www.senorfrogs.com/playadelcarmen/index.htm )
4) Drink Mexican Beer and Tequila (http://dosequis.com/)
5) Enjoy the locals and embrace their talents for art and crafted goods
Mexico is one of those places that we will never forget, because lets face it, a lot happened there for us…We got engaged there lol. We sometimes talk about going back, and we may just do that someday. As always, you can visit trip advisor for more details. Next time, we want to share with you a place that is very important to us. We want to share our heritage, and bring you to Italy. It was one of the most influential trips of our lives, and we feel its imperative to inspire you to visit a magnificent country such as Italy.
Not going to lie; we are friggin’ sick of the winter! Since when did NY become a wintery hell! The occasional snow storm was nice, but now we are on Snow storm 4 or 5 and it’s ridiculous! You look out the window and you feel claustrophobic! It probably won’t melt until at least April. Regardless, this is the perfect time for us to plan our vacation. What better way to motivate ourselves than snow. (Sandra- I just ordered my “inspirational bathing suit” to keep my ass going to the gym. Try my trick…it works. That swimsuit will motivate me daily lol). We LOVE to travel. Nothing beats gorgeous beaches, sun, and cultures other than your own. While we are looking to go away to a tropical island this year for our 1 year anniversary (Can’t believe June is 5 months away), we tend to reflect a little on the other wonderful places we have been to. By the way, if you have ever been to Aruba, Bahamas, St.Lucia, or St.Thomas, let us know where you stood and what you thought. Those are our top contenders right now.
We travel every year for the sake of our sanity. New York is a great state to live in; you can go to Manhattan, the Hamptons, beaches galore etc, but this fast pace atmosphere can really beat you up a little bit. So when planning a vacation, we put it all out there. And we travel to places that interest us. We love beaches, sun, heat, culture, and endless amounts of fun.
We plan our next vacation like clock work after New Years. We have been to some seriously amazing places, and the experiences we’ve had were unbelievable. Over the next few weeks, we are showcasing some of our top picks for Vacation Destinations, especially for couples. (Joey-So you know Sandra tends to really educate herself on her surroundings, so look for tidbits of history and facts about all of these locations within this blog.) We think this will help you when you’re planning your next vacation or honeymoon. We’ll even share candid photos and videos with you! Speaking of honeymoon, we decided that the best way to start is with the best trip of our lives… Hawaii.
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 states, having joined us in 1959. What makes this state so unique is that it is made up of several Islands, with its capital in Honolulu. We traveled to only 2 out of the handful; Maui and Kauai. We hear Oahu is really great too, but for this trip, we had 2 weeks and after researching, decided Maui and Kauai were the islands we really wanted to visit. Check out http://www.gohawaii.com/ for more information (this website was very helpful when we planned our honeymoon.)Week 1: Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Hotel- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa http://maui.hyatt.com Maui (or the magical isle) is the second largest Island in Hawaii, with its lush rainforest, waterfalls and really amazing craters caused by Volcanoes. In fact they have a famous volcano on the Island, Haleakalā, which experts say is dormant for now. The weather in Maui is pretty much in the high 80’s to 90’s for the most part, with the night’s cooler due to the ocean breeze.
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go, What to See, & What to do in Maui
1) You must try Butter Fish. It is the most incredible thing you will ever taste. Imagine something as savory as a fine piece of steak combined with the succulence of a truly amazing piece of king crab. That’s butter fish. It melts off your tongue and you can not get it anywhere but Hawaii. Unless it’s imported from there but it won’t be the same. The best butterfish we had was at Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant in Kaanapali. Try it once, and you will be ordering more than one. Oh yeah, thank you, Guy Fereti, for that recommendation.
2) Sushi in Hawaii is amazing. Maui and Kauai both had its fair share of amazing sushi. We are connoisseurs of sushi; we eat it once a week. The best sushi we had, once again, was at Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant. Insert the “Oh My God” here. The fish was fresh, and since we had a fantastic waiter, we were able to really sample what the locals considered their favorites. Tuna is abundant in Hawaii. Toro, which is the belly of the Tuna, is DELICIOUS. TIP: When going to Sansei’s or any restaurant, make it a point to ask the staff what they like. Chances are it will be pretty tasty. http://www.sanseihawaii.com
3) Shaved Ice is very popular in Hawaii. It’s a snow cone. But since it’s hot, shaved ice is very refreshing.
