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Designs by Alina:  Handcrafted jewelry fabricated with gold, pave diamonds, and choice pearls for the sophisticated modern-classic woman. Beauty and inspiration forever entwined. Lifestyle blog on design, travel, fashion, family.



Designs by Alina Lifestyle Magazine

Blog, Travel, family, interior design, jewelry design and fashion.



Filtering by Tag: Family

Happy to Be Alive Part 2 Our family journey to Morocco

Bernardo de Albergaria

"Mom, that hat over there is running by itself!" howls my son as he attempts to pull me away from the sweet stand where my girls are coveting everything in sight. But I can't move because this is the Medina. It is our first trip to Morocco and it feels as though there are more people than I saw on the streets of Rome during the millennium! With my trio donning safety tags given to us at the hotel, I am feeling uneasy about anything less than a centimeter between us. When we finally peel the girls away from the sweets, I spot an owl straight out of the Exorcist, spinning its head in an effort to keep up with the renegade hat propelled by a clandestine rodent. Yep, we have definitely arrived in Morocco and this is day two!

Owl and Hat

With a guide next to her, our youngest takes to the city exuding the type of confidence that only comes with knowledge or a sense of peace with your surroundings. And if you are thinking that she is far too young to have either, I would agree with you except for that old adage about a picture saying a thousand words. 

We are led through a maze of tiny adobe-hued streets, where my husband and I quickly determine that while a guide is a must for first-time visitors and families traveling with young children, they often lead you straight to the merchants with which they do business dissuading you from venturing into areas you may have otherwise explored. Note to self: Next time we brave the souks in the hands of our younger guide.

Words are inadequate to describe how quickly one becomes entranced by the Medina. The energy, rich colors, aroma, and overwhelming amount of fabrics, rugs, scarves and lanterns have the power to transfix as they collectively become the very soul of the old city. It is one of those discoveries our family has never taken for granted, a wondrous gift we can unlock, as I do now, whenever we wish to be reminded of how heightened our senses can become.

We stop at an enchanting restaurant where yards of striped fabric adorn every inch of the walls and ceiling. I am amazed at how well the daring juxtaposition of prints and colors works in this part of the world. The Medina is a feast for the senses: culinary creations infused with dates, prunes, figs, and spices like cumin, saffron, cinnamon, and ginger delight the palate. Our senses are further heightened by the adhan, or call to prayer, the most spellbinding sound I have ever heard, one I grew to anticipate during the length of our magnificent stay. 

Take a camel ride through the desert, a hair-raising trek through the Atlas mountains and learn why we are Happy to Be Alive in Part III of the trilogy.

Happy to Be Alive Part 1 Our family journey to Morocco

Bernardo de Albergaria

Dar Ayniwen Hotel

Dar Ayniwen Hotel

It should never have been a difficult choice. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to visit a gorgeous Riad in Marrakech packed with six other adventurous couples? Who would say “no” to an exotic camel ride, a romantic dinner for two in the desert and a trek through the wondrous Atlas mountains at sunset? 

That would be me. 

When our friends Tatiana and Campion invited us and 10 of their nearest and dearest on this adventure-packed getaway to celebrate their first year of marriage, we were flattered to say the least and in fleeting excitement I hailed “yes” to the proposal. And that is when the sleepless nights began. 

It had only been three years since 9/11 had shattered the lives of many, thrusting the world into a state of mourning and casting a shadow of doubt on our desire as newlyweds to begin a family of our own. It wasn't the Middle East, still the prospect of leaving our twin toddlers to pursue the unknown in a farway land had me tied up in knots. As much as I wanted to discover that side of the world, meet up with friends and not forfeit our tickets five days before our flight, I simply could not tear myself away from these sweet little faces.

Dario and Gisella at  Sunstone Winery

Dario and Gisella at Sunstone Winery

What a difference a day makes -or six years in this case- for that's how much time had passed since my husband decided not to kill me. Now our new and improved family of five was ready to embark on a Moroccan adventure!

Day 1 

Upon our arrival, I am delightfully surprised to discover I will not need to kiss my wardrobe goodbye in favor of full body armor like the travel advisors suggested. Sure, older women are donning djellabas and veils but the younger set sports western clothing, arms and legs exposed even in winter. Another discovery that delights me is the intense hue blanketing everything in sight. It is as though a perennial sunset cast a spell on the grounds and structures around us rendering them deep orange at all hours of the day. The dramatic juxtaposition of light and dark is the most exquisite live example of chiaroscuro I have ever seen and I suddenly have the urge to meet the modern-day Rembrant who surely must be lurking in these parts of the world.

