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Travel: Viva Las Vegas! Bellagio Review

Last weekend I had the great joy and privilege to take a mini-vacation with my two favorite girls in the world, my mom and sis. We spent the weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada and did not waste a single second of our time there. It wasn’t our first time here together but it was our first time staying at The Bellagio.

We all are working women and needed to unwind with a little relaxation and A WHOLE LOT OF FUN. What better place to do that than The Bellagio in Fabulous Las Vegas? The weekend Girls Trip came at the perfect time as we all met up right after work to catch our Friday night flight then basked in everything The Bellagio had to offer for the entire weekend.There were so many great things about this hotel that it would be near impossible to list them all so I will simply list my top 9 things that I love about this hotel (in no particular order). Why 9 things?… because The Bellagio and Vegas in general had us on Cloud 9. Read on.

  1. The Location – The Bellagio is conveniently located on the Las Vegas strip and in the midst of EVERYTHING! It is right across from the Paris hotel, Planet Hollywood and right in between Cesar’s Palace and The Cosmopolitan. So much is in walking distance that you will rarely need to hail a cab/uber. 
  2. The Planetarium – It is just the naturally beautiful and fragrantly amazing observatory filled with live and exotic florals accompanied by majestic figures. This part of the hotel changes season to season and can vary from everything to the coast line of Southern Italy to peaceful Japanese Gardens and even under water in the deepest parts of the ocean. 
  3. The Spa – I can’t say enough about the spa. We received lux massages with rich coconut \ body butter elixirs from the finest in the industry. Following our massages we dipped in the spa’s individual hot tubs for relaxation and meditation.
  4. The Pool – Boss. Enough said. 
  5. The Casino – Of course every Vegas hotel has a casino. But the Bellagio has been known to attract the wealthiest gamblers so it was fun to play a few slots, have a drink and watch others risk it all on the poker and black jack tables. 
  6. The Clubs – “Club Hyde” and “The Bank”. At one point in the club I looked up and felt like it was snowing. Confetti in amounts never before seen. Lit DJs. All of this in one hotel!
  7. The Shows – The O show is the long running show gem that plays at the Bellagio It’s a must see. Circus De Soleil is not playing any games with this one. We had our fair share of shows while in Vegas. Another must see is Zoomanity. 
  8. The Food– The Brunch buffet at The Bellagio is practically mandatory.  There are also several other cafés and eateries in the hotel. One of which include a chocolate, vanilla and caramel “water falls”.
  9. The Views – Right outside of our hotel were the beautiful Fountains at the Bellagio where the water danced as if it had a soul. Just beyond the fountains and across the strip, the view of America’s very own Eiffel Tower.

    LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 24: The Bellagio Hotel & Casino water show comes to life after dark on December 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas, the popular Southwest desert tourist getaway, appears to be making a slow economic recovery following a tough global recession. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

    Thank you Bellagio for showing us an AMAZING time! Viva Las Vegas!!

Thanks for reading! xo

carissa

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Reflections: My 3rd Wedding Anniversary

I married my best friend on this day 3 years ago. It was a BEAUTIFUL sunny Saturday in Houston Texas…Since then, we purchased our first home, have been traveling the world and have been building up our businesses/ the empire. The past three years have been filled with so much laughter and adventure!!!

This love has been so freeing… and I have always felt so empowered by the love God has for me, easily displayed in my husband.Together we have accomplished so much. We aren’t perfect… but there is something so perfect about the love and mercy God shows us daily.

At the start of 2017… something unexpected happened…

We found out we were pregnant.We were excited about our little blessing… and had just found out it was girl!

Then something even more unexpected happened… At 14.5 weeks gestation, we suffered the loss of our first child. For weeks, I mourned. Although I am now at peace with everything, the thought of losing the child I once carried still makes me emotional and probably always will. But let me tell you about how good God is….

He is all powerful and knowing. I trust His timing for my/ our life! I KNOW that ALL things work out for the good of those that believe in Him. Even since the loss, He has been so faithful in showing us that He has not forsaken us. The proof of this would make this blog way too long.

I am since, stronger… wiser… certainly a better woman. My husband and I have grown EVEN CLOSER. And guess what… I am a MOTHER!! My angel baby is with the most high in the most beautiful place. I AM SO GRATEFUL for this PEACE and JOY which surpasses all understanding and I am more than optimistic about the future of our little family than ever.

If you or someone you love has experienced this type of loss, you are not alone.

1 in 4 pregnancies end with the loss of a child.