4) Go to Whalers Village. It has a ton of shopping and restaurants in Maui, and is surrounded by resorts like the Hyatt, Westin, and Marriot etc. Whalers Village is actually the prime location for whale watching supposedly, and they have exquisite sunsets. However it is very active with shops and restaurants. Tip from Sandra: Ladies, they have a kiosk there that sells the most beautiful sarongs, so stop by and take a look. I purchased a black and white one and wore it everyday over my swimsuits. They show you a ton of ways to wear it and it was worth every penny. http://www.whalersvillage.com 5) Be ready to spend money in Maui. It’s commercialized. For example, the first thing you see when entering Whalers Village is Louis Vuitton. Tourism is one of the major industries for Hawaii (agriculture is the other), especially in Maui. All Inclusive resorts are non existent in the United States, so expect to spend money on food and drinks. The best thing to do is bring a box of granola bars for snacks and stop at a convenience store for bottle water.
6) SPF is needed in Hawaii. You will burn. You have been warned. (We never burn and Joey blistered.)
7) Maui is the place to catch an authentic Luau. “Drums of the Pacific” is the best one on the island of Maui. Packed with culture, drinks (all included in your price) and Polynesian food, you really can’t go wrong. http://drumsofthepacific.com/ The feast includes a roasted pig, (Joey- When they pulled it from the ground, the pig is a little concaved, and as they passed us, Sandra couldn’t look at it. It made her gag lol), traditional Polynesian food, like Poi (we’ll get to that in a minute), fresh fish (like mahi mahi), amazing fresh fruit, poke (yum!) and so much more. Traditional songs and dances entertain you for the remainder of your evening. TIP from Joey-Try to get seating closer to the stage. It’s worth it. You are served first and you interact more with the performers. If you’re not the type to be the center of attention, than try not to make to much eye contact with the “warriors”. I learned that the hard way…lol.8) Do take a helicopter tour to check out the Rainforest, Waterfalls and the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is a friggin’ long drive and unless you enjoy wasting a day driving on a windy road, we suggest the helicopter tour instead. Helicopters are very different than planes (Sandra- in my opinion, I think they are worse than planes…I hate flying…) so be ready for nose dives and hovering. BUT get your cameras ready for the most amazing rainforest, waterfalls and volcanic craters you will ever see. It’s insane to go through clouds and see rain in one area and sun in another. Or reach the highest elevations of the mountains. You develop a new appreciation towards nature. It’s really quite beautiful and breathe taking.
9) TIP: You will need rental cars for both islands. We made the mistake of getting a convertible Mustang rental in Maui. It made us stand out, like the obvious Tourist mobile. Want our opinion? Don’t rent a mustang. Get the Jeep instead. There are penguins in Hawaii! Did you know that penguins don’t necessarily need it to be cold to survive? Just a diet of fish. And they do waddle. Sandra almost kidnapped one of them.
10) Ladies- do wear a flower in your hair. TIP: Wear a flower on the Left side to show you are married or taken, or wear it on the right side to indicate you are single. Look for gardenias, plumerias or a hibiscus to wear.
11) Poi does not taste very good. Grant it, Poi is the staple for the Polynesian diet, made up of Corn and Taro Plant, and it looks interesting… like yogurt…but its sour. However, be open to new things and try it. Believe it or not, in the Polynesian culture, it’s sacred. So respectably try it and move on.
