The Most Beautiful Ring in the World

About three years ago, Kevin and I ventured into Nordstroms to change a watch battery. Even though we had purchased the watch there, Nordstoms does not physically change batteries in their stores so they referred us to a reputable jeweler across the way. Little did we know at the time, Charles Koll would take amazing care of us above and beyond that watch.

As we waited for our battery to be changed at Charles Koll, we were greeted by a friendly staff member with a serving tray. May I offer you a beverage? Being a small mall jewelry store, Kevin and I were taken aback by the question. But then again who are we kidding… we never turn down an adult beverage. What ya got?! Charles Koll offered us wine, beer, whiskey, champagne–Essentially a full bar!

Four craft brews later and feeling obligated to at least pretend as though we were doing more than waiting for a battery change, we found ourselves gazing at Steven Kretchmer tension rings. Kevin was immediately obsessed with the “structural engineering” of the designs and I, well, was just excited to see him excited to look at rings.

Watch battery fixed, I knew that someday Kevin would be back… if not for the architectural craftsmanship, at a minimum for the beer he knew they’d serve him. After all, he is a man.

Flash forward three years and 24 hours before our Whistler trip (where he was planning to propose on our five year anniversary) Kevin goes straight to Charles Koll to purchase the ring he had decided on three years earlier. I want that one. I can just picture him pointing to the case. To his surprise, and to the delight of this story, purchasing a custom ring doesn’t really work that way. He was going to need at least two months and a custom fitting to propose with the ring of our dreams. But you don’t understand, I’m proposing this weekend! That poor Charles Koll employee, bless Claire’s heart. She gave my inexperienced puppy dog a tension loaner (and a few beers) so he’d at a minimum have something to propose with. After all, he is a man.

Our Whistler proposal was one of the most magical moments in my life and even though the ring he proposed with wasn’t actually my ring, I love that we have his silly story to share. Customizing the ring together like we did was also a bonding experience we would have never shared together had he of been more organized and planned. But I know my soon to be hubs isn’t organized and doesn’t plan. That is what makes our engagement story so perfectly us.

Love story aside, I cannot say enough about the quality and care we received from the Charles Koll team and the beauty of our customized Steven Kretchmer. Charles Koll worked with us to make our ring everything we had ever imagined, from the perfect size, materials, flawless stone and even little personalized touches like adding Kevin’s birthstone to the backside of our ring. They did everything right and helped make our engagement perfect. We’ll never cease being brand advocates of these amazing companies… and stopping by for the occasion beer and ring cleaning.

 

The Proposal Ring:

 

The Finished Product and My Obsession:

Kevin’s Birthstone:

 

The Horizontal Stripe Movement

Amanda Schremser Green Kate Spade Strip Top


If the past year’s fashion statements have taught us anything, it has taught us to go against the grain. DO what your favorite magazines and fashion blogs have always instructed you NOT to do. There is a new standard in town: Fashion norms are completely irrelevant. A leopard can officially change his stripes.

Brown goes seamlessly with black. White can completely be worn after Labor Day and Crocs… well, let’s not get carried away (sorry, mom!)

I’m all for this topsy-turvy movement but the clear DON’T I’ve been DOING all over the place is horizontal stripes.

Gasp! I know what you’re thinking. Won’t horizontal stripes make my… WHO CARES. Your fabulousness will be the only thing big about you ; )

 

Fashion Stripe 1
Left – Photo Courtesy of Glam Radar
Right -Photo Courtesy of Home Bunch
Black White Stripe Fashion 1
Left – Photo Courtesy of Girl With a Surf Board
Middle -Dress: Shein
Right -Swim: Kate Spade
Kate Spade Green Stripe 1
Left – Dress: Kate Spade. Handbag: Kate Spade
Right – Top: Kate Spade. Handbag: Kate Spade

Making the Most of Maui, Hawaii

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii
Although we visited three islands during our much needed-Hawaiian holiday, I can easily tell you that Maui was everyone’s favorite part of the vacation. With so much to do, whether you wanted to relax or hit the scenes, Maui offered something for everyone regardless of age, mood or interest.

When it comes to travel, I take pre-planning very seriously. I plan so I don’t have to lift a finger or think critically once my plane touches down at its destination. So, for all of my fellow planners out here, here are my helpful tips and recommendations for everything Maui, Hawaii.

1) Stay Where you Want to Stay

Of course you can visit Maui on a dime, well multiple dimes, but you know what I mean. But, when you envision your Hawaiian vacation, something tells me you’re not imagining Motel 6. If you’re like me, you want ocean view luxury, peace and 18 different spa tubs with a swim up bar.