Most people who have experienced this type of loss will never speak about it – you will never know.

But if I can speak on this, for just a moment… and help someone feel less alone or more comforted, then I am aligned with my purpose, passion and calling. Since I was in college, I knew my mission was to motivate, cultivate and inspire. I cannot only share the glitz, glamour and butterflies with you. I must also share the REAL SH*T. Life can get hard sometimes. The unimaginable can happen to anyone when they least expect it. The human experience involves suffering sometimes. But there would be no sunny days without a cloudy day.

Whatever situation or hardship you may be facing or will face later in life, keep going. Keep the faith. I know we are. Our rainbow baby is coming. Until then we will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do, continue to love EXTRA HARD on each other, and keep smiling!!!

To my hubby… my man crush for LIFE, my ROCK, my BFF, the Clyde to my Bonnie, my biggest motivator… together we can do anything. LOVE YOU!!!

To those reading… I love you too.

Now I’ve gotta run off to celebrate 3 years!!! 🙂 See ya later! xoxo -Riss

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Beyonce Opens Up About Her Miscarriage:

 

Watch Our New Show: Married To Business

So I can finally share this news!!! Kenneth and I are sooo excited to announce that we will be shooting a new show called Married to Business!!! We will be sharing our daily lives and you’ll see how we grow in our marriage as we grow our business empire!!!

Our first episode premiered December 20, 2016, at 8pm! This is HUGE you guys… and trust me, you won’t want to miss a beat!! We are asking for your support and need EVERYONE to click below and go SUBSCRIBE to the channel! We have so much in store for you!!!
#M2BIZ #MarriedToBusiness

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Travel: Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence

2016 has easily been my most traveled year… ever. To kick off my birth month (September) my family vacationed in Italy! It was all of our first time in Italy and for about a week we journeyed through the Tuscan hillside and drove from city to city experiencing Italian culture, food, history and the landscape’s natural beauty.

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My husband and I began our journey one day ahead of my parents and sister. It takes about 12 hours to fly from Texas to Italy but it didn’t feel too long to us. Now when we fly on long international flights, we usually plan an intentional layover in a city of interest. This time it was Toronto, Canada. We only had enough time in-between our flights to take a peek at the skyline and grab a bite of Canada’s finest.
Our “home-base” during our week stay in Italy was Castello di Izzalini located in the rural hills of Italy near Todi. It is an old castle built sometime between 1100 and 1200 AD that had been fabulously converted into a royally elegant resort that maintained an authentic Italian villa charm. We wasted no time getting acclimated to the area and our first taste of Italy was at cute cafe which was right next door to our resort. There, we enjoyed gelato before we even checked in. lol
Our apartment was so beautiful.

 

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That day we ventured in Todi and even caught a glimpse of acres and acres of my soul flower.

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The next day we drove back into Rome to pick up my family from the airport. Since it is a 2 hour drive from Todi to Rome, my family was prepared to go straight into exploring Rome fresh off of their long international flight. We toured the ancient city of Rome first. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum…all the ancient ruins and history were fascinating!unnamed-1 unnamed

The next day we went to The Vatican – which is its own state within a state. The Vatican is governed by it’s own laws, it has a fortress built around it which was originally built to protect it from naysayers; it is the birthplace and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home of The Pope. We happen to be at The Vatican on the day before The Pope declared Mother Teresa as a saint for all the ages in a canonization ceremony. This is a really big deal and the occasion will forever be marked in history. We saw Mother Teresa banners hanging on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica and she even had limited edition memorabilia in The Vatican gift shops. We are lucky we beat the crowd for this. Had we been just one day behind we may not have had a chance to take a tour of The Vatican!

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Venice, our unanimous favorite place on our tour. “Home of Casanova”. Venice was everything I imagined it to be and MORE! The food, the people, the music.. the ROMANCE!!! It was all there in full effect. The Grand Canal was such a joy to experience. We took a gondola ride in the evening and rode for an hour through the narrow canals of Venice. We learned rich history from our boat guide who has lived in Venice and being giving people gondola rides for nearly 40 years! The streets of Venice were exciting! Masks are everywhere for purchase and decoration for the local vendors signifying a city that has always been known for liberation and excess. As history tells us, the city of Venice emerged when Italians fled Rome to escape German vandals who wanted to conquer and essentially enslave them. They fled to a place their enemies were not likely to follow…. Venice is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Once there, the people adapted by building a city on water and thrived. Centuries ago Venice was considered an upscale and progressive city, and n many respects it still is today.
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We toured Doge’s Palace and took a family picture in front of St. Mark’s Basilica.

