Thursday, July 31, 2014

Putting It All Together

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There are some great historical homes here, including Henry Ford's Estate, Fair Lane. This fifty room mansion boasts one of the prettiest terraces and gardens I've ever gotten to take a casual walk around. It was quiet, cool, and peaceful and a great way to start my day.

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Striped Shirt: Pleione at Nordstrom (Similar cut here, but the specific style is sold out)
Chambray Shirt: Gap
Jeans: Madewell 
Sandals: Madewell (Sold out, but similar style here)

Monday, July 28, 2014

City Guide: Toronto

City Guide: Toronto

Neighborhoods:
My favorite thing to do when I travel is to walk around. I'll spend hours just wandering and looking at places and going from neighborhood to neighborhood. Toronto is an exceptionally walking friendly city and the top notch street and underground public transportation make walking around even easier. Here are some great places to walk through. 

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Kensington Market - Kensington Market is a vibrant historical neighborhood with deep cultural roots tucked just west of China Town. It's boarders are Spadina Ave. and College, Bathhurst, and Dundas Streets. This is one of my favorite places to go for gluten free food in the area because there is a great gluten free bakery and many vegetarian friendly restaurants in this are. Also, the market itself is so vibrant when it's up and you can walk around looking at all the produce and different things for sale. The people watching is absolutely excellent here. One of my favorite things to do in this neighborhood is to ask for a seat near a window in a restaurant and watch the people and events happening around me.

Chinatown - Chinatown extends along Dundas Street West and Spadina Ave. just west of the City Center in Toronto. It's actually one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and has an incredible range and variety of things to do and look at. Whether you are looking for Dim Sum, want to listen to some of the incredible street musicians that set up along Spadina Ave., or are looking for an umbrella because the heavens opened up and you forgot your raincoat, Chinatown is a great place to amble along if you are visiting.

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Koreatown - Toronto's Koreatown (or K-town, if you are the awesome guy we met on the train that gave us an introduction to Toronto's awesome neighborhoods) isn't that big - you'll find that China town is far more extensive than Koreatown but it is more than worth a walk through. It runs along Bloor St. between Christie and Bathurst. I really liked this neighborhood because there was a great mix of things to do. There were many great Korean restaurants, a lot of Japanese and Korean stores, including my favorite thing ever: stationary stores stocking office supplies from Japan, Korea, and China.

Queen Street West Art and Design District - I am an unabashed textile design enthusiast so this area was like a candy store to me. J.R. and I spent an entire morning here walking from one end to to other walking in and out of fabric and trim shops, boutiques selling Japanese streetwear and individually produced garments from small French design houses, amazing shoes, and custom built furniture from re-claimed or salvaged wood. There was no lack of great coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, either. If I lived in Toronto I'd probably be here every saturday morning sitting out on a cafe's front terrace drinking coffee and making notes on what fabric to buy next in one of my tiny little purse notebooks. I would never save money, I'd just be hoarding tweed, wooden buttons, and sturdy metal zippers, so it's probably good I don't live in Toronto.

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Shopping:
Toronto has some absolutely amazing shopping. I try to stay away from places I can go visit where I live and look for things that I can't find where I am. We didn't do much shopping - we mostly walked places and ate - but I did a lot of looking and idea gathering for clothes and accessories I'd like to work into my clothes this upcoming year. 

Sydney's - Queen Street West Art and Design District - I'm going through a menswear phase. I'm not wearing it, per say, but I'm absolutely inspired by it. Sydney's is a menswear shop with an emphasis on minimalism. As an added bonus, they have the sweetest, and a bit shy, shop dog. www.shopsydneys.com

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Nomad - Queen Street West Art and Design District -  Ahh, Nomad. Right now this is my favorite store in the whole world. It's another Menswear shop but it's so beautifully curated I almost cried in front of the Phillip Lim embroidered jackets. Just kidding. I don't cry in stores. Regardless, Nomad is a Toronto treasure carrying a mix of heritage menswear (think Filson, Carhart) and Streetwear (think supreme) all wrapped up in a beautiful storefront.
www.nomadshop.net

Design Republic - Queen Street West Art and Design District - Design Republic sells a broad variety of locally built and customizable furniture out of it's location in Toronto. In addition to the furniture it has a great collection of home accessories and art. My husband and I fell in love with a large dining room table made out of reclaimed hardwood and pipes. Right now we are not in the market for furniture but once we buy a house we might be trekking out to Design Republic for a few items.
www.mydesignrepublic.com