Joey and Sandra’s Top Restaurants and Lounges in Maui:
1) Sansei’s Seafood Restaurant- Kapalua Resort (808)669-6286 http://www.sanseihawaii.com – Sushi, Butter Fish
2) Cane and Taro- Whaler’s Village (808) 662-0668 http://www.caneandtaro.com – Sushi, especially Tuna
3) Hula Grill- Whaler’s Village (808) 667-6636 – http://www.hulagrillkaanapali.com/ - Drinks and snacks
4) Son’z Maui Wine Cellar (808) 667-4506 http://www.hyattregencymaui.com/lounges-bars – Steak, ask for wine list too
5) ‘Ūmalu (808) 661-1234 http://www.hyattregencymaui.com/lounges-bars – Fish Taco! Pineapple Mojitos
Week 2: Koloa, Kauai
Hotel- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa- http://kauai.hyatt.com
Kauai is the oldest and most romantic of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the home of the Na Pali Coast, which is a cinematic threshold of movie history, providing vivid backgrounds for films like Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, The King Kong remake, Pirates of the Caribbean, to name a few. Kauai also has some of the roughest yet captivating waters we have ever encountered. But we tell everyone… Kauai was by the far the BEST Island we have ever been too. And we would go back tomorrow if we could. It’s worth the 10 hour plane ride! This is the number one Honeymoon Location in the world. Kauai is paradise. If you can afford only to do one island for your honeymoon, than do Kauai.
Joey and Sandra’s Guide to Where to Go, What to See, & What to do in Kauai:
1) Stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. This is the best hotel on the island, let alone any island we have been too. Not only is the service impeccable, but the sites are astounding. They have their own Salt water lagoon within the resort, and twisting, winding pool. We tell people all the time that this resort is by far worth the investment. They cater more to Honeymooners than you can ever imagine. We were upgraded upon arriving to an Ocean view suite; they gave us a big bottle of champagne, chocolates every night, a special honeymoon dinner, the works really. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable of the island. You need to stay here. It was that wonderful.
2) Precede this next tip with a little caution. Remember when we said the waters were the roughest we have ever seen? Well, believe it. The ocean here produces the most powerful waves we have ever encountered (and there wasn’t even a storm at sea). We literally starred at the ocean and couldn’t get over the force it had. Red flags are constantly up, but that doesn’t stop people…including us. We had to see for ourselves how powerful these waves were. Sure enough, it beat us at our own game, bullied us, and we decided to just watch it instead. We strongly suggest that you do not swim in these waters, especially when the red flag is up. Joey- Don’t believe it? Well, I thought it would be fun to go into these crazy waters, but learned real quickly that it was a mistake. Yet it was extremely fun, considering I had a few drinks before lol. Once you started walking out, the waves would crash into you, knocking you back towards the beach and than the undertow sucked you right back out in to the water. This was constant; as soon as you got up, it hit you again. After the fifth time of this happening, and hitting a few underwater rocks, we decided to get out but as I was trying to get up for the last time, I couldn’t help noticing the crashing waves pulled down Sandra’s top to her bathing suit. Lucky for us, at that time, we were the only idiots in the water. Very funny, wish I had a camera…
3) However, there is only one way to really enjoy and take in the Na Pali Coast, and yes, it’s by sea. Take a catamaran along the coast, and enjoy the view. TIP: The water is very choppy so make it a point NOT to hang out in the boat’s cabin and put yourself out on the deck of boat. If you stay in the cabin, expect to get sick and throw up. There is nothing worse for you than that. We took a sunset boat ride, which lasted 5 hours, and the views were unforgettable. And the best part was the Dolphins! They come right up to the boat and swim along side, almost as if they are posing for pictures! They are 100% wild, but are known to be the most human friendly creatures in the wilderness.
4) Art is very popular, it seems, in Kauai. We visited numerous art galleries in the Poipu Shopping Village. We came very close to purchasing 2 rather enticing paintings, but once it dawned on us how expensive it was to actually send these painting across the country, we declined. The best part is most of the paintings are done by local artist.
5) Do enjoy the seafood and fresh produce from the land. We found a few great restaurants, like Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill that really capture this essence. They harvest all of their goods from farms located around them. And it’s organic. We went here based on a recommendation from one of the bartenders at our resort, and he said to make sure we sample their sangria, which is brought to you on a push cart with several varieties -Sandra- you have no idea how GOOD it was until you sit there and sample each combination…http://josselins.com/
6) Now, there is one thing you should know, that little gecko lizards are very common here. Don’t get disgusted with them. To be honest with you, they are harmless and quite comical. (Joey-For instance, while dining at a restaurant at the Kukuiula Village, we noticed that there was a rather chubby one chilling on the beams of the outdoor restaurant’s ceiling. Sandra was in mid-conversation with the waiter when “splat”, the little chub-ster fell off and landed by Sandra’s feet. He got up, looked at us, and as if he were embarrassed, took off like a bolt of lightning. I can honestly say Sandra didn’t squirm or budge. Or the best was when we were coming back from breakfast one morning, and of course I zero in on 2 of them getting it on in the hallway. Whatever they must have been on their honeymoon too.)