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Milan was the next stop on our tour. What I loved about Milan was the trendy shopping. After all, it is one of the fashion capitals of the world! Ever heard of Milan Fashion Week? The general population in Milan is young. Everyone is just young and kind of cool. There is also the history and beautiful architecture that makes Milan incredible. I was practically obsessed with the architecture and interior splendor that my eyes feasted on at the Duomo Cathedral in Milan. We stumbled upon a Leonardo Da Vinci museum where we learned about of his great inventions, art work and even got an up close look at Da Vinici’s ‘Last Supper’. Nightlife in Milan was decent. We were there on a Monday night and still managed to find live music and a bar.

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Florence was the last stop on our Tour of Italy. There were some lovely areal views and several chances to just sit back and enjoy the sites. While in Milan we did a city site-seeing tour which allowed us to hop on and off at various points of interest. We saw a lot in a short amount of time including the Tuscany region in Florence, ‘The David’ and many similar statues and of course the cathedrals.
Overall Italy was incredible, the food is unbelievably carby and the wine is the best I’ve ever tasted. Never ending pasta, pizza, wine and gelato were the most prevalent options in most places. The people were friendly. Most just going about their daily lives. Everything that I experienced was very authentic. I can say I got a true taste of Italian culture during my Tour of Italy. 🙂

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Watch our travel blog and look-book from the trip!

Thank you for reading/ watching. See you soon! xoxo – Riss

carissa

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Travel: Amsterdam, Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Getting There…

airplane_wing-wideWhere do I begin? Let me start by saying, Dubai is a magical place and unlike any other city I have EVER been to. It is also where my husband and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. This was a very different kind of vacation for us. Usually, we lay out on a beach somewhere and plan to spend our time just relaxing. Prior to visiting Dubai, my only perception of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) were things I’d seen on television and in movies. Also, my independent research to make sure I was in line with the nations customs and had what I needed to enter the country. After all of this, nothing could have adequately set my expectations for one of the most memorable and enlightening weeks of my entire life to date!

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A direct flight to Dubai from Houston is about 15 hours, depending on your flight path. Of course taking this extremely long flight all at once would be like asking to have your teeth pulled – so I was grateful that our itinerary allowed us to split the duration of the flight almost exactly in half. With a nice layover in-between the halves (to and from), the flights were more than tolerable… they were actually enjoyable! I had time on the plane to catch up on my sleep and new movies. I had some pretty decent meals, savory snacks, complimentary wines, and time to meditate.

Amsterdam

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We touched down in Amsterdam and took the train into town from the airport. The temperature change from Houston to Amsterdam was drastic to say the least, but it opened up an opportunity for my husband to buy me a really fly leather jacket from The Netherlands! #Winning!

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During our 8 hour layover in Amsterdam, we did a lot of walking. In fact, I’ve never walked more than I did that entire week. When we arrived to Amsterdam, it was a regular work day morning for many of the locals. Businesses were opening and the morning dew brought new optimisms for incredible adventure. We walked in search for specialty foods and a chance to catch a glimpse of the infamous Red Light District. Let me just say, we got more than what we bargained for.

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It was so crazy to see people on a regular Tuesday morning have their cup of coffee along with their joint while in casual conversation and enjoying lovely sights just outside The Red Light District. Yes… weed is 100% legal and very accessible in Amsterdam. In nearly every “coffee shop” marijuana is on the menu just as commonly as espresso… and evidently, the two go hand in hand. I had to see it to believe it.

While being amused by it all, we made a point to find “Pannenkoeken” (Dutch pancakes). Thank you Anthony Bourdain!! Due to our recent obsession and binge watching of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’, we are now conditioned to searching for unique eats and having the most authentic experiences in every new country we go to. Our “Pannenkoekens” reminded me of a savory crepe and could really be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Good stuff!

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We’d soaked up our time in Amsterdam faster than I could’ve ever imagined. Before we knew it, we were speed walking our way back to the train station, satisfied with the best Amsterdam had to offer. I’m talking about being full from the Dutch pancakes of course… what did you think I was talking about??