My biggest recommendation, stay at the dream resort of your choosing but at half the cost. Services like VRBO can get you the same room and amenities (yes, the same!) as a hotel but at a fraction of the cost. We stayed in a three bedroom penthouse at a leading Kaanapali resort for almost 30% less than we would have if we booked through the hotel directly or a major online booking service.

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii_Resort

2) Rent a Jeep

Sure, it’s a little bit more expensive but it’s so worth it. We took the top off and cruised the island in the warm ocean air. Just make sure to look up your personables. Hawaiians are super friendly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still protect yourself.

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2) Drive More Than the Road to Hana

Almost everyone will tell you to drive the Road to Hana, and you should. But, the Road to Hana only covers about a 6th of what Maui has to offer.

In one day, and it’s very doable in one day, Kevin and I drive the jeep the full way around the island. Now, everyone will tell you how unsafe this is but having done it, I will tell you it’s very doable. It is paved. It is safe. Just know that it isn’t always two lanes and you do need to be respectful of drivers opposite of you. That said, don’t be the guy making this trip in a mini van or full-size SUV—the locals will not be happy with you. Also note, you are driving these unadvised roads at your own risk—they are not covered by all rental companies.

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3) Taste Maui Wine

A nice little drive out of the resort towns and you can find yourself at Maui Winery. They offer two tours a day and tastings from open to close. You can enjoy three sample tastings, including their famous pineapple wines, and shop their gift shop. I personally found their wine much too sweet for my pallet but it was certainly worth visiting.

Californ-ia_Maui_Wine

4) See the Nakalele Blow Hole

It’s not everyday that you get to see a blowhole, especially one with such beautiful surroundings. The blowhole itself is very neat, but the drive to and past along with the easy hike down to the actual blowhole were one of my favorite parts of the trip. The north-eastern area of Maui is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend making it a part of your vacation.

Californ-ia.Hawaii_blowhole

5) Visit a Plantation

Hawaii is home to many different types of agriculture, including bananas, coffee, coconuts, star fruit, macadamias and most importantly, pineapple! We visited a plantation that offered a bit of everything, enjoyed demonstrations and a tasting at the end. Some of Hawaii’s main resources are the fruits that it sews so make sure to stop by a plantation for a literal taste of it!

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii_Pinneapple

6) Snorkel

I love snorkeling and Maui offers some very unique landscapes and wildlife for you to witness. We joined The Blank of Maui, a large boat that included equipment, breakfast and lunch, and yes, BEER & MAI TAIS, for our snorkeling outing. We saw fish of all shapes and sixes and my brother was even lucky enough to see, very close I may add, a green sea turtle. And the whales, oh my goodness did we see whales, on our trip. The whole experience was just completely worth it.

Californ-ia_Hawaii_snorkel

7) Luau

Although our Luau wasn’t all it had been hopped up to be, I’m going to stay positive and tell you that you should still see a luau when in Hawaii. When in Rome, right? If you want the luau experience you’re probably imagining, you’re going to have to pay extra. I was between three different luaus and decided on the one that promoted drunks, fire dancing and an all-you-can-eat buffet. If doing it differently, I would recommend sticking to Luaus that boast authenticity and plated meals. Also, splurge on the flower lei. An extra $30 a person seems expensive, but it’s one of the big things you expect and hope for when in Hawaii.

Californ-ia_luau

8) Food Trucks. Period.

Neither Kevin and I were impressed with the fair we had during our Hawaii trip. The best food we had throughout the duration was from food trucks. In fact, I cam back to California only wanting food truck food, boycotting everything else. Some of the trucks may look a little rough, but trust me, when that plate of complete fresh and amazingness comes out, you’ll be glad you stopped there over the 4 star restaurant you were considering.

Californ-ia_Food_Trucks

9) Eat Banana Bread and Coconut Everything

Some blogs will tell you where in Hawaii you can find the best banana bread. I am hear to tell you that is false. Everyone claims to have the best banana bread. Even our cab driver was selling his version of the best banana bread. It doesn’t matter where you get it, just do it. It’ll be amazing.

As far as the coconuts go, try a little bit of all of it. The milk, the flesh, this amazing toasted candy concoction you’ll see at farmers markets. So good!

Californ-ia_surfboard_bread

10) Whale Watch

If you don’t have a chance to go snorkeling or have watched Soul Surfer one too many times (enter JAWS theme song) you absolutely MUST go whale watching. I’ve been whale watching before in California, super romantic surprise from Kevin, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of humpback whale activity you’ll be able to see in Maui. the experience is almost spiritual and something you’ll never forget.

Amanda Schremser Kevin Seele Hawaii copy

OK. So maybe I didn’t get any amazing pictures of whales–I was too immersed with the experience to care about my camera. But what can I say, I love this photo! 🙂

Are there other items aside from my top ten you’d recommend in Maui? I’d love to hear it and make sure to tackle it on my next return…which is hopefully sooner than later!

