Alexandria, Egypt

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 Top: Target // Skirt: Forever 21 // Scarf: old // Shoes: Aldo, old // Earrings: BaubleBar // Sunglasses: Prada // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff // Watch: Michael Kors (similar) // Bracelet: Julie Vos

Since we had plenty of time to take in the Cairo sights, we decided to spend one of our days on a mini-road trip to the city of Alexandria, which sits on the coast of the Mediterranean. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and over its illustrious years was home to the ancient lighthouse, famed library and, of course, Cleopatra.

Today, you can tour the new library, which is a beautiful sight if you’re a bibliophile like me, stroll along turquoise waters and gorge on delicious, freshly caught seafood. After spending some time in the urban (read: supremely polluted) air of Cairo, it was nice to breathe in some brisk sea air and experience the decidedly more Mediterranean feel of the coastal city.

For our one meal in Alexandria, we knew that we had to get seafood, so after some online sleuthing, we walked up to what looked like a seafood market to see about getting lunch. After a little initial confusion, and lots of help from my Arabic-speaking sister and brother-in-law, we learned that the way to go about ordering was to point to the fresh seafood we wanted and simply say whether we wanted it grilled or fried. Then, we were whisked through the kitchen, past many bubbling pots filled with fish and aromatics to a hidden dining room in the back.

After almost filling up on a seemingly never-ending supply of Egyptian banchan in the form of hummus, spicy cheese dip, bread, baba ganoush, requisite potato chips (they’re everywhere in Egypt), pickled beets and more, we proceeded to devour a couple of delicious whole-grilled fish and some of the best, sweetest, plumpest shrimp I’ve ever had.

We left Alexandria full and happy, driving down the Cairo–Alexandria desert road as the sun set over the Nile Delta.

Iowa City’s Best Brunch Spots

In San Francisco, brunching is a sport. Here? Not so much. Luckily, Iowa City has managed to assuage my fears of living life without truly delicious breakfast food thanks to a small group of great restaurants scattered around town. Just in case you’re looking for a place to snag some bacon or sip some mimosas this Sunday, I’ve rounded up and illustrated my favorite spots for mid-morning feasting. Enjoy!

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Pullman Bar & Diner // This place is pretty new in town, but always seems to be bustling. At brunch, it’s all about the bacon. It’s cured in-house and cut really thick, so it almost tastes like a piece of smokey pork belly. And the best part? It comes standard in the Bloody Mary.

Bluebird Diner // I love eating hash browns for breakfast, and I especially love the Krakatoa hash browns at Bluebird. They’re made with pecan-smoked bacon, jalapeños, garlic and red onions and then covered in pepper jack cheese. I also love that if you order a cup of coffee with brunch, they’ll offer you a fresh to-go cup for the road.

Leaf Kitchen // I’m not going to lie, my favorite thing about Leaf is the atmosphere. The fact that it doubles as a tea house in the afternoon is aesthetically apparent as soon as you walk in the door. Vintage coffee mugs, colorful chairs, brick walls and a comfy window seat booth create a cozy vibe.

The Mill // The Mill is where you go when you don’t feel like waiting for a table and you just want a good ol’ classic Farmer’s Breakfast (that’s three eggs, breakfast potatoes and three strips of bacon) for five bucks. It’s worth noting that the breakfast potatoes are pretty darn good, and the full bar is helpful in hair-of-the-dog situations.

Ride // Another new place in town, Ride has become one of our go-to spots lately. Everything I’ve tried has been delicious, and they have one of the best Moscow mules I’ve ever tasted. They also offer some unique (and delicious) brunch dishes like the old English favorite, bubble and squeak.

Salt Fork Kitchen // Sure, it’s not technically in Iowa City, but Salt Fork is definitely worth the 10-minute drive to Solon. Everything on the menu is super fresh and locally sourced—including the eggs, which come from the owners’ own farm. I also especially love the griddled and buttered biscuits served with homemade jam.

DIY Ombré Tassel Necklace

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Yes, I was already tassel-obsessed before my trip to Egypt, but after seeing scores of camels decorated with colorful woven blankets and garlands of brightly hued tassels, I was inspired to up my DIY tassel game.

I, too, desired to be decked in strands of tassels, so as soon as I got back to the states, I headed straight to the craft store to stock up on a broad spectrum of embroidery thread. Here’s what I came up with.

For this project, you’ll need the following:
• embroidery thread
• seed beads
• accent beads
• 8mm jump rings
• nylon beading string

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1. First, pick out five shades of embroidery thread with which to make your tassels. You’ll need exactly one hank of embroidery thread per tassel.

2. Start with a piece of cardboard cut to the desired length of your finished tassels (mine were about two and a half inches). Wrap the embroidery thread around the cardboard about 50 times, depending on how thick you want your tassel to be.

3. Cut a 6″ piece of embroidery thread and slip it through the top loops of the wrapped thread. Tie it tightly several times. Then, slide the wrapped thread off the cardboard and slide it onto a pencil.

4. Use the remaining piece of thread (should be about 12″) to tie around the tassel just below the pencil. This will create the ‘head’ of the tassel. Wrap the ends of the tied thread around the tassel five or six times and then use a needle to tuck the ends back behind the wrapped thread.

5. Using scissors, cut the loops at the end of the tassel and trim the ends so they’re even. Finally, attach a jump ring to string that ties the top of the tassel.

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6. Once all your tassels are made, string your nylon thread with seed beads until you’ve reached the length you desire. Then, add one crystal accent bead and about 40 seed beads.

7. Next, string the first tassel onto the necklace, sliding it over the seed beads. Add 10 jump rings, one tassel, 10 jump rings, one tassel, etc. until all the tassels have been added. Then, add the second crystal accent bead and finish the necklace with the remaining seed beads.

8. For the finishing touch, use a needle to comb through the threads of the tassel to separate the strands for a nice, full look.

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