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Touchdown Dubai

Another 8 hours in the air and we had finally arrived to Dubai!!! When we first got there, the long lines to get through customs, along with the guards, were a little intimidating. Amidst hundreds and hundreds of people… everyone was silent! It was a big contrast from were we had just come from. I made sure not to lean on my husband or show any PDA because public displays of affection are prohibited and punishable by law. Yikes! Finally, through customs and via a (really nice) cab, we’d arrived to our hotel!… The Marina View Hotel. (Side note: all cabs in Dubai are really nice Toyota’s and Lexus’.)   It had felt like days of logistics but we’d arrived! We were physically beat on that first night but that didn’t stop us from walking to see our neighboring sights in the beautiful Dubai Marina. We’d later gotten massages to loosen up and reset our bodies for the adventures ahead.

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carissa and kenneth, shes charissmatic in dubai

The Sites

We spent some time the following day at Mall of the Emirates – the largest mall in the WORLD! This mall made the Houston Galleria look tiny and every square inch of it was clean and shiny! One could easily spend a full day in that mall and still not see everything. The mall had every store that you’d find in the US… Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada, etc. and so many other world class designers that are not easy to find in the states. The largest mall in the world has much more than just shopping. Things such as the “diver wall” (a 3 story indoor water fall), the dancing fountains (mesmerizing choreographed water streams that dance to Arabian music), and Ski Dubai… a full fledged ski resort in the middle of this desert mall! I mean actual ski lifts, snow boarding, skiing… the whole nine. Just epic and unbelievable! The food court is like a restaurant haven. You will even find luxury cars for sale in the mall and all throughout the city. Lamborghini’s, Porsche’s, Ferrari’s and Bentley’s are everywhere and considered pretty common.

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Dubai holds many world records for really cool and amazing stuff. Of course there is the Burj Khalifah… the tallest building in the WORLD. There are long lines to view this building so be sure you look on Groupon for a ticket that let’s to skip the line! We did and it saved us at least an hour or two. I can thank my husband for that one. The only catch to this pass found on Groupon is in the fine print… the pass is only redeemable after 8pm. So if you want to do the Burj Khalifah during the day, I won’t advise purchasing this coupon. For us, the nighttime view was simply perfection. The worlds fastest elevator whisked us up to the 125th floor without us barely even noticing! Once there, the views were breathtaking. The Burj Khalifah stands 2, 716.5 feet tall, soaring over Dubai. It’s three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Laid end to end, its pieces stretch over a quarter of the way around the world and there are over 160 stories!

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The Palm Islands are one of the most mysterious land masses on the planet. Created to resemble a palm tree, the palm islands are two artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali. In totality they are the world’s largest man made islands. Now, I’ve tried to look into the science and technology behind how something like this can be created, sustainable and inhabitable, but I decided to marvel at it’s beauty and wonder instead. The Palm Island’s address is considered a status symbol in Dubai. Only the richest of the rich can reside here. It is here on Palm Island that you can also find the renowned Atlantis Hotel and Aquarium – Dubai. The aquarium is legendary. The best way to view the Palm Island is from the Marina Marriott accompanied with a FABULOUS happy hour.

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Other cool things to do and see while in Dubai are the Dubai Museum, the Dubai Heritage Center, Jemeirah Beach in the Arabian Gulf, Wafi Mall (Egyptian themed), the Marina Walk were you can walk along the water and enjoy great shopping and eateries. Shopping in Dubai is duty-free/ tax-free and the traditional markets, also known as the “souks”, are places where you can find hidden gems at great prices.

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The Food

The food in Dubai is wonderful. Lots of Indian and Mediterranean food done RIGHT! The lamb and gyro are perfection. On about our 4th day in Dubai, we wised up. In addition to being transported to the main attractions by tour bus, when we needed transportation we took public transit. There is really no need to take a cab everywhere we you can save sooo much money taking the train and the tram. Besides, it was adventurous! I didn’t even mind the walking, plus I knew it was needed after all of the french fries I was being fed. Even at fine restaurants, french fries seemed to be a valuable part of every meal. And guess what, women wearing the most traditional of abaya’s (The traditional black over-garment worn by women in the region for religious purposes) would lift the veil for each fry. (Sex and the City 2 reference.)

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The “shisha” otherwise known as hookah is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s so smooth and true to the flavor of whatever you order and one order can last for hours. If you order strawberry shisha… expect the taste of real strawberries. Speaking of real fruit, enjoying a nice glass of fresh pressed, all-natural fruit juice is standard when enjoying your hookah after dinner and 100%  natural pressed juice is on nearly every restaurant menu. Restaurants stay open very late (3-4am) in Dubai, which we were grateful for! Since the time difference from home to Dubai was about a 12 hour differential, we would sleep until at least noon on some days and be up until 4, 5 and even 6am.