When in Cabo

Embroidered Dress

It started as a daydream–turquoise waves washing up onto white sandy beaches, bottomless strawberry pina coladas and then nothingness, just doing and worrying about absolutely nothingness. That serene daydream escalated quite quickly into an obsession. Within days of muttering (singing) the words Cabo San Lucas, I was saving my pennies, scouring resorts on Tripadvisor and planning a month’s worth of Mexican themed vacation outfits. I was in need of some major R&R…and more importantly, shopping for it.

Visions of laying out and swim-up-bar boozing were not the only things I became infatuated with. Kevin quickly pointed out that everything in my shopping bag(s) were embroidered. I was to become a modern day Piñata in heels. When in Rome, babe!

When planning a Mexican vacation, the ceviche shouldn’t be the only thing authentic. When else do you get to have this much fun with what you wear? If it was embroidered, adorned with pom-poms, off the shoulder or had a donkey on it, I was determined to make it mine! Arrrriba!

Mexican Dress

Dress: Kori America Fringe Aztec Dress $32

Vacation Dress

Dress: Vintage find! Goodwill $6

Similar: Huipil Boutique $125

Mexican Dress

Dress: Anthropologie Folk Art Dress $178

Panama Hat

Panama Hat: Christy’s $195

Jcrew Embroidered Dress

Dress: JCrew Scallop Dress $138 

Sexy Man: Kansas, Priceless

Monogram Mania

Monograms

Finally! Mom’s everywhere can now consider themselves cool for labeling every-single-thing their children own with initials blazing. The monogram is back and not just for moms.

If you haven’t noticed, personalization of personal items is all the current rage. Umbrellas to coolers. Phone cases to designer handbags. First, middle and last initial will be sure to turn heads this season—they’ve certainly turned mine!

So if you’re looking to monogram your look from head to toe, check out these amazing finds. These are some of my personal favorites but I would love to know what yours are! What have you monogrammed?

Monogram Finds in Banner Photo
From Top Left: Duffle Bag. Cocktail Ring. Umbrella. Scarf.
From Bottom Left: Fleece Vest. Tumblers. Notebook. Throw Pillow.

Rockin the Romper

Blue Romper

I’ve never been a fan of the “romper”. Not because I don’t think they’re completely adorable (because they are!) but because they have a tendency to make the vertically impaired feel, well, even more vertically impaired.

The floral print and blue and coral color combo are what initially won me over on this little Asos number. I didn’t care if it made me look like a stubby watermelon shoved into a jumper—I was determined to make it work, hobbit look-a-like or not.

Blue Romper

Blue Romper

Summer Shoes

To my surprise, when I modeled it for my mirror, I actually felt skinny and elongated in it. It’s the only romper I can say this about. Because of the drop waist and flowing shorts, it gives the illusion of a longer torso, perfect for my fellow shorties out there!

Long story short, I’m in LOVE with this look and determined to find more jumpers exactly like it. I’ve crossed over and this shorty is a believer!

Amanda’s Look
Floral Romper: Asos. Similar Yumi Kim
Summer Sandals: Saks Fifth Ave Gray
Coral Seed Bead Bracelet: Similar Etsy TeeceTorre 

Pretty In Print

Printed Pants

Like the girl who commits to working out every single day following the first of the year only to find herself two big-mac-meals-in a week later, my whole plan of blogging at least once a week has fallen short—an entire month short. Blush! With that said, though I haven’t been consistently blogging and photo snapping, I have been doing about everything else under the sun. I can hardly believe we’re already into March but it has been a wonderful 2015—just a busy one!

So in attempt to get back on track with Californ-ia, here’s my favorite outfit this week. I purchased these pants a few weeks ago and can’t get enough of them. If they weren’t so fun and obvious, I’d wear them every single week…but I’m fairly certain my co-workers would notice!

Pink Print Pant_2

Also, I would like to debut the newest love of my life and addition to my closet. I am sure you can see why! Meet Gigi, the most adorable clutch to ever exist. She’s straight from New York, bears my personal monogram and is the softest embossed leather. Speaking of leather, she smells sooooo good. I am sure the people walking down the street watching me smell my bag think I’m a lunatic. I don’t care—I can’t get enough!

Pink Print Pant_1
Pink Print Pant_3Pink Print Pant_5Pink Print Pant_4
Amanda’s Look
Leather Monogrammed Clutch: Gigi New York
Pink Silk Blouse: Target Merona
Printed Pants: Similar J Brand
Black Pumps: Steve Madden
Watch: Burberry
Ring: Madewell
Necklace: Saks Off Fifth. Similar on Etsy BlueTwinSpur

Fun printed pants

Printed pants from left: Laundry by Shelli Segal. Les CopainsDiane von Furstenberg. Old Navy. Kate Spade.