7) Sample the Beer of Hawaii! Joey had the chance to sample Hawaii’s beers, and here is a list to get you started: Primo is one of Hawaii’s top Beers and you can expect to see that on the mainland soon. Long Board Island Lager comes in 4 flavors, with similarities to Blue Moon. Lets not forget Bikini Blonde and CoCoNut Porter (Joey’s least favorite). You just have to love the names lol
8) While in Kauai, we spoke to a local who told us that their secret to deep tans was a little product called Maui Babe. What’s ironic is we purchased and used Maui Babe only in Kauai. With its coffee bean scent, we were a little skeptical. It’s not very pleasant smelling going on. But after lying out for a whole day, we were dark; Darker than usual. Now, we swear by it. TIP: Like in Maui, wear sunscreen! You can layer your sunscreen with this product. We should take stock in this product…http://www.mauibabe.com/
9) Enjoy the Wildlife-We came across a lot of exotic animals, primarily birds, but the most entertaining was the Surfing Bird! Watch the video; we don’t need to explain. The Hawaiin Surfing Bird…when your tipsy, the strangest things will amuse you…
10) Hawaii is home to tons of amazing food and goodies. When you go, try to bring home their coffee (smooth and dark, yet with a nutty undertone), Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Lava Salt, etc. TIP: Foods that you don’t have home are always reminiscent of vacations, and if you are bringing home gifts for your family, share food rather than a statue or book. They will appreciate it better.
11) We had the opportunity to stumble upon The Red Dirt Company (Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs paid a visit here too) while traveling to our catamaran ride. This place is actually really interesting. This company took a negative (a hurricane in 1992 caused damage to their silk screen shop) and created a positive (red dirt and water ruined their white shirts, but behold… a new way to dye shirts! They took the shirts and printed on them sayings and Hawaiian prints. They became a hit with tourist and locals alike!). How’s that for inspiration? You can purchase shirts dyed with rich iron fortified Red Dirt soil of Kauai, and they come in an array of colors. Check them out http://www.dirtshirt.com
12) TIP: Make friends with everyone and take their recommendations. You more than likely will have fun. We were able to go to 25th Annual Koloa Plantation Days festival while in Kauai. We spoke to a few locals who told us to check it out. We speak to locals as often as possible when we are away. By speaking to them we were able to enjoy the festivities with everyone.
Joey and Sandra’s Top Restaurants and Lounges in Kauai:
1) Merriman’s Kauai at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-8385 http://merrimanshawaii.com - Organic Farm Goods
2) Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-7117 http://josselins.com/ Sangria, Tuna Tartar, Poke
3) Lappert’s Ice Cream & Coffee at the Kukuiula Village (808) 742-1272 http://www.lappertshawaii.com/ – Ice cream &coffee
4) Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt (808-240-6456) http://kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/restaurants – Prime Rib
5) Stevenson’s Library at the Grand Hyatt http://kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/entertainment/lounges – Sushi & Cocktails
There is so much to do on the islands that we couldn’t write all of it. However, we suggest that you visit Tripadvisor.com for additional comments and tips from travelers that have been to these islands. If you plan on going and want more information, write to us. We will be more than happy to help you plan accordingly. Next time, we break down Montego Bay, Jamaica.
We just want to say a Special Thank You to John and Franco at Silverfox Photography. Silverfox Photography provided us our engagement pictures and is the photographers for our wedding. They are our preferred vendor. Most of the pictures you see on websites or in print are actually the work of Franco, John and the Silverfox Team. You guys are seriously awesome! Thank you for everything! Invest in your pictures! They are help you remember that most important day of your life! And its pure Art!