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Abu Dhabi 

Before this trip I didn’t realize how close Dubai was to Abu Dhabi. As an extended option from our tour package with Bus Bug Tours, we excitedly spent a day in Abu Dhabi! We met some cool people on the bus and chatted it up on the 2 hour double decked tour bus ride. It was then that I was reminded, we were TRULY in the desert. All the beautiful landscape that I marveled at previously had literally been placed in Dubai. Every flower, every blade of grass… nothing grows in the Arabian Desert – it never rains! Everyday is blue skies. While we were there, the temperature reached up to triple digits on some days. Thankfully, it was a dry heat – opposite of the humidity I’m used to in Houston. In other words, summer time in the desert was surprisingly tolerable! And the nights are comfortable. After leaving Dubai city limits, there was NOTHING but desert sand for a while. Even though we were on a (semi) air conditioned bus with other tourists, at some point I felt like I was seeing various mirages!

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Finally, we embarked on Abu Dhabi. There were a series of mosques to marvel at, but none compared to the Shiek Zayed Grand Mosque. I admit to having mild freak out when after reading the signs outside of the mosque, I thought we wouldn’t be able to enter due to how we were dressed. Fortunately, the kind folks who are responsible for the upkeep of this mosque, understand that many would come from around the world to experience this place and they are kind enough to open it up to the ‘less than prepared’ public.  They have a special area, prior to entering the mosque, were tourists can rent proper dress so that they are able to respectfully enter the Shiek Zayed Grand Mosque. We spent a good 2 hours here, gazing at all the pearl marble, gold and exquisite details on the outside and inside of the mosque. Once inside, if you wanted to go past a certain point, you even had to remove your shoes.

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The above mentions are all things we did of course (still can’t believe we did all of that), but I do recommend it all! Our week was so jam packed. There is just so much to do in Dubai, we didn’t want to miss anything! In one full week we still couldn’t do it all. One thing I’ll make a point to do WHEN I go back next time, is to visit Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Yas Island is another man made island where you’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful and elaborate hotels, picture perfect beaches and exquisite dining. You’ll also find attractions such as Yas Waterworld, and Ferrari World (containing the world’s fastest roller-coaster). Yassss! lol There are a ton of construction projects going on in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I’m sure in 10 years there will be a whole list of new attractions!

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It was such a beautiful and enlightening experience full of wonder and culture. The indigenous people of this region are peaceful, friendly, innovative, and very family oriented. Underneath the traditional garments the women are extremely fashionable. They love designer labels and MAC make up! What makes Dubai so unique to me, is that it is one of the most modern and technologically advanced cities in the world yet it still holds true to traditional customs and teachings. I will definitely visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi again!!! My experience in the Middle East was incredible and one for the books!!!

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Thanks for reading! Xo -Riss

Carissa Stephens She's ChaRISSmatic

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Travel: 8 Things You Should Know & Do When In Napa Valley

My friends Mychelle and Christopher got married in beautiful Napa Valley last month. After their beautiful wedding, my husband and I decided to hang back and enjoy the wine country a bit. Here are some tips we’d like to share for those interested in visited Napa Valley, California someday!
Carissa Stephens She's Charissmatic