Mr. Pen - Koreatown - I love office supplies. I think it's a curse that all teachers have but I justify my office supply expenditures by the fact that I'll actually use what I buy. I write a ton of letters. I carry a pouch of writing pens and highlighters and a pouch of art pens and sketching pencils around in my purse along with a teeny little notebook and I'll often stop to jot down an idea a plan, a goal, or an observation wherever I am. Other times I'll find myself sketching whatever's in front of me. Because of this I have no qualms buying office supplies and Mr. Pen is a great place to do that. They stock a ton of pencil pouches, mugs, pens, stickers, clips, page markers, and highlighters. In the case I ever end up going back to school this is where I'll be doing my back to school shopping! (I couldn't find a website but here's a good blog post.)

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Food & Drink:
Every five steps you take in Toronto will get you to another place to eat. There is an enormous variety of food from all sort of genres in Toronto - from upscale foraged to vietnamese comfort food, if you can dream it you can eat it here. When J.R. and I travel we generally walk around until we find a place that looks good and we also have no qualms about asking around. When in doubt we go with the most crowded restaurant, which is a policy and practice that has served us well in many places with a few misses here and there. We also look for gluten free friendly and vegetarian places because of our own dietary restrictions.  

Urban Herbivore - Kensington Market - Urban Herbivore is the only place on my list so far that I've visited twice (well, I did go into Mr. Pen twice in one weekend - once to look and one to buy) because I ate here many years ago during a different trip to Toronto. They serve solid vegetarian food - salads, soup, and sandwiches. They also have fresh juices, and the girl behind the counter was super friendly. I try to eat at the bar that runs the length of the windows so I can watch Kensington market as I eat.

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The Green Beanery - Bloor and Bathurst - One of the things that I am completely fascinated by is the art of amazing coffee. The church that we attended in Denver had an ever increasing array of amazing coffee accouterments that I was quietly in awe of. Coffee making isn't something I'm particularly good - my husband makes a better cup than I do - but it's something that I would like to be good at. Walking into The Green Beanery, which hails itself as the largest coffee roasting supply shop in Canada, was pure inspiration. The coffee roasting and coffee making supplies they stock are a cross between sculpture and functionality and The Green Beanery is both coffee shop and supply shop so you can grab a cup of house roasted coffee if you feel the need.

The Starving Artist - 584 Lansdowne Ave - We were looking for a decent gluten free brunch and stumbled upon The Starving Artist which is a small cafe that specializes in waffles. They serve waffles alone, things in between or on top of waffles, and things dipped in waffle batter and then cooked. Basically, it's a waffle inspired concept restaurant and they do a good job with their waffles, even the gluten free ones. Be warned: they serve enormous portions. I could eat about half of my plate of amazing Canadian maple syrup and Nutella slathered waffles and there was no point in trying to box it up and take it home since we were leaving for home that afternoon.

Auntie and Uncles - 74 Lippincott St - Here's another great brunch spot! Reccomended by locals we met at a coffee shop, we trekked on over there. Even though it was only about 9:00, this tiny place had a line out the door. Luckily a large party before us left and we got in fairly quickly. This place has a great vibe. Both JR and I commented on the fact that the decor and vibe reminded us of a Colorado Mountain Town eatery and the employees reminded us of Detroit hipsters. It was a great mix of two places we love! The food was excellent, as well, with some of the best potatoes we've had in the Midwest so far!

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The Last Few Things

1. You can buy a family transportation pass for $11.00 that gets you, another adult, and up to three children on and off of all of Toronto's public transportation for the day.  We found that parking at the end of the line and taking the train into the city was a lot more effective and time saving than trying to drive into the city and park.

2. Toronto feels exceptionally clean, safe, and friendly. We had a lot of really incredible conversations with total strangers and almost every single one of them took the time to help us out with directions and tips about the city no matter where they were off to.

3. There are so many more places to go and things to see that I didn't cover in this city guide. When I go back I will make sure to update this guide. We were only there for two days this visit so when we go back and see more things I'll update and let you know!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Milwaukee, for a Minute

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Aside from moving I've been on the road quite a bit since we landed here in Michigan. About a week after we got to Michigan I took off for five days to Milwaukee, where my parents live. I had a fantastic time there with my mom, dad, and sister. I got a chance to celebrate a very important event for a very amazing person - we celebrated my sister's Bachelorette party.

