With 2016 just around the corner, I’ve already started thinking about new year’s resolutions. A big part of that for me is assessing the past year – what’s working, and what’s not? What parts of my blog and business need to be re-assessed and what what parts are awesome as is?

coffee run! | coco+kelley

A BIG piece of this is technology. What sites or apps I use for my bookkeeping, project management, brainstorming, idea banking and more are imperative to my everyday happiness – this is not an exaggeration. When you find an app that works for you, it is MAGIC. And, the one that has most recently added a little happiness in my heart is Square Cash.

Here’s why…

coffee run with square cash | coco+kelley

apps we love - square cash | coco+kelley

1. It’s easy. Easy to set up. Easy to send money. Easy to get money. No having to cash out or transfer to your bank account – it just shows up. So, when I make a coffee run for the whole office, everyone can send me $5 and we’re good to go. 

behind the scenes with coco+kelley

2. It’s a great record of business transactions and way faster than a check (don’t you hate waiting for those to clear?) Now, when I pay photographers or contributors, I send them the money on Square Cash, with a note that says what it was for. Plus, you can download your whole transaction history to easily send to you accountant (yaaaaay!).

food styling behind the scenes with coco+kelley

My favorite part about Square Cash though is that everyone I know loves it. As we were shooting for this post, the gals in the office all got talking about how much they use it now over any other way to pay friends or business expenses, and if you ask me, that’s the best testament a company can ask for – the unsolicited kind.
apps we love - square cash | coco+kelley

Oh, but I almost forgot:

3. You get to create a ‘cashtag’ for yourself that’s like your username for accepting money. Mine is $CassMoney (like cash money, get it? get it?). In case Santa is reading and would like to send something useful this year.

For those of you using Square Cash for business, pricing is now 2.75% per transaction, and anyone can now use a credit card with a 3% fee for choosing to use your credit card. Using it between your friends with your debit card is freeeeeee! (Can’t say that about much these days!)

What other apps are you using these days that make life easier? Especially for business!

This post created in partnership with Square Cash, but all opinions I will back up as 100% mine – trust me. Go download the app now! 


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While our first stop on our Jamaica trip satiated my design cravings, the next stop – Mockingbird Hill in Port Antonio – fulfilled so much more. It was here that we spent the majority of the trip, swimming in waterfalls (!!!), soaking up sunshine on the beaches and tasting some of the most delicious food the island has to offer at Mille Fleurs – the restaurant at Mockingbird Hill.

Organized by our hosts at the hotel, these were some of our favorite Jamaican adventures around Portland!

Winnifred Beach 

winnifred beach | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

lunch at cynthia's on winnifred beach | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

Obviously, when in Jamaica, you must experience the beaches. Winnifred Beach is special to the Jamaican community because it’s one of the last remaining free beaches left. Most beaches charge for visitors or are owned by the resorts. Can you imagine? Living on an island and not having access to the beaches? If you make it to Winnifred you must save room for lunch at Cynthia’s where we devoured our fish right off the bone.

Reach Falls

hiking and swimming in the waterfall pools at Reach Falls | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

We thought we were going for a ‘hike’ along the waterfalls, but it turned out we were swimming from pool to pool at the beautiful Reach Falls!  This was probably my favorite for the simple reason that the water was so refreshing and it felt nice to get out and be a little active after so much flying and travel. Our guides were awesome too – we have him to thank for the great photos.

fresh 'jelly' coconut off the trees in reach falls | jamaica travel diary via coco kelley

At the end of the hike, a refreshing drink of fresh-from-the-tree coconut water, and a lesson in how to crack into to it to eat the jelly too!

On the way home, our driver decided to treat us to a pit stop at his bar in Long Beach…

the irie bar in long beach | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

hand carved local treasures at long beach | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

Loved this simple spot right on the beach where you could dip your toes in the sand and come away with some cool souvenirs as well. It was very chill, just like you’d hope.

 Rafting on the Rio Grande

bamboo rafting on the rio grande | jamaica travel diary coco kelley

lunch on the rio grande river at belinda's | jamaica travel diary via coco kelley

The perfect way to spend a more relaxing day is to hop on one of these bamboo rafts and float leisurely down the Rio Grande River, stopping for lunch at Miss Belinda’s where she cooks up some of the most delicious, authentic Jamaican food you’ll eat. Plus, what’s more fantastic than filling up on ackee and fresh fish with on the banks of the river? Not much.