  1. Plan for cooler temperatures. Spring time in Napa is beautiful. It is the time of year when the air is breezy and crisp, all of the vines are beginning to bud and visitors attempting to beat the “busy season” crowd trickle in. True to the pacific region, it gets cold – especially at night. During the day, while the sun is beaming, everything is warm and comfortable. As a Texas girl… I like warm and comfortable! When the sun goes down, all the mystic glory of the pacific float inland and you can feel that even though it is spring time, the ocean still has some catching up to do. If you go between the months of November and May, be advised you’ll need to bring layers of clothing. Keep things light and layered so that as temperatures fluctuate, you’ll be prepared.Carissa Stephens She's Charissamatic Napa Valley
  2. Be mindful of the times in which you plan to have a meal. Napa still has some charming qualities of an old town somewhere off the map. In most major cities, when you seek to grab a bite (no matter what time of the day it is) you’ll be able to find something very decent to indulge in. When my husband and I touched down in Napa Valley we thought we’d get acclimated to the area our hotel was in by enjoying some of the local eats. To our surprise, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, many of the places that struck our interest were closed…in the middle of the day! We’d found ourselves right in-between the local lunch and dinner crowds. Most places looked deserted around this time but we tried anyway. Upon walking up to the door of at least 2 or 3 restaurants we got our bubble busted as we learned of the restaurant hours. Several were open for lunch but were closed between the hours of 3 and 5 pm. Because we refused to settle for fast food, we ended up dining in at one of the only restaurants open at that time… a Chinese restaurant. It wasn’t half bad! Speaking of Asian cuisine, there’s a strong Asian influence on the food there. I recommend having sushi in Napa. Sushi Haku is amazing. You’re Welcome.13091981_10102336024570175_3228487318201804815_n
  3. Venture on Hwy 29. Don’t bother planning an elaborate itinerary to see Napa. All you need to know is to drive up Hwy 29 all the way until you arrive at Calistoga. Every wine vineyard you’d want to see as a visitor to Napa is along Hwy 26. It’s a relaxing and scenic drive. Plug in your favorite music and enjoy a ride along the country side which includes an abundance of picture-esq views and adventure around every corner! If you see a vineyard name that you recognize, pop in to say hello. For me, a recognizable favorite was Beringer. Almost anytime I’m making a wine run to the grocery store, it is for Beringer White Zinfandel. For my fellow adventurers, turn off into one of the long uphill driveways and into some tasty wines and memories to last a lifetime.13055433_10102336024325665_4736389701857793607_n
  4. Stop by Castello di Amorosa. For me, my diamond in the rough was a vineyard by the name of Castello di Amorosa. You cannot see this vineyard from the road! We had no idea when we made the turn that we would stumble upon a castle! The castle was incredible… complete with a moat, live animals in the side yard and the most breathtaking views. It was here that we met and extraordinary wine Somalia who changed the way we viewed wine forever. During our tasting, he went on to describe our wines as celebrities! “This wine is deep and complex… but definitely has a mellow element as well… much like Denzel Washington… and this one, lots of body. It’s sultry and irresistible with a sweet finish… much like Marilyn Monroe.” It was a great experience as we laughed boisterously and tasted not only the wines but also fine salted chocolates which served as a perfect pairing for some. We walked away with a bottle of our favorite from the tasting and do not plan to open it until maybe our 10 year anniversary.13091966_10102336023981355_4897060622688416372_n
  5. Stop in Calistoga for a meal. Calistoga is a quaint little old town with lots of charm and good eats. It’s important while enjoying a day of wine tasting to remember to eat. We stopped here for a large pizza at a local Italian spot. It felt perfect to have a meal full of bread and cheese… something we rarely dine-in for but was so appropriate that day.13043339_10102336024170975_2145792436693887111_n
  6. Peak time is Fall to witness the harvesting. If you want to see the grapes at their juiciest and even get a chance to pick them off the vine, go to Napa in the fall. This is the time of year when you can catch a lot of the crushing action and if you’re lucky, even get in on it! Be advised that this time of the year will be packed. Napa Valley California is one of the largest producing cities for wine in the world and is a popular destination, especially for the more seasoned travelers.13055420_10102336024645025_7842400424975743575_n
  7. Group tours. If you are traveling with a group, plan ahead and book a group tour. Many types of tours are offered. Some offer a private car, limousine or even a party bus. They have something for everyone. You can even plan a picnic lunch while you are touring. Groupon offers great rates for groups.13103485_10102336024694925_1418402338971737182_n
  8. Romantic Get away. As for us, we went the romantic route on our day touring Napa. My husband and I were our own tour guides. It felt nice to be in total control of our pace and the vineyards we got to visit. I recommend Napa for a fun or romantic get away and some tasty wines.

70bcc58e-fbc7-4c10-b0c5-371999deed32BONUS: San Francisco is not too far away from Napa and while we were on the west coast we had to check out the landmark, Golden Gate Bridge. Although I have been to California multiple times, it was my first time in San Francisco. The bridge was more glorious than I ever thought it was. I was expecting old and rusty. It looked surprisingly elegant and vibrant! My smart phone did a pretty decent job capturing it in its glory. I’m happy we made a point to go see it.  13061988_10102338590702625_6389195815193238443_n13043216_10102338591026975_4631366320294372420_n

Thanks for reading! Xo -Riss

Carissa Stephens She's ChaRISSmatic

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2 Year Anniversary My Nubian Royalty Wedding

In honor of my 2nd year wedding anniversary, May 3rd 2014, I’ve decided to share my wedding highlights video on my blog. I can’t believe how many views it has on YouTube! The day was indescribably amazing… Thank you to everyone who helped make it perfect and thank you for watching!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXGtxvFrXfg

Thanks for reading! Xo -Riss

Carissa Stephens She's ChaRISSmatic

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Travel: Cozumel & The Cayman Islands

From St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th through week of March 20th (which included the first official day of spring and my husband’s 29th birthday) was the first of many travel adventures for 2016! 

