Thursday, April 28, 2016

TEXAS PART 3 - AUSTIN

The final stop on our Texas road trip was Austin! We didn't spend as much time there as we did in San Antonio and Marfa, but of course we had to see the capital of Texas and managed to hit up some fun spots!

7 Faves in Austin

1. Easy Tiger (Bake Shop & Beer Garden) is a fun place to get drinks and grab a bite to eat! We really enjoyed their house made pretzels, hand-selected cheeses, and breakfast. I also thought it was cool how they had a bakery/cafe upstairs and a creek side beer garden downstairs, so it was almost like you were in two different restaurants. 
2. Uncommon Objects is an amazing antique and vintage store, which I could have spent HOURS in but we didn't have the time. However, I did end up leaving with a coyote skull and a milk glass vase -- both of which are items I collect! 
3. Hotel San Jose is a little boutique hotel right on South Congress Ave (there are tons of shops and restaurants on this street) it was a great place to stop in and have a few drinks in their courtyard lounge.
4. Rainey Street is a street of historic bungalows that have been transformed into bars and restaurants with ample backyards and porches. I think this is such a unique idea, I wish there was something like this in Toronto.
5. Torchy's Tacos has damn good tacos! Although there were tons of places to get tacos in Austin, this was by far our fave! I loved how they had such a huge selection of tacos (they even have an entire breakfast themed list)! I recommend the Democrat or the Trailer Park.  
6. Voodoo Doughnuts was a great surprise for me! I had always wanted to visit one since they opened in Portland, but had no idea that they had a location in Austin. It definitely lived up to all the hype! Erin and I tried a couple my fave was the classic sprinkle and Erin liked the Fruit Loop one.
7. In-N-Out Burger was also another place we didn't know was in Austin, so we stopped in on our way to the airport. I mean we couldn’t just drive past it!
All in all, Austin was fun place to spend a few days. I would definitely love to go back and spend some more time there!

Thanks for reading!



Friday, April 22, 2016

Texas Part 2 - MARFA

Marfa, Texas is a city literally in the middle of the desert in far West Texas. The only way to get there is to drive and it's a 6.5 hour drive from Austin. It’s a small city with less than 2000 people!
You may have heard of Marfa before thanks to Prada Marfa! I kind of think this art installation put them on the map - yes, it's an art installation not an actually Prada store!
Prada Marfa is a permanently installed sculpture by artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Though called Prada Marfa, it's actually located 30 mins (or 10 mins if you're speeding, Oops!) outside of Marfa in an even smaller town called Valentine, Texas, with a population of 217 people! The installation was done on October 1, 2005, the artists called the work a "Pop Architectural Land Art Project". The sculpture cost $80,000 and was intended to never be repaired, so it would slowly disintegrate back into the natural desert landscape. It looks like a free standing store in the middle of the desert with purses and shoes inside from the 2005 Fall collection, you just can't go in but you can take photos outside of it and that's what everyone does! Luckily when we were there, there was literally no one in site just an occasional car passing through, I felt like I was at the edge of the earth!
So besides wanting to see Prada Marfa and it being amazing, it’s not the only reason why I wanted to visit Marfa, it really is one awesome place!
Here are some of the places we visited while we were there;

We stayed at El Cosmico which is a super rad logging property in the desert where you can stay in a luxury tent, which we did the first night. A tepee, a yurt, an airstream or vintage trailer which we did the second night, as we almost froze to death in the tent the night before! We did not pack warm enough clothes! Who would have thought a desert could get so cold?! El Cosmico is also just a 10-minute walk from the main street where most of the shops, restaurants and galleries are.
Another place that looked good was the Thunderbird hotel, only thing is if you're not staying there you can't go in. :( Boo So not sure what the inside was like.
Then there was The Hotel Paisano, it's a nice almost European looking hotel, I wouldn’t say it's as fun or eclectic as El Cosmico or The Thunderbird but it was nice. We had drinks and a great dinner there one night.
There are also some great AirBNB options in Marfa as well.
As for food, it's surprisingly not the easiest to come by in Marfa. We didn't realize this before we got there but it makes sense, since it's so remote. BRING SNACKS!

So besides eating at the Hotel Paisano which was great, we ate at Pizza Foundation a couple of times. Honestly it was some of the best pizza I've ever had! I wish it was here in Toronto. You're also able to buy alcohol to go there, which was great as that was also hard to come by.

We also ate dinner one night at The Capri which is across the street from the Thunderbird, it was a beautiful modern looking restaurant with great food and drinks.
If you did want to get some groceries while you're there you could go to The Get Go, which is a really cute little grocery store, where we got some snacks…finally!
If you're looking for shopping, well Marfa isn't the place but they do have some cute little shops. We loved Freda’s; the shop carries locally handmade crafts along with some clothing, home goods, candles (which I bought, of course!) and jewelry. We also loved Mirth, which was a really unique shop with some great stationary and home goods.