But let’s talk about the hotel…

hotel mockingbird hill in port antonio | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

the pool at mockingbird hill in port antonio | jamaica travel diary via coco+kelley

First off, the property was recently voted one of the Top Green Hotels in the World, which is a testament to how seriously owners Barbara and Shireen take this responsibility. Not only is it a way of life for them, but they are intent on teaching their guests and staff about how to be more eco conscious and friendly during their stay.

The restaurant – Mille Fleurs – is incredibly delicious, and features seasonal ingredients that support local community projects for fair and organic produce as well as from their own garden! Barbara oversees the menu which is rooted in traditional Jamaican dishes with a twist, and I was so impressed with our meals – especially dinners!

view from the top - dining for two at Mockingbird Hill in Jamaica | via coco kelley

The view from The Perch is a fantastic spot to enjoy breakfast, while the gardens and pool below offer a quiet retreat for reading and relaxing. Apparently both Mockingbird Hill and Sussex House are a popular destination for birders, too! In fact, there are many options for activities to do with Mockingbird Hill as your home base. I wish we had had time for more, as I would have loved to do the coffee tour, but we opted for the music tour in Kingston, which you’ll see in the next post!

Barbara, Shireen and their staff help organize it all, and leave you in good hands. They were such a lovely pair to dine with and learn from on our trip – it makes a huge difference staying at a hotel where the owners are there every day to be a part of your experience. I only hope our paths will cross again someday!


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This is the time of year where those of us up north definitely start thinking about where we’re going to escape to come winter. If you’re lucky enough, you’ve already got plans to hop a flight to warmer climates! Me? Well, I already did that about a month ago when one of my girlfriends and I jetted off to Jamaica!

coco kelley travel diary - Jamaica

Our trip was arranged by the ladies at Hotel Mockingbird Hill who wanted to give us a taste of the REAL Jamaica – not the kind you ‘experience’ from inside the confines of the all-inclusive resorts, but the kind of tour that immerses you in the culture of the island.

Which is how we started here –  one night at this beautiful, historical plantation home called Sussex House,  just outside of Ocho Rios.

Sussex House Jamaica - coral walls in the entryway | travel diary via coco+kelley

We were greeted with those bright blue shutters and a coral entryway, so you know I was in design heaven right away.

Set up high in the hills, the property has a stunning view from the porch where our hosts welcomed us with refreshing june plum juice (so delicious!) and a quick tour of the property.

the patio at sussex house in jamaica | coco+kelley

the view from sussex house pool in jamaica | travel diary coco+kelley

We arrived at dusk, when the sky was changing colors so quickly I could hardly capture how magnificent it was. This is the view from the pool, which is to the east of the patio and just down the steps from our bedroom.

the formal dining room in the historical plantation Sussex House in Jamaica | coco+kelley

I loved the mix of bright colors here and there with dark woods and that old stone wall. Eli and David  – the owners – were so delightful and charming, treating us to some traditional Jamaican meals as we talked about our travels and got to know them.

guest room in Sussex House Jamaica | coco+kelley

This feature in one of the guest bedrooms was my favorite – they had put plexi over the stone wall where it needed to be sealed off so that you could still see it… I had to share!

Our bedroom stepped out onto a patio that led to the pool…

The Sussex House Pool in Jamaica | coco+kelley

Which we thoroughly enjoyed the next morning before Eli took us off to the local market with her! Our final stop before we headed off on our next adventure was a long lunch at Miss T’s Kitchen which did not disappoint!

From there, we took the Knutsford Express (a nice air-conditioned way to travel the windy roads of Jamaica!) to Port Antonio for the next leg of our stay… which we’ll tell you all about tomorrow!

6 responses on “TRAVEL DIARY :: JAMAICA PART I

  1. Alexandra

    Amazing hotel, I like the red walls and the terrace and the pool, they are really nice.And of course, it’s Jamaica, I guess you’ve had a great time over there.

  2. Pingback: TRAVEL DIARY :: JAMAICA PART II - coco+kelley

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Yesterday we hopped a flight to Raleigh to visit family for the week, and it’s been so nice to have a change of pace and scenery! There’s a warm fall glow in the air here, and it’s a welcome change from the frigid rain we’ve had in Seattle. The countdown to stuffing my face with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and PIE is on. And speaking of pie…


1 // If you’re like me and can’t decide which pie to bake this Thanksgiving… maybe you should test this one out. Apple Pumpkin Pecan Pie. All my favorites in one!!

2 // Madame! You need this bag, non? I can never have too many oversized clutches in my repertoire.

3 // If you’re delivering whiskey, or just sipping it yourself this season, wouldn’t you prefer it from a bottle like this?