We began our trip with a flight to Lakeland, Florida to visit Snapchat-3084184456765695970family and prep for our cruise which left out of Tampa, Florida. My father-in-law might as well be a Master Chef…he throws down in the kitchen whenever we visit. Night one the dinner menu was fresh fried fish that he caught while fishing just prior to our arrival. He served the fish with grits and hush puppies. A true southern tradition! The next night was a complete seafood smorgasbord. Blue crab, king crab legs, crawfish, boiled shrimp and eggs, grilled sausages, bbq chicken wings, corn on the cob and potatoes. It was so legendary!

When Saturday rolled around it was time to kiss our folks farewell and Bon Voyage! Our vacation began with a couple of days at sea aboard the Carnival Paradise. The moment we stepped foot on the boat the turn up was instant!

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I have been on other cruises but this was my first time on a Carnival Cruise. Verdict?… The staff was amazing, the entertainment was enjoyable and the food was what I expected it to be… plentiful! We ate so much! We bought the “15 drinks a day” package and it was well worth it every penny. Also, this was my first time traveling with internationally with a group of friends (2 other couples) so the experience was very exciting! On the boat it felt like whatever we wanted we could have – it was the ultimate indulgence. On the first night we in unintentionally made our presence known on the ship by merely dancing the night away.

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Every day after the first night, lots of people who we didn’t necessarily recognize would see us and give us the ol’, “Heyyyy guys!” followed by “Man, you guys sure know how to have a good time!”… and they are absolutely correct!

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On day 3 of the cruise we arrived in Grand Cayman. We decided to book an intimate tour of the island which brought us to a Rum Factory, where we sampled rum cake and took shots of fine Caribbean rum. The tour also swung us by Dolphin Adventures and finally a couple of really beautiful beaches were we couldn’t resist splashing around in the crystal blue and turquoise Caribbean Sea.

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We couldn’t leave the Cayman’s without eating the local food so we strolled into a place that served the local favorites… turtle and conch! “Turtle burgers and conch fritters coming right up!” My husband had the turtle but I couldn’t do it, so I had the conch. The dipping sauce for the fritters really set it off!

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The following day was Kj’s birthday!

We arrived in Cozumel and then the entire trip was taken to the next level (as if it wasn’t already on another level). Mexico was instantly turnt! Our first stop was for frozen strawberry margaritas in route 44 size Styrofoam to-go cups! The guy hooking them up made them with handfuls of fresh strawberries, freshly squeezed lime juice and A TON of tequila. Lol He didn’t even measure how much he was pouring in there. If you wanted more… that’s all you had to say and he wouldn’t hesitate to ensure that you were about to enjoy the best margarita you’ve ever had. We also grabbed a couple of fresh off the grill beef tacos because we couldn’t resist their sensational aroma and the fact that they were 2 for $5. What a warm welcome!

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From there we managed to hustle our way into getting a personal tour guide for the entire day for only $20 a person! Our guide’s name was Gil Fuentes. By the end of our day with him we were all calling him TRILL GIL! Lol Let me tell you why Gil was so trill…

  1. Upon the 6 of us climbing into the van, we determined that we could play our own music in this van because we could connect our devices with an auxiliary cord. We bumped all the hottest rap jams of 2016 while being tossed around in this van with no worries, cups full of tequila, and an itch for adventure!
  2. Gil brought us by a Tequila Factory were we watched and learned the process of making authentic Mexican tequila. We of course sampled the finest… 
  3. bddc70cc-b022-4070-b121-dab5adb401fb Gil took us to a local store where their deal of the day was buy a 2 liter of soda and get a bottle of tequila for FREE! What??! And the tequila was good! For $10 we got a bag of Doritos, bag of ice, 2 liter of Fresca and Tequila. WINNING!
  4. celebrate-celebration-cocky-party-hard-win-winning-GIFTrill Gil wanted to make sure we kept or drinks cold so he then decides to swing us by HIS HOUSE to lend us one of his coolers! Yesss Trill Gil! After we got our drinks on ice, we went to a gorgeous beach in Cozumel to lay out and just vibe. We ended our visit in Cozumel with a finely prepared, authentic Mexican dinner. It was incredible… the best I’ve had. Mexico owes us nothing!

