Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! // 2014

Happy Halloween! I hope that everyone has a festive weekend! Don't forget to celebrate! (even if that means eating a bag of candy corn while watching a Sabrina the Teenage Witch marathon).   :)

Easy ways to make your Halloween more festive:

Need a last-minute costume? How about Poison Ivy? Or Cruella De Vil?
What about a not-so-scary movie night pick?
Or perhaps a vintage-y playlist?

Have fun!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day // 2014

Happy National Cat Day everyone! - I always forget this is a thing... but what a happy holiday right?

To add another sweet cat to the interwebs today, here is a collage of Duchess!

She is still a bookworm. She has grown like a weed, I have never seen a female cat so large. She is becoming more tolerant and friendly, but she still has a bit of a temper... As you can see she has also taken to board games quite well. :)

Looking for ways to celebrate National Cat Day? Check out 20 Ways to Celebrate National Cat Day at National Cat Day's website. Fun ideas here!



Snapshots of Victoria, BC // Day 2 // October 2014

On our second day in Victoria we woke up, checked out and ventured out into the city. We couldn't help but take our time walking past the harbor, parliament building, and The Empress. So much beauty in this city!
We made it out to a coffee shop called Mirage Coffee and hoped that we would have better luck than our terrible coffee the day before. Luckily Mirage Coffee has some of the BEST coffee we've had while traveling!
In addition to our coffee we each got a pastry (man, we ate a lot of pastry...). I got a blueberry square and KC got a chocolate croissant (his usual). I didn't know what to expect from mine, but it was EXCELLENT!
In addition to the great food and coffee, the atmosphere at the coffee shop was great. Large paintings, pedestals, and statues, I liked the style very much.
After that we began walking around the city again.
We headed into some of the shops that we had missed the day before. We started at Munro's Books, a beautiful bookstore, where I browsed and browsed the books, gifts, magazines, and stationary.
I purchased a few things including an Emily Carr's (a local artist) first book 'The House of Small'. I'm really excited to read it.
After that we visited some other nice stores. Violette was a very fun store filled with jewelry, stationary, and wall art. The girls working there were very friendly, we had a chat about the Wizard of Oz (of course.. :) ) and how fun it is to buy stationary.
Then we visited a great vintage consignment boutique called Duchess & Duke. I wasn't in the market for vintage clothing, but looking around the shop was a real treat. The design, from the door way to the cash register, is impeccable.
There were so many fun vintage touches, I especially loved the red door and mail box combo, and the wall collage.
We walked a bit more before we made it to what our shuttle driver the night before had recommended as 'a huge thrift store,' called 'Value Village'. I don't think we were quite prepared for the hugeness of this place. For reference, it was the size of a Walmart grocery section, but filled with incredible amounts of items to thrift. It was a Tuesday afternoon but it was packed. There were people everywhere, it was again pretty clear to me that Canadians (at least in Victoria) are much more willing to buy used items. It is really incredible and makes for great shopping with a better selection.
We purchased a few Canada pins, a Chinese waving cat ceramic, and a bunch of souvenir spoons. KC has collected souvenir spoons since he was a kid, so we try to pick them up as we travel. Sadly, the spoon selection is usually pretty unimpressive, and each spoon costs nearly $10. Finding vintage spoons is always great, they are much cooler looking, better made, and so much cheaper! We got four bags of four spoons each for $12. Such a score, and I am dreaming up ideas for the excess spoons (of places we haven't visited yet).. stay tuned for that.
We grabbed lunch at Willie's Bakery & Cafe, the 'oldest bakery in Victoria'. We had brunch food, waffles and... ? The atmosphere in the main room was great, the muffins we saw looked amazing, but our food was just ok. The waitress also seemed pretty impatient which was too bad. I think going back for baked goods would be a good idea, as I have read that they are really good.