Meeting the locals is what I love most

Meeting the locals is what I love most

Nestled in the midst of a lush oasis of palm and fruit trees known as the Palmeraie,  is Dar Ayniwen, a charming hotel, rich in color and smiles of the genuine kind. Our whole family falls in love with Zakaria, our valet of sorts, from the moment he says mrehba. Yes, the stranger who continually charms us with his kindness, including the homemade chicken soup, blankets and bracelet he offers to our under-the-weather-four-year-old, completely wins us over...tenfold.

Yes, our family is humbled by the new world of wonder and goodwill unfolding before us. And after a good night's sleep, the real adventure would begin.

Take a stroll through the Medina in Part II, and a dangerous trek though the Atlas mountains in Part III of Happy to be Alive, our family's journey to Morocco. A few photos to whet your appetite...

The Most Beautiful Time of the Year

Bernardo de Albergaria

Las palabras están demás. I love how it sounds in Spanish. It means "no words needed," and on that note I leave you with some gorgeous images from the trip my husband and I took to Europe this time last year. And I couldn't resist an all-time favorite of our twins chasing Santa in Rome. Enjoy the visual feast and Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

All photographs by Bernardo and Alina de Albergaria


Behind Every Great Man...

Bernardo de Albergaria

...there's a great woman. That is what they say anyway. And while it’s up to my husband to concur or differ, I will happily give that old adage a spin and say that I am a much better woman with Bernardo by my side.

I spent many years carving out life on my own, since I was eighteen in fact. Some of the storms I weathered felt insurmountable. But time was all the wiser for knowing the benefits that lie ahead, not least, the continual discovery of who I am because with every hiccup we morph into a better version of ourselves.

By the time I met Bernardo, I had travelled extensively and worked in a multitude of creative environments. I danced until I donned a running-in-from-the-rain look, had broken a few hearts and had mine twisted up in knots. In other words, I was ready to settle down. Thankfully, I was equipped well enough by then to know that “settling down” would never mean “to settle."

Cut to three children, a horse, two poodles, a hamster, and one leopard gecko later, and Bernardo is still the perfect match for me. Mio marito italiano understands my American side as well the one yearning to revisit life in far-away lands. He is exciting, bright, entrepreneurial, exceedingly charming, supportive, patient, stylish, a fantastic father, and well, it doesn't hurt that he is handsome too. Wow! Did I miss anything?

This website came into existence because Bernardo made it happen. He loves Designs by Alina and became my webmaster at a time during which he was supposed to be on a mini sabbatical of sorts, enjoying his horse, family, travel, and friends. Perhaps he felt the need to be productive or liked the “techie” thing. Maybe he just wanted to bring us joy. I suspect it is a combination of all those things, but whatever the reason, I am grateful to be sharing my life with him, and yes, I am a better woman for it.

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello...

Bernardo de Albergaria

You may have wondered why I stopped posting after such a successful Designs by Alina launch. I have been busy making and selling my designs which leaves me with less time for reverie.

But we also have some news which explains the reference to the Beatles' Hello, Goodbye song...

Shortly after introducing Designs by Alina, Bernardo was offered a fantastic business opportunity in the vibrant city of San Francisco. Besides the logistics involved in closing one door and opening another with three young children, a horse, two poodles and a jewelry business in tow, the news has left me conflicted about what this new adventure means to our family. We are excited about relocating to our favorite large city in the country, where my husband will be working in the mecca of his industry, Designs by Alina will continue to flourish in a cosmopolitan environment, and our trio will grow exponentially from their new experience. We love all that San Francisco has to offer and yet it is not easy to say goodbye to Santa Barbara, our beloved small city, in which Bernardo and I have lived the happiest fourteen years of our lives. "Bittersweet" they call it, and I can taste it just about now…

Yes, Santa Barbara is a great place to raise small children, walk barefoot on the beach, find a peaceful moment on horseback, embrace your spouse, and be whimsical in the garden. There has never been a shortage of love around our table or in our home. Yet as I reflect upon the wonderful times we have had here, I realize that the memories people build are what makes a city great, and we look forward to doing just that in our new environment.

As the next chapter of our lives unfolds, I will continue to write about all things design and jewelry. I will also share musings on what our family will miss about this lovely piece of paradise and how we will embrace our next one.