Joey- What’s up everybody!?
Tonight’s episode was pretty good. I mean, in the first episode you really didn’t get to know Sandra and myself, and now you know a little bit more and the shit that we had to go through. Its right down to the last detail, like who gets picked up in a Bentley and it gets annoying. But everyone tells you the end result is worth it. I just hope so. Weddings, after all, aren’t cheap, and I don’t settle for anything but the best. $$$
For the record, Sandra still can’t cook lol. 2 Weeks ago, she set the smoke alarm off again, which was quite amusing. Of course, she didn’t take the blame for it. She tries at least. Not to say that most of the time her food is bad, she just hasn’t mastered it yet. Rachael Ray! Giada! I NEED YOU! SAVE ME!
And I really feel it’s important that you know that I am really not that grumpy or mean, however, that’s how I am perceived as on the show. You try planning a wedding, running a business, eating Sandra’s food, and dealing with all the shit I have too. It sucks. Its almost expected for anyone to crack! But in the end and Sandra can vouch for this, I really do care and I’m not a dick. But hey, you would be a dick too if you dealt with half the shit I had too lol. Get married, than come talk to me.
Avista Hardwood Flooring is the company I own and I am very happy that VH1 actually put it on the show. It was really cool to actually see my business on TV, especially since I worked so hard on establishing myself. I have been in this business for years, and thankfully, survived a recession, prevailed and came out on top. I’m not the type of business owner that goes with flow. Especially in this business, you need to be ahead of the competitor all the time. I have the best team, I expect the best from my employees and I am a tough boss, but the job gets done and it gets done RIGHT the first time. It’s something I really take pride in.
Sandra and I are Business people. While so many people say its hard working with your significant other, I really can’t complain that much. She does work hard. She just needs a kick in the ass sometimes. But she keeps the company in check.
If there is one thing I hate its when people really mess with her. That job destroyed her. Sandra is a happy, laid back person, and they ate her alive. I couldn’t be THAT mad at her when she told me she resigned because I knew that it was right. I wish she did wait, but in the end, my personal life with her got a hell of a lot better. She went back to normal. She was no longer a nasty bitch lmao.
Thanks for being a fan and see you next week!
Ughhhh well The Soup here I come lol. Joel McHale bring it on. Yes that’s right I set the oven on fire. That was a terrible day. All I remember was coming home, seeing the crew and being like WTF!? I had NO IDEA I was going to be filmed cooking that day; Never the less cooking steaks. I have such a fear using the broiler it’s not even funny. But I need to defend myself. I am a health food fanatic. I eat a lot of salad, tofu, grilled fish, lean beef and chicken. I don’t eat Veal (ew) or Pork (bigger ew) or anything like Rabbit or Deer or intestines or EWWWWW it’s making me GAG! So I very rarely use a broiler.
Joey’s mother is the BEST cook on Long Island, Hands down. She is Paula Dean ala Long Island! I will never compare, especially since butter is something not in my vocabulary nor diet lol. JoAnn felt so bad for us that she bought us a NuWave oven, which I LOVE, and I swear it has saved my life. Without that handy, dandy little oven I more than likely would have burnt the house down. Hint Hint Brides put that baby on your registries! Best invention EVER! Trust me!
And, yes I did resign from my position in tonight’s episode. Joey is the most supportive person ever. He may not have directly shown it, but when the cameras were down, he really was some what relieved that I finally got the balls and did something for me. He was worried for a while. I don’t think a job should ever bring you to the point where you are letting it consume your life. Life is too short and it’s not healthy. Jobs are like boyfriends. You need to break up with a few before you find the right one. And what’s the right one for me? Soon enough, I’ll be running my boutique and being my own boss. Joey has been a great mentor with that. He makes me so proud. And hopefully, within the next year, he’ll be proud of me too.
I’m a determined girl. I get what I want. And I am sure as hell smart about it.
Oh yeah… in case you were wondering, Joey and I own a WATER BED!!! LMAO it’s so funny to tell people that. Our bed is a wishy-washy water bed. And Joey and I love it. We couldn’t stop laughing when we saw our beloved water bed on tv!