Marfa is also known for their many art galleries, here are some of the ones we visited.


We really liked them all; they were all different and unique in their own way. Most of them don’t take long to get through so if you do visit they're worth checking out.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Texas Part 1 - San Antonio

I recently visited Texas with my sister Erin. We've both wanted to go to Texas for some time now. I love traveling in the US, there are just so many different and unique places to visit and Texas was just that!
We visited three places while we were there, San Antonio, Marfa (yes it was AMAZING!) and Austin.

So for Part 1 - San Antonio!

San Antonio though considered a major city and according to Wikipedia is the seventh most populated city in the US, to me the hub of the city felt more like a quaint town. I liked how easy it was to get around and we were able to see what we wanted without being overwhelmed.

7 Faves in San Antonio

1. We stayed in an Airstream in someone’s backyard! It may sound a bit weird but it was a lot of fun and we figured why not, we've stayed in many hotels over the years, why not switch it up! Actually, in San Antonio and Austin it's very popular to have a trailer or airstream in your backyard that you rent on AirBNB. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Inspiring people: TREADRIGHT Ambassador Celine Cousteau


I recently had the pleasure of meeting Celine Cousteau at a dinner party held by The Travel Company and the TreadRight Foundation.
I instantly knew I liked Celine, she had a beautiful energy about her.  She is a great storyteller, telling stories about her travels and giving back, which I found very inspiring.  Celine has travelled all over the world and has worked with Contiki Holidays for many years. As most of you know traveling is a big passion of mine and I have been on many Contiki tours over the years.
Celine is the Founder and Executive Director of Cause Centric Productions; a non-profit organization that creates cause focused multi-media content. She is also now the ambassador for the TreadRight Foundation. TreadRight is a not-for-profit foundation established by The Travel Corporation. All travel brands under The Travel Corporation Group (Contiki being one of them) give financial support to TreadRight, which in turn supports sustainable tourism projects around the world.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Diptyque Candles

As most of you know if you follow me on Instagram, I love candles and Diptyque candles are definitely my faves. I get asked a lot on Instagram what ones I own and what ones I recommend. So I thought it was time I did a post, not only to talk about what my favorite scents are but why I love them so much!
Diptyque first opened its doors in Paris on 34 boulevard Saint-Germain in 1961. It was started by three friends, all with backgrounds in décor and fine arts. Diptyque perfumes, candles and home fragrances are now sold around the world in many department stores and shops, including many flagship boutiques throughout Europe and the US. I wish they would open one here in Toronto! 
Besides loving so many of the different candle scents Diptyque offers, I must admit I was first drawn to the black and white label and package design. I know I have mentioned this in a couple of my instagram posts, but for those of you that don't know I took a package design course along with a font design course in College. I have always been a sucker for beautiful labels, fonts and packaging especially in black and white, the simpler the better.

If you are in Canada or the US, Saks, Holt Renfrew and Neiman Marcus all carry Diptyque. If you don’t live in Canada or the US Click HERE to find a location that carries Diptyque.

I suggest going in and smelling all the scenes yourself so you can get a real feel for the line and pick scents that you love and feel go well together. Most of the candles burn really well together and bring out the fragrances of each other. 
But of course if you just want to order online and trust my tastes I would highly recommend getting the Set of Mini Candles with Baies, Figuier and Roses. It is a great set for a new collector (also makes for a great gift!) they are probably the 3 most popular scents and they are 3 of my faves especially Figuier! I also own the Figuier room spray.  

Other scents I recommend are Jasmin, Tubéreuse, Mimosa - it’s seriously AMAZING - and Geranium Rose, all floral scenes. I have always navigated towards fresh floral fragrances in both my candles and perfumes. My two favorite flowers are Lilly of the Valley and Lotus, which I first smelled when I was in Egypt as the Lotus is their national flower. If you have not smelled it before I highly recommend it!

Other great Diptyque candles are Patchouli, Ambre and Feu de Bois. I also recently got Oud as a gift and though it’s not a scent I would usually choose it’s growing on me, it’s very woody.
Last but not least my final Diptyque candle recommendation is from the 34 Collection and it is called 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. It was created to celebrate their 50th anniversary and encapsulates the scent of their first boutique. It is seriously a beautiful scent both floral and woody to me. It also comes in a beautiful white oval-shaped porcelain jar which I think would look amazing in any home on your coffee table, side table or mantel. It makes for a great gift for yourself or someone else!

I really do hope you liked this post and for those of you who have asked me about my favorite Diptyque candles and what ones I own, I hope this has answered all your questions. For those of you that are new to Diptyque and were curious I also hope this post has helped and maybe you might check them out!

I now think Diptyque should hire me! Haha

Thank you all so much for reading!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Road Trip USA!

Now that we're in the thick of winter...though I can't complain our winter has not been too bad. I'm sure many of you (like me) are thinking about warmer destinations or even starting to plan your summer vacations.