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Back to the ship that evening, showered and full… it was time to eat yet again! We had dinner reservations for 8:15 and needed to keep them so that we could enjoy the birthday cake that I pre-ordered for my husband’s birthday. He spent his birthday in Cozumel and now it was time for his official birthday dinner. We forced dinner… but everything down to the birthday cake was perfect – so tasty with that surprise strawberry cream filling.

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For the duration of the cruise, we hung out, played cards, went to the casino (where I actually WON $100 playing a crane game!!!)…

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As excited as I was you might’ve thought I won a million dollars… naw just $100. lol But that was $100 I didn’t have before I played a game that cost me $1! #Grateful.

We lounged on the ship’s deck, went hot tubbin’, ate until our hearts content… and just soaked up every moment, in the moment.

At sea www.shescharissmatic.com

The first of many trips this year was so successful…feeling blissful and blessed.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more exciting lifestyle blogs! 

xoxo -Riss

Carissa Stephens She's ChaRISSmatic

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Travel: 2015 Travel Highlights

 (Bahamas Cruise 1 Year Anniversary and Cabo San Lucas Birthday Adventures)

Before I begin a very extensive year of travel in 2016 (I’m excited) I wanted to recap some of the travel and adventure that took place in 2015. Travel is a BIG part of my life. Growing up my family would go on annual family vacations and it became our tradition. We’ve been to some incredible places and have seen done some incredible things! Now that I am married, I have been able to rub off some on my travel itch on my husband (gratefully). My husband and I love to travel and have been doing so since our very first year of dating. (Some of our favorite trips include Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Cabo San Lucas.)

Carissa She's Charissmatic

In my household, we deem travel and vacationing as MANDATORY. It is so important to unwind and take time away in a remote location with your spouse to kick back and enjoy the simple things. Things like island breezes, exotic drinks, beautiful beaches, different cultures, different foods, and simply… just the quality time. Also there is nothing like sharing new experiences together for the first time.

2015 Was a very symbolic year. In May of 2015, my husband Kenneth and I celebrated our first year of marriage! (Click here to watch our Wedding Highlights Video.) With our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary came our Anniversary Getaway to the Bahamas. We flew from Houston to Florida and then sailed from Florida to the Bahamas. The trip lasted 5 days in total and was a much needed getaway! We had a great time!

The most memorable parts of Bahamas 2015 were:

  1. The food. Conch is amazing… you can make anything with this yummy shelled fish. I’m talking fritters, sandwiches, chowder, etc. conch
  2. Trying to master Black Jack in the casino of the cruise ship! We were both pretty terrible…black jack table
  3. Meeting this incredible Bohemian artist, Leo Brown. I was so inspired by his work. It was all so moving. I personally felt like this piece could’ve been me… it isn’t, but that didn’t keep me from feeling like it could’ve been. lolLeo Brown Art Work
  4. The view from the balcony of our room277aeb63-223b-40ec-8e9e-94d7f118c128
  5. Being able to celebrate one year as Mr. and Mrs. Stephenslove

6. Finding waterfalls in nature. I literally went on a quest for them.Waterfalls

High points from our vacation of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 2015:

  1. That Boat Party Cabo(The turn up was just TOO real) Check out this short video link from my husbands Instagram page. Here is another: Turn Up! lol

2.  Zip lining! I never thought I’d propel from 300 ft. above ground in a Canyon stretching miles wide… 8 different times. We had to hike to each zip line over rugged terrain. I felt like cutting it short a couple times but preserved! Proud moment!ziplining

3. Recording a music video …on my phone. lol (Click here to watch)

4. Mexican Walmart and buying groceries… there was literally a FULL liquor store in the Mexican WALMART!

5. Our first couples massage! (Not featured…. too precious of a moment.) It was my very first couples massage. So special.

The Stephens on a Camel

We have a lot of travel planned for 2016 and I’m sooo excited to adventure more and share with you here at shescharissmatic.com! Follow me on Instagram for more photos and real time updates!

#ReflectionswithRiss #Travel

Thanks for reading! Xo -Riss

Carissa Stephens She's ChaRISSmatic

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Introduction to She’s ChaRISSmatic!

Welcome to She’s ChaRISSmatic! I am so grateful you are here! I hope you find great information and inspiration here on my personal blog. Watch the video below to learn more about what you’ll find here.

Thanks for watching! xo – Riss

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