Ok, and let me just defend myself one more time before I go because I just saw what Joey wrote and I am ready to kill him lol. I did NOT set the alarm on fire by myself! It’s the friggin’ broiler you ass! I, for the record, was making you pork chops (ew. YUCK) in a pan not the boiler. So whatever was in the broiler was causing the alarm to go off. So there! Jerk. HEHEHEHE.
Well thanks again everyone! Hope to see you next week! We really appreciate the Love and Support! Don’t forget to let us know what you think! Comment here or Check out www.facebook.com/joeyandsandra and post it!
~Sandra and Joey
What’s Good Everyone?
Ok so a little about the website. For starters, we are trendsetters. We wanted to promote ourselves with a website that would inspire and keep you party ready. Now we know for a fact we will have our, well, haters and imitators and that’s all good. But in the end, those who think ahead prevail. We wanted to expand past the whole Facebook world. We want you coming back to this website time and time again, by providing you a soundtrack of loud, outrageous house music, visuals like pictures and video (both candid and professional), and insider access to the show. Facebook was just the beginning. This was the next phase. And like we said before, we think ahead so there’s plenty more where that came from.
So the show premiered without a hitch. I think it’s safe to say that Joey and I look pretty friggin’ good on camera. MBFW is going to be a great show that’s for sure. And there’s TONS of exciting things coming that may benefit our fans! We were able to provide both LIVE tweets and facebook post and thats just the begining. We hope you enjoyed our commentary…
Much thanks to Di Re’s Tuxedo in Franklin Square, NY. Joe, the owner, is the perfect character for a wedding show. Literally, I think Joey drove them insane but in the end, Joey found something unique, fashionable and perfect. Not going to tell you what color vest he got though. You’re going to have to wait.
And we want to thank Mario and Danielle at the Electric Beach Club, in Lynbrook, NY. They have the best tanning beds and by far the best selection of lotions ever. A tan is something that we thought was imperative in preparation for the wedding. I mean, you don’t want to be orange, but you don’t want to be pale either. Moderation people, moderation… If you must know, we prefer to use “Black” a tanning lotion that enhances your tan. Don’t ever tan without a lotion. You won’t get color and you will likely burn.
Ok, so in case your were wondering, yes, we had to have a blackout party. That was the 1st day of filming. We won’t begin to tell you the drama surrounding the first day of filming. We must have had a hurricane or something because not only did we lose power for almost 9 hours, but half our guest list couldn’t even get to our house! Trees were down everywhere, there was flooding, thunder, lightning, freezing rain and it was dangerous. You would have thought the world was coming to an end. However, we still partied strong, in the dark nonetheless and it was all good. We know how to throw a party that’s for shit sure. Ask anyone we know; we are the king and queen of parties.
Some interesting information and advice:
We started working on My Big Friggin’ Wedding prior to the other couples, with Johnny and Megin right behind us. We never met the other couples until recently at a photo shoot for the ads that you are seeing EVERYWHERE (supposedly). The both of us took this project on to show America (and some other parts of the world) what wedding planning was really like. Its not all fairy tales and hearts; it’s a second job. So you can imagine the stress that is involved when planning a wedding. Now add cameras. Yeah, it was rough.
We always tell everyone to enjoy being engaged. It’s the best time of your life. With several of our friends recently taking the plunge (congrats! We love you guys and we are there for you!), we understand the feelings and emotions that they are going to experience along the way. It’s the most exciting, exhilarating and wonderful thing in the world! But there will be days when you’re ready to kill each other over something as stupid as a tuxedo vest color! And let me tell you, it’s NORMAL. Don’t let those idiots out there tell you otherwise. They happen to be living in a dream world. And they need a therapist.
So if you’re a bride or groom to be, and you have questions or need advice, post it on the wall at www.facebook.com/joeyandsandra or post it here. We have seen it all. Trust us, sometimes it’s not pretty! Just take Joey’s advice and “Don’t Do IT!” j/k >;-)
Check back here weekly for more blogs, new playlists monthly, and so much more. Thanks for the love!
Ciao Ciao. ~ Sandra and Joey C