We went down to the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee during the trip to meet up with some friends. Call me curmudgeonly and old but I'm always amazed at how that place has changed since I first started hanging out down town. It used to be empty and run-down, mostly abandoned but now every building is filled with a business or a restaurant or a store and it feels like it could be a slice of a much larger city.

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The top and turquoise bracelets are vintage, the pants (somewhat similar here) are from Target, the shoes are from j. crew, and the purse is Kate Spade (sorry, can't find a sale link for this one any more). 



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Road Trip Essentials

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Last week we drove across the country with all of our belongings in a 16 foot moving truck with my husband's project car trailered behind. J.R. drove the truck and trailer and I followed behind in our regular car, stuffed to the brim with everything that I didn't want bouncing around in a moving van like musical instruments, my computer, and the camera.

This wasn't the ordinary type of road trip where we ambled along stopping and looking - we were on a mission to make it to Michigan in one piece! We had one stressed out cat and two stressed out human beings and we were driving through some of the worst weather I've dealt with on a road trip. Parts of I-80 were completely flooded out causing delays where we were simply stopped in the middle of the freeway in a sea of traffic and water waiting for something to happen miles up the road.

Despite the stress and chaos of packing, moving, living out of a hotel and a suitcase, loosing all our pillow cases, leaving my pillow in Nebraska, and the cat crying for four days straight we made it here. Mostly intact. I still haven't found the pillowcases but they'll turn up. I think. Anyone want to mail me some while I wait?

So, how do you keep it chill on a road trip that is less a classic road trip and more an adventure to be conquered? You keep the essentials close by you in the car. You stop a lot for snacks and coffee and photos. You sing along to a really fantastic upbeat playlist. And, when all else fails, you cry in the thunderstorm in Iowa and eat at Cracker Barrel because it's the closest thing to the hotel that has food and hot cocoa.

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For your listening pleasure I put together the fifteen songs that I listened to the most on our way out to Michigan:


1. Tablo - Eyes, Nose, Lips (cover)
2. The National - I Should Live In Salt
3. James Vincent McMorrow - We Don't Eat (Adventure Club Re-Mix)
4. Lana Del Rey/Cedric Gervais - Summertime Sadness (Radio Remix)
5. G-Dragon - MichiGO (This was our joke theme song because we were Michi-Going)
6. Fleet Foxes - Mykonos
7. Alt-J - Matilda
8. Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks Skeet Skeet Remix (super old song but such a good driving song!)
9. Calexico - Man Made Lake
10. Marina and the Diamonds - Primadonna
11. Taeyang - Ringa Linga
12. The National - Graceless
13. T.O.P., Taeyang, and G-Dragon - Hallelujah
14. Fleet Foxes - Montezuma 
15. Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Last Dance, Last Dance

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Goodbye Denver. You were loved. 

You are loved. Can love ever really be past tense? 

You will continue to be loved. 

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The dress is vintage.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Red Rocks Amphitheater

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The other day I picked up an iced coffee and a Gluten Free donut and headed down to Red Rocks Amphitheater to have breakfast to. I've been trying to eat breakfast in interesting places these days and I thought Red Rocks would be a great addition to my list!

Red Rocks is a really busy place even when there's no concert going on! There are lots of tourists who come to visit and take pictures, it's a prime destination for people who want an outdoor workout (running the steps at Red Rocks is considered a must-do workout for those of us who want to get in shape out here!), families running around, day camps with kids in matching t-shirts hiking through, and couples hanging out and chatting. Even in the morning this place is crawling with people. 

I really like going to Red Rocks because of how open it is when nothing is going on. You can climb up on the stage, hike through the rock formations, and climb the steps for the generous views. There are some great hiking trails that wander through the area and I've often started mountain biking at Green Mountain or Matthews Winters and ended up making a little stop at the amphitheater just to look around. 

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The tribal print leggings are by k-one. I bought them impulsively and really had a hard time styling them but I think I finally figured it out. The silk shirt and sandals are by Madewell (both on sale!). The turquoise is all vintage. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Perfect Roses

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The high season for roses is over in our garden but there are still a few lingering around, perfect blooms opening a little behind schedule. I don't mind, though. The fact that there are fewer around makes each one more precious.

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The dress is vintage. The shoes are from Urban Outfitters many seasons ago. 



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