4 // This home tour is all-around adorable with some really fun family details, but the bed in the master bedroom – an Ikea frame all painted up – is pretty awesome.

5 // Another genius hack – of the food variety – freezing apple cider into large cubes to pour your booze over! This recipe for Apple Cider Rum Old Fashioned sounds good, but I’d pour mine with straight bourbon and a squeeze of lemon, I think.

6 //  This time of year, I always find myself wishing I had a few more spare chairs for gathering guests around the table. If finding some chic folding chairs is on your list, check out these, these and these as a few of the fancier options.

One response on “WEEKEND LINKS + LOVES :: 11.22

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What happens when you mix Scandinavian sensibilities with cozy cabin moments? The perfect Thanksgiving tabletop to show off a modern, yet traditional style, that’s what. And yet – it’ so much more than that.

how to set a modern-meets-traditional thanksgiving tabletop | coco +kelley

Stay with me here…

See, when I think about my girlfriends, I see strong, forward-thinking women who can definitely hold their own. And yet… we’re all very traditional in our own ways as well.

how to set a modern-meets-traditional thanksgiving tabletop | coco +kelley

When I teamed up with Skinnygirl® Cocktails earlier this year to learn more about them, I didn’t think it would lead me to such a thoughtful moment of realization about what they – and I – celebrate in my girlfriends, but here it is. I adore all of the strong amazing women in my life, and I’m proud to call them my friends. This table is for celebrating them!

mixed patterns and wild florals for a thanksgiving tabletop | coco +kelley

They are a little bit wild – like these flowers. They have many many layers. They strike a perfect balance in exuding and embracing their feminine and ‘masculine’ sides like the mix of patterns. They aren’t afraid to be a little bit glamorous, but they like to keep things simple too…

how to set a modern-traditional thanksgiving tabletop | coco+kelley mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

wild florals and plaid for a thanksgiving tabletop | coco+kelley

And you know they love their wine!!!

tips to setting the perfect friendsgiving tabletop with skinnygirl | coco+kelley

And on a holiday like Thanksgiving, trust me when I say a wine like these selections from Skinnygirl® Cocktails is what you want to be drinking. (Less calories!!)

But let’s talk about this table… because I want to teach you guys how easy it is to put something like this together just by knowing about a few tricks…

mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

First – we created a cozy texture with a blanket instead of a tablecloth! For a modern table – like this one – it adds a ton of warmth. For a table that’s already a bit rustic, even better! Thrift or vintage store finds are perfect for this purpose – obviously you’re not putting your best cashmere throw on a tabletop!

tips to setting the perfect thanksgiving tabletop with skinnygirl and coco+kelley

tips to setting a cozy thanksgiving tabletop with coco+kelley

Next – it’s all about layering pattern. The key is alway mixing scale and keeping a cohesive color palette when it comes to this task. Here we added a really organic floral pattern to the strong lines of a buffalo plaid, offset by a gold charger. The trick to getting away with another plaid on the table is to make sure that the patterns don’t align. You’ll notice that the throw on the table is at an angle!

mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

Then comes the fun part! Adding texture through some natural items like leaves (stolen from the neighbor’s tree) or feathers. We added a few white miniature pumpkins too not only because they’re festive but because it brings more white throughout the table.

mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

tips to setting the perfect fall thanksgiving tabletop with coco+kelley

For extra warmth, I’d even add some shearling throws to each seat – or maybe a blanket at each place setting as a gift! How better to show your girlfriends how much you appreciate them.

mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

mixed floral and plaid tabletop for thanksgiving or fall entertaining| coco +kelley

Then, of course, it’s time to pour the wine (my favorite is the Skinnygirl® Pinot Noir), sit back, and enjoy an evening with your very favorite people.

Make sure you have loads of drink recommendations and recipes up your sleeve for the holidays by signing up for the Skinnygirl® Cocktails Tastemakers program!

Photography by Meghan Klein / Florals by cpjandco

This post created in partnership with Skinnygirl® Cocktails. We thank you for supporting the brands that support coco+kelley!
Skinnygirl® Cocktails is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. (“Beam”) and is used with permission. The information, comments and ideas expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Beam, its affiliated companies or any of their directors or employees. Beam does not sponsor, authorize, or otherwise endorse this website. Read more about our editorial policies. Drink responsibly. Skinnygirl® Wine Collection ©2015 Skinnygirl Cocktails, Deerfield, IL (Per 5 oz – Average Analysis: Calories 100, Carbohydrates 5g, Protein 0g, Fat 0g)


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