After that we soaked up more of the city. I stopped back at a shop to purchase a slouchy knit scarf (FINALLY!), for just $12.
We also stopped by Rook & Rose, which looked beautiful, sadly we didn't need any floral arrangements.
Lastly, we visited Knickers, a really beautiful lingerie shop. It was very airy and clean in the design. My favorite thing were the lovely wall collages (can you tell I have a thing for wall collages?).
We walked back to The Empress and went inside to walk through the shops. We didn't see much of the inside, but the lobby was pretty plain. The area near the dining rooms was much more beautiful. On one side of the building they had an Empress shop that included china and throwback postcards. We got a golf poster postcard to send to my in-laws (golf lovers!), and I didn't get an Empress china coffee cup... but maybe I should have. (I'm an obsessive mug collector... )
We ventured through the hallway shops and the convention center where a few more totem poles were placed. I apparently really love totem poles. - I suppose that is because that is not something you see much in the Midwest.
We wandered around the garden at the Empress, the harbor area, and past the parliament building once again.
We checked out of our hotel, and made sure to take photos with Stewart the Scottish bear. :)
Then we walked back to the cruise port and headed back to the US. This trip was at night, but before it got too foggy and dark the view was incredible!

Missed Day 1 in Victoria? See it here.

Stay tuned for Seattle posts!

What do you collect on your travels? - aside from memories and photos of course!

Thank you for reading!


Monday, October 27, 2014

*spook // a halloween playlist

KC and I held a little Black & White Halloween shindig at our place over the weekend, and for weeks I have been trying to create the perfect playlist... there isn't a lot of Halloween music in the world! I ended up using Spotify at work to help me craft a soundtrack for our party with a lovely blend of moody alternative music (with spooky sounding song titles) and upbeat vintage Halloween tracks from the 1930's & 1940's. Overall it is a pretty fun selection and definitely worked well for our party! - I hope this inspires a fun and festive Halloween for you!

The playlist itself is 6 hours long... so I will post the shorter version here! Should you be interested in the full playlist, you can listen to it here on my Spotify. & you can follow me if you would like to see what else I'm listening to. :)

Not a Spotify user? Just click play below!

What do you guys think? 

What's on your Halloween playlist?

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Snapshots of Victoria, BC // Day 1 // October 2014

A few weeks ago KC and I took a trip out to Seattle and Victoria, BC. We had some rocky moments in the trip, but there is still so much good to share!

Before getting to Victoria:

We landed in Seattle at 1:37 AM. Took a cab to our airport hotel with a very disgruntled driver (welcome to Seattle!) and laid down for a nap. At 5:00 AM we got up, ready, and packed as quickly as possible. We checked out of our hotel and shuttled to the light rail station. We got on, watched a very high gentleman roam about the train shouting and shooting invisible arrows at passing signs, then got off at the last stop. We weren't quite sure how to get to the pier, so we called a cab, rushed down there (this driver was VERY nice!) and managed to check in in plenty of time to board our ferry. We took some seats with a table, ordered breakfast and trekked out to sea. 

The Ferry:

This was not our first time on a ferry, but it was definitely the longest ferry ride we have taken; about 3 hours.We had taken the ferry from Quebec City to Levis, and from St. Ignace, MI to Macinac Island, both of which were considerably shorter. 
The ship was clean and not too rocky. The breakfast was a bit of an odd assortment of things, a cheese wheel and crackers with yogurt and granola... but it was the first semi real food we had had in quite a while. 
We enjoyed the views from the ship, so beautiful!
Not long after we both fell asleep. Which was much more comfortable on a table top than back in an seat on the plane. Toward the end of the trip I started to feel pretty nauseous... but I think that was more from the hunger and lack of sleep. 

Victoria Day 1:
We got off the boat and walked to our hotel, which we packaged with our ferry tickets. Packaging our reservations actually lowered the price to take the ferry! The Royal Scot Hotel & Suites was very near the cruise terminal, which was very convenient. Upon checking in the staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. The held our bags for us and offered to let us use any part of their services before our room was ready. Perhaps my favorite part of the hotel was the kilted polar bear statue in front of the building. His name was apparently Stewart, and it was really fun and festive!