As you may know by now (if you follow me on Instagram) I have a bit of a travel bug and I'm constantly planning my next travel adventure! Growing up my family and I went on a ton of road trips throughout the USA and Canada, so I’ve developed a particular fondness for them over the years.  
So last July one of my oldest friends, Courtney and I decided that we were in need of another journey! We both hadn’t been on a road trip in a while, so we decided that we would pick a destination somewhere in the Southern states so that we could stop at various cities along the way. But, where to go?!?! As both of us grew up with Disney movies and are huge fans, we thought why not Disney World in Orlando, Florida!
We decided that we would only book a place to stay in Disney, as we weren’t exactly sure on where we wanted to stop along the way (even though we had some ideas). We booked a timeshare condo at the Disney Resort SaratogaSprings, which is located just across from Downtown Disney (it ended up being the perfect location!)
We then set out on our long adventure on a Wednesday afternoon!
Our first stop wasn’t so glamorous. It was a motel off the highway about an hour and a half outside of Columbus, Ohio. We had initially wanted to make it to Columbus, but our hunger and sleepiness set in so it was Popeye’s and a cheap motel for the night!
The next day we made it all the way to Nashville, Tennessee after stopping shortly in Louisville, Kentucky (home of the Kentucky Durby and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory). Nashville was amazing (I definitely want to go back again)! We visited American Pickers Mike Wolfe’s store, Antique Archaeology, which is a really cool place if you’re into antiques (like me). We also went to this really fun restaurant for dinner called Pinewood Social. They have a bowling alley in the restaurant and a great patio were you could play bocce ball. The interior space was very modern, which we were both loved. After that we just did some bar hopping along Broadway, as there are pretty much bars with live music back to back along the entire street!
The following morning we woke up early and made our way to Orlando, Florida! It was a long haul from Nashville to Orlando, it took us about 15 hours in total (I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, maybe stop in Atlanta)
We made the best of it by stopping for short breaks and food. By the time we got to our hotel we were exhausted and headed to bed!
The next day we just hung out by the pool, relaxing and soaking up the sun! For those of you who think that Disney is just a place for kids, it’s not! I was so impressed with how the various pools, bars and restaurants they had at both our resort and Downtown Disney were catered towards adults!
Over the next three days we visited Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios (specifically to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as I am a huge fan!), which may seem like a lot but we wanted to get in as much as we possibly could. I honestly LOVED all the parks, as they were all so different!
The day we went to Epcot it was Bastille Day, so there were tons of celebrations happening within the Paris section. Interestingly enough Courtney and I had celebrated Bastille Day together in Paris, France the previous year so it was fun to see what they did here! We ended up seeing all the Countries in Epcot, but I think my favorite one was Japan! Maybe because they had a lot of Hello Kitty stuff in the gift shop, haha but really I want to visit Japan. I've always been so interested in their culture! 
 Magic Kingdom was just MAGICAL to say the least! It reminded so much of my childhood, as I grew up watching all of the Disney movies and loving all the characters. It was also fun to see rides that I had gone on when I was child and visited Disney World for the first time. 
We even stayed to see the fireworks, which we watched from the top of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I can honestly say that it was one of the most amazing firework shows I have ever seen (I’d love to know how much money they spend on fireworks per year)!
Last, but certainly not least, we went to Universal Studios where we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Honestly, this was a dream come true for me. I was SO excited! We visited Diagon Alley, drank some of the infamous Butter Beer and escaped from Gringotts Wizarding Bank! This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. For the rest of the day we just walked around the rest of the park visiting Springfield, home to the Simpsons and other attractions Universal had to offer!
Out next stop was Charleston, South Carolina, to say it was pretty is a complete understatement. It was absolutely breathtaking!
Honestly, I could have stayed there for another week just exploring and taking photos of the scenery. Many of the homes were painted bright colors and there were flowers everywhere (which would be my ideal place to live)!
We also got to check out some fun restaurants and bars too, including Poogan’s Porch and Charleston’s oldest restaurant!
From there we head to Washington, D.C. Although I had been there when I was a child, it was fun to see the White House again! However, it was sweltering hot when we were there and we ended up only seeing the back of the White House, which we realized when we were driving away the next day! Perhaps we were tired from all the driving we had been doing prior. 
Thankfully this was our stop for the night, we stayed at the Mayflower Hotel.
We checked out some lobby bars that were close by, but our favorite was the rooftop bar at the W Hotel. It had an amazing view that overlooked DC and you could see that all of the buildings had an American flag on top.
Finally we made our way back to Toronto from DC, which was a loooooooong drive (especially since there was a ton of traffic)! Luckily we made it home in one piece and had an amazing time with memories that will last a lifetime!
I definitely want to go back to all of the cities that we visited, but I think I'll fly next time, (it was a lot of driving!) Don’t get me wrong, I love a good road trip, but according to Google Maps it was 44 hours worth of driving!
Thank you so much for reading! And, if you’re planning a road trip through the USA or a trip in general I'd love to hear all about it in a comment!