We took off in search of food, caffeine, and to explore of course.
Not far from our hotel was the parliament building. It is so gorgeous and evidences the British influence in this part of Canada. 
Several statues are on the grounds (including one of Queen Victoria), a fountain, and a totem pole stolen from Alaska. 
Seeing the European influence mix with First Nations culture is so interesting, and so very Canadian.
Not too far from the parliament building is another totem pole by the harbor. It is much smaller but still very beautiful planted into a bed of flowers. 
Across the street is the Fairmont Empress Hotel, an iconic chateau style hotel that opened in 1908. It is beautiful, and autumn makes it the perfect time to see it; the stunning ivy turns plum and crimson. 

Many people take high tea at the Empress during their time in Victoria, we however, didn't have time. Though, if we go again it is on my list! 
The gardens were also immaculate at the Empress. On the corner of the block were two Orca whales shaped out of shrubs. Very impressive.

We then began to explore the city. We walked around getting the lay of the land, stopped in some shops and had some really, really bad coffee. 
Then we sat down for lunch at a place called Meat & Bread  where we had some very imaginative sandwiches. The place was very minimalist, white tile, sturdy wood furniture, simplified menu, and communal seating. Both of our sandwiches were extremely good. I had an eggplant, Italian style sandwich, while Kyle had a jerk chicken. They were very messy, but really flavorful, and unexpected. We really enjoyed this restaurant.

Next door was a board game cafe, which was really fun for people who enjoy board games so much! You can purchase games, check them out to play at large tables, and order milkshakes. I wish we had one of these at home! 
We took in more shops, and parts of the city. There are so many beautiful green spaces in Victoria!
We walked back toward the parliament building and walked down along the inner harbor. 
It was a beautiful sunny day, the views were spectacular!
After that we checked into our hotel and took a nap. I hated to do it, but it was so necessary!
Then we took the hotel shuttle down to LoJo (Lower Johnson Street) for some more shopping. I found some great postcards at The Regional Assembly of Text, and a few great thrifted finds at the Salvation Army. I was amazed by how stocked their store was! There must be many more people there willing to buy used items.
We continued to explore different streets and areas of the city. So many beautiful squares, shopping areas, gardens, and sculptures.
Next we took in the second oldest Chinatown in North America (second to San Francisco). I love Chinatowns, and I hadn't been to one since I was in Chicago maybe 10 years ago! 
The part of Chinatown that we visited was just a few blocks, and was marked at its entrance with a beautiful gate called The Gate of Harmonious Interest. 
Those blocks were filled with shops selling goods, and foods. 
All along the streets were beautiful neon signs, hanging lanterns, and ornamental red trashcans, signs, and lamp posts. 
After that we witnessed a very peaceful protest on the negotiation of Canada's involvement against ISIS. The group was marching in a circle with signs chanting, 'Yes to peace! No to war!' over and over. 
We sat down at a pub called Garrick's Head for dinner. We decided to leisurely after a long day of travel and walking, it felt so nice to sit! We started off with an appetizer of poutine, which in all of our Canadian travels we've never tried!! It was absolutely as crazy delicious as it sounds! 
For those who don't know about poutine: it is a bed of french fries topped with curds of cheese (not to be confused with the deep fried Wisconsin favorite, cheese curds), and then smothered in beef gravy. Just crazyness, but so tasty!
We ate the rest of our food, which was less impressive, but still tasty before heading back to our hotel. 
Along the way we passed the Empress, the harbor, and the parliament building again. 
The parliament building is just spectacular at night! It is lit up with white lights year round, which is such a treat! 
Then we got back to rest up for another (almost) full day of exploring before we ferried back to the US. 

Stay tuned for Day 2!

Have you been to Victoria?

What did